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The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Project Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

Political Research Wrap-Up: Not much of a recess for Congress.

2017 September 11

 

While Congress was on recess, discussion over hurricanes, white supremacists, and North Korea kept them from enjoying it.


Notable Public Statements:


Check out our latest piece. Click here to read “Rising Tensions with North Korea: A Timeline.”


Recent Legislation:

  • Health Care Amendments:

S Amdt 270: This amendment would have replaced the ACA with the Better Care Reconciliation Act, also known as the “repeal and replace” option.

S Amdt 271: Senate also voted on a bill that would have replaced the ACA with the “Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act of 2017,” or the “repeal-only” option.

S Amdt 340: This amendment would have expanded Medicare coverage, providing comprehensive health insurance for all United States residents.

S Amdt 667: The final health care vote to pass an amendment that would have replaced the ACA with the Health Care Freedom Act of 2017, or the “skinny repeal” option.

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Rising Tensions with North Korea: A Timeline

2017 September 05 - Alejandro Ortiz

From "fire and fury", to "locked and loaded", and most recently "All options are on the table", the President has had some tough and controversial words for Kim Jong-Un and North Korea after several Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) tests and now a hydrogen bomb test. Some critics worry that these words have worsened the rising tensions with North Korea; other critics simply worry that Twitter may not be the best outlet to issue these statements. those who defend him feel that Trump’s words should reflect North Korea’s actions.  

While members of Congress have debated the President’s statements, sanctions on North Korea have been strongly supported in both the Capitol and the White House in 2017. Following nuclear tests, the death of Otto Warmbier, and sanctions on North Korea, we’ve seen that tensions between the US and North Korea have only continued to snowball.   


This snowball has been rolling for far longer than 2017, however--while Americans threw literal snowballs celebrating New Year’s Day, Kim Jong-un issued a statement about his nuclear plans--setting the tone for the rest of the year. Skip forward 6 months and several missile tests and we arrive at another holiday--the 4th of July. As Americans launched fireworks in their backyards, North Korea celebrated by testing its first ICBM.


To visualize the series of events that followed, we have compiled a timeline below outlining the rising tensions between the US and North Korea since the launch and the statements made and actions taken as a result.

Did the Senate vote to repeal Obamacare?

2017 July 27 - Alejandro Murguia-Ortiz

On July 25, your social media feed was likely filled with victory cries from those seeking to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with the still-evolving Senate version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Opponents also took to social media with messages of defeat. However, the debate is anything but finished.


So what’s actually going on with the Senate healthcare bill? Is the Affordable Care Act repealed? And, what is the Senate voting on?

Well, it’s tricky, so bear with me—I’m not even sure if someone currently voting in the capitol can easily explain where the debate stands. I’ll simplify the issue and provide a brief timeline of how we got to where we are today.


Political Research Wrap-Up: Republicans win five of the seven races in June, Trump talks foreign policy.

2017 July 10

 Republicans win five of the seven races in June, seats remain virtually unchanged. President Trump talks foreign policy.

Is it a Muslim Ban?

2017 June 27 - Alejandro Ortiz

Many voters don’t like to read–I’ve probably lost those voters already. Politicians use titles and labels to steer the conversation in whatever direction they choose–think Trumpcare vs. Better Care Reconciliation Act. This was no different with the President’s “Travel Ban.” Because many are unlikely to read the executive order, the labels and titles attached to it have a lot of influence into its perceived impact. Is it a Muslim Ban? A Travel Ban? Or extreme vetting?

After several roadblocks, the Supreme Court has, by a unanimous decision, allowed part of the “Travel Ban” (formally titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States) to go into effect. Since its inception, this executive order has received criticism for its restrictions that would limit entry from certain predominantly Muslim nations to the US.


Trump Announces US-Cuba Relations Changing Once Again

2017 June 19 - Alejandro Ortiz

 “Good afternoon. Today, the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba.” These were the opening lines of Barack Obama’s announcement of his plans to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba back in December of 2014. Those words could have also opened President Trump’s speech on Friday where he announced plans to roll back some of the changes set forth by the Obama administration.  
 

“We will not lift sanctions on the Cuban regime,” President Trump proclaimed, ”until all political prisoners are freed, freedoms of assembly and expression are respected, all political parties are legalized, and free and internationally supervised elections are scheduled. Elections.”

 

These plans come just weeks after the bipartisan coalition consisting of US Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) introduced legislation that would lift the Cuban trade embargo.

Catch Up on the James Comey Controversy Before Today’s Hearing

2017 June 08

On May 9, FBI Director James Comey was let go from his position by President Donald Trump–leaving many to wonder what incidents led to such a serious end.













 

Political Research Wrap Up: Comey, Healthcare, and Foreign Policy in Under 140 Characters

2017 June 02

 James Comey, health care, and foreign policy in under 140 characters. Read on to find out what has kept Congress and President Trump's Twitter account so busy.

Filibusters: Political Strategy or Wasted Effort?

2017 May 08

In political news, there is a lot of talk over the use of filibusters in the Senate, especially during the U.S Senate's recent confirmation of supreme court judge Neil Gorsuch. Are these efforts an effective political strategy or are legislators wasting everyone's time?

Top Trending Pages on Votesmart.org

2017 April 25

 The 2016 Election is over, but things are not quiet in politics! Citizens have been busy using votesmart.org to find out what their officials and candidates have been up to.

We went through our website and pulled our most viewed webpages from over the past month, to give you an idea of the topics that seem to be sparking the interest of our users.

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