According to THOMAS, the Library of Congress' Web site dedicated to tracking legislation, the 10 most-searched bills on the site last week were exactly the same as the week before. Of course, some of the bills on the list are of perpetual interest. The healthcare reform bill (No. 5, below) has been on the list continuously for several months, and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act (No. 10, below) has been in the top 10 every week since the end of August.
Below are last week's 10 most-searched bills on THOMAS.gov, according to data compiled on October 10.
1. Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2010 (H.R. 4667)
Previous ranking: 1
Sponsor: Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA)
As the title suggests, this bill seeks to increase the rates of veterans' benefits such as disability compensation and dependent compensation, as well as the clothing allowance for some disabled veterans. The bill passed the House unanimously in March, 407-0, and also passed the Senate with unanimous consent and without amendments on September 22. President Obama signed the bill on September 30, and its changes will go into effect on December 1, 2010.
2. Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010 (H.R. 5297)
Previous ranking: 2
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 September 23, the House agreed to the Senate version, named the "Small Business Jobs Act of 2010," and President Obama signed it into law four days later. [See a list of the finance and credit industry's favorite lawmakers.]
3. Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 (H.R. 3081)
Previous ranking: 3
Sponsor: Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY)
Congress hasn't passed spending bills to fund the government for the new fiscal year, which began on October 1. So they passed this temporary appropriations bill before they left to allow federal programs and offices to operate until they pass the full spending bills. With the House and Senate now adjourned to allow members to campaign for the midterm elections, passing the FY 2011 budget will be the task of the lame-duck Congress when members return after elections.
4. Debt Free America Act (H.R. 4646)
Previous ranking: 4
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.
5. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590)
Previous ranking: 5
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. [See a slide show of 10 things that are (and aren't) in the healthcare bill.]