What can Congress do?

We’re monitoring federal action and reporting back on whether our elected officials are acting for or against the public interest.

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Lisa Frank
Vice President and D.C. Office Director, The Public Interest Network

Author: Lisa Frank

Vice President and D.C. Office Director, The Public Interest Network

Started on staff: 2016
B.A., magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa and recipient of the Government Department Award and American Government Award, Georgetown University

Lisa oversees The Public Interest Network's Washington, D.C., office and operations. She has won millions of dollars in investments in walking, biking and transit, and has helped develop strategic campaigns to protect America's oceans, forests and public lands from drilling, logging and road-building. Lisa is an Oregonian transplant in Washington, D.C., where she loves hiking, running, biking, and cooking for friends and family.

Practically every day the federal government is making decisions that have a very real impact on our lives and our future. U.S. PIRG is working in Washington, D.C. to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, transform transportation, protect consumers, ensure we have a healthy, clean environment and climate, and more. You can read more about our top federal priorities here. But there’s much more that Congress and the Biden administration can do to protect our health and our future.

We’re monitoring federal action on all of these issues and reporting back to our members and the public whether our elected officials acted for or against the public interest.

PUBLIC HEALTH

To save lives and end the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve urged the Biden administration to ramp up production of vaccines and personal protective equipment, and asked Congress to quickly provide critical money for COVID-19 response efforts, including tens of billions for vaccination programs, ramping up testing and boosting supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE). Read our statement on the American Rescue Plan.

To keep antibiotics working, we’re urging the Food and Drug Administration to set a 50 percent reduction target for antibiotic use in animal agriculture. Congress should consider legislation such as the PHARM Act to rein in antibiotic overuse.

To end the nicotine trap, we support action by Congress and the administration to restrict the appeal and access of e-cigarettes to young people.

TRANSFORM TRANSPORTATION

For our health, our safety and our children's future, we need to transform our transportation systems.

To electrify buses, we’re asking Congress and the administration to significantly increase funding for the Low or No Emission Vehicle Program and enact legislation such as the Clean School Bus Act.

To electrify cars, we’re urging Congress to create a national network of charging stations and expand electric vehicle tax credits.

So we can all drive less and live more, we’re advocating to shift funding from highway expansion to walking, biking and transit, and to fix existing infrastructure instead of building new roads.

Congress and the administration can also reduce air pollution that threatens our health by setting strong vehicle emission standards and tracking greenhouse gas pollution from transportation.

CONSUMER PROTECTION

We’re asking the Senate to confirm Rohit Chopra as the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, our cop on the financial beat.

To stop the debt trap, we’re urging Congress to end predatory payday lending by capping interest rates on loans.

To protect our credit, we’re calling on Congress and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to reform credit reporting and hold credit bureaus accountable when they misreport information or put us at risk of identity theft. Read our tips to protect your credit.

To protect consumers during the pandemic, we support regulatory action to stop price-gouging, debt collection, eviction and negative credit reporting.

And, we’re urging the Food and Drug Administration to ensure the safety of over the counter drugs like cough syrup, hand sanitizer, baby aspirin.

HIGH VALUE HEALTHCARE

To rein in prescription drug pricing, we support legislation and action by the Federal Trade Commission to stop price-gouging and patent abuse, and to speed up approval of affordable generic drugs.

To end surprise billing, we are watchdogging the implementation of the No Surprises Act and calling for additional protections against surprise ground ambulance bills. Read our statement on the No Surprises Act.

HIGHER EDUCATION

To make higher education affordable, we’re calling on Congress to double Pell grants and to fix the broken textbook market.

To protect student borrowers, we are asking the Biden administration to extend pandemic-related student loan freezes to private lenders, and to exercise strong oversight of student loan providers.

NEW ECONOMY

We keep producing and consuming more and more “stuff.” How can we do a better job of improving the quality of our lives? Our New Economy program is finding answers.

To support “work for wellbeing” — the work millions of Americans do every day to take care of their loved ones — U.S. PIRG supports “child allowance” or “child benefit” programs, such as the one enacted in the American Rescue Plan. We also support extending the Earned Income Tax Credit to people performing unpaid caregiving work. Read our report on caregiving, Vital and Undervalued.

U.S. PIRG is also calling on Congress and the Federal Trade Commission to provide the right to repair our stuff — from cell phones to tractors to life-saving medical equipment. Read about our work to ensure hospitals could fix ventilators during the pandemic.

DEMOCRACY

U.S. PIRG is committed to rebuilding and protecting a democracy where everyone participates and everyone’s voice is heard.

To get big money out of our elections, we’re advocating for small donor public financing for Congressional races.

To modernize the vote, we support legislation to expand access to voter registration, early voting, and vote by mail, and to establish minimum standards for voting procedures nationwide.

ZERO WASTE

Our country has a waste problem. It’s time for new solutions, and a renewed commitment to move toward zero waste.

U.S. PIRG is calling on Congress to pass the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, which bans the most harmful single-use plastics, institutes a national bottle bill, finances recycling, composting and reusable infrastructure, and makes producers responsible for their waste.

We also support provisions in the Zero Waste Act, CLEAN Future Act, and other policies that would move us towards a zero waste future.

ZERO OUT TOXICS

To make polluters pay for the toxic waste they create, we’re urging Congress to reinstate the Polluter Pays Tax in the Superfund cleanup program.

We’re also urging Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency to ban bee-killing pesticides, toxic PFAS chemicals, and Roundup.

CLIMATE SOLUTIONS

We shouldn’t waste tax dollars fueling the climate crisis, so we’re urging Congress and the administration to end fossil fuel subsidies.

Lisa Frank
Vice President and D.C. Office Director, The Public Interest Network

Author: Lisa Frank

Vice President and D.C. Office Director, The Public Interest Network

Started on staff: 2016
B.A., magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa and recipient of the Government Department Award and American Government Award, Georgetown University

Lisa oversees The Public Interest Network's Washington, D.C., office and operations. She has won millions of dollars in investments in walking, biking and transit, and has helped develop strategic campaigns to protect America's oceans, forests and public lands from drilling, logging and road-building. Lisa is an Oregonian transplant in Washington, D.C., where she loves hiking, running, biking, and cooking for friends and family.