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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
The Federal Communications Commission: Current Structure and Its Role in the Changing Telecommunications Landscape
The report discusses the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)-Related Congressional Actions in the 112th Congress. The policymakers, including some in Congress, have long called for varying degrees and types of reform to the FCC. Most proposals fall into two categories: (1) procedural changes made within the FCC or through congressional action that would affect the agency's operations or (2) substantive policy changes requiring congressional action that would affect how the agency regulates different services and industry sectors. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc93991/
The Federal Communications Commission: Current Structure and its Role in the Changing Telecommunications Landscape
The report discusses the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)-Related Congressional Actions in the 112th Congress. The policymakers, including some in Congress, have long called for varying degrees and types of reform to the FCC. Most proposals fall into two categories: (1) procedural changes made within the FCC or through congressional action that would affect the agency's operations or (2) substantive policy changes requiring congressional action that would affect how the agency regulates different services and industry sectors. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc93990/
Environmental Laws: Summaries of Major Statutes Administered by the Environmental Protection Agency
This report summarizes several federal statutes providing legal authority for the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) programs and activities. These include: the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Ocean Dumping Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the Solid Waste Disposal Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA), the Emergency Planning Act, and the Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc93953/
The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and All-Hazard Warnings
The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is built on a structure conceived in the 1950's when over-the-air broadcasting was the best-available technology for widely disseminating emergency alerts. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), working with the Association of Public Television Stations, is implementing a program that will disseminate national alert messages over digital broadcast airwaves, using satellite and public TV broadcast towers. This program is referred to as the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS). Legislation was passed at the end of the 109th Congress to assure funding to public television stations to install digital equipment to handle national alerts. The 111th Congress may pursue additional oversight to related programs that would continue to improve the nation's capability to provide alerts and information before, during, and after an emergency. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26220/
Calculation of Lifecycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions for the Renewable Fuel Standard
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) significantly expanded the renewable fuel standard (RFS) established in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. EISA requires an increasing amount of the 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2022 mandate be met with "advanced biofuels." This report defines the classification "biofuels," discusses the ongoing debate regarding several aspects of biofuels endeavors, and discusses related legislative efforts on climate change policy and low-carbon fuel standards. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26141/
U.S. Sanctions on Burma: Issues for the 113th Congress
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 overview of actions taken to waive or ease those sanctions by the Obama Administration. The report concludes with a discussion of actions taken by the 112th Congress and options for the 113th Congress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc267829/
The Federal Communications Commission: Current Structure and Its Role in the Changing Telecommunications Landscape
The report discusses the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)-Related Congressional Actions in the 112th Congress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc267869/
Child Pornography: Constitutional Principles and Federal Statutes
This report discusses the constitutional status of child pornography and summarizes federal statutes banning and regulating child pornography as well as selected court cases that have ruled on their constitutionality or interpreted them. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26087/
Nuclear Energy Cooperation with Foreign Countries: Issues for Congress
This report discusses broad themes related to U.S. nuclear cooperation with other countries. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc98008/
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/metadc306538/
EPA and the Army Corps' Proposed Rule to Define "Waters of the United States"
This report describes the March 25 proposed rule to define "waters of the United States," particularly focused on clarifying the regulatory status of waters located in isolated places in a landscape, the types of waters with ambiguous jurisdictional status following the Supreme Court's ruling. It includes a table comparing the proposal to existing regulatory language. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc306425/
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/metadc306495/
The Army Corps of Engineers' Nationwide Permits Program: Issues and Regulatory Developments
Permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authorize various types of development projects in wetlands and other waters of the United States. The Corps' regulatory process involves two types of permits: general permits for actions by private landowners that are similar in nature and will likely have a minor effect on wetlands, and individual permits for more significant actions. The Corps uses general permits to minimize the burden of its regulatory program: they authorize landowners to proceed with a project without the time-consuming need to obtain standard individual permits in advance. About 90% of the Corps' regulatory workload is processed in the form of general permits. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc83832/
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/
Clean Water Act Section 401: Background and Issues
Section 401 of the Clean Water Act requires that an applicant for a federal license or permit provide a certification that any discharges from the facility will comply with the Act, including water quality standard requirements. Disputes have arisen over the states' exercise of authority under Section 401. Until recently, much of the debate over the Section 401 certification issue has been between states and hydropower interests. A 1994 Supreme Court decision which upheld the states' authority in this area dismayed development and hydroelectric power interest groups. The Court revisited these issues in a 2006 ruling that unanimously upheld the states' authority to condition hydropower licenses. The dispute between states and industry groups about Section 401 authority has been a legislative issue on several occasions, but Congress has not responded by modifying the provision's scope. In addition, there has been interest in clarifying whether Section 401 certification applies to nonpoint source discharges, such as rainfall runoff, as well as point source discharges from pipes or ditches. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc83833/
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/
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/metadc94027/
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/metadc94028/
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/
Lobbying Regulations on Non-Profit Organizations
Public charities, religious groups, social welfare organizations, and other nonprofit organizations which are exempt from federal income taxation are not generally prohibited from engaging in all lobbying or public policy advocacy activities merely because of their tax-exempt status. There may, however, be some lobbying limitations on certain organizations, depending. This report discusses this issue at length, including related legislation, relevant passages in the Internal Revenue Code, and other regulatory information. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26112/
Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS)
Carbon capture and sequestration (or storage) - known as CCS - has attracted interest as a measure for mitigating global climate change because large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted from fossil fuel use in the United States are potentially available to be captured and stored underground or prevented from reaching the atmosphere. Congressional interest has grown in CCS as part of legislative strategies to address climate change. The large and rapid influx of funding for industrial-scale CCS projects may accelerate development and deployment of CO2 capture technologies. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26253/
A History of Federal Estate, Gift, and Generation-Skipping Taxes
Three primary categories of legislation pertaining to transfer taxes have been introduced in the 110th Congress. As noted above, the repeal of the estate and generation-skipping taxes is not permanent. One category would make the repeal permanent. (See, H.R. 411 and H.R. 2380). Another category would accelerate the repeal of these transfer taxes. (See, H.R. 25, H.R. 1040, H.R. 1586, H.R. 4042, S. 1025, S. 1040, and S. 1081). The third would reinstate these taxes at lower rates and/or in a manner more considerate of family-owned business. (See, H.R. 1928, H.R. 3170, H.R. 3475, H.R. 4172, H.R. 4235, H.R. 4242, and S. 1994). In this report, the history of the federal transfer taxes has been divided into four parts: (1) the federal death and gift taxes used between 1789 and 1915; (2) the development, from 1916 through 1975, of the modern estate and gift taxes; (3) the creation and refinement of a unified estate and gift tax system, supplemented by a generation-skipping transfer tax; and (4) the phaseout and repeal of the estate and generation-skipping taxes, with the gift tax being retained as a device to protect the integrity of the income tax. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26091/
The Technology Innovation Program
The Technology Innovation Program (TIP) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) 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 highrisk, 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. The elimination of ATP and the creation of TIP have renewed the debate over the role of the federal government in promoting commercial technology development. This report discusses the opposing sides of this ongoing debate. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26343/
Hedge Funds: Should They Be Regulated?
In view of the growing impact of hedge funds on a variety of financial markets, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in October 2004 adopted a regulation that requires hedge funds to register as investment advisers, disclose basic information about their operations, and open their books for inspection. The regulation took effect in February 2006, but on June 23, 2006, a court challenge was upheld and the rule was vacated. S. 1402 and H.R. 2586 would reinstate the SEC's authority. H.R. 2683 would require defined benefit pension plans to disclose investments in hedge funds. In December 2006, the SEC proposed raising the "accredited investor" standard - to be permitted to invest in hedge funds, an investor would need $2.5 million in assets, instead of $1 million. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26047/
Supplemental Security Income (SSI): A Fact Sheet
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, Title XVI of the Social Security Act, was enacted in 1972 and implemented in 1974 to assure a minimum cash income to all aged, blind, or disabled persons. SSI is provided to eligible aged or disabled individuals or couples who have limited income and resources. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26046/
Social Services Block Grant: (Title XX of the Social Security Act)
The FY2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 110-161) maintains SSBG funding at $1.7 billion and maintains states' authority to transfer up to 10% of their Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grants to the SSBG. The $1.7 billion in regular funds mirrors funding included in both the FY2007 and FY2006 laws, but exceeds the $1.2 billion that the President proposed for FY2008, and most recently, for FY2009. The FY2009 budget also includes a proposal to eliminate the SSBG in FY2010. This report provides SSBG background information and tracks relevant legislation and appropriations measures. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26062/
The Davis-Bacon Act: Institutional Evolution and Public Policy
This report examines policy issues the Davis-Bacon Act has sparked through the years and which remain a part of the Davis-Bacon debate of the 1990s. These include such questions as: wage rate determination procedures, reporting requirements under the Copeland Act, an appropriate threshold for activation of the statute, interagency relationships with respect to Davis-Bacon enforcement and compliance activity, administrative or judicial appeals procedures, the use of "helpers" and other low-skilled workers on covered projects, and the right of a President to suspend the statute as well as the conditions under which such a suspension may occur. That the fundamental premise of the Act remains in contention after 60 years may be, itself, part of the public policy debate. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26044/
Cooperative Research and Development Agreements
A Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) is a mechanism established by P.L. 99-602, the Federal Technology Transfer Act, to allow the transfer of technology, knowledge, and expertise from government laboratories to the private sector for further development and commercialization. The government provides support in the way of overhead for research and development performed in the federal laboratory and is prohibited from providing funding directly to the partner in the collaborative effort. Currently, more than 5,000 CRADAs have been signed. As the 105th Congress determines its approach to science and technology policies, the role of CRADAs continues to be debated within the context of federal support for R&D digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26071/
President Bush's Judicial Nominations During the 101st and 102nd Congresses
There are ten categories of courts (including the local courts of the District of Columbia) to which the President nominates judges. The report provides background and statistics concerning President Bush's judicial nominations in each court category as well as actions taken on those nominations by the United States Senate. Each of the report's ten sections discusses the composition and jurisdiction of the court in question and notes the committee to which nominations to this court were referred when received by the Senate. Also, statistics on judicial nominations received by the Senate during the four years of the Bush Presidency are presented. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26030/
Supreme Court Nominations: Senate Floor Procedure and Practice, 1789-2009
This report discusses Senate procedure relating to Supreme Court nominations from 1789 to the present, but excluding the June 1, 2009 nomination of Sonia Sotomayor. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26232/
Supreme Court Nominations, 1789 - 2009: Actions by the Senate, the Judiciary Committee, and the President
This report explains in detail the process of appointing Supreme Court Justices, both as it stands currently and how it has changed over the last two centuries. The report includes a table that lists and describes actions taken by the Senate, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the President on all Supreme Court nominations, from 1789 to the present. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26231/
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 and discusses possible budgetary modifications to the SAFER Act that are being considered due to the recent economic downturn. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26234/
Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2009
This report summarizes budgetary decisions relating to research and development funding for FY2009, as well as some projected information for FY2010. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26273/
Emergency Communications: The Future of 911
Today's 911 system is built on an infrastructure of analog technology that does not support many of the features that most Americans expect are part of an emergency response. Efforts to splice newer, digital technologies onto this aging infrastructure have created points of failure where a call can be dropped or misdirected, sometimes with tragic consequences. This report discusses efforts to modernize and update 911 emergency response technology, the funding for such efforts, and related pieces of legislation. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26293/
Emergency Communications: The Future of 911
Today's 911 system is built on an infrastructure of analog technology that does not support many of the features that most Americans expect are part of an emergency response. Recognizing the importance of providing effective 911 service, Congress has passed three major bills supporting improvements in the handling of 911 emergency calls. This report includes a detailed overview of the 911 system, as well as related legislation and policies currently in consideration by Congress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26292/
Alert Systems for Missing Adults in Eleven States: Background and Issues for Congress
This report discusses the emerging development of nationwide alert systems to recover missing adults, such as those with mental impairment (such as Alzheimer's disease), developmental disabilities, or suicidal tendencies. This report provides an overview of such alert systems in 11 states: Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, and Virginia. This report also provides a discussion of issues for Congress to consider with respect to the federal role, if any, in developing state alert programs for missing adults. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26150/
Agricultural Disaster Assistance
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers several permanently authorized programs to help farmers recover financially from a natural disaster, including federal crop insurance, the noninsured assistance program (NAP), and emergency disaster loans. The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (otherwise known as the 2008 farm bill) includes authorization and funding for crop disaster programs, livestock assistance programs, and a tree assistance program. The new programs are designed to address the ad hoc nature of disaster assistance provided to producers during the last two decades. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26312/
The Army Corps of Engineers' Nationwide Permits Program: Issues and Regulatory Developments
Permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authorize various types of development projects in wetlands and other waters of the United States. The Corps' regulatory process involves two types of permits: general permits for actions for private landowners that will likely have a minor effect on wetlands, and individual permits for more significant actions. Interest groups have a number of specific criticisms of the permits. For some time, there has been a stalemate in Congress over legislation related to this issue. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26114/
Employment-Based Health Coverage and Health Reform: Selected Legal Considerations
It is estimated that nearly 170 million individuals have employer-based health coverage. As part of a comprehensive health care reform effort, there has been support (including from the Obama Administration) in enacting comprehensive health insurance reform that retains the employer-based system. This report presents selected legal considerations inherent in amending two of the primary federal laws governing employer-sponsored health care: the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26164/
Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides an overview of Arctic-related issues for Congress and refers readers to more in-depth CRS reports on specific relevant topics. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc332908/
Pesticide Use and Water Quality: Are the Laws Complementary or in Conflict?
This report provides background on the conflict over interpretation and implementation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA). A brief discussion of the two laws is followed by a review of the major litigation of interest. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc332950/
Supreme Court Nominations: Senate Floor Procedure and Practice, 1789-2011
This report examines the ways in which the Senate has handled the 160 Supreme Court nominations the President has sent to the Senate. As the purpose of this report is to examine the forms taken by Senate proceedings on these 160 nominations, it treats each nomination as a separate case. It is not couched in terms of the smaller number of different individuals nominated or the ultimate outcome the confirmation process may have had for each individual. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc33052/
Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides an overview of Arctic-related issues for Congress and refers readers to more in-depth CRS reports on specific relevant topics. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc333007/
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/
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Legislation in the 110th Congress
This report reviews the status of energy efficiency and renewable energy legislation introduced during the 110th Congress. Most action in the second session is focused on the FY2009 budget request and legislation that would extend or modify selected renewable energy and energy efficiency tax incentives. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc94090/
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/metadc94247/
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/
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/metadc40203/
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/
State and Local Economic Sanctions: Constitutional Issues
This report considers the Constitutionality of states and localities enacting their own sanctions on foreign countries, particularly Iran and Sudan. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc96771/