The top item on Congress's agenda is now at the top of the list of most-searched bills on THOMAS.gov, the Library of Congress Web site dedicated to tracking legislation. After being absent from last week's list, the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act moved straight to the No. 1 position in this week's record of the most-searched bills. The Senate version of the bill, passed on September 16, also entered the list this week at No. 6. Additionally, two other bills on this week's list have been acted upon since Congress returned from recess on September 13: the Rural Energy Savings Act (No. 8) and a bill seeking to reduce salaries for members of Congress (No. 9).
Below are last week's 10 most-searched bills on THOMAS.gov, according to data compiled by THOMAS on September 19.
1. Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010 (H.R. 5297)
Not on list last week
Sponsor: Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)
The Small Business Jobs and Credit Act includes provisions to establish a $30 billion fund to increase loan availability to small businesses, as well as an initiative to help fund states' lending programs and several forms of tax relief for small businesses. This bill passed the House in June and passed the Senate in amended form on September 16. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week that the amended Senate version (No. 6, below), while imperfect in her estimation, needs to be passed by the House immediately.
2. Debt Free America Act (H.R. 4646)
Previous ranking: 3
Sponsor: Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA)
This act aims to eliminate the $13 trillion national debt within seven years by levying a 1 percent tax on all financial and retail transactions, except for transactions involving stock. The bill would also, as of December 31, 2017, repeal the individual income tax. Fattah's Debt Free America Act was introduced in February 2010 and immediately referred to committee, with no action taken on it since. However, in recent weeks, the proposal has generated outrage in the blogosphere at the idea of a tax on transactions. The bill has been discussed in a wide range of Web sites, from minor political blogs to the popular myth-debunking site Snopes.com.
3. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590)
Previous ranking: 2
Sponsor: Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY)
More commonly known as the healthcare reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became law on March 23, 2010. Among the many changes it makes to the existing healthcare system, this act requires that all individuals have health insurance and prohibits insurers from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions, two provisions that both will go into effect in 2014. More than a dozen provisions are scheduled to take effect in 2010, with the rest to be phased in through 2018. Shortly after President Obama signed the bill, attorneys general from 13 states joined together to file a suit in a Florida federal court, claiming that the healthcare reform law is unconstitutional. The number of states involved in that suit has since grown to 21. Virginia has also filed its own suit, which is currently being heard in a federal court in Virginia. [Check out our editorial cartoons on healthcare.]
4. Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (H.R. 4173)
Previous Ranking: 4
Sponsor: Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)
Also known as the "Restoring American Financial Stability Act," or more commonly as the "financial regulatory reform bill," this legislation was signed by President Obama on July 21, six months after its initial introduction. This law is intended to address the causes of the 2008 economic crisis. It aims to create a watchdog council at the Federal Reserve and also to mitigate the dangers of "too-big-to-fail" financial institutions by providing a way to liquidate failed firms. [See which members of Congress receive the most money from the savings and loan industry.]