The bills that interest online legislation browsers has remained for the most part unchanged in the weeks leading up to Election Day according to THOMAS, the Library of Congress' Web site dedicated to tracking legislation. Last week, nine of the top 10 most-searched bills were the same as the week before. The one new bill on the list this week, an unemployment benefit extension act (No. 10), may be of particular interest during the lame duck session of Congress after the midterms, as the last extension of unemployment insurance will run out at the end of November.
Below are last week's 10 most-searched bills on THOMAS.gov, according to data compiled on October 24.
1. Debt Free America Act (H.R. 4646)
Previous ranking: 1
Sponsor: Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA)
This bill has been on THOMAS's top 10 since August 30, but last week was the first time it reached No. 1. The Debt Free America 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 those involving stock. The bill would also, as of December 31, 2017, repeal the individual income tax. Fattah's legislation 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.
2. 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, the law 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 together filed 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 also filed its own challenge, and a federal judge indicated last week that he would rule on that suit by the end of the year.
3. Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009 (H.R. 45)
Previous ranking: 5
Sponsor: Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL)
Named after a Chicago teen who was gunned down in 2007 on a public bus, this act would tighten gun ownership provisions in the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, a 1993 law that mandated background checks on gun buyers. The Blair Holt act would require anyone possessing a firearm to first obtain a firearm license. The bill was introduced at the start of 2009 and has remained in the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security since February of that year. [See who in Congress gets the most from gun rights groups.]
4. Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010 (H.R. 5297)
Previous ranking: 4
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.