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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
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Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2012
This report summarizes budgetary decisions relating to research and development funding for FY2012. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87173/
Hydraulic Fracturing and Safe Drinking Water Act Issues
This report reviews past and proposed treatment of hydraulic fracturing under the Safe Water Drinking Ace, the principal federal statute for regulating the underground injection of fluids to protect groundwater sources of drinking water. It reviews current provisions for regulating underground injection activities, and discusses some possible implications of, and issues associated with, enactment of legislation authorizing the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate hydraulic fracturing under this statute. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc83959/
Racial Profiling: Legal and Constitutional Issues
Racial profiling is the practice of targeting individuals for police or security detention based on their race or ethnicity in the belief that certain minority groups are more likely to engage in unlawful behavior. Examples of racial profiling by law enforcement agencies suggest that minorities are disproportionately the subject of security-related practices. The issue has periodically attracted congressional interest and several courts have considered the constitutional ramifications of the practice as an "unreasonable search and seizure" under the Fourth Amendment and, more recently, as a denial of the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection guarantee. A variety of federal and state statutes provide potential relief to individuals who claim that their rights are violated by race-based law enforcement practices and policies. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc85441/
Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction over Non-Indians in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization and the SAVE Native Women Act
A report looking at incidences of violence against women of American Indian ethnicity in relation to legal jurisdiction. American Indians experience violent crimes at a rate much higher than the general population. This trend carries over to domestic violence: American Indian women experience domestic and dating violence at more than twice the rate of non-Indian women. Most of this violence involves an offender of a different race. This fact creates a jurisdictional problem because tribal courts do not have criminal jurisdiction over crimes committed within the tribe's jurisdiction by non-Indians. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc86628/
Burma's Political Prisoners and U.S. Sanctions
The installation of the Union Government in 2011 and the undertaking of initial reforms have raised the prospects for the resumption of a democratically elected civilian government in Burma after five decades of military rule. The release of Burma's political prisoners has a central role in U.S. policy and Burma's political future. Many of the U.S. sanctions on Burma were implemented after Burma's ruling military junta suppressed protests and detained many political prisoners. In addition, the removal of many of the existing U.S. sanctions requires the release of all political prisoners in Burma. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc85397/
EPA Regulations: Too Much, Too Little, or On Track?
This report examines 40 major or controversial regulatory actions taken by or under development at EPA since January 2009, providing details on the regulatory action itself, presenting an estimated timeline for completion of the rule and provides the EPA's estimates of costs and benefits where available. It provides background information on recent EPA regulatory activity to help address issues raised by this activity, as well as factors that will affect the timeframe in which these regulations will take place. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc85388/
Hydraulic Fracturing and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): Selected Issues
This report provides an overview of two situations in which agencies are arguing that they do not need to conduct a comprehensive environmental review of hydraulic fracturing under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc85412/
Iran Sanctions
The objective of sanctions may be on its way to achievement but has not been accomplished to date. U.S. officials believe that these sanctions caused Iran to return to the nuclear bargaining table in April 2012 with greater seriousness and intent toward peaceful resolution. Despite the imposition of what many now consider to be "crippling" sanctions, some in Congress believe that economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran needs to increase further and faster. In the 112th Congress, legislation would enhance both the economic sanctions and human rights-related provisions of a previous Iran sanctions laws However, movement on new sanctions might be on hold pending the outcome of a second round of nuclear talks slated for May 23 in Baghdad. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc85482/
Congress's Contempt Power and the Enforcement of Congressional Subpoenas: Law, History, Practice, and Procedure
This report examines the source of the contempt power, reviews the historical development of the early case law, outlines the statutory and common law basis for Congress's contempt power, and analyzes the procedures associated with inherent contempt, criminal contempt, and the civil enforcement of subpoenas. In addition, the report discusses both non-constitutional and constitutionally based limitations on the power. Finally, the report includes a discussion of the significance of the House Judiciary Committee dispute with the White House over the dismissal of several U.S. Attorneys that resulted in votes for criminal contempt of Congress and the United States District Court opinion in Committee on the Judiciary v. Miers. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc86660/
Clean Energy Standard: Summary and Analysis of S. 2146
U.S. policymakers have considered and deliberated on several policy designs that could potentially reduce energy-related carbon emissions. In his 2011 State of the Union address, President Obama proposed the concept of a Clean Energy Standard (CES) that would result in 80% of U.S. electricity generation from clean energy sources by 2035. In March of 2012, the Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012 (S. 2146) was introduced in the Senate. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc85424/
Comparison of Rights in Military Commission Trials and Trials in Federal Criminal Court
The initiation of military commission proceedings against Khalid Sheik Mohammad and four others for their alleged involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks has focused renewed attention on the differences between trials in federal court and those conducted by military commission. This report provides a brief summary of legal issues raised by the choice of forum for trying accused terrorists and a chart comparing selected military commissions rules under the Military Commissions Act, as amended, to the corresponding rules that apply in federal court. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc85378/
Same-Sex Marriages: Legal Issues
The recognition of same-sex marriages generates debate on both the federal and state levels. Variations in state law on the issue raise questions about the validity of such unions outside the contracted jurisdiction and have bearing on the distribution of federal benefits. This report discusses the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and it's legal challenges. It reviews legal principles applied to determine the validity of a marriage contracted in another state and surveys the various approaches employed by states to enable or to prevent same-sex marriage. The report also examines House and Senate resolutions introduced in previous Congresses proposing a constitutional amendment and limiting federal courts' jurisdiction to hear or determine any question pertaining to the interpretation of DOMA. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc85446/
Federal Employees' Retirement System: Benefits and Financing
Report discussing the retirement systems in place for federal employees. Most civilian federal employees who were hired before 1984 are covered by the Civil Service Retirement System, and contribute 7.0% of their pay to a retirement fund. Federal employees hired in 1984 or later are covered by the Federal Employees' Retirement System and contribute 0.8% of their pay to a retirement fund. Both require participants to contribute toward the cost of their pensions through a payroll tax. The taxable wage base is $110,100 in 2012. This report discusses both retirement funds. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc86532/
The U.S. Postal Service's Use of Contractors to Deliver Mail: Background and Recent Developments
Currently, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is collectively bargaining with the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) and National Rural Letter Carriers Association (NRLCA). One issue that may or may not be settled is the Postal Service's use of non-USPS employees (i.e., contractors) to deliver mail. If the parties cannot come to a satisfactory arrangement, Congress may be approached to consider the matter. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87234/
Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2013
This report summarizes budgetary decisions relating to research and development funding for FY2013. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87223/
Nominations to U.S. Circuit and District Courts by President Obama During the 111th and 112th Congresses
Recent Senate debates in the 112th Congress over judicial nominations have focused on issues such as the relative degree of success of President Barack Obama's nominees in gaining Senate confirmation (compared with other recent Presidents) as well as the effect of delayed judicial appointments on judicial vacancy levels. The following report addresses these issues, and others, by providing a statistical overview of President Obama's nominees to U.S. circuit court of appeals and U.S. district court judgeships, current through May 31, 2012. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87238/
Pay Equity Legislation
This report gives an overview of "pay equity," a term referring to the fact that women as a group are paid less than men. It includes the history of pay equity, legal and legislative background, and recent legislation. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87264/
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/metadc87121/
Mexican Migration to the United States: Policy and Trends
History and geography have given Mexico a unique status in the U.S. immigration system, and have made the Mexico-U.S. migration flow the largest in the world. Mexicans are the largest group of U.S. migrants across most types of immigration statuses—a fact that may have important implications for how Congress makes U.S. immigration policy. This report reviews the history of immigration policy and migration flows between the countries and the demographics of Mexicans within the United States. It also analyzes contemporary issues in U.S. immigration policy and the impact Mexico may have on U.S. immigration outcomes. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87242/
Same-Sex Marriages: Legal Issues
This report discusses Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and legal challenges to it. It reviews legal principles applied to determine the validity of a marriage contracted in another state and surveys the various approaches employed by states to enable or to prevent same-sex marriage. The report also examines House and Senate resolutions introduced in previous Congresses proposing a constitutional amendment and limiting federal courts' jurisdiction to hear or determine any question pertaining to the interpretation of DOMA. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87267/
Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response: The SAFER Grant Program
The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Act (the "SAFER Act") was enacted by the 108th Congress as part of the FY2004 National Defense Authorization Act. This report describes the SAFER Act in brief, discusses possible budgetary modifications to the SAFER Act that are being considered due to the recent economic downturn, and explores related issues for the 112th Congress as they consider reauthorization. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc94029/
National Flood Insurance Program: Background, Challenges, and Financial Status
In 1968, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to address the increasing costs of taxpayer-funded disaster relief for flood victims and the increasing amount of damage caused by floods. This report provides an analysis of the NFIP and its financial status; summarizes the major challenges facing the program, including issues affecting its long-term financial solvency; presents some alternative approaches for managing and financing the flood losses; and describes pending legislation on this issue. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc93819/
Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) Status for Russia and U.S.-Russian Economic Ties
This report discusses the issues surrounding whether or not the U.S. should grant Russia permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) following its accession into the World Trade Organization (WTO). The change in Russia's trade status will require legislation to lift the restrictions of Title IV of the Trade Act of 1974 as they apply to Russia, which includes the "freedom-of-emigration" requirements of the Jackson-Vanik amendment. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87368/
Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2013
This report summarizes budgetary decisions relating to research and development funding for FY2013. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc93926/
Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2013
This report summarizes budgetary decisions relating to research and development funding for FY2013. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc96716/
Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress
This report gives an overview of the situation in the Arctic region. The diminishment of Arctic sea ice has led to increased human activities in the Arctic, and has heightened interest in, and concerns about, the region's future. The United States, by virtue of Alaska, is an Arctic country and has substantial interests in the region. The Arctic has increasingly become a subject of discussion among political leaders of the nations in the region. In varying degrees, the Arctic coastal states have indicated a willingness to establish and maintain a military presence in the high north. U.S. military forces, particularly the Navy and Coast Guard, have begun to pay more attention to the region. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc93836/
Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) Status for Russia and U.S.-Russian Economic Ties
Report that discusses the issues surrounding whether or not the U.S. should grant Russia permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) following its accession into the World Trade Organization (WTO). digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc228107/
Iran Sanctions
This report looks at the purposes and results of U.S. sanctions on 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/metadc94177/
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/metadc94248/
Unauthorized Alien Students: Issues and “DREAM Act” Legislation
This report looks at the background and history of recent "DREAM Act"s, which address the status of unauthorized alien students. It pays special attention to the June 15, 2012 announcement that come individuals who were brought into the U.S. as children and meet other requirements would be eligible for deferred action for two years. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc94097/
Burma's Political Prisoners and U.S. Sanctions
This report discusses the current issues in Burma (Myanmar) in regards to political prisoners and the resulting U.S. sanctions against the nation. It includes an introduction and definitions; information about current estimates of prisoners and prisoner releases; the relation of political prisoners, parliamentary elections and national reconciliation; and U.S. sanctions and U.S. efforts regarding political prisoners, as well as relevant issues for Congress to consider. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc98016/
U.S. Postal Service: Background and Analysis of H.R. 2309 and S. 1789 in the 112th Congress
This report looks at how the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has taken steps to save money. It also covers how bills H.R. 2309 and S. 1789 include major reforms, such as reductions in service, expansion of the USPS's authority to provide products and services, and alterations to the postal employees pension and healthcare plans. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc96729/
The Article V Convention for Proposing Constitutional Amendments: Historical Perspectives for Congress
This report identifies and examines historical issues related to the Article V Convention, which allows amendments to be added to the Constitution via Congressional vote or votes by the people. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc96730/
Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers
This report provides background on the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers (TAA) program. After a brief introduction, it discusses TAA eligibility and benefits as set by TAAEA. It then describes how the program is funded and administered. The report concludes by presenting data on recent application activity and benefit usage. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc96713/
Confirmation of U.S. Circuit and District Court Nominations in Presidential Election Years
This report seeks to help inform the debate regarding how many U.S. circuit and district court nominations should be confirmed by year's end, and how late in the year the Senate should continue to confirm them. It includes analysis of the number and timing of circuit court and district court nominations confirmed by the Senate in presidential election years from 1980 to 2008, as well as a comparison of the processing of judicial nominations during these years, using various quantitative measures. It also relates the findings to the Senate's processing of judicial nominations in 2012, as of June 30. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc98025/
Hydraulic Fracturing and Safe Drinking Water Act Issues
This report reviews past and proposed treatment of hydraulic fracturing under the Safe Water Drinking Act, the principal federal statute for regulating the underground injection of fluids to protect groundwater sources of drinking water. It reviews current provisions for regulating underground injection activities, and discusses some possible implications of, and issues associated with, enactment of legislation authorizing the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate hydraulic fracturing under this statute. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc97999/
Iran Sanctions
This report looks at the purposes and results of U.S. sanctions on 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/metadc98114/
Positive Train Control (PTC): Overview and Policy Issues
This report gives and overview of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 and discusses policy issues related to it. Congress passed the Act following several high-profile train accidents; it mandates positive train control (PTC) on many passenger and freight railroads by December 31, 2015. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc122232/
Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress
This report discusses the diminishment of Arctic sea ice, the ensuing increase in human activities in the Arctic, and concerns about the region's future. It provides overviews of: Arctic sovereignty claims; commercial shipping through the Arctic; Arctic oil, gas, and mineral exploration; endangered Arctic species; and increased military operations in the Arctic could cause the region in coming years to become an arena of international cooperation, competition, or conflict. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc122198/
Congress's Contempt Power and the Enforcement of Congressional Subpoenas: A Sketch
This report examines the source of Congress's contempt power, analyzes the procedures associated with inherent contempt, criminal contempt, and the civil enforcement of subpoenas, and discusses the obstacles that face Congress in enforcing a contempt action against an executive branch official. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc122316/
Congress's Contempt Power and the Enforcement of Congressional Subpoenas: Law, History, Practice, and Procedure
This report examines the source of the contempt power, reviews the historical development of the early case law, outlines the statutory and common law basis for Congress's contempt power, and analyzes the procedures associated with inherent contempt, criminal contempt, and the civil enforcement of subpoenas. The report also includes a detailed discussion of two recent information-access disputes that led to the approval of contempt citations in the House against then-White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers, as well as Attorney General Eric Holder. Finally, the report discusses both non-constitutional and constitutionally-based limitations on the contempt power. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc122315/
An Overview of the "Patent Trolls" Debate
This report reviews the current debate and controversy surrounding "patent assertion entities" (PAEs) and their effect on innovation, examines the reasons for the rise in PAE litigation, and explores the legislative options available to Congress if it decides that these are issues that should be addressed. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc122236/
The Posse Comitatus Act and Related Matters: A Sketch
This report examines instances, as approved by Congress, where circumstances warrant a departure from the general rule of the Posse Comitatus Act, wherein the military is typically prevented from direct involvement in civilian affairs. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc122237/
The Crime Victims Fund: Federal Support for Victims of Crime
Report that provides background and funding information for Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) programs and the Crime Victims Fund (CVF). It describes the process through which CVF funds are allocated and explains how the CVF impacts the annual budget for Department of Justice (DOJ). digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc227781/
Immigration Detainers: Legal Issues
Report that surveys the various authorities governing immigration detainers, including the standard detainer form (Form I-247) sent by ICE to other law enforcement agencies. The report also discusses key legal issues raised by immigration detainers. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc227787/
Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act
Report that discusses the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act in brief, especially as related to Congress's renewed interest in the Act due to the current financial crises and recession. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc227791/
Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses
Report that discusses the effects of economic sanctions against Iran, support to the Iranian democracy movement, opposition against Iranian human rights violations, and Iranian support for Syrian human rights violations. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc227982/
Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses
This report discusses the effects of economic sanctions against Iran; support to the Iranian democracy movement; and opposition against Iranian human rights violations and Iranian support for Syrian human rights violations. The Obama Administration identifies Iran as a major threat to U.S. national security interests. The sense of imminent crisis with Iran which greeted the beginning of 2012 follows three years in which the Obama Administration first offered Iran's leaders consistent and sustained engagement in exchange for limits to its nuclear program but, since 2010, has emphasized pressuring Iran through economic sanctions. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc122286/
Drones in Domestic Surveillance Operations: Fourth Amendment Implications and Legislative Responses
This report first explores the potential uses of drones in the domestic sphere by federal, state, and local governments. It then surveys current Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, including cases surrounding privacy in the home, privacy in public spaces, location tracking, manned aerial surveillance, and those involving the national border. Next, it considers how existing jurisprudence may inform current and proposed drone uses. It then describes the various legislative measures introduced in the 113th Congress to address the legal and policy issues surrounding drones. Finally, it briefly identifies several alternative approaches that may constrain the potential scope of drone surveillance. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462113/
Arizona v. United States: A Limited Role for States in Immigration Enforcement
Report that discusses the Supreme Court's ruling in Arizona v. United States, and considers the implications that the decision may have for immigration enforcement activity by states and localities. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc227808/