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 Decade: 2000-2009
 Year: 2009
 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
401(k) Plans and Retirement Savings: Issues for Congress
Over the past 25 years, defined contribution (DC) plans - including 401(k) plans - have become the most prevalent form of employer-sponsored retirement plan in the United States. This report describes seven major policy issues with respect to defined contribution plans: 1) access to employer-sponsored retirement plans; 2) participation in employer-sponsored plans; 3) contribution rates; 4) investment choices; 5) fee disclosure; 6) leakage from retirement savings; and 7) converting retirement savings into income. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26189/
The 2009 Influenza Pandemic: An Overview
This report first provides a synopsis of key events, actions taken, and authorities invoked by WHO, the U.S. federal government, and state and local governments. It then discusses the WHO process to determine the phase of a flu pandemic, and selected actions taken by the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, and by state and local authorities. Next, it lists congressional hearings held to date, and provides information about appropriations and funding for pandemic flu activities. Finally, it summarizes U.S. government pandemic flu planning documents and lists sources for additional information about the situation as it unfolds. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26151/
The 2009 Influenza Pandemic: Selected Legal Issues
In late April 2009, human cases of infection with a novel influenza A(H1N1) virus, commonly known as "swine flu," were identified. Since then, the virus has become widespread. It is timely to examine the legal issues surrounding this public health threat. This report provides a brief overview of selected legal issues including emergency measures, civil rights, liability issues, and employment issues. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26152/
The 2009 Influenza Pandemic: U.S. Responses to Global Human Cases
This report discusses the April 2009 outbreak of the influenza strain known as H1N1, or commonly, swine influenza. This report describes the distribution of the virus and the statistics of affected areas, as well as international and U.S. efforts to treat infected persons, respond to outbreaks in various countries (such as Mexico and other Latin American nations), and prepare for a possible influenza pandemic. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26157/
Access to Government Information in the United States
The U.S. Constitution makes no specific allowance for any one of the three branches of the federal government to have access to information held by the others. No provision in the U.S. Constitution expressly establishes a procedure for public access to government information. Congress has legislated various public access laws. Among these laws are two records access statutes, The Freedom of Information Act, the Privacy Act, and two meetings access statutes, the Federal Advisory Committee Act, and the Government in the Sunshine Act. This report offers an overview of the four information access laws noted above, and provides citations to additional resources related to these tools. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29513/
Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E): Background, Status, and Selected Issues for Congress
This report discusses the establishment of the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) within the Department of Energy (DOE) as part of the America COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69), which was authorized by Congress in August 2007. Modeled on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), ARPA-E would support transformational energy technology research projects with the goal of enhancing the nation's economic and energy security. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87341/
Afghanistan and Pakistan Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs), H.R. 1318/H.R.1886/H.R. 2410 and S. 496: Issues and Arguments
This report discusses legislation related to the Pakistan Enduring Assistance and Cooperation Enhancement Act (H.R. 1886), the Afghanistan-Pakistan Security and Prosperity Enhancement Act (H.R. 1318), and the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011 (H.R. 2410). It also discusses the Afghanistan and Pakistan Reconstruction Opportunity Zones Act (S. 496). The report also discusses how this legislation represents a political and symbolic importance for U.S. relationships with Afghanistan and Pakistan. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26162/
Afghanistan and Pakistan Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs), H.R. 1318/H.R. 1886/H.R. 2410 and S. 496: Issues and Arguments
This report discusses legislation related to the Pakistan Enduring Assistance and Cooperation Enhancement Act (H.R. 1886), the Afghanistan-Pakistan Security and Prosperity Enhancement Act (H.R. 1318), and the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011 (H.R. 2410). It also discusses the Afghanistan and Pakistan Reconstruction Opportunity Zones Act (S. 496). The report also discusses how this legislation represents a political and symbolic importance for U.S. relationships with Afghanistan and Pakistan. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26161/
Afghanistan: Government Formation and Performance
The Afghan central government's limited writ and widespread official corruption are helping sustain a Taliban insurgency, and have fed pessimism about the Afghanistan stabilization effort. President Hamid Karzai is working with U.S. and international donors on how to improve governance and delivery of public services, and on winning re-election in presidential elections slated for August 20, 2009. Many agree that the country has made substantial progress on personal and political freedoms since the fall of the Taliban regime. Over the past year U.S. officials have been shifting away from reliance on building the central government and toward promoting local governing bodies and security initiatives as a complement to efforts to build central government capabilities. The United States will increase economic development efforts, and develop benchmarks with which to judge the performance and legitimacy of the Afghan government, including its efforts to curb official corruption. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc84027/
Afghanistan: Government Formation and Performance
This report discusses the current Afghan government, which is rife with corruption and very limited in power, hence the continued presence of the Taliban and general worldwide pessimism about Afghanistan stabilization efforts. This report addresses issues such as ethnic diputes, President Hamid Karzai's re-election bid for August 2009, and the U.S.-Afghanistan relationship in particular. The Obama Administration is currently promoting, among other Afghanistan stabilization efforts, a "civilian surge" of additional U.S. personnel to Afghanistan. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26322/
Afghanistan: Narcotics and U.S. Policy
Opium poppy cultivation and drug trafficking have eroded Afghanistan's fragile political and economic order over the last 30 years. This report provides current statistical information, profiles the narcotics trade's participants, explores linkages between narcotics, insecurity, and corruption, and reviews U.S. and international policy responses since late 2001. The report also considers ongoing policy debates regarding the counternarcotics role of coalition military forces, poppy eradication, alternative livelihoods, and funding issues for Congress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26224/
Afghanistan: Politics, Government Formation and Performance
The Afghan central government's limited writ and widespread official corruption are helping sustain a Taliban insurgency, and have fed pessimism about the Afghanistan stabilization effort. This report discusses the current tumultuous political state of Afghanistan, focusing particularly on Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his struggle with the Taliban terrorist group. This report also discusses Afghanistan's relationship with the U.S. with regard to these struggles, and describes various U.S. efforts currently underway to help Afghanistan build a stable government and economy. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26323/
Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy
This report discusses the current political state of Afghanistan, focusing particularly on the influence of the Taliban and other militant groups and on the leadership of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. This report also discusses the U.S.-Afghanistan relationship and U.S. efforts under the Obama Administration to provide military, reconstructive, and stabilization aid. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26199/
Afghanistan: U.S. Foreign Assistance
The U.S. program of assistance to Afghanistan is intended to stabilize and strengthen the Afghan economic, social, political, and security environment so as to blunt popular support for extremist forces in the region. Since 2001, nearly $38 billion has been appropriated toward this effort. This report provides a "big picture" overview of the U.S. aid program and congressional action. It describes what various aid agencies report they are doing in Afghanistan. It does not address the effectiveness of their programs. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26185/
Afghanistan: U.S. Foreign Assistance
The U.S. program of assistance to Afghanistan is intended to stabilize and strengthen the Afghan economic, social, political, and security environment so as to blunt popular support for extremist forces in the region. Since 2001, nearly $38 billion has been appropriated toward this effort. This report provides a "big picture" overview of the U.S. aid program and congressional action. It describes what various aid agencies report they are doing in Afghanistan. It does not address the effectiveness of their programs. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26186/
Agricultural Disaster Assistance
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers several permanently authorized programs to help farmers recover financially from a natural disaster, including federal crop insurance, the noninsured assistance program (NAP), and emergency disaster loans. The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (otherwise known as the 2008 farm bill) includes authorization and funding for crop disaster programs, livestock assistance programs, and a tree assistance program. The new programs are designed to address the ad hoc nature of disaster assistance provided to producers during the last two decades. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26312/
Agriculture Biotechnology: Background and Recent Issues
This report discusses issues regarding the impacts of GE crops on the environment and food safety, and whether GE foods should be specially labeled. Underlying these issues is the question of whether U.S. regulation and oversight of biotechnology—with responsibilities spread primarily among the U.S. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87293/
Agriculture in Pending U.S. Free Trade Agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea
The 111th Congress in coming months might take up free trade agreements (FTAs) signed by the Bush Administration with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea under trade promotion authority, or fast-track rules, designed to expedite congressional consideration of these agreements. Accordingly, agriculture as covered in each pending trade agreement is examined in this report in the order that Congress likely will take up these agreements, based upon statements made to date by Obama Administration officials and Members of Congress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26158/
Air Force F-22 Fighter Program: Background and Issues for Congress
The Air Force F-22 fighter, also known as the Raptor, is the world's most capable air-to-air combat aircraft. The administration wants to end F-22 procurement at 187 aircraft, and the administration's proposed FY2010 budget does not request funding for the procurement of additional F-22s in FY2010. The administration argues, among other things, that 187 F-22s will be sufficient in conjunction with other U.S. tactical aircraft. The issue of F-22 procurement has emerged as one of the highest-profile items of debate on the FY2010 defense budget. This report discusses both sides of the debate in detail. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26205/
Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships
This report provides information regarding pollution from ships and port facilities; discusses some of the measures being implemented and considered by local, state, and federal regulatory agencies; discusses the efforts to ratify and to strengthen Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL); and describes legislation in Congress to control emissions from ships by amending the Clean Air Act (CAA). digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87348/
Alert Systems for Missing Adults in Eleven States: Background and Issues for Congress
This report discusses the emerging development of nationwide alert systems to recover missing adults, such as those with mental impairment (such as Alzheimer's disease), developmental disabilities, or suicidal tendencies. This report provides an overview of such alert systems in 11 states: Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, and Virginia. This report also provides a discussion of issues for Congress to consider with respect to the federal role, if any, in developing state alert programs for missing adults. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26150/
Alternative Fuels and Advanced Technology Vehicles: Issues in Congress
This report provides an overview of current issues surrounding alternative fuels and advanced technology vehicles. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc86541/
America COMPETES Act and the FY2010 Budget
This report discusses in detail the America COMPETES Act, which is intended to increase the nation's investment in research and development (R&D), and in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. This report discusses the funding increases authorized by the act for various relevant institutions, e.g., the National Science Foundation (NSF); the act's education activities intended to enhance the skills of STEM educators; and if Congress will continue to similarly fund the America COMPETES Act in the FY2010 budget. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26144/
America COMPETES Act and the FY2010 Budget
This report discusses in detail the America COMPETES Act, which is intended to increase the nation's investment in research and development (R&D), and in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. This report discusses the funding increases authorized by the act for various relevant institutions, e.g., the National Science Foundation (NSF); the act's education activities intended to enhance the skills of STEM educators; and if Congress will continue to similarly fund the America COMPETES Act in the FY2010 budget. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26143/
America COMPETES Act: Programs, Funding, and Selected Issues
This report explores and describes in detail the America COMPETES Act (P.K. 110-69), which became law on August 9, 2007. The act responds to concerns that the United States may not be able to compete economically with other nations in the future due to insufficient investment today in science and technology research and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and workforce development. This report explains the aims and design of the America COMPETES Act, what funding developments the act authorizes, what education activities the act involves, and related legislation and government programs. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26269/
Animal Identification: Overview and Issues
This report provides information about animal identification and proposed solutions. Livestock industry groups, animal health officials, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have been working to establish a nationwide identification (ID) system capable of quickly tracking animals from birth to slaughter, to deal with animal diseases and/or to satisfy foreign market specifications. Some consumer groups are among those who believe ID also would be useful for food safety or retail labeling purposes. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87388/
The Army's Future Combat System (FCS): Background and Issues for Congress
This report describes the Future Combat System (FCS) program, which was to be the Army's major research, development, and acquisition program consisting of 14 manned and unmanned systems linked by an extensive communications and information network. This report describes the proposed restructuring of the FCS program, announced by Secretary of Defense Gates in April 2009, which includes modernizing outdated equipment and re-evaluating vehicle design strategy. This report will be superseded by a report on the Army's BCT (Brigade Combat Team) Modernization Strategy when sufficient details are available. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26228/
The Army's M-4 Carbine: Background and Issues for Congress
The M-4 carbine is the Army's primary individual combat weapon for infantry units. The M-4 uses a direct gas impingement system that blows carbon from the fired cartridge back into the weapon's receiver, which can lead to weapon malfunctions. The U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) is replacing its M-4s with the Special Operations Combat Assault Rifle (SCAR), a modular weapon with a short-stroke piston system that eliminates carbon blow back, which theoretically improves reliability. Some have questioned why the Army has not adopted the SCAR or another similarly designed weapon. A series of studies and tests of the M-4 and potential competitors have added to this debate, and the Army has taken steps to begin evaluating other weapons to replace the M-4. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26346/
Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding
The Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program, also known as fire grants or the FIRE Act grant program, was established by the FY2001 National Defense Authorization Act. The fire grant program is now in its ninth year. Over $4.8 billion has been appropriated to the fire grant program since FY2001. This report discusses the inception of this program, as well as current supplemental legislation and proposed funding, which is already projected to provoke negative criticism from the fire community for being inadequate. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26215/
Azerbaijan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests
This report discusses political, economic, and security challenges facing Azerbaijan, including the unsettled conflict in the breakaway Nagorno Karabakh region. A table provides basic facts and biographical information. Related products include CRS Report RL33453, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, Political Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests, by Jim Nichol. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29508/
Bahrain: Reform, Security, and U.S. Policy
This report discusses the current state of Bahrain, which has undergone substantial political reforms since the late 1990s, but which still suffers from tension between the Shiite majority and the Sunni-led government. This report focuses particularly on Bahrain's relationship with Iran and Bahrain's relationship with the United States. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26067/
Bahrain: Reform, Security, and U.S. Policy
This report discusses the current state of Bahrain, which has undergone substantial political reforms since the late 1990s, but which still suffers from tension between the Shiite majority and the Sunni-led government. This report focuses particularly on Bahrain's relationship with Iran and Bahrain's relationship with the United States. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29486/
Bahrain: Reform, Security, and U.S. Policy
This report discusses the current state of Bahrain, which has undergone substantial political reforms since the late 1990s, but which still suffers from tension between the Shiite majority and the Sunni-led government. This report focuses particularly on Bahrain's relationship with Iran and Bahrain's relationship with the United States. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29485/
Biochar: Examination of an Emerging Concept to Mitigate Climate Change
This report briefly describes biochar, its potential advantages and disadvantages, legislative support, and research and development activities underway in the United States and abroad. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc86544/
Biotechnology in Animal Agriculture: Status and Current Issues
This report describes several scientifically emerging animal biotechnologies that are raising a variety of questions concerning risks to humans, animals, and the environment, as well as ethical concerns. The report examines applications of the technologies and discusses major issues that may arise. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87304/
Brazil-U.S. Relations
This report analyzes Brazil's political, economic, and social conditions, and how those conditions affect its role in the region and its relationship with the United States. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26236/
Calculation of Lifecycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions for the Renewable Fuel Standard
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA, P.L. 110-140), significantly expanded the renewable fuel standard (RFS) established in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005, P.L. 109-58). The RFS requires the use of 9.0 billion gallons of renewable fuel in 2008, increasing to 36 billion gallons in 2022. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87141/
Calculation of Lifecycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions for the Renewable Fuel Standard
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) significantly expanded the renewable fuel standard (RFS) established in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. EISA requires an increasing amount of the 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2022 mandate be met with "advanced biofuels." This report defines the classification "biofuels," discusses the ongoing debate regarding several aspects of biofuels endeavors, and discusses related legislative efforts on climate change policy and low-carbon fuel standards. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26141/
California's Waiver Request Under the Clear Air Act to Control Greenhouse Gases From Motor Vehicles
This report reviews the nature of EPA's, California's, and other states' authority to regulate emissions from mobile sources, the applicability of that authority to GHGs, and issues related to the California waiver request. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87329/
Canada-U.S. Relations
This report provides a short overview of Canada's political scene, its economic conditions, and its recent security and foreign policy, focusing particularly on issues that may be relevant to U.S. policymakers. This brief country survey is followed by several summaries of current bilateral issues in the political, trade, and environmental arenas. The report is updated annually. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29497/
Canada's Financial System: An Overview
This report discusses the relative stability of Canada's financial system in comparison to the financial systems of other nations around the globe that are suffering from the current financial crisis. This report presents an overview of Canada's financial system and its supervisory framework and draws some distinctions between that system and the current U.S. framework. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26178/
Capturing CO2 from Coal-Fired Power Plants: Challenges for a Comprehensive Strategy
This report examines the current effort to develop technology that would capture CO2. First, the paper outlines the current status of carbon capture technology. Second, the paper examines the role of government in developing that technology, both in terms of creating a market for carbon capture technology and encouraging development of the technology. Finally, the paper concludes with a discussion of implications of capture technology for climate change legislation. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87353/
Carbon Capture and Sequestration
This report covers carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), but not other types of carbon sequestration activities whereby CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and stored in vegetation, soils, or oceans. Forests and agricultural lands store carbon, and the world's oceans exchange huge amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere through natural processes. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87323/
Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS)
This report covers only CCS and not other types of carbon sequestration activities whereby CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and stored in vegetation, soils, or oceans. Forests and agricultural lands store carbon, and the world's oceans exchange huge amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere through natural processes. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87324/
Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS)
Carbon capture and sequestration (or storage) - known as CCS - has attracted interest as a measure for mitigating global climate change because large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted from fossil fuel use in the United States are potentially available to be captured and stored underground or prevented from reaching the atmosphere. Congressional interest has grown in CCS as part of legislative strategies to address climate change. The large and rapid influx of funding for industrial-scale CCS projects may accelerate development and deployment of CO2 capture technologies. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26253/
The Carbon Cycle: Implications for Climate Change and Congress
Congress is considering several legislative strategies that would reduce U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases—primarily carbon dioxide (CO2)—and/or increase uptake and storage of CO2 from the atmosphere. Both approaches are viewed by many observers as critical to forestalling global climate change caused, in part, by the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from human activities. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87327/
Carbon Tax and Greenhouse Gas Control: Options and Considerations for Congress
This report begins with an overview of the fundamental choices involved between a cost (tax) and a quantity (cap) control instrument. This includes a discussion of policy tools that could be employed to bridge the gap between a carbon tax and a cap-and-trade program. Following this overview, the report analyzes the potential advantages and disadvantages of a carbon tax. In many cases, carbon tax attributes are compared with those of a cap-and-trade program. The next section discusses implementation issues for a carbon tax, including where to apply the tax, at what level to set the tax, and options for distributing the tax revenues. The final section provides conclusions. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87137/
Chemical Facility Security: Reauthorization, Policy Issues, and Options for Congress
The statutory authority to regulate chemical facilities for security purposes, granted to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by the 109th Congress, expires in October 2009. The 111th Congress is taking action to reauthorize this program, but the manner of its reauthorization remains an issue of congressional deliberation and debate. Key policy issues debated in previous Congresses are likely to be considered during the reauthorization debate. These issues include what facilities should be considered as chemical facilities; the appropriateness and scope of federal preemption of state chemical facility security activities; the availability of information for public comment, potential litigation, and congressional oversight; and the role of inherently safer technologies. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26182/
China and the Global Financial Crisis: Implications for the United States
This report discusses the economy of China and how it is has been affected by the recent economic downturn. China has recently enjoyed one of the world's fastest-growing economies and has been a major contributor to world economic growth, but several Chinese industries have been hard by the crisis, and millions of workers have been laid off. This report explores this issue in brief, including what actions the Chinese government is taking to combat the problem, as well as what actions China may take to assist in stabilizing the U.S. economy. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26347/
China-U.S. Relations: Current Issues and Implications for U.S. Policy
The bilateral relationship between the U.S. and the People's Republic of China (PRC) is vitally important, touching on a wide range of areas including, among others, economic policy, security, foreign relations, and human rights. This report addresses relevant policy questions in current U.S.-China relations, discusses trends and key legislation in the current Congress, and provides a chronology of developments and high-level exchanges. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26140/
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