Unemployment Extension on Americans' Minds

Healthcare and unemployment both made the list of most searched legislation.

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Previous ranking: 5

Sponsor: Rep. John Spratt (D-SC)

The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, which contains amendments to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (No. 1, above), was passed one week after the Patient Protection Act. Among the key changes that H.R. 4872 made are the closure of the Medicare "donut hole" and a reduction in the penalty for not having insurance. This bill also reforms the student loan system, including among its many provisions the elimination of the program via which federal student loans were administered through private institutions.

6. Public Safety Officer Family Health Benefits Act (H.R. 3162)

Not on list last week

Sponsor: Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI)

Stupak, a former Michigan state police trooper and founder of the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus, introduced this bill in July 2009. The bill has been in the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform since its introduction. This act would allow family members of public safety officers killed in the line of duty to be covered by federal health benefits. Stupak sponsored similar measures in 2007 and 2005. In neither of these instances did the bills move beyond committee.

7. Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 (H.R. 3081)

Previous ranking: 5

Sponsor: Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY)

Congress hasn't yet 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 went on recess so that federal programs and offices can operate until they pass the full spending bills. Passing the FY 2011 budget is one of the chief tasks of the lame-duck Congress, and it is on the agenda for this week.

8. Telework Improvements Act of 2010 (H.R. 1722)

Not on list last week

Sponsor: Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD)

Presented to the president on Monday, the Telework Improvements Act would make telecommuting easier for many federal employees. The bill would establish requirements for executive agencies to create policies allowing certain employees to telecommute as much as possible, as long as it does not poorly affect performance. [See who donates the most to Sarbanes.]

9. Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010 (H.R. 5297)

Previous ranking: 9

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.

10. Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2010 (H.R. 4213)

Not on list last week

Sponsor: Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY)

This bill, which President Obama signed into law on July 22, went through several versions and was known by several names, including the "American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act" and "Tax Extenders Act." The final bill established the long-awaited extension of unemployment benefits until November 30, 2010, allowing out-of-work Americans a total of 99 weeks of unemployment insurance. Many have questioned whether Congress will--or should--approve further extensions, amid concerns about growing deficits. The National Employment Law Project, a workers' advocacy group, has released a report estimating that 1.2 million people could lose their unemployment benefits if an extension is not passed.

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