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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Pope Francis and Selected Global Issues: Background for Papal Address to Congress

Pope Francis and Selected Global Issues: Background for Papal Address to Congress

Date: September 8, 2015
Creator: Ribando Seelke, Clare; Reese, Shawn; Straus, Jacob R.; Werner, James D. & Mix, Derek E.
Description: This report provides Members of Congress with background information on Pope Francis and a summary of a few selected global issues of congressional interest that have figured prominently on his agenda. The background section on Pope Francis includes a biographical sketch of his life as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, followed by a brief overview of his papacy thus far. The report then identifies some--but not all--of the global issues of concern to Pope Francis. Those include environmental stewardship, poverty and inequality, peace and diplomacy, and human trafficking.
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History and Authority of the Joint Economic Committee

History and Authority of the Joint Economic Committee

Date: September 2, 2015
Creator: Tollestrup, Jessica
Description: This report briefly discusses joint committees, which are composed of members from both the House and the Senate. The work of these committees generally involves conducting studies and overseeing aspects of congressional operations. This report focuses specifically on the Joint Economic Committee.
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Senate Legislative Procedures: Published Sources of Information

Senate Legislative Procedures: Published Sources of Information

Date: August 26, 2015
Creator: Davis, Christopher M.
Description: The Senate publishes its rules, precedents, and other related information so that Senators and their staff have convenient access to the Senate’s legislative procedures and can gauge how those procedures are likely to apply in various situations. Information about the Senate’s legislative procedures is published in four official documents. This report briefly discusses these documents.
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Amendments in the Senate: Types and Forms

Amendments in the Senate: Types and Forms

Date: August 25, 2015
Creator: Davis, Christopher M.
Description: This report briefly describes the various types of amendments that take place in the Senate. It has sections describing distinctions among amendments, degrees of amendments, forms of amendments, and the scope of amendments.
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Calendars of the House of Representatives

Calendars of the House of Representatives

Date: August 25, 2015
Creator: Davis, Christopher M.
Description: This report describes the use of "calendars" in the House of Representatives, referring to (1) lists of measures and motions eligible for consideration and (2) documents that contain the eligible motions and information about the status of legislation.
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Delegates to the U.S. Congress: History and Current Status

Delegates to the U.S. Congress: History and Current Status

Date: August 25, 2015
Creator: Davis, Christopher M.
Description: This report provides historical background on the development of the position of delegate to Congress and on the rights of a delegate once seated. Delegates, representing territories that had not yet achieved statehood, have served in the House since the late 1700s. In the 20th century, the concept of delegate grew to include representation of territories where the United States exercises some degree of control but were not expected to become states.
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General Debate in Committee of the Whole

General Debate in Committee of the Whole

Date: August 25, 2015
Creator: Schneider, Judy
Description: This report discusses general debate, which is a period of time set aside for debating the merits of the bill as a whole, the state of current law on the subject of the bill, the need for new legislation, the various provisions of the bill, and possible amendments to it.
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House Committee Hearings: Arranging Witnesses

House Committee Hearings: Arranging Witnesses

Date: August 25, 2015
Creator: Davis, Christopher M.
Description: This report briefly discusses the selection of witnesses for House committee hearings. House committees and subcommittees pay careful attention to which viewpoints will be represented, who should testify, and the order and format for presenting witnesses. Witnesses do not have an inherent right to appear at a hearing but must be invited by a committee or subcommittee in order to testify; committees and subcommittees may also subpoena reluctant witnesses to appear at a hearing.
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House Committee Hearings: Preparation

House Committee Hearings: Preparation

Date: August 25, 2015
Creator: Davis, Christopher M.
Description: This report contains a checklist that identifies many of the tasks that need to be performed for committee hearings. Committee hearings provide Representatives an opportunity to gather information on, and draw attention to, legislation and issues within a committee's purview; conduct oversight of programs or agencies; and investigate allegations of mismanagement or wrongdoing.
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House Committee Hearings: Scheduling and Notification

House Committee Hearings: Scheduling and Notification

Date: August 25, 2015
Creator: Davis, Christopher M.
Description: This report briefly discusses scheduling and notification requirements, and practices for House committee hearings.
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Pairing in Congressional Voting: The House

Pairing in Congressional Voting: The House

Date: August 25, 2015
Creator: Davis, Christopher M.
Description: This report discusses the practice of "pairing" for votes in the House of Representatives. Under certain procedural circumstances, a Member who is absent during a vote on the House floor may arrange with a Member on the opposite side of a specific question (who will be present) to announce that the Member who is present is forming a "pair" with the absent Member, thus allowing the absent Member to have his intended vote recorded.
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Quorum Requirements in the House: Committee and Chamber

Quorum Requirements in the House: Committee and Chamber

Date: August 25, 2015
Creator: Davis, Christopher M.
Description: This report discusses minimum quorum requirements established by House Rule XI, clause 2 for eight areas of committee activity.
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Automatic Continuing Resolutions: Background and Overview of Recent Proposals

Automatic Continuing Resolutions: Background and Overview of Recent Proposals

Date: August 20, 2015
Creator: Tollestrup, Jessica
Description: This report provides background on the historical frequency of federal funding gaps and shutdowns. It also discusses features of Automatic Continuing Resolutions (ACRs), arguments for and against ACRs, relevant Congressional actions, and proposals in the 112th through 114th Congresses.
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House Committee Hearings: Witness Testimony

House Committee Hearings: Witness Testimony

Date: August 10, 2015
Creator: Davis, Christopher M.
Description: This report briefly discusses the witness testimony process in House of Representatives committee hearings. Witnesses before House committees must generally file advance copies of their written testimony with the committee and then limit their oral testimony to brief summaries (Rule XI, clause 2(g)(5)). A question-and-answer period usually follows a witness's opening statement. Following hearings, committees usually publish the transcripts of witness testimony and questioning.
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Types of Committee Hearings

Types of Committee Hearings

Date: August 10, 2015
Creator: Heitshusen, Valerie
Description: This report describes the four types of congressional committee hearings: legislative, oversight, investigative, and confirmation. Hearings may be held on Capitol Hill or elsewhere (e.g., a committee member's district or state, or a site related to the subject of the hearing). These latter hearings are often referred to as field hearings.
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Legislative Procedures for Adjusting the Public Debt Limit: A Brief Overview

Legislative Procedures for Adjusting the Public Debt Limit: A Brief Overview

Date: August 6, 2015
Creator: Heniff, Bill, Jr.
Description: This report discusses the procedure for adjusting the public debt limit. Nearly all of the outstanding debt of the federal government is subject to a statutory limit, which is set forth as a dollar limitation in 31 U.S.C. 3101(b). From time to time, Congress considers and passes legislation to adjust or suspend this limit.
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How Measures Are Brought to the Senate Floor: A Brief Introduction

How Measures Are Brought to the Senate Floor: A Brief Introduction

Date: August 5, 2015
Creator: Davis, Christopher M.
Description: This report discusses the two basic methods that are used by the Senate to bring legislation to the floor for consideration: The Senate, at the majority leader's request, (1) grants unanimous consent to take up a matter, or (2) agrees to his motion to proceed to consider it. Both methods are derived from the basic premise that the Senate as a body may decide what matters it considers. The Senate may also use the same two methods to bring up executive business (nominations and treaties).
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Filling the Senate "Amendment Tree"

Filling the Senate "Amendment Tree"

Date: July 28, 2015
Creator: Davis, Christopher M.
Description: This report discusses the filing process of "Amendment trees": diagrams that have developed over decades of Senate practice as a way of visualizing certain principles of precedence that govern the offering of, and voting on, amendments in the chamber.
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Defense Spending and the Budget Control Act Limits

Defense Spending and the Budget Control Act Limits

Date: July 22, 2015
Creator: Belasco, Amy
Description: This report discusses the Budget Control Act, which sets limits on defense spending between fiscal years 2012 and 2021 and possible measures to avoid a sequester. The current debate in Congress has centered on whether to adjust the BCA defense caps upward; move base budget spending to accounts designated for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) that are not subject to spending limits; reduce the defense spending in the Administration's request to comply with BCA revised caps; or use some combination of these approaches.
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House Office of Congressional Ethics: History, Authority, and Procedures

House Office of Congressional Ethics: History, Authority, and Procedures

Date: July 22, 2015
Creator: Straus, Jacob R.
Description: This report describes the history and rationale behind the creation of the House Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), its operations, and its relationship with the House Committee on Ethics, and potential options available for Congress if further amendments to the House ethics process are desired.
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Omnibus Appropriations Acts: Overview of Recent Practices

Omnibus Appropriations Acts: Overview of Recent Practices

Date: July 15, 2015
Creator: Tollestrup, Jessica
Description: Omnibus appropriations acts have become a significant feature of the legislative process in recent years as Congress and the President have resorted more frequently to their use to bring action on the regular appropriations cycle to a close. Following a discussion of pertinent background information, this report reviews the recent use of such measures and briefly addresses several issues that their use raises.
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Trade Promotion Authority (TPA): Frequently Asked Questions

Trade Promotion Authority (TPA): Frequently Asked Questions

Date: July 2, 2015
Creator: Fergusson, Ian F. & Beth, Richard S.
Description: The issue of TPA reauthorization raises a number of questions regarding TPA itself and the pending legislation. This report addresses a number of those questions that are frequently asked, including the following: What is trade promotion authority? Is TPA necessary? What are trade negotiating objectives and how are they reflected in TPA statutes? What requirements does Congress impose on the President under TPA? Does TPA affect congressional authority on trade policy?
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Appointment and Confirmation of Executive Branch Leadership: An Overview

Appointment and Confirmation of Executive Branch Leadership: An Overview

Date: June 22, 2015
Creator: Hogue, Henry B. & Carey, Maeve P.
Description: This report begins by explaining the three distinct stages that comprise the advice and consent process, which is the means through which most of these positions are filled. The report then provides an overview of recess appointments and briefly discusses other options that are available to Presidents for temporarily filling vacant advice and consent positions. Finally, it discusses certain types of statutory provisions that Congress has applied selectively to specific advice and consent positions in the executive branch.
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Legislative Research for Congressional Staff: How to Find Documents and Other Resources

Legislative Research for Congressional Staff: How to Find Documents and Other Resources

Date: June 22, 2015
Creator: Cornell, Ada S.; Greene, Michael & Hanson, Laura A.
Description: This report is one of a series of reports on legislative process and research; it is intended to serve as a finding aid to sources of information, such as documents, news articles, analysis, contacts and services, used in legislative research.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department