Congress Watch

We Need Comprehensive Financial Reform!

Your senators need to hear from YOU! Call your senators toll-free at (866) 544-7573 and tell them support creating a strong, independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency (click here for talking points). Want to help spread the word? Check out the hilarious videos for financial reform directed by Ron Howard for here and here, and share them with your friends.

Medical malpractice payments continue to fall

As Congress debates ways to reform the country's health care crisis, Public Citizen released data showing that payments for medical malpractice continue to fall, despite the rising cost of health care nationwide. Changing the liability system would be a detriment to patients and creating alternative "health courts" would be overly costly. Read the report here.

Medical Malpractice and the Facts About Patient Safety

With President Barack Obama’s health care summit pending, a lot of misinformation about medical liability reform is being peddled and it's hard to separate reality from myth. A lot of facts are getting drowned out and key points are being lost. We don't often hear that medical malpractice litigation is at near-record lows and the cost of the entire medical liability system amounts to less than six-tenths of 1 percent of national health care expenditures. To learn more about patient safety and medical malpractice, read the facts here.

Don’t Get Rolled!

A corporate titan driving a giant steamroller that is about to crush the U.S. Capitol building, showing corporate influence in elections.

In the widely-publicized Supreme Court case Citizens United v. FEC, the Justices ruled in a 5-4 decision that corporations have a First Amendment right to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence election outcomes. Public Citizen is calling for a Constitutional amendment to reverse this decision and prevent corporate giants from taking over our elections. Sign our petition at

DoddMore than 45,000 Tell Sen. Dodd: Stand up to Wall Street

Recently, a financial industry lobbyist said because Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) is retiring, he is now free to “dance with the special interests that brought him to the dance in the first place. Us, his loyal donors in the banking community." More than 45,000 said "No way!" Watch the video of our petition delivery and read Dodd's response.

We diwind it! Victory in the House!

With passage of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives took an important first step in reregulating the financial sector. Most importantly, the bill creates a powerful financial consumer watchdog agency. Take action to urge the Senate to pass Wall Street reform.

CA$HING IN: Ex-Government Officials Lobbying for the Financial Services Sector in 2009

Revolving Door

Since the beginning of 2009, organizations in the financial services sector – including banks, investment firms, insurance companies and real estate companies – have commissioned 940 former federal employees as federal lobbyists, Public Citizen’s analysis of data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics shows. LEARN MORE and read our reports on the finance industry's influence on lawmakers.

Financial Industry Invests Heavily in Key Lawmakers

Bank-rolling Congress

As Congress considers legislation to reregulate the financial services industry in response to the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression, the industry is focusing campaign contributions on the congressional leadership and members of the committees crafting reform legislation. Learn more about how Wall Street uses its assets to influence Congress in our new report, "Financial Industry Invests Heavily in Key Lawmakers." You can learn more and take action on our Financial Accountability and Security page. Also, read our reports on the finance industry's influence on lawmakers.

Stand Up for Victims of Arbitrationjaimeleighjones

More than 125,500 activists signed our petition urging the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to stop lobbying to protect rapists. Our successful push to help pass Sen. Franken's (D-Minn.) amendment will keep defense contractors from forcing employees like Jamie Leigh Jones (above) with sexual assault and discrimination claims into arbitration. But there remains much to be done in the fight against forced arbitration in all manner of consumer and employee contracts.

Whistleblower Protections
Uncle Sam

It's time to strengthen protections for whistleblowers and our tax dollars. Check out the Whistleblower Film Series at the Capitol Visitor's Center! Get the latest news and take action!

Forced Arbitration: Unfair and Everywhere

arbitration 200904

Our report, “Forced Arbitration: Unfair and Everywhere,” shows that mandatory binding arbitration, or “forced arbitration,” is nearly ubiquitous in many industries. In most forced arbitration cases, consumers are stripped of their right to go to court over consumer disputes. READ our report.

Bank-Rolling Congress

Bank-rolling Congress

Lobbyists, political action committees (PACs) and trade associations tied to the banks receiving the most federal bailout money have scheduled 70 fundraisers for members of Congress since Election Day and have made $6 million in federal campaign contributions. LEARN MORE.

Back to Basics Health Reform

prescription reform

A report issued by Public Citizen proposes 10 cost-cutting, patient-safety measures that would save an estimated 85,000 lives and $35 billion a year. Most of the reforms in Public Citizen’s report involve simple fundamentals. Read our letter to the Senate Finance Committee, LEARN MORE, and TAKE ACTION.

Support Fair Elections Now!

The Fair Elections Now Act, sponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Reps. John Larsen (D-Conn.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.), presents an exciting new approach to financing campaigns. This bipartisan bill creates an alternative to big special interest money in politics by allowing congressional candidates to run campaigns on public funds and unlimited small contributions from ordinary citizens. Learn what you can do to support the bill here.

Medical Malpractice Payments Fall to Record Low, Public Citizen Study Shows

medmal gurney

Medical malpractice is so common, and litigation over it so rare, that between three and seven Americans die from medical errors for every one who receives a payment for any malpractice claim, a report released by Public Citizen indicates. LEARN MORE and read our press release and our letter to the Senate Finance Committee.

Home Court Advantage: Using Forced Arbitration to Evade Accountability

Millions of new home purchasers each year are forced into binding mandatory arbitration by deceptive “warranties,” and those warranties may violate the law in as many as 17 states, Public Citizen has found. These warranties are particularly insidious because consumers often do not learn of their details until after moving into their new houses. The process is inherently secretive, and arbitration firms routinely flout the few laws that require them to disclose basic information about their cases. LEARN MORE and be sure to visit

Poll: Americans Oppose Forced Arbitration

If you've ever bought a cell phone, computer or car, chances are you unwittingly signed away your right to hold the manufacturer accountable in court for wrongdoing. That's because of fine print tucked in your purchase contract that requires you to go to arbitration instead of court. Forced arbitration clauses also are buried in employee handbooks, nursing home admissions forms and more. A new poll shows that Americans widely oppose these clauses and want Congress to act.

LEARN more.


Audit the Fed

The Federal Reserve has operated without sufficient transparency or accountability to the American people. Americans across the nation, regardless of their opinion on the bailouts, want to know where that money has gone and exactly how much has been spent. Public Citizen and others have sent a letter to Congress encouraging support for H.R. 1207, "The Federal Reserve Transparency Act" which would eliminate the restrictions on U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) audits of the Federal Reserve. Our coalition has sent a letter. Read our latest letter.

Public Citizen Challenges the Federal Election Commission

In the first court challenge to a series of recent dismissals of campaign finance enforcement cases, Public Citizen filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Federal Election Commission's dismissal of a matter involving the pro-business group Americans for Job Security (AJS). We charge that AJS should be treated as a regulated political committee by the FEC. READ our complaint.

Consumer Safety Under Attack

Toxic Teddy

Industry groups are attempting to repeal some of the safety standards we strengthened with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. These protections must be implemented - not rolled back! Learn the facts and take action on

Presidential Records Act

In 2001, Bush signed Executive Order 13233 which allowed presidents to withhold documents and records without explanation INDEFINITELY. Presidents shouldn't be able to undermine the law with the stroke of a pen. Congress must pass the Presidential Records Act Amendments to ensure presidential records are properly conveyed to their rightful owner - the American people. Read our letter to Senator Joseph Lieberman and get the latest updates on our Watchdog Blog.

Watch the Sunshine Week 2009 Webcast

Opening_doorsThe Open the Government Coalition sponsored an interactive webcast between citizens, activists, journalists, technology experts, and members of the government transition team about how we can achieve a more open government. The speakers received live questions and comments from participants watching the webcast around the world. Watch the webcast here.

Public Citizen and other organizations strongly support Obama's Ethics Executive Order

The Washington culture of lobbyists, special interests and campaign contributions combine to exercise undue influence over government decisions, at the great expense of the citizens of our country. Public Citizen and other organizations wrote President Obama to express strong support for his groundbreaking Ethics Executive Order, with its unprecedented revolving door and "reverse" revolving door requirements. It is a major first step in the battle to fix Washington. Read the letter here.

Yes to D.C. Voting Rights Act, No to Gun Amendment!

The Senate has passed the DC Voting Rights Act and the House of Representatives will likely take it up soon. However, an amendment that would gut DC’s local gun control laws was also passed and attached to the bill. We must act quickly to stop this dangerous and unnecessary gun-slinging measure from becoming law. Two other letters have been sent demanding that Congress respect DC's right to pass their own local gun laws. Take action now!

Stop Insider Trading in Washington!

The Securities Exchange Commission has no authority to stop members of Congress, their staff and federal employees from using non-public information to make insider trades on the stock market. Public Citizen is calling on Congress to eliminate this accountability loophole. Read more about our campaign to end insider trading in Washington and see our letter in support of a bill to ban it. You can also help us convince congress to pass the 'Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge' Act.

Public Citizen Calls on Transportation Secretary LaHood to Allow States to End “Pay-to-Play” in Government Contracts

On February 25, Public Citizen sent a second letter urging Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to end the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) practice of withholding highway funds from states that attempt to curb corruption by enacting “pay-to-play” reforms. We are calling on LaHood to rescind the previous administration’s policy and allow states to ban the practice of exchanging cash for contracts. Read the press release here.

bailstreetGood Government Advocates Ask for Transparency and Oversight of Bailout

In light of the government’s commitment of an estimated $8.5 trillion of taxpayer money to financial rescue initiatives with no transparency and little oversight, Public Citizen has joined a coalition of over 70 groups in asking that Congress put the publics interest first. The groups released a set of recommendations that include a cap on credit card and mortgage interest rates, public equity in firms receiving bailout funds, and rules that would prevent lobbyists and firms from cashing in on the massive taxpayer handout. Learn more and read the full letter.

nursing home wheelchair

Nursing Home Arbitration

We trust nursing homes to make sure our loved ones are in a safe environment, but many elderly residents are neglected. Instead of focusing on providing the best care to their residents, nursing homes are busy immunizing themselves from accountability by inserting binding mandatory arbitration clauses into the fine print of their admission papers. Take action!

paperstacksm.jpgTell the Senate to Go Digital

As it stands now, it takes weeks for the public to obtain the Senate’s “analog” paper campaign disclosure forms. This means that in the final, critical weeks of a campaign, well-heeled donors can anonymously provide funding for last minute negative attack ads for candidates. This is unfair to voters and taxpayers who support a cumbersome system. Take action!

Fine PrintArbitration Harms Consumers, Studies Prove

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has painted a grossly inaccurate picture of the empirical evidence on binding mandatory arbitration, a comprehensive study issued by Public Citizen reveals. In this type of arbitration, consumers lose their right to settle disputes in court and instead are routed to a private, secretive system that favors the company. Learn more here.

What's in Your Wallet?

Public Citizen released its report, The Arbitration Trap: How Credit Card Companies Ensnare Consumers. Binding Mandatory Arbitration clauses are being inserted into credit card contacts. Merely by signing your name on the dotted line, you forfeit your constitutional right to a trial by jury. All disputes are settled by a for-profit arbitrator, appeal is nearly impossible, and our research shows the cards are stacked against you. Learn more and take action!

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