Gavel Down: Closing Out the Week in Congress — 10.23.15

3 min read

POPVOX This Week

Top Search on POPVOX: “gun”

Most Active Bill on POPVOX:
Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act (H.R.3762)

from Rep. Tom Price (R, GA)

Reconciliation is an expedited process that offers some procedural advantages: it needs the support of a simple majority in the Senate, and cannot be filibustered.

This reconciliation bill includes language to repeal key parts of Obamacare: the individual mandate, the employer mandate, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), the medical device tax and the ‘Cadillac tax.’ In addition, it would defund Planned Parenthood for one year.


  • Paul Ryan kicked off the week announcing he was ready to take the Speaker’s gavel, with conditions. (The Daily Show has a few other suggestions for conditions he might consider.)
  • On Thursday we learned that a supermajority in the House Freedom Caucus is on board with the conditions (but not enough for a formal endorsement), and they have conditions of their own:
    • no immigration reform while Obama in office, and
    • following the “Hastert Rule,” no advancement of bills without support of a “majority of the majority”.

Who will be the next chair of “The Powerful Ways and Means Committee” (now that Paul Ryan looks set for a promotion)?

Looks like candidates for the next chair are Reps. Patrick Tiberi [OH-12], Kevin Brady [TX-8] and Devin Nunes [CA-22].

#ViewFromTheHill – October 22, 2015

The real “Monuments Men” were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for recovering valuable pieces of Western culture during WWII. The Monuments Men Foundation used the POPVOX widget to mobilize more than 800 people in support of H.R. 3658: The Monuments Men Recognition Act, in the 113th Congress.


It was hard to miss the crowds flooding the Longworth House Office Building for the Benghazi hearing on Thursday — or the flood of news coverage that followed Hillary Clinton’s marathon testimony before the House Select Committee. The Washington Post provided a helpful three minute summary of the testimony.

#HighwayBill #ICYMI

In case you missed it, one of the most consequential bills likely to be considered this year got a markup while most of Washington was focused on the Benghazi hearing. The Transportation & Infrastructure Committee amended and approved the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act (aka “the highway bill” you keep hearing about) for the House floor. Transportation & Infrastructure leaders “are sure” it will make it to the floor, the question is: when?


Also on Thursday (notice a pattern?), President Obama vetoed the $612 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the fifth veto of his term.
He cited several objections, including the ongoing sequester and other spending limits. In addition: 

“This legislation specifically impeded our ability to close Guantánamo in a way that I have repeatedly argued is counterproductive to our efforts to defeat terrorism around the world.” – White House statement on the NDAA veto


On Friday, the House voted to pass reconciliation package that would repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act and halt federal funding for Planned Parenthood. The bill is now off to the Senate, where it can be considered without a 60-vote cloture requirement (assuming the package passes muster with the Senate “Byrd Rule.”) The President is then expected to veto, setting up a veto override vote in Congress. However, a conservative revolt could derail the bill’s progress, as some conservative groups are opposing because the bill leaves some parts of ObamaCare intact.


Budget talks stalled before they could even really begin. Democrats reject Republicans’ entitlement programs reform, while Republicans dismiss Democrats’ domestic spending increases (sans painful cuts). The stalemate could lead to a one-year deal being passed, rather than the intended two-year deal to avoid a spending fight in the middle of an election year.


October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month — as if on cue, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (S. 754) advanced in the Senate on Thursday. This bill has seen the Senate Floor three times but stalled over privacy protections. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will try to wrap up work on the bill and vote next Tuesday afternoon.


Treasury Secretary, Jacob Lew, has warned that the U.S. will breach its “debt ceiling” on November 3, if Congress does not act to raise it. While raising the debt ceiling has been used in the past as a leverage point for negotiations on other issues, President Obama indicated on Friday that he would veto anything less than a “clean bill” to raise the limit. The House is expected to vote on the bill next week. House Freedom Caucus members will likely oppose the bill, meaning outgoing Speaker John Boehner will have to rely on Democratic votes as he “clear the barn” of these contentious issues before passing the gavel to a successor.

About that Gavel…

Speaker John Boehner tells the story of the gavel.

#HackWeTrust: “Hacking Congress” with Congress

Civic techies joined Members of Congress and staff to imagine ways to leverage technology to help Congress better communicate with constituents, be more transparent, and create the “hearing of the future.”

Alex Howard has a wrap-up for HuffingtonPost: “Biggest Innovation At Congressional Hackathon Was Lawmakers Actually Working Together.”

Weekend Reads

A Pictorial History of the U.S. Federal Debt Limit – George J. Hall and Thomas J. Sargent, Becker Friedman Institute, The University of Chicago

Introduction to Budget “Reconciliation” – David Reich and Richard Kogan, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities 

Veto Override Procedure in the House and Senate  – Elizabeth Rybicki, Congressional Research Service

Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill does not imply POPVOX endorsement in any way. As always, our goal is to offer one more way to help you stay informed about the complex U.S. legislative system.