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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
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The Technology Innovation Program
This report discusses the Technology Innovation Program (TIP) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) that was established in 2007 to replace the Advanced Technology Program (ATP). This effort is 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/metadc491105/
Lobbying the Executive Branch: Current Practices and Options for Change
This report outlines the development of registration requirements for lobbyists engaging executive branch officials since 1995. It also summarizes steps taken by the Obama Administration to limit and monitor lobbying of the executive branch; discusses the development and implementation of restrictions placed on lobbying for Recovery Act and EESA funds; examines the Obama Administration's decision to stop appointing lobbyists to federal advisory bodies and committees; considers third-party criticism of current executive branch lobbying policies; and provides options for possible modifications in current lobbying laws and practices. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc490884/
Securing America's Borders: The Role of the Intelligence Community
Maintaining the security of U.S. borders is a fundamental responsibility of the federal government. This report discusses the contribution of intelligence agencies to the border security efforts of the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and other federal agencies that work in cooperation with state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies. Much of the intelligence community's border security-related efforts are classified, however. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc31392/
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/metadc490936/
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. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491395/
Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA): A Summary of the Act and Its Major Requirements
This report summarizes the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and its major programs and regulatory requirements. The SDWA, Title XIV of the Public Health Service Act, is the key federal law for protecting public water supplies from harmful contaminants. First enacted in 1974 and substantially amended in 1986 and 1996, the act is administered through programs that establish standards and treatment requirements for public water supplies, control underground injection of wastes, finance infrastructure projects, and protect sources of drinking water. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc490868/
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/metadc31439/
Piracy: A Legal Definition
This report first examines the historical development of the offense of piracy, as defined by Congress and codified in the United States Code. The focus then turns to how contemporary international agreements define piracy. Finally, the report highlights developments in two trials involving charges of piracy in the federal district court in Norfolk, VA, United States v. Said and United States v. Hasan, specifically focusing on how the courts interpreted the definition of piracy under 18 U.S.C. § 1651. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491492/
The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and All-Hazard Warnings
This report discusses the mainstays of the U.S. capacity to issue warnings: the Emergency Alert System (EAS), which relies primarily on broadcasting media, the NOAA Weather Radio All-Hazards Network. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc490957/
Unauthorized Alien Students: Issues and "DREAM Act" Legislation
In recent years, multiple bills have been introduced in Congress to provide relief to unauthorized alien students. In most cases, these bills have proposed to repeal the 1996 provision and enable certain unauthorized alien students to adjust to legal permanent resident (LPR) status in the United States. These bills have often been entitled the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, or the DREAM Act. This report discusses the background and debate surrounding "Dream Act" legislation in the 110th and 111th Congress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491063/
Food Safety on the Farm: Federal Programs and Legislative Action
In recent years, major outbreaks of foodborne illnesses, product recalls, and reports about unsafe food imports have caused some to question the adequacy of the U.S. food safety system. Stakeholders appear to agree that an optimal system should encompass a comprehensive, preventive approach to food safety, focusing on those foods and points in the food system that pose the greatest public health risks, starting at the point of production - that is, on farms and ranches. This report discusses differing opinions on this topic, as well as related legislation. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc490944/
Ocean Dumping Act: A Summary of the Law
The Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act has two basic aims: to regulate intentional ocean disposal of materials, and to authorize related research. Permit and enforcement provisions of the law are often referred to as the Ocean Dumping Act. The basic provisions of the act have remained virtually unchanged since 1972, when it was enacted to establish a comprehensive waste management system to regulate disposal or dumping of all materials into marine waters that are within U.S. jurisdiction, although a number of new authorities have been added. This report presents a summary of the law. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491386/
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/metadc83823/
Federal Civil and Criminal Penalties Possibly Applicable to Parties Responsible for the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill that began on April 20, 2010 lead Congress to give 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/metadc491353/
The National Directory of New Hires
This report details the National Directory of New Hires - including its background, how data is managed in the directory, and concerns regarding the directory. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491366/
State and Local Restrictions on Employing, Renting Property to, or Providing Services for Unauthorized Aliens: Legal Issues and Recent Judicial Developments
This report discusses the constitutional issues raised by state and local laws intended to deter the presence of unauthorized aliens by limiting their access to housing, employment, and public benefits, as well as the implications that federal civil rights statutes might have for the implementation and enforcement of these laws. It also discusses recent federal court cases addressing the constitutionality of such measures. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc490883/
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/metadc490904/
Fishery, Aquaculture, and Marine Mammal Issues in the 111th Congress
This report discusses federal laws and regulations regarding fish and marine mammals that are important resources in open ocean and nearshore coastal areas. These lows and regulations guide their management as well as the management of their habitat. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491345/
Cybercrime: An Overview of the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Statute and Related Federal Criminal Laws
The federal computer fraud and abuse statute, 18 U.S.C. 1030, outlaws conduct that victimizes computer systems. It is a cyber security law. It protects federal computers, bank computers, and computers connected to the Internet. It shields them from trespassing, threats, damage, espionage, and from being corruptly used as instruments of fraud. It is not a comprehensive provision, but instead it fills cracks and gaps in the protection afforded by other federal criminal laws. This is a brief sketch of Section 1030 and some of its federal statutory companions, including the amendments found in the Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc83829/
The Army Corps of Engineers' Nationwide Permits Program: Issues and Regulatory Developments
Congressional interest in wetlands permit regulatory programs has been evident in the past in oversight hearings and in connection with bills to fund the Corps' regulatory programs. For some time, there has been a stalemate over legislation that would revise wetlands regulatory law and that could, if enacted, modify the nationwide permit program. During this time, no consensus has emerged on whether or how to reform overall wetlands policy legislatively. Recently, Obama Administration initiatives and actions intended to restrict harmful effects of surface coal mining activities in Appalachia have drawn congressional attention and criticism that is likely to continue in the 112th Congress and that could include oversight of the Corps' regulatory program generally. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc83831/
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/metadc491565/
Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS): Background, Legislation, and Funding
This report discusses the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, which was created by Title I of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (P.L. 103-322). The mission of the COPS program is to advance community policing in all jurisdictions across the United States. Legislation introduced in the 111th Congress would reauthorize the COPS program through FY2014 and reestablish COPS as a multi-grant program. This report provides an overview and analysis of issues Congress might choose to consider when taking up legislation to reauthorize the COPS program. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491525/
Federal Employees' Retirement System: Benefits and Financing
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 $106,800 in 2011. This report discusses both retirement funds. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc83861/
Federalism Issues in Surface Transportation Policy: Past and Present
This report provides an historical perspective on contemporary federalism issues in surface transportation policy that are likely to be addressed by Congress during the 112th Congress, including possible devolution of programmatic responsibility to states and proposals to change state maintenance-of-effort requirements and state cost matching requirements. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491099/
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. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc490972/
Federal Employees' Retirement System: Summary of Recent Trends
This report describes recent trends in the number of civil service annuitants and the financial status of the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc83868/
Iran Sanctions
Report that focuses on the United States' relationship with Iran and how the Obama Administration is handling prior administration's economic sanctions against Iran. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc228100/
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/metadc122349/
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. The report also addresses legislation considered by the 111th Congress that would have affected the immunity of foreign officials (the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, S. 2930, 111th Cong.). digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc31473/
U.S. Sanctions on Burma
Existing U.S. sanctions on Burma are based on various U.S. laws and Presidential Executive Orders. 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/metadc31470/
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/metadc83824/
Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances
The first half of this report looks at the background of U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba over the last 40 years. The second half of this report looks at several initiatives from the 111th Congress that would have eased U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba, but were not completed. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc96742/
Food Safety on the Farm
This report examines legislation enacted by the 111th Congress and oversight on this legislation by the 112th Congress in regards to food safety. Potential risks to the food supply, including bacteria, pesticide residues, animal drugs, and certain naturally-occurring contaminants are discussed. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc103225/
Immigration Legislation and Issues in the 111th Congress
This report synthesizes the multi-tiered debate over immigration reform into key elements: legal immigration; legalization; immigration control; refugees, asylees, and humanitarian migrants; and alien rights, benefits, and responsibilities. It delineates the issues for the 111th Congress on permanent residence, temporary admissions, border security, worksite enforcement, employment eligibility verification, document fraud, criminal aliens, and the grounds for inadmissibility. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc103068/
Emergency Response: Civil Liability of Volunteer Health Professionals
This report discusses the patchwork of federal and state laws that operate to protect volunteers, which can include volunteer health professionals (VHPs), and those laws that trigger liability protection only for VHPs — with a focus on some of the midwestern states in addition to the Gulf region. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc122191/
Flag Protection: A Brief History and Summary of Supreme Court Decisions and Proposed Constitutional Amendments
This report is divided into two parts. The first gives a brief history of the flag protection issue, from the enactment of the Flag Protection Act in 1968 through current consideration of a constitutional amendment. The second part briefly summarizes the two decisions of the United States Supreme Court, Texas v. Johnson and United States v. Eichman, that struck down the state and federal flag protection statutes as applied in the context punishing expressive conduct. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc83825/
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). It discusses (1) how responsibility determinations relate to other mechanisms that the government relies upon to ensure that contractors are responsible and otherwise eligible for federal contracts; (2) the performance-related and collateral standards used in making responsibility determinations; (3) the procedures for making responsibility determinations; and (4) recently enacted or proposed amendments to the standards or procedures for responsibility determinations. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc103060/
The U.S. Postal Service and Six-Day Delivery: Issues for Congress
This report will examine the history of six-day mail delivery and analyze potential effects of reducing USPS delivery from six to five days. It will then examine legislative options for the 111th Congress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc83926/
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/metadc103105/
World Trade Organization (WTO) Decisions and Their Effect in U.S. Law
This report looks at specific laws that have been affected by interactions between the Uruguay Round Agreements Act, the WTO, and domestic law. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc103239/
A U.S.-centric Chronology of the International Climate Change Negotiations
The United States is a Party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), but not to its subsidiary Kyoto Protocol. Negotiations under way since 2007 have run on two tracks: one under the Kyoto Protocol, to extend commitments of developed parties beyond 2012, and the second track under the UNFCCC, regarding commitments for all Parties. Both tracks convened in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009 under a deadline to agree on steps to address climate change beyond 2012. As background for congressional deliberations, this document provides a U.S.-centric chronology of international climate change policy from 1979 to 2010. This chronology identifies selected external events and major multilateral meetings that influence both the current legal and institutional arrangements, and the contentious choices about future international cooperation. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc83888/
Food Safety Issues for the 112th Congress
This report looks at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. It particularly looks at ways in which the 112th Congress may want to provide oversight for the Act. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc103120/
Selected Theories of Constitutional Interpretation
This report examines theories of constitutional interpretation, the role of the judiciary in this interpretation, and constitutional protections for fundamental rights. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc103125/
U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: the Mérida Initiative and Beyond
This report looks at the funding and Congressional oversight for the U.S.-Mexican governments joint effort to curb drug trafficking and violence via the Initiative. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc103104/
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/metadc33113/
Mandatory Vaccinations: Precedent and Current Laws
This report provides an overview of the legal precedent for mandatory vaccination laws, and of state laws that require certain individuals or populations, including school-aged children and health care workers, to be vaccinated against various communicable diseases. Also discussed are state laws providing for mandatory vaccinations during a public health emergency or outbreak of a communicable disease. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc31489/
U.S. Immigration Policy on Temporary Admissions
This report begins with a discussion of the policy tensions surrounding temporary admissions. It follows with a synthesis of the nonimmigrant categories according to the purpose of the visa. It discusses the periods of admission and length of stay and then summarizes grounds for inadmissibility and removal as well as reasons for termination of status. It also describes the circumstances under which nonimmigrants may work in the United States. The second portion of the report analyzes trends in temporary migration. It describes changes over time in nonimmigrant visas issued and nonimmigrant admissions. Various data on nonimmigrants who establish residence in the United States are also discussed. The report concludes with two detailed tables analyzing key admissions requirements across all nonimmigrant visa types. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc99079/
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/metadc33088/
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 relif 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/metadc33010/
International Criminal Court Cases in Africa: Status and Policy Issues
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has, to date, opened cases exclusively in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Statute of the ICC, also known as the Rome Statute, entered into force on July 1, 2002, and established a permanent, independent Court to investigate and bring to justice individuals who commit war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. As of October 2010, 114 countries-including 31 African countries, the largest regional block-were parties to the Statute. The United States is not a party. This report provides background on current ICC cases and examines issues raised by the ICC's actions in Africa. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc33072/