Unemployment is one of the most important issues to voters right now, and last week it remained the most important issue to online legislation browsers as well. The Small Business Jobs Act, which aims to increase lending to small businesses and allow them to hire more workers, was for the second week in a row in the No. 1 position in the top 10 most-searched bills on THOMAS, the Library of Congress' Web site dedicated to tracking legislation. The recent controversy over the Defense Authorization Act and its proposed repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" also helped to push that bill into this week's top 10.
Below are last week's 10 most-searched bills on THOMAS.gov, according to data compiled by THOMAS on September 26.
1. Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010 (H.R. 5297)
Previous ranking: 1
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. The act also includes an initiative to help fund states' lending programs and several forms of tax relief for small businesses, such as increased deductions for business start-up costs. This bill passed the House in June and passed the Senate in amended form on September 16. On Friday, the House agreed to the Senate version, named the "Small Business Jobs Act of 2010," and President Obama signed it into law on September 27.
2. "To provide for a 10 percent reduction in pay for Members of Congress..." (H.R. 6134)
Previous ranking: 9
Sponsor: Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO)
Coffman says that this bill, which he introduced on September 15, would subject the federal government to the same budget-cutting realities currently faced by many states. The measure would reduce the salaries of members of Congress by 10 percent and also subject all federal civilian employees to a two-week non-consecutive furlough in 2011. Altogether, Coffman says, the bill would save taxpayers $5.5 billion dollars. The bill is currently being considered by the House Committees on Administration, Oversight and Government Reform, and the Judiciary. [Follow the money in Congress.]
3. Debt Free America Act (H.R. 4646)
Previous ranking: 2
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, 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.
4. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590)
Previous ranking: 3
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.
5. 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 a list of the finance and credit industry's favorite lawmakers.]