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 Decade: 2010-2019
 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Asian Pacific Americans in the United States Congress
Asian Pacific Americans have served in both houses of Congress representing California, Hawaii, Louisiana, Oregon, Virginia, American Samoa, and Guam. They have served in leadership positions, including committee and subcommittee chairmanships. This report presents information on Senators, Representatives, and Delegates, including party affiliations, length and dates of service, and committee assignments.
Veterans Affairs: Health Care and Benefits for Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange
This report provides an overview of health care services and disability compensation benefits available to Vietnam veterans, Children of Vietnam Era veterans, and non-Vietnam veterans exposed to herbicides. This is followed by a discussion of litigation pertaining to Navy veterans of the Vietnam Era who served offshore and were never physically present on Vietnamese soil. The report concludes with a discussion of epidemiologic research conducted to study the health effects of Agent Orange and dioxin exposure on Vietnam veterans.
Abortion Services and Military Medical Facilities
The purpose of this report is to describe and discuss the provisions for providing abortion services to military personnel, their dependents and other military health care beneficiaries at military medical facilities. The report describes the history of these provisions, with particular emphasis on legislative actions. Finally, this report discusses a number of proposals to modify the law as well as other related legislative and administrative actions.
Accelerated Vehicle Retirement Programs in Japan and South Korea: Background for Congress
This report discusses the accelerated vehicle retirement (AVR) programs initiated in 2009 by the United States, Japan, South Korea, and other industrial nations (commonly known in the U.S. as the "cash for clunkers" program). The U.S. program began in June 2009, when President Obama signed the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save (CARS) Act. The report discusses how these various AVR programs affected the automobile industries in the U.S., Japan, and South Korea, specifically. Neither Japan nor South Korea imports large numbers of foreign vehicles, a circumstance not much altered by AVR program implementation.
Administrative Issues Related to a Change in Majority in the House of Representatives
This report briefly describes how a change in majority leadership in the House of Representatives -- such as the incoming new majority that will assume control of House operations at the beginning of the 112th Congress in January 2011 -- could affect House rules, committees, and administrative and legislative operations.
Afghanistan Casualties: Military Forces and Civilians
This report collects statistics from a variety of sources on casualties sustained during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), which began on October 7, 2001, and is ongoing. OEF actions take place primarily in Afghanistan, but OEF casualties also include American casualties in other countries, listed within this report.
Afghanistan Casualties: Military Forces and Civilians
This report collects statistics from a variety of sources on casualties sustained during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), which began on October 7, 2001, and is ongoing. OEF actions take place primarily in Afghanistan, but OEF casualties also include American casualties in other countries, listed within this report.
Agriculture-Based Biofuels: Overview and Emerging Issues
This report reviews the evolution of the U.S. biofuels sector and the role that federal policy has played in shaping its development. In addition, it highlights emerging issues that are critical to the biofuels sector and of relevance to Congress.
Africa: U.S. Foreign Assistance Issues
The United States provides assistance to 47 African countries, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has 23 missions in Africa. In recent years, U.S. assistance to Africa saw a major increase, especially in health-related programs. This report provides an overview of U.S. aid to Africa, including the strategic objectives that shape U.S. aid to Africa, information about specific aid programs and initiatives, and the Obama Administration's FY2011 foreign aid budget request.
Agricultural Disaster Assistance
This report has two sections. The first provides an overview of the current U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster assistance programs: federal crop insurance, NAP payments, emergency disaster loans, the new Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program (SURE), and four other smaller disaster programs authorized in the 2008 farm bill. The second section reviews the recent history of emergency supplemental farm disaster assistance.
Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy
This report discusses the current political state of Iran, 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.-Iran relationship and U.S. efforts under the Obama Administration to provide military, reconstructive, and stabilization aid.
The 2007-2009 Recession: Similarities to and Differences from the Past
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the U.S. economy was in a recession for 18 months from December 2007 to June 2009. It was the longest and deepest recession of the post-World War II era. This report provides information on the patterns found across past recessions since World War II to gauge whether and how this recession might be different.
Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance
This report discusses the current political state of Afghanistan, as well as the Afghan government. This report also discusses Afghanistan's relationship with the United States, particularly U.S. efforts to urge President Hamid Karzai, to address corruption within the Afghan government. The report also includes discussion of election fraud and corruption in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan: U.S. Rule of Law and Justice Sector Assistance
The purpose of this report is to provide background and analysis for Congress on U.S. rule of law (ROL) and justice sector assistance programs to Afghanistan. The report also describes the scope of the ROL problem in Afghanistan, including the role of corruption, and surveys the range of Afghan justice sector institutions. In addition, the report describes U.S., Afghan, and multilateral policy approaches to the Afghan justice sector since the U.S. military invasion of Afghanistan in 2001; U.S. policy coordination and funding; and current U.S. justice sector assistance programs in Afghanistan.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
This report discusses the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), a free trade agreement that includes nations on both sides of the Pacific. Original members of the TPP were Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore. The United States, Australia, Peru, and Vietnam have committed themselves to joining and expanding this group. This report discusses similar trade partnerships, the importance of Asia to U.S. trade and security interests, and U.S. participation in the TPP.
Biomass: Comparison of Definitions in Legislation Through the 111th Congress
This report discusses the use of biomass as an energy feedstock, which is emerging as a potentially viable alternative to address U.S. energy security concerns, foreign oil dependence, rural economic development, and diminishing sources of conventional energy. Biomass (organic matter that can be converted into energy) may include food crops, crops for energy (e.g., switchgrass or prairie perennials), crop residues, wood waste and byproducts, and animal manure. This report discusses legislation regarding biomass, the evolving definition of biomass, and the positions of supporters and detractors of biomass as an alternative energy source.
Armed Career Criminal Act (18 U.S.C. 924(e)): An Overview
This report briefly explores the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. 924(e), which requires imposition of a minimum 15-year term of imprisonment for recidivists convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm under 18 U.S.C. 922(g). Section 924(e) applies only to those defendants who have three prior state or federal convictions for violent felonies or serious drug offenses. The report includes descriptions of constitutional challenges to the application of section 924(e), which have been generally unsuccessful.
U.S. Government Agencies Involved in Export Promotion: Overview and Issues for Congress
This report provides an overview of the federal agencies that participate in U.S. export promotion efforts and the issues that they raise for Congress. It proceeds first by discussing the coordination, budgets, and functions of federal government agencies involved in promoting exports. Next, the report provides an overview of the missions and activities of key federal government agencies that support exports. The last section of the report discusses agency-related issues for Congress.
"Robo-Signing" and Other Alleged Documentation Problems in Judicial and Nonjudicial Foreclosure Processes
Recent depositions involving major servicers, including GMAC Mortgage, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo, have raised concerns about "robo-signing" -- the practice of having a small number of individuals sign a large number of affidavits and other legal documents submitted to courts and other public authorities by mortgage companies to execute foreclosure. This report explores concerns related to these issues by explaining the mortgage market process, procedural problems that have surfaced during foreclosure proceedings, and other relevant information.
State Statutes Governing Hate Crimes
Concerns about hate crimes have become increasingly prominent among policymakers at all levels of government in recent years. This report compiles state statutes pertaining to hate crimes, including in the context of federal legislation such as the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 and the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (the latter of which was signed by President Obama on October 28, 1999).
Offshore Oil and Gas Development: Legal Framework
The development of offshore oil, gas, and other mineral resources in the United States is impacted by a number of interrelated legal regimes, including international, federal, and state laws. International law provides a framework for establishing national ownership or control of offshore areas, and domestic federal law mirrors and supplements these standards. This report discusses these issues.
Mandatory Spending Since 1962
Mandatory spending includes federal government spending on entitlement programs as well as other budget outlays controlled by laws other than appropriation acts. Entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare make up the bulk of mandatory spending. This report looks at mandatory spending and how it has grown over time relative to total federal spending and the size of the U.S. economy. It also analyzes future mandatory spending levels and how they are projected to impact the federal budget.
Obstruction of Congress: A Brief Overview of Federal Law Relating to Interference with Congressional Activities
Obstruction of justice is the frustration of governmental purposes by violence, corruption, destruction of evidence, or deceit. It is a federal crime. In fact, federal obstruction of justice laws are legion; too many for even passing reference to all of them in a single report. This is a brief description of those that outlaw interference with congressional activities.
Role of Home State Senators in the Selection of Lower Federal Court Judges
This report examines the role played by Senators in the selection of nominees to two kinds of lower federal court judgeships. Specifically, the judgeships in question, over which Senators have historically played a role in nominee selection, are those (1) in the U.S. district courts lying geographically within the Senators' states and (2) in the U.S. court of appeals circuits of which the Senators' states are a geographic part. This report also discusses several historical and ethical aspects related to Senators recommending judicial candidates.
Obstruction of Justice: An Overview of Some of the Federal Statutes That Prohibit Interference with Judicial, Executive, or Legislative Activities
Obstruction of justice is the frustration of governmental purposes by violence, corruption, destruction of evidence, or deceit. It is a federal crime. In fact, federal obstruction of justice laws are legion; too many for even passing reference to all of them in a single report. This is a brief description of the some of the more prominent.
The Proposed U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement
The proposed U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, also called the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CFTA), is a bilateral free trade agreement between the United States and Colombia which, if ratified, would eliminate tariffs and other barriers in goods and services between the two countries. The CFTA negotiations grew out of a regional effort in 2004 to produce a U.S.-Andean free trade agreement (FTA) between the United States and the Andean countries of Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador. In his January 2010 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called for a new National Export Initiative (NEI) to boost U.S. exports and create jobs. One component of the NEI calls for opening new markets for U.S. exports by resolving outstanding issues with Colombia, Korea, and Panama with the objective of moving forward with the pending FTAs at the appropriate time. There is currently no indication that the 111th Congress will consider implementing legislation for the proposed U.S.-Colombia FTA.
Navy LPD-17 Amphibious Ship Procurement: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress
The Navy's FY2011-FY2015 shipbuilding plan calls for procuring an 11th and final San Antonio (LPD-17) class amphibious ship in FY2012. FY2011 issues for Congress include whether to approve, reject, or modify the Navy's proposed funding profile for procuring the 11th LPD-17, and whether to provide the Navy with any direction concerning the design of the LSD(X) or procurement of LPD-17s beyond the 11th ship. Congress's decisions on these issues will affect, among other things, Navy and Marine Corps funding requirements and capabilities, and the shipbuilding industrial base.
Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress
Coast Guard polar icebreakers perform a variety of missions supporting U.S. interests in polar regions. The Coast Guard's two heavy polar icebreakers - Polar Star and Polar Sea - have exceeded their intended 30-year service lives. Following a decision to design and build one or more new polar icebreakers, the first replacement polar icebreaker might enter service in eight to 10 years, by which time Polar Star and Polar Sea could be more than 40 years old. The issue for Congress is whether to approve, reject, or modify Coast Guard plans for modernizing its polar icebreakers. Congressional decisions on this issue could affect the Coast Guard's ability to perform its polar missions, Coast Guard funding requirements, and the U.S. shipbuilding industrial base.
The Proposed U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA): Provisions and Implications
This report is designed to assist Members of Congress as they consider the costs and benefits of the U.S.-South Korean Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA.) It examines the provisions of the KORUS FTA in the context of the overall U.S.-South Korean economic relationship, U.S. objectives, and South Korean objectives.
International Climate Change: A Negotiations Side-by-Side
This report discusses various cooperative international efforts to address the issue of global climate change. The two major international agreements discussed in a side-by-side comparison are the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the 2010 Copenhagen Accord. The report discusses how many observers are hoping that initiatives carried out under the Copenhagen Accord may help bridge divides between the various tracks and economic groupings established under the Kyoto Protocol.
Surface Transportation Funding and Finance
This report discusses changes in funding to the national surface transportation infrastructure, especially in light of the recession that began in 2007, which led to decreases in driving and fuel use. This report focuses on possible revenue sources for surface transportation infrastructure. It begins with a brief discussion of the problems associated with the trust fund financing system and then explores possible immediate and longer-term solutions to the financing problem.
Navy Irregular Warfare and Counterterrorism Operations: Background and Issues for Congress
The Navy for several years has carried out a variety of irregular warfare (IW) and counterterrorism (CT) activities, and has taken some steps in recent years to strengthen its ability to conduct such activities. Among the most readily visible of the Navy's current IW operations are those being carried out by Navy sailors serving ashore in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Navy's IW and CT activities pose a number of potential oversight issues for Congress, including the definition of Navy IW activities, specific Navy IW budget priorities, and how much emphasis to place on IW and CT activities in future Navy budgets.
Kenya: Current Conditions and the Challenges Ahead
This report discusses the current political conditions of Kenya, which has long been an important ally of the United States. The report focuses particularly on the December 2007 elections, which many international observers have declared as rigged and deeply flawed. The report also discusses violence that erupted once election results were announced, as well as U.S. efforts to urge Kenya toward election reforms.
Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI)
In May 2003, President George W. Bush formed the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) to increase international cooperation in interdicting shipments of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), their delivery systems, and related materials. This report provides background information on the initiative, as well as a general overview and proposed changes and expansions to the initiative.
General Motors' Initial Public Offering: Review of Issues and Implications for TARP
This report analyzes the progress General Motors Company has made since it was created from the sale of the bankrupt Old GM in July 2009 and the major issues related to its anticipated 2010 initial public offering (IPO).
Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program: Background and Issues for Congress
This report discusses the Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) program. Under current Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and Navy plans, the number of BMD-capable Navy Aegis ships is schedule to grow from 20 at the end of FY2010 to 38 at the end of FY2015. This report discusses the concerns some have over BMD expansion, as well as BMD funding issues.
The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases
This report discusses how the total debt of the federal government can increase, an historical overview of debt limits, and how the current economic slowdown has led to higher deficits and thereby a series of debt limit increases, as well as legislation related to these increases.
Poverty in the United States: 2009
This report discusses the state of poverty in the United States, including how poverty is measured, selected poverty-related demographics, and certain federal aid efforts to those who are impoverished.
U.S. Nuclear Cooperation with India: Issues for Congress
This report discusses the United States' relationship with India as it relates to nuclear arsenals and nuclear nonproliferation policies. The report includes background information on India's nuclear history and nuclear weapons-specific U.S. legislation.
Congressional Nominations to U.S. Service Academies: An Overview and Resources for Outreach and Management
This report, which will be updated as warranted, describes statutory requirements for allocating congressional nominations to service academies. It also identifies the qualifications that must be met by potential nominees, as established by statute and each academy. Finally, sample documents that could be used by congressional offices at various stages of the nomination selection process are included.
U.S. Nuclear Cooperation with India: Issues for Congress
This report discusses the United States' relationship with India as it regards nuclear nonproliferation and cooperation. In particular, the report discusses the Atomic Energy Act, which President Bush signed into law on December 18, 2006, and which governs U.S. nuclear cooperation. The report also discusses other related legislation as well as issues regarding U.S. nuclear trade with India.
Veterans Affairs: Benefits for Service-Connected Disabilities
This report describes disability compensation, which is a benefit Congress provides to American veterans and their dependents through the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Disability compensation is a monthly cash benefit program for veterans currently impaired from past service-connected activities.
Reorganization of the Minerals Management Service in the Aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
This report provides background and context on the origins of the Minerals Management Service (MMS) in the Department of the Interior (DOI). The April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill refocused attention on MMS, which had previously endured management challenges. The report also discusses Secretary Kenneth L. Salazar's handling of conflicts within MMS, potential congressional options regarding MMS reorganization, historical examples of similar reorganization efforts, and information on related legislative initiatives.
Litigation Seeking to Establish Climate Change Impacts as a Common Law Nuisance
This report discusses recent legislative initiatives seeking to establish climate change impacts as a common law nuisance. The report explains what private and public nuisances are, the issues faced by policymakers when litigating a climate-change/nuisance suit, and also discusses five climate-chance/nuisance suits that are now or formerly active, as a basis of comparison. The report also explores arguments of those both for and against addressing the complex issue of climate change through common law suits.
Presidential Appointments to Full-Time Positions in Executive Departments During the 110th Congress, 2007-2008
This report explains the process for filling positions to which the President makes appointments with the advice and consent of the Senate (PAS positions). It also identifies, for the 110th Congress, all nominations to executive-level full-time positions in the 15 departments. Profiles of the departments provide information regarding their full-time PAS positions and related appointment activity during the 110th Congress.
Options for a Federal Renewable Electricity Standard
This report discusses current ideas for a federal Renewable Electricity (or Energy) Standard (RES) and a broader Clean Energy Standard (CES). The goal of this report is to explore how such policies could potentially increase the amounts of renewable electricity generated in the United States, discussing other related public policy goals and rationales for renewable energy development, and the challenges/drawbacks of RES policy.
Continuing Resolutions: Latest Action and Brief Overview of Recent Practices
This report is divided into two segments. The first section provides the most recent information on the FY2011 continuing resolution. The second segment focuses on the (1) history and recent trends, including the nature, scope, and duration of CRs during the past 35 years; (2) CR types by duration; (3) major substantive legislative provisions included in some CRs; and (4) funding gaps.
U.S. National Science Foundation: Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR)
The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) of the National Science Foundation (NSF) was authorized by Congress in 1978, partly in response to concerns in Congress and the concerns of some in academia and the scientific community about the geographic distribution of federal research and development (R&D) funds. Some have questioned the length of time states should receive EPSCoR support. It continues to be called an experimental program after 28 years, and observers have noted that no state has yet to graduate, or leave the program. This report discusses current policy involving EPSCoR, as well as budget requests.
Water Infrastructure Projects Designated in EPA Appropriations: Trends and Policy Implications
This report discusses appropriations for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) water infrastructure programs, focusing on congressional special project designations in the account that funds these programs. While some Members of Congress, interest groups, and Administration officials are critical of these types of congressional actions, there is little indication that the practice will cease. Information on the programmatic history of EPA involvement in assisting wastewater treatment and drinking water projects also is provided in two appendixes.
The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA): A Summary
This report summarizes the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and the major regulatory programs that mandate reporting by industrial facilities of releases of hazardous chemicals to the environment, as well as local planning to respond in the event of significant, accidental releases.