5. Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009 (H.R. 45)
Previous ranking: 8
Sponsor: Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL)
Named after a Chicago teenager 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.
6. 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.
7. Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (H.R. 4173)
Previous ranking: 7
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. [Check out a roundup of editorial cartoons on the economy.]
8. Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (H.R. 4872)
Previous ranking: 10
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. 2, 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.
9. America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (H.R. 3200)
Not on list last week
Sponsor: Rep. John Dingell (D-MI)
This bill is the original health care bill, which Rep. Dingell introduced in July 2009. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate around the same time, and both bills failed to pass. This bill included key features that were not in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the health care reform bill that was eventually signed into law (No. 2, above), most notably a government-run insurance option and the creation of an insurance exchange--a public marketplace in which insurers would sell their plans.
10. 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.