Podcast Episodes

Public Law 113-6: Monsanto Protection Act

The nicknamed "Monsanto Protection Act" was part of the government funding bill that President Obama signed into law on March 26, 2013; it forces permits to be issued for new plants - like genetically modified plants grown by Monsanto - while the Department of Agriculture investigates whether the plant is harmful and should be regulated. The Monsanto Protection Act was able to be quietly passed into law because our government is not being funded properly. Each branch of Congress - the House and the Senate - is supposed to pass twelve separate appropriations bills for twelve different government divisions and then merge their bills in conference committees before twelve appropriations bills are sent to the President.  This process is supposed to happen every year. In March 2013, during...

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H.R. 1911: Increase Interest Rates for Students

H.R. 1911, the "Smarter Solutions for Students Act", allows the interest rates on student loans to go up to 8.5% for undergraduate students and 10.5% for graduate students. * Get all the details about this bill in podcast episode CD029 Background On July 1, 2013 the interest rate for federally subsidized Stafford student loans - which are loans for undergraduate students-  are set to double from 3.4% to 6.8%. In 2008, Congress lowered the rates for four years and then extended the lower rates for one more year. July 1 is when the clock runs out on the lower rates. Bill Highlights Section 2: Adds a new section to the Higher Education Act of 1965. New Stafford student loans issued after July 1, 2013 will have an interest rate equal to the high-yield Treasury notes plus 2.5%; the rates...

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H.R. 3: No Permits Needed For Keystone XL Pipeline

H.R. 3 "The Northern Route Approval Act" waives the permitting requirements for construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Background *Get all the details on H.R. 3 in Congressional Dish episode CD029 The Keystone XL pipeline is a proposed pipeline that will transport diluted bitumen - a heated form of tar found in the Alberta region of Canada - to refineries on the Texas coast. The pipeline will cross an international border which means that the President needs to certify that the project serves the national interest of the United States before the project can proceed. The are many reasons why the Keystone XL pipeline is not in the national interest of the United States including: Tar sands energy emits more carbon than conventional fossil fuels, accelerating climate change....

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H.R. 1073: Penalties for Attacks

H.R. 1073 the "Nuclear Terrorism Conventional Implementation and Safety of Maritime Navigation Act of 2013" assigns penalties for attacking United States' ships and for using or attempting to use radioactive weapons. It also adds "United States corporations" to the list of entities protected. * Get all the details in Congressional Dish episode CD029 Background Section 2280 of Title 18, United States Code fines and imprisons people for up to 20 years for intentionally: Attempting to or succeeding in seizing a ship. Destroys or damages a ship. Destroys or damages navigational facilities. Communicates false information to endanger a ship. Conspires to do any of these things. If the attack is successful and a death occurs, the suspect can be sentenced to death or life in prison. The law...

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H.R. 258: Don’t Lie About Military Medals for Money

H.R. 258: "The Stolen Valor Act of 2013" penalizes people with a fine and up to a year in prison if they wear a military medal they didn't earn in order to get money, property, or any other tangible benefit. A previous version of this bill was ruled unconstitutional. * Get all the details in Congressional Dish episode CD029 Background The first "Stolen Valor Act" was signed by President Bush in 2006 and it said that a person could be penalized for pretending to have a medal of honor for military service. However, in June 2012 the Supreme Court ruled that lying, even about receiving a medal of honor, is protected speech under the First Amendment, rendering the original Stolen Valor Act unconstitutional and void. Bill Highlights Section 2: Prohibits lying about medals to get benefits...

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H.R. 1062: Prevent Wall Street Regulations

H.R. 1062, the "SEC Regulatory Accountability Act" aims to make the Wall Street police much more friendly to Wall Street. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will have to take Wall Street's financial interests into account when placing rules upon them; SEC will also have to explain themselves when they don't take Wall Street's rule-making suggestions. Background People who make lots of money on Wall Street give lots of money to current members of Congress. Bill Highlights Section 2: Adds a section to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (e)(1) Before issuing a Wall Street regulation, the SEC must: State what problem the regulation will solve. Do a cost-benefit analysis on the real and financial effects of the regulation. Tell what other alternatives to regulation are...

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H.R. 45: Repeal ObamaCare

H.R. 45, introduced by Rep. Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota, is the latest bill to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - a.k.a. ObamaCare. Background The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, nicknamed ObamaCare, passed during the 111th Congress, when the Democratic Party controlled both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Although people in politics and media who take money from the health insurance industry have effectively convinced some citizens otherwise, the bill left our health care needs in the hands of private insurers who - by law - have duties to their shareholders, not to patients. In fact, the bill requires all Americans to buy their products, an issue which was narrowly ruled Constitutional by the Supreme Court. However, in return for...

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H.R. 1406: Time Off Instead of Overtime Pay

H.R. 1406 the "Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013" allows employers to offer their employees paid time off instead of overtime pay, if the employee agrees to it. *Get all the details on this bill in podcast episode CD028: Overtime Background The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 established rules for company owners to prevent mistreatment and general screwing over of their workers. This law was responsible for, among other things, prohibiting child labor, the minimum wage, and guaranteed time-and-a-half overtime payments. The Working Families Flexibility Act changes the rules regarding guaranteed overtime payments. Bill Highlights Section 2: Adds a new section to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The new section says: (s) Compensatory Time Off for Private Employees (1)...

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H.R. 807: More Debt Ceiling Shenanigans

H.R. 807, the "Full Faith and Credit Act says that the United States will still make payments on our debt, the interest on the debt, and social security if we reach the debt ceiling. However, payments for everything else in the government is ignored and we would probably default on those bills. This bill has no chance of becoming law. *Get all the details on this bill in podcast episode CD028: Overtime. Background In January, President Obama signed the "No Budget, No Pay Act" into law because it temporarily suspended the debt ceiling until May 18th, 2013. Well, May 18th is almost here. Welcome to yet another ridiculous, unnecessary debt ceiling crisis. Bill Highlights Section 2: Payment of Public Debt and Social Security (a-c) If we hit the debt ceiling, the Treasury Secretary must...

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H.R. 1549: Defund the Public Health Fund

In the most clever bill to date designed to dismantle Obamacare, H.R. 1549 "Helping Sick Americans Now Act", takes money away from the public health fund and puts it towards coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions. Doesn't sound too bad, does it? That's why it's so sneaky. But don't worry; it has no chance of becoming law. *Get all the details on this bill in podcast episode CD026: A Tale of Two Bills Background On March 2, 2013, the temporary high-risk pool set up for Americans with pre-existing medical conditions stopped accepting new applicants to the program. The program was given $5 billion to provide medical care for people who can't get health insurance coverage from private insurers - the only kind available - who avoid customers with previous health issues because...

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