Congress

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The near financial meltdown in 2008 precipitated some of the biggest bank bailouts and government giveaways in history. That, in turn, paved the way for the largest reforms to the financial sector in several generations, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Dodd-Frank was tasked with creating more than 200 rules, along with it the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It celebrated its 5 year anniversary Tuesday and has completed only two-thirds of the rules mandated.

The rest of the month is setting up to be pretty dramatic in the Senate.

A key section of the Patriot Act — the part of law the White House uses to conduct mass surveillance on the call records of Americans — is set to expire June 1. That leaves legislators with a big decision to make: Rewrite the statute to outlaw or modify the practice or extend the statute and let the National Security Agency continue with its work.

As the Senate debates, we answer six questions that'll get you up to speed:

1. What's Congress debating here?

The National Security Agency's practice of collecting data about Americans' telephone calls in bulk goes beyond what Congress intended when it wrote Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday.

The three-judge panel was asked to consider whether the program violated the Constitution. Instead, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel punted on the constitutional claim, deciding the program was simply not authorized by federal law.

The Affordable Care Act requires all Americans to get health insurance or pay a penalty. To help coax people to buy a health plan, the federal government now subsidizes premiums for millions of Americans.

Survey: Nearly 9 In 10 US Adults Now Have Health Insurance

Apr 13, 2015
Ryan Poppe

WASHINGTON — Underlining a change across the nation, nearly 9 out of 10 adults now say they have health insurance, according to an extensive survey released Monday. As recently as 2013, slightly more than 8 out of 10 had coverage.

Whether the new number from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index turns out to be a high-water mark for President Barack Obama’s health care law, or a milestone on the path toward his goal of getting virtually all U.S. residents covered, remains to be seen.

The law’s future is still up in the air, and will turn on factors ranging from an upcoming Supreme Court decision on consumer subsidies to actions by Republican leaders in states opposed to Medicaid expansion.

The Gallup-Healthways survey found that the share of adults who lack insurance dropped to 11.9 percent for the first three months of this year, the lowest level since that survey began its tracking in 2008.

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