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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.

Did the Senate vote to repeal Obamacare?

2017 July 27 - Alejandro Murguia-Ortiz

In my last post, I joked that voters don’t like to read. Well, the same can be said about some members of Congress and the Senate. Simply searching through our records of public statements, you’ll find calls to vote just days after a bill is finalized. This practice is so common that one senator has even re-introduced a “Read the Bills” resolution—most recently in response to the health care debate.

With such a rushed process, it’s inevitable that voters may feel out of touch with what is going on in the capitol. Lucky for you, and frankly for me, we have researchers who read and summarize bills so that you and I don’t have to.


Exhibit A: the national healthcare debate has caused major confusion. For the past few weeks, headline after headline announced the Senate healthcare bill was dead—only to be followed by another headline stating otherwise.


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.


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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 Is the Affordable Care Act repealed?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 ...

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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.

Research Wrap Up: What are your legislators up to?

2017 April 05

 Congress has been very busy in early 2017. Read further to find out what is happening on both sides of the aisle!

The Acidification of our Oceans

2016 November 14

 The issue of ocean acidification is slowly coming to prominence in the United States. Largely due to the strong array of scientific data backing up the claims of the changing chemistry of the seas, the issue is largely a bipartisan one.

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