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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
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Unauthorized Aliens in the United States
This report discusses the unauthorized immigrant (illegal alien) population in the United States, which is a key and controversial immigration issue. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501810/
Agricultural Disaster Assistance
This report has two sections. The first provides an overview of the current 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. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501569/
Legislative Approaches to Defining "Waters of the United States"
This report seeks to clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act (CWA) in the wake of Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 that interpreted the law's jurisdiction more narrowly than prior case law. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501952/
Oil Spills in U.S. Coastal Waters: Background, Governance, and Issues for Congress
This report focuses on oil spills in U.S. coastal waters. The first section highlights background issues, including oil spill statistics and potential environmental impacts. The second section discusses the legal framework that governs oil spill prevention and response. The third section examines the threat of future oil spills in coastal waters and whether response personnel are prepared to respond to a major spill. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501883/
State Efforts to Deter Unauthorized Aliens: Legal Analysis of Arizona's S.B. 1070
This report discusses the major provisions of S.B.1070, as modified by H.B. 2162, and the legal and constitutional considerations possibly implicated by their implementation. The report focuses primarily on those provisions that require state enforcement of federal immigration law and impose criminal penalties for immigration-related conduct, and discusses preemption issues that might be raised by these measures. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501829/
Iran Sanctions
This report focuses on the United States' relationship with Iran and how the Obama Administration is handling prior administrations' economic sanctions against Iran. The Obama Administration's policy approach toward Iran has contrasted with the Bush Administration's by attempting to couple the imposition of sanctions to an active and direct U.S. effort to negotiate with Iran on the nuclear issue. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501494/
Telework for Executive Agency Employees: A Side-by-Side Comparison of Legislation Pending in the 111th Congress
The 111th Congress is considering legislation (S. 707 and H.R. 1722) to foster the development of telework in executive agencies of the federal government. Legislation to augment telework in executive agencies of the federal government is currently pending in the 111th Congress. S. 707, the Telework Enhancement Act of 2009, and H.R. 1722, the Telework Improvements Act of 2010, were introduced on March 25, 2009, by Senator Daniel Akaka and Representative John Sarbanes, respectively. This report presents a side-by-side comparison of the provisions of S. 707, as reported, and H.R. 1722, as ordered to be reported. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501699/
Immigration Legislation and Issues in the 111th Congress
The 111th Congress has considered various immigration issues and has enacted a number of targeted immigration provisions. It has passed legislation to extend the life of several immigration programs--the E-Verify electronic employment eligibility verification system, the Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program, the Conrad State J-1 Waiver Program, and the special immigrant visa for religious workers--all of which are currently authorized until September 30, 2012. Among the other subjects of legislation enacted by this Congress are refugees and border security. This report discusses these and other immigration-related issues that have seen legislative action or are of significant congressional interest. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501863/
Energy Tax Policy: Historical Perspectives on and Current Status of Energy Tax Expenditures
This report examines how current revenue losses resulting from energy tax provisions compare to historical losses and provides a foundation for understanding how current energy tax policy evolved by providing a longitudinal perspective on energy tax policy and expenditures. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462873/
The Jurisprudence of Justice John Paul Stevens: The Constitutionality of Congressional Term Limits and the Presidential Line Item Veto
While the Supreme Court seems unlikely to address the constitutionality of term limits or the line-item veto in the future, Justice Stevens's conclusion that the absence of constitutional provisions expressly authorizing the exercise of certain powers constitutes a denial of these powers seems likely to influence the Court in the future, particularly in cases involving what Justice Kennedy and others have characterized as "horizontal" or "vertical" separation of powers. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501788/
The U.S. Postal Service's Financial Condition: Overview and Issues for Congress
This report provides an overview of the U.S. Postal Service's (USPS's) financial condition, recent legislation to alleviate the USPS's financial challenges, and possible issues for the 111th Congress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501657/
North Korea: Back on the Terrorism List?
This report describes the rationales for including North Korea on the terrorism list from 1987- 2008, for North Korea's delisting in 2008, and the debate in 2010 over whether to re-list North Korea. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501654/
Iran Sanctions
This report focuses on the United States' relationship with Iran and how the Obama Administration is handling prior administration's economic sanctions against Iran. The Obama Administration's policy approach toward Iran has contrasted with the Bush Administration's by attempting to couple the imposition of sanctions to an active and direct U.S. effort to negotiate with Iran on the nuclear issue. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501602/
Deferred Examination of Patent Applications: Implications for Innovation Policy
This report provides an overview of deferred patent examination. It begins by offering a brief review of patent acquisition proceedings as well as challenges faced by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The report then introduces the concept of deferred examination. The potential positive and negative consequences of deferred examination upon the environment for innovation within the United States are then explored. The report closes by identifying salient design parameters for deferred examination systems and reviewing congressional options. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501596/
Nuclear Cooperation with Other Countries: A Primer
This report discusses section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act (AEA), the specific requirements of which must be met in order for the United States to engage in civilian nuclear cooperation with other states. The AEA also provides for exemptions to these requirements, export control licensing procedures, and criteria for terminating cooperation. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501551/
Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA): Liability of Responsible Parties
The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) establishes a framework that addresses the liability of responsible parties in connection with the discharge of oil into the navigable waters of the United States, adjoining shorelines, or the exclusive economic zone. Among other provisions, OPA limits certain liabilities of a responsible party in connection with discharges of oil into such areas. This report addresses liability under OPA for removal costs and damages, and the basic procedure for recovering removal costs and damages from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund in the event that the responsible party fails to settle such claims. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491360/
The 2010 Oil Spill: The Minerals Management Service (MMS) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
This report will review environmental procedures after an exploratory oil well in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, killing 11 people and causing an oil spill. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501823/
Tax Havens: International Tax Avoidance and Evasion
The first section of this report reviews what countries might be considered tax havens, including a discussion of the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) initiatives and lists. The next two sections discuss, in turn, the corporate profit-shifting mechanisms and evidence on the existence and magnitude of profit shifting activity. The following two sections provide the same analysis for individual tax evasion. The report concludes with overviews of alternative policy options and a summary of specific legislative proposals. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491146/
The Jurisprudence of Justice John Paul Stevens: Selected Opinions on the Jury's Role in Criminal Sentencing
This report discusses Justice John Paul Stevens' opinions on the Jury's role in criminal sentencing. Justice Stevens has played a critical role in the Supreme Court's interpretation of a jury's role in criminal sentencing. In 2000, he wrote the majority opinion for the Court in Apprendi v. New Jersey, a landmark case in which the Court held that a judge typically may not increase a sentence beyond the range prescribed by statute unless the increase is based on facts determined by a jury "beyond a reasonable doubt." In 2005, he wrote one of two majority opinions in United States v. Booker, in which the Court applied the Apprendi rule to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. In those two cases and in several other cases on this issue during the past few decades, Justice Stevens has been a leading voice, articulating a broad interpretation of the jury trial and due process rights at issue. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc490901/
The Technology Innovation Program
This report discusses the Technology Innovation Program (TIP) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) which was established in 2007 to replace the Advanced Technology Program (ATP). TIP was designed "to support, promote, and accelerate innovation in the United States through high-risk, high-reward research in areas of critical national need," according to the authorizing legislation. Grants are provided to small and medium-sized firms for individual projects or joint ventures with other research organizations. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491416/
Outer Continental Shelf Moratoria on Oil and Gas Development
This report discusses moratoria measures for the outer continental shelf (OCS) which establish bans or restrictions on oil and gas exploration and development in federal ocean areas. It includes a background of offshore oil and gas development, the sources of U.S. moratorium policy, the background of ocean governance, U.S. moratoria in international areas, and related issues for congress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491180/
Environmental Considerations in Federal Procurement: An Overview of the Legal Authorities and Their Implementation
This report discusses issues about the role of environmental considerations in federal procurement. These include: to what extent do agencies consider environmental factors when procuring goods or services? What legal authorities presently require or allow agencies to take environmental factors into account when acquiring goods or services? digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501539/
The "Volcker": Proposals to Limit "Speculative" Proprietary Trading by Banks
This report briefly discusses the permissible proprietary trading activities of commercial banks and their subsidiaries under current law. It then analyzes the Volcker Rule proposals under both the House- and Senate-passed financial reform bills. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491207/
From Solicitor General to Supreme Court Nominee: Responsibilities, History, and the Nomination of Elena Kagan
This report examines both the office of the Solicitor General and the Justices who held that position before their elevation to the Court. After examining the office of the Solicitor General and its success before the Court, the report describes the professional careers of the four Justices who served as Solicitor General before joining the Court: William Howard Taft, Stanley Reed, Robert Jackson, and Thurgood Marshall. The final section of the report examines the career of Elena Kagan, noting in particular her service as Solicitor General. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491400/
Iran Sanctions
This report looks at the purposes and results of U.S. sanctions in Iran, which were initiated as a result of Iran's nuclear program and human rights issues. It ends by discussing future issues that Congress can consider regarding the sanctions. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501518/
The "Volcker": Proposals to Limit "Speculative" Proprietary Trading by Banks
This report briefly discusses the permissible proprietary trading activities of commercial banks and their subsidiaries under current law. It then analyzes the Volcker Rule proposals under the House- and Senate-passed financial reform bills and under the Conference Report, which would limit the ability of commercial banking institutions and their affiliated companies and subsidiaries to engage in trading unrelated to customer needs and investing in and sponsoring hedge funds or private equity funds. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491215/
The U.S. Postal Service's Financial Condition: Overview and Issues for Congress
This report provides an overview of the U.S. Postal Service's (USPS's) financial condition, recent legislation to alleviate the USPS's financial challenges, and possible issues for the 111th Congress. Since 1971, the USPS has been a self-supporting government agency that covers its operating costs with revenues generated through the sales of postage and related products and services. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491405/
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. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29489/
Iran Sanctions
This report focuses on the United States' relationship with Iran and how the Obama Administration is handling prior administrations' economic sanctions against Iran. However, with subsequent negotiations yielding no firm Iranian agreement to compromise regarding their nuclear program, the Administration has focused on achieving the imposition of additional U.N., U.S., and allied country sanctions whose cumulative effect would be to compel it to accept a nuclear bargain. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501907/
International Criminal Court Cases in Africa: Status and Policy Issues
This report provides background on the International Criminal Court (ICC) and its investigations in Africa, with an overview of cases currently before the Court. The report also examines issues raised by the ICC's actions in Africa, including the potential deterrence of future abuses and the potential impact on African peace processes. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491334/
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' Immigration Fees and Adjudication Costs: Proposed Adjustments and Historical Context
This report discusses the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service's (USCIS) newly proposed fee schedule for immigration services. Issues for Congress to consider might include how USCIS fees have been computed and justified; whether anticipated revenue from revised fees will cover agency costs; how fiscal shortfalls might be funded; and what impact higher fees might have on the applicant pool. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491582/
U.S. Sanctions on Burma
This report provides a brief history of U.S. policy towards Burma and the development of U.S. sanctions, a topical summary of those sanctions, and an examination of additional sanctions that have been considered, but not enacted, by Congress, or that could be imposed under existing law or executive orders. The report concludes with a discussion of options for Congress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc490968/
The Exon-Florio National Security Test for Foreign Investment
This report covers the recent background of the Exon-Florio provision with special regards to issues faced in the 112th Congress. The Exon-Florio provision grants the President the authority to block proposed or pending foreign acquisitions of "persons engaged in interstate commerce in the United States" that threaten to impair the national security. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491009/
Telework for Executive Agency Employees: A Side-by-Side Comparison of Legislation Pending in the 111th Congress
This report discusses legislation (S. 707 and H.R. 1722) designed to foster the development of telework in executive agencies of the federal government. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491158/
America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (H.R. 5116) and the America COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69): Selected Policy Issues
This report provides background information on P.L. 110-69 and H.R. 5116, includes information about related legislative activity in the 111th Congress, and analyzes four policy issues addressed by these measures: (1) STEM Education, (2) Federal Research Programs and Activities, (3) Broadening Participation, and (4) Funding. It also discusses selected policy concerns identified in the debate about U.S. competitiveness and describes how H.R. 5116 responds to those concerns. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc490877/
Tax Credit Bonds: Overview and Analysis
Almost all state and local governments sell bonds to finance public projects and certain qualified private activities. Most of the bonds issued are tax-exempt bonds because the interest payments are not included in the bondholder's (purchaser's) federal taxable income. In contrast, Tax Credit Bonds (TCBs) are a type of bond that offers the holder a federal tax credit instead of interest. This report explains the tax credit mechanism and describes the market for the bonds. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491320/
U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: the Mérida Initiative and Beyond
This report provides a framework for examining the current status and future prospects for U.S.- Mexican security cooperation. It begins with a brief discussion of the threat that drug trafficking and related crime and violence pose to both nations, followed by an analysis of the evolution of the Mérida Initiative. The report then provides an overview of the Peña Nieto government's security strategy and how it is affecting the Mérida Initiative. The report then examines key aspects of the current U.S.-Mexican security strategy and concludes by raising policy issues that may affect bilateral efforts. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491544/
The U.S. Postal Service's Financial Condition: Overview and Issues for Congress
This report provides an overview of the U.S. Postal Service's (USPS's) financial condition, recent legislation to alleviate the USPS's financial challenges, and possible issues for the 111th Congress. It also addresses current legislation that aims to improve the USPS's financial condition--H.R. 22, S. 1507, and H.R. 5746. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491185/
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Selected Issues for Congress
This report summarizes provisions of selected legislation - enacted and proposed - that address oil spill policy issues raised after the April 20, 2010, explosion and resulting oil spill at the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico. This report focuses primarily on oil spill policy matters that concern prevention, preparedness, response, and the liability and compensation framework. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491588/
Iran Sanctions
This report focuses on the United States' relationship with Iran and how the Obama Administration is handling prior administration's economic sanctions against Iran. The Obama Administration's policy approach toward Iran has contrasted with the Bush Administration's by attempting to couple the imposition of sanctions to an active and direct U.S. effort to negotiate with Iran on the nuclear issue. That approach was not initially altered because of the Iranian dispute over its June 12, 2009, elections. However, with subsequent negotiations yielding no firm Iranian agreement to compromise, since early 2010 the Administration has focused on achieving the imposition of additional U.N., U.S., and allied country sanctions whose cumulative effect would be to compel it to accept a nuclear bargain. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491632/
Speed of Presidential and Senate Actions on Supreme Court Nominations, 1900-2010
This report provides information on the amount of time taken to act on all Supreme Court nominations occurring between 1900 and the present. It focuses on the actual amounts of time that Presidents and the Senate have taken to act (as opposed to the elapsed time between official points in the process). This report focuses on when the Senate became aware of the President's selection (e.g., via a public announcement by the President). digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491564/
Birthright Citizenship Under the 14th Amendment of Persons Born in the United States to Alien Parents
This report provides background information on birthright citizenship to alien parents in the U.S. The report ends with a detail of amendments in the 112th Congress that would amend the Constitution to exclude from citizenship at birth persons born in the United States whose parents are unlawfully present in the United States or are non-immigrant aliens. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491556/
Proposed Amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA): Senate and House Bills Compared with Current Law
On April 15, 2010, Senator Lautenberg introduced legislation (S. 3209) to amend the core provisions of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Title I. Representatives Waxman and Rush introduced comprehensive legislation to amend TSCA (H.R. 5820) on July 22, 2010. This report compares key provisions of S. 3209, as introduced, H.R. 5820, as introduced, and current law (15 U.S.C. 2601 et seq.). digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491108/
Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP): Status and Issues
The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-246, 2008 farm bill) created the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). This report discusses the two main purposes of BCAP, which are (1) to support the establishment and production of eligible crops for conversion to bioenergy in selected areas, and (2) to assist agricultural and forest land owners and operators with collection, harvest, storage, and transportation of eligible material for use in a biomass conversion facility. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491282/
Federal Civil and Criminal Penalties Possibly Applicable to Parties Responsible for the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill
Since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill began on April 20, 2010, Congress has given much attention to the compensatory liability provisions of the Oil Pollution Act and, to a lesser extent, those of the Jones Act and the Death on the High Seas Act. However, federal laws possibly relevant to the oil spill also impose civil and criminal money penalties, which may reach dollar amounts in connection with the Gulf spill greater than those for compensatory liability. This report summarizes selected federal civil and criminal penalty provisions that may be found violated in connection with the Gulf spill and related worker fatalities. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc490934/
U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: the Mérida Initiative and Beyond
This report looks at the funding and Congressional oversight for this the joint U.S.-Mexico effort to curb drug trafficking and violence via the Initiative. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491510/
Responsibility Determinations Under the Federal Acquisition Regulation: Legal Standards and Procedures
This report discusses the standards and procedures that federal agencies use in making responsibility determinations under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). As a general rule, government agencies contract with the lowest qualified responsible bidder or offeror. Responsibility is an attribute of the contractor, while price and qualifications are attributes of the bid or offer. Under the FAR, "[n]o purchase or award shall be made unless the contracting officer makes an affirmative determination of responsibility." digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc490971/
Samantar v. Yousef: The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act and Foreign Officials
On June 1, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court decided unanimously in Samantar v. Yousef that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), which governs the immunity of foreign states in U.S. courts, does not apply in suits against foreign officials. This report provides an overview of the FSIA, followed by a consideration of the remaining options for foreign officials who seek immunity from lawsuits, as well as some of the questions that may emerge from each option. The report also addresses legislation that would affect the immunity of foreign officials, including S. 2930. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491079/
Omnibus Appropriations Acts: Overview of Recent Practices
This report discusses Omnibus appropriations acts, which have become a significant feature of the legislative process in recent years as Congress and the President have used them more frequently to bring action on the regular appropriations cycle to a close. Following a discussion of pertinent background information, this report reviews the recent enactment of such measures and briefly addresses several issues raised by their use. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc93987/
Spectrum Policy: Public Safety and Wireless Communications Interference
This report discusses the rebanding plan announced by the Federal Communications Commission in 2004 to consolidate public safety frequencies and those used by some other operators, such as utilities. The plan was announce in an attempt to eliminate interference caused by the close proximity and interleaving of commercial and public safety channels. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491504/