House of Representatives Bill Summaries:

Measuring Cosponsorship and Voting in Legislation for a Congressional Scorecard of the 113th Congress

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The following is a list of the legislation we reference in generating our ratings for members of the House of Representatives in the 113th Congress of 2013-2014. We pay attention to cosponsorship and voting behavior regarding these bills, classifying these actions as either progressive or regressive.

Liberal action is measured as support for legislation in the promotion of freedom, knowledge and security. Freedom is achieved when constitutional protections are respected and when people are treated with equality under law. Knowledge is pursued through rigorous support for science and education. Security comes from the protection of environmental resources, the strengthening of economic opportunity for people and the preservation of peace from erosion by wasteful, destructive militarism.

A legislative action is classified as Conservative if it erodes freedom, knowledge and security. When constitutional protections are disregarded, when discrimination under law is fostered, when the pursuit of knowledge is abandoned and science overruled, when wealth for a few matters more than prosperity for all, and when warfare becomes synonymous with foreign policy, our nation is headed in a morally wrong and self-destructive direction.

Click on the title of each bill for complete and up-to-date information, including bill text and status. To review our scorecard ratings for your Representative on Capitol Hill, click here.

Amendment 100 to H.R. 2397

The National Security Agency, a U.S. military spying organization, has been caught seizing massive numbers of private telephone records, grabbing information about who Americans are talking to the telephone and when these calls occur. This surveillance includes practically every telephone communication in within U.S. borders, and has been conducted without any evidence, as required by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, that the people whose private information is seized and searched are connected with criminal activity. The Amash amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act would have required the NSA to specify particular individuals as targets in its investigations, rather than conducting a massive dragnet of all telephone communications.

Legislative Tags: surveillance, spying, nsa, national security agency, privacy, fourth amendment

Amendment 2 to H.R. 2218

Coal wastes contain toxic levels of heavy metals, and when they are not dealt with responsibly, they are present a significant hazard to human communities and natural ecosystems. The amendment to H.R. 2218 from Henry Waxman would have required that, when coal companies deal with the coal wastes, they take action to protect human health and prevent pollution of the natural environment.

Legislative Tags: coal, health, pollution

H. Amdt. 308 to H.R. 2609

H.R. 2609 (the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act) is a cash cow for connected corporations in the fossil fuels industry. These hugely profitable companies like to complain about government regulations that would limit the pollution that comes from burning oil, gas, and coal, but they love the money that the federal government pays them to help to boost their corporate profits. These subsidies come as a result of a concerted lobbying and campaign contribution effort by fossil fuel corporations. The subsidies that Congress awards to these corporations more than compensates those corporations for their costs in deploying lobbyists and writing checks. In introducing an amendment to H.R. 2609, Representative Jackie Speier attempted to interrupt this flow of funds. If passed, Speier's amendment would have removed $30 million in extra government payments to oil, gas, and coal corporations that had been added on at the last minute by recipients of fossil fuel corporate largesse. A majority chiefly made up of Republicans, but also including 38 Democrats, voted down Speier's amendment.

Legislative Tags: oil, fossil fuel, subsidies, corporate, gas, coal, budget

H. Con. Res. 23

The consequences of failure to ratify the international Arms Trade Treaty are clear. Deadly weapons will continue to be easily available to members of Al Quaeda and other terrorist organizations, if the House Republicans have their way. These weapons will be used against American soldiers, and will help terrorists, dictators, and international criminal organizations to increase their power. H. Con. Res. 23 seeks to cripple the international Arms Trade Treaty by preventing the United States from completing ratification.

Legislative Tags: weapons, trade, treaty, war, guns

H. Con. Res. 25 Amendment 3

If the Back To Work Budget from the Congressional Progressive Caucus had passed, it would have increased income taxes for millionaires and billionaires, eliminated tax loopholes for households with an annual income of over $250,000, brought education budgets back up to responsible levels, restored funding for jobs programs in impoverished communities, put income from investments at the same level of taxation as income from work, and ended tax breaks that reward outsourcing of jobs to overseas sweatshops. The Back to Work Budget would have shut down the pipeline of subsidies to polluting fossil fuels companies, reduced military spending to 2006 levels, and set a price for the emission of carbon pollution that causes disastrous climate change. The Back To Work Budget would have cleaned up both the environment and the economy. However, a majority of Democrats in the House of Representatives joined Republicans to vote against the legislation.

Legislative Tags: climate change, environment, budget, education, taxes, jobs

H.AMDT.8 to H.R.152

It's bad enough that Republican members of Congress like Paul Broun still refuse to accept the scientific reality of anthropogenic climate change. What's worse is when they refuse to support programs that help to protect the United States against the extreme weather events that have been made more common by climate change. Representative Paul Broun's Amendment 8 to H.R. 152 attempted to strike funding for enhanced satellite capabilities for the National Weather Service that would provide advanced warning of extreme weather events - saving money and saving lives. Representative Chaka Fattah criticized Broun's amendment, saying, We've had the greatest series of severe weather events - over $1 billion each - that we've ever had in our history. It is not time for the greatest country and the wealthiest country in the world to retreat or to equivocate in making sure that we have the very best weather service information, and this satellite system is critically important thereto. Still, hundreds of members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted for this economically and scientifically unwise amendment.

Legislative Tags:

H.R. 1010

The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 (H.R. 1010 in the House and S. 460 in the Senate) is a bill that would increase the minimum wage from its current $7.25/hour to $10.10/hour over the next two years. After that point, the minimum wage would automatically increase to keep pace with inflation. Because the minimum wage is not currently indexed to inflation, the real value of the minimum wage continues to fall every month that the Congress fails to act, depriving hard-working Americans of another meal, taking another shirt off their backs.

Legislative Tags: minimum wage, wages, inflation, cpi

H.R. 1072

For decades, spokespersons for corporate interests have come up with many theoretical reasons why privately-run for-profit programs should be more efficient than government-run programs. However, empirical research into the matter has failed to consistently find an economic or operational benefit of privatization. Privatization of military operations, for instance, has led to infamous fraud, waste, delays and other abuses. Privatization of other government services has interfered with the oversight and transparency. Despite this, corporate interests in Congress continue to push privatization. In the late Winter of 2013, Congressman John Duncan introduced H.R. 1072, legislation that requires the privatization of government services in many agencies, without the context of study into whether such privatization would actually do any good.

Legislative Tags: privatization

H.R. 140

A coalition of Republican legislators is trying to take away the citizenship of babies born right here in the USA. Their vehicle: the ironically-named Birthright Citizenship Act.

The way that U.S. citizenship has worked for a hundred and fifty years has been pretty simple and straightforward: if you are born in this country, you are a citizen. That standard was formalized in the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. But some members of the House of Representatives are not happy with the Constitution. They want to deny the constitution's presumption of citizenship rights, to take away the citizenship of kids born in America. That's not an exaggeration. H.R. 140 is a bill designed to remove the guarantee that what makes you an American is being born in the USA. This bill, ironically named the Birthright Citizenship Act, actually takes away birthright citizenship from people born in the USA if their parents aren't permanent residents or citizens.

This is the old German Heimatland model of citizenship rights guaranteed by proper bloodline. Over time, this bill would create entire classes of people whose parents and even grandparents were born in the USA but who are denied the full rights of citizens. America has been down that road before; we called that system slavery. Should we go down that road again?

Legislative Tags: jus sanguinis, birthright, citizenship, discrimination, babies, birth, constitution, 14th amendment, heimatland, immigration

H.R. 1406

The title of H.R. 1406 -- the "Working Families Flexibility Act" -- is fitting in a perverse way, because it insists that Working Families become Flexible to meet the whims and reduced-pay preferences of corporate America. If passed, H.R. 1406 would end overtime pay in America. Under the new system, employers could push workers to take on long work hours but pay them as if they weren't working overtime. Instead of being paid extra, employers could assign workers "comp time" off, which might be reasonable if workers could take that time off when they needed to (driven by a sick kid, a wedding, or the demands of that second job they need to make ends meet). But no, under H.R. 1406 workers can only take off that "comp time" when employers don't need them on the job anyway. Any abuses of employees by employers is supposed to be covered by the Wage and Hour division of the U.S. Department of Labor, but that's a joke of a provision considering that the division has suffered a giant backlog under budget cuts with less than 1 investigator per million workers. H.R. 1406 would be better entitled the "Work Workers Harder, Cut Overtime Pay and Gut their Families Act."

Legislative Tags: overtime, pay, workers, comp time, flexibility, low wage, families, corporations

H.R. 1506

Hardly before the 113th Congress had even begun, severe cuts began to education, housing, science, transportation, medicine, and other essential domestic programs. Even meat inspectors and nutrition for pregnant women and babies are being cut. In these circumstances, it is outrageous that funding for unnecessary military weapons programs surges ahead. U.S. Representative Ed Markey has responded to this problem with H.R. 1506, which will if passed block funding for new long-ranger bomber aircraft, reduce the number of American nuclear-powered submarines cruising the world's oceans, and cut the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with nuclear weapons. H.R. 1506 simultaneously serves the cause of peace and makes more money available for government programs that directly help people in the USA.

Legislative Tags: military, spending, weapons

H.R. 1554

H.R. 1554, the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act, will, if passed into law, close the loopholes that corporations and wealthy individuals use to avoid paying their fair share of the dues that keep American society going, tightening prohibitions on foreign tax shelters and punishing those who conspire to devise systems through which their wealthy clients can engage in tax evasion.

Legislative Tags: taxes, economy, fraud

H.R. 1652

H.R. 1652, the Student Non-Discrimination Act, would prohibit discrimination by public schools against students on the basis of their sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation. The bill is a straightforward application of the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law - a guarantee that in many school districts is not being applied.

Legislative Tags: glbt, lgbt, schools

H.R. 1755

H.R. 1755, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, should not be controversial. The 14th amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, after all, forbids the denial of equality under the law to any group of citizens. Gays and lesbians, however, are currently denied the protection from employment discrimination that is provided to others under federal law. Lesbian and gay Americans can be fired from their jobs for no other reason than their sexual orientation. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act would change that, and bring our nation back into accord with its Constitution.

Legislative Tags: glbt, lgbt, employment

H.R. 2475

As an article in the New York Times reports, a system of secret laws and secret courts has been created by the White House without the knowledge or consent of the American people. A FISA court of eleven justices, all appointed by the authoritarian-leaning Chief Justice John Roberts, have been authorizing massive warrantless surveillance programs that collect information on Americans' phone calls, e-mails, text messages and similar communications. The FISA judges did not turn down a single one of the many government surveillance requests in the year 2012. The same judges have created new law, ruling that if the government has "special needs," the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution can be overruled. This law is secret -- it is literally forbidden for anyone to tell you about the law's existence (the New York Times only obtained the information through unauthorized leaks). An opportunity exists for the Senate to change this arrangement through the Ending Secret Law Act. Introduced as H.R. 2475 in the House and S. 1130 in the Senate, the Ending Secret Law Act would, if passed, require the disclosure of the secret legal opinions of the FISA court to the public, with classified secrets blacked out. That way, the American people would at least be able to know what new powers the government has assumed for itself.

Legislative Tags: constitution, big brother, court, fisa, fourth amendment, secret law, nsa, secrecy, special needs, surveillance, transparency

H.R. 519

H.R. 519, the Uniting American Families Act, would act as a relief valve from illegal immigration by creating greater avenues for legal immigration. The idea is to broaden the list of family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are allowed to enter the country and obtain their own lawful permanent resident status, including permanent same-sex partners under family-based immgration provisions.

Legislative Tags: reuniting, immigration, families, same-sex, lgbt, gay

H.R. 526

H.R. 526, the ACHE Act, would create a moratorium on the practice of mountaintop removal coal mining - at least until scientific studies of the health impact of the mining procedure could be completed. The Appalachian Communities Health Emergency Act notes that Peer-reviewed scientific research and reports have raised serious concerns about mountaintop removal mining with respect to elevated risks in categories of birth defects studied: circulatory/respiratory, central nervous system, musculoskeletal, and gastrointestinal. Mountaintop removal coal mining also destroys local ecosystems, filling in clean mountain streams with debris laced with heavy metals.

Legislative Tags: mining, coal, energy, pollution, appalachia

H.R. 808

H.R. 808, if passed into law, would create a cabinet-level Department of Peacebuilding. The Secretary of Peacebuilding would coordinate federal policies designed to promote nonviolence.

Legislative Tags: peace, cabinet, nonviolence

H.R. 881

Typically, many of the smaller bombs contained in cluster bombs don't explode. They lie there, waiting for some extra stimulus before they'll erupt in violence - stimulus like the attention of a curious child. H. R. 881, the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act, prevents the expenditure of money in the federal budget for the use of cluster bombs unless it is certified that fewer than one percent of the small bombs distributed by U.S. cluster bombs fail to explode, and unless the policy dictating the use of cluster bombs specifies that the cluster bombs will only be used against military targets, not in areas where civilians are likely to go.

Legislative Tags: weapons, war, cluster bombs