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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Extraterritorial Application of American Criminal Law: An Abbreviated Sketch
This report discusses the application of American criminal law outside the United States.
Clean Water Act and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) of Pollutants
This report discusses the section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act, which requires states to identify waters that are impaired by pollution, even after application of pollution controls. For those waters, states must establish a total maximum daily load (TMDL) of pollutants to ensure that water quality standards can be attained. Implementation of this provision has been dormant until recently, when states and EPA were prodded by numerous lawsuits. The TMDL issue has become controversial, in part because of requirements and costs now facing states to implement a 25-year-old provision of the law. Congressional activity to reauthorize the Act, a possibility in the 2nd Session of the 105th Congress, could include TMDL issues, but the direction for any such action is unclear at this time.
Temporary Protected Status: Current Immigration Policy and Issues
When civil unrest, violence, or natural disasters erupt in spots around the world, concerns arise over the safety of nationals from these troubled places who are in the United States. This report discusses provisions that exist in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to offer temporary protected status (TPS) or relief from removal under specified circumstances. The United States currently provides TPS to nationals from seven countries: Burundi, El Salvador, Honduras, Liberia, Nicaragua, Somalia, and Sudan. Under the INA, the executive branch grants TPS. Congress, however, has also granted TPS legislatively, and legislation pertaining to TPS has received action in the 110th Congress.
Exporting Software and the Extraterritorial Reach of U.S. Patent Law: Microsoft Corp. v. AT&T Corp.
Generally speaking, United States patent law does not have extraterritorial effect. The exception, however, is § 271(f) of the Patent Act, which makes it an act of patent infringement to manufacture within the United States the components of a patented invention and then export those disassembled parts for combination abroad into an end product. This report discusses Microsoft Corp. v. AT&T Corp. (550 U.S. ___ , No. 05-1056, decided April 30, 2007), in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that software companies are not liable for patent infringement under § 271(f) when they export software that has been embodied in machine-readable, physical form (a CD-ROM, for example), with the intent that such software be copied abroad for installation onto foreign-manufactured computers.
Broadband Internet Regulation and Access: Background and Issues
This report discusses broadband Internet, examining what it is and the various technologies that allow for its transmission. Broadband or high-speed Internet access is provided by technologies that give users the ability to send and receive data at volumes and speeds far greater than access over traditional telephone lines; it also provides a continuous, "always on" connection (no need to dial-up) and a "two-way" capability, that is, the ability to both receive (download) and transmit (upload) data at high speeds.
Controversies over Redefining “Fill Material” Under the Clean Water Act
On May 3, 2002, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) announced a final rule redefining two key terms, “fill material” and “discharge of fill material,” in regulations that implement Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. This report discusses the revised rule, focusing on how it changes which material and types of activities are regulated under Section 404 and the significance of these issues, especially for the mining industry.
Clean Air Act Issues in the 110th Congress: Implementation and Oversight
This report provides a discussion of several interrelated air issues of interest in the 110th Congress, including revision of the particulate standards, the role of independent scientific review in the setting of air quality standards, multi-pollutant legislation for electric power plants, mercury from power plants, and New Source Review. This report provides an overview of these issues; CRS reports that contain additional information and detailed sources are referenced in the appropriate sections.
EPA Policies Concerning Integrated Planning and Affordability of Water Infrastructure
This report examines recent initiatives by EPA, an integrated planning policy, and a framework policy for assessing a community's financial capability to meet objectives and requirements of the Clean Water Act (CWA).
Air Quality Issues and Animal Agriculture: EPA's Air Compliance Agreement
This report discusses a plan announced by EPA in January 2005, called the Air Compliance Agreement, intended to produce air quality monitoring data on animal agriculture emissions from a small number of farms, while at the same time protecting all participants (including farms where no monitoring takes place) through a "safe harbor" from liability under certain provisions of federal environmental laws.
Access to Government Information in the United States: A Primer
This report offers an introduction to the four access laws and provides citations to additional resources related to these statutes. It includes statistics on the use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and on litigation related to FOIA. In addition, this report provides some examples of the methods Congress, the President, and the courts have employed to provide or require the provision of information to one another, as well as a list of resources related to transparency, secrecy, access, and nondisclosure.
Nominations to the Supreme Court During Years of Divided and Unified Party Government
This report provides data and analysis related to nominations made to the Supreme Court during years of unified and divided party government.
Water Quality Issues in the 110th Congress: Oversight and Implementation
This report discusses issues surrounding the Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1972 and programs set up to meet the water quality standards that it outlined. The report focuses specifically on the legislative issues for the 110th Congress in relation to the CWA. It also includes a brief comparison of the expected appropriations for FY2007 and FY2008.
Exemptions from Environmental Law for the Department of Defense: An Overview of Congressional Action
This report discusses the difficulty of assessing the impact of environmental requirements on military readiness, broader exemptions for military activities that Congress has enacted, and DOD's request for additional exemptions.
Justice Antonin Scalia: His Jurisprudence and His Impact on the Court
This report discusses Justice Scalia's jurisprudence on key areas of law, as well as how that jurisprudence could be seen to have influenced the Court's approach to these subject matters.
Freedom of Information Act Legislation in the 114th Congress: Issue Summary and Side-by-Side Analysis
This report provides a side-by-side comparison of two bills relevant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), using the versions that have passed each of their originating congressional chambers. The report also provides context related to bill amendments and language additions that occurred between bill versions, when applicable. Finally, the report provides analysis of certain provisions of the bills.
Ocean Dumping Act: A Summary of the Law
This report presents a summary of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (MPRSA, P.L. 92-532), describing the essence of the statute. The law has two basic aims: to regulate intentional ocean disposal of materials, and to authorize related research.
Western Water Resource Issues
This report discusses the debate over western water resources, which revolves around the issue of how best to plan for and manage the use of this renewable, yet sometimes scarce and increasingly sought after, resource.
The National Environmental Policy Act: Streamlining NEPA
This report discusses elements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321, et seq.) relevant to streamlining, issues associated with determining project delays attributed to NEPA, common streamlining methods, and recently proposed and enacted legislative and administrative streamlining activities.
U.S. Sugar Program Fundamentals
This report discusses the U.S. sugar program, which is singular among major agricultural commodity programs in that it combines a floor price guarantee with a supply management structure that encompasses both domestic production for human use and sugar imports.
Pharmaceutical Patent Litigation Settlements: Implications for Competition and Innovation
This report introduces and analyzes innovation policy issues concerning pharmaceutical patent litigation settlements, including pharmaceutical patent litigation procedures under the Hatch-Waxman Act, the concept of reverse payment settlements, the status of reverse payment settlements under the antitrust laws, and congressional issues and alternatives.
Journalists’ Privilege: Overview of the Law and Legislation in the 109th and 110th Congresses
This report examines laws pertaining to journalists' privilege. Most states afford journalists some protection from compelled release of their confidential sources. The question remains, however, as to whether a concomitant federal privilege exists. The Supreme Court has addressed the issue of journalists’ privilege under the First Amendment only once; in Branzburg v. Hayes, it left open the question of whether the First Amendment provides journalists with any privilege.
Statutory Modifications of the Application of NEPA
From time to time, Congress has considered the operation of the National Environmental Policy Act. While Congress has amended the statute itself only twice since its enactment, Congress has often enacted provisions that modify the application of the Act or specify the extent of the documents that need be prepared in particular instances or contexts. This report collects and lists examples of such provisions.
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.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: House and Senate Amendments to Juvenile Justice Legislation
This report discusses legislative issues regarding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which provides federal funds to the states to assist them in providing an education for children with disabilities.
Lobbying Disclosure and Ethics Proposals Related to Lobbying Introduced in the 109th Congress: A Comparative Analysis
This report provides context, comparison, discussion, and analysis of the issues addressed in the legislative proposals that have been introduced in the 109th Congress to address lobbying disclosure and related laws and congressional rules.
International Reaction to the Palestinian Unity Government
This report discusses the new Palestinian unity government, which established in March 2007 complicates U.S. policy toward the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the peace process.
Broadband Internet Regulation and Access: Background and Issues
This is one part in the series of reports that provide a background and analysis, and most recent developments regarding broadband or high-speed Internet access. The report starts out by answering questions; what is broadband and why is it important? This report also discusses broadband technologies, the status of broadband deployment and the related policy issues, as well as the legislation in congress.
Alternative Transportation Fuels and Vehicles: Energy, Environment, and Development Issues
This report reviews several issues relating to alternative fuels and vehicles, mainly to combat dependence on petroleum imports and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The report discusses the advantages and drawbacks of various alternative fuels and vehicles, as well as related legislation.
Adult Education and Literacy: Overview and Reauthorization Proposals of the 109th Congress
This report discusses the reauthorization of federal adult education and literacy programs being considered by the 109th Congress. The Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) authorized these programs through FY2003. The General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) provided a one-year extension of authorization through FY2004, and annual appropriations have continued AEFLA programs since.
Clean Water Act Section 401: Background and Issues
Under the Clean Water Act (CWA), an applicant for a federal license or permit to conduct any activity that may result in a discharge to waters of the United States must provide the federal agency with a Section 401 certification. This report discusses the certification, which provides states with two distinct powers: one, the power indirectly to deny federal permits or licenses by withholding certification; and two, the power to impose conditions upon federal permits by placing limitations on certification.
Economic Sanctions to Achieve U.S. Foreign Policy Goals: Discussion and Guide to Current Law
This report provides background on foreign policy sanctions and the events that might necessitate their use, criteria to consider when determining if sanctions are appropriate, approaches that might be effective, and aspects of the use of sanctions that are sometimes overlooked or not considered fully. The report also provides an uncomplicated map of where sanctions policies and options currently may be found in U.S. law.
Energy-Water Nexus: The Water Sector’s Energy Use
This report provides background on energy for facilities that treat and deliver water to end users and also dispose of and discharge wastewater. Energy use for water is a function of many variables, including water source (surface water pumping typically requires less energy than groundwater pumping), treatment (high ambient quality raw water requires less treatment than brackish or seawater), intended end-use, distribution (water pumped long distances requires more energy), amount of water loss in the system through leakage and evaporation, and level of wastewater treatment (stringency of water quality regulations to meet discharge standards).
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR): Controversies for the 109th Congress
This report discusses the ongoing debate about whether or not to approve energy development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Current law forbids energy leasing in the Refuge. This report addresses several legislative options on the issue, as well as policymakers' arguments for and against development, especially in the wake of increasing terrorism since 2000-2001.
The Workforce Investment Act and the One-Stop Delivery System
This report provides details of WIA Title I state formula program structure, services, allocation formulas, and performance accountability. In addition, it provides a program overview for national grant programs. It also provides brief overviews of Titles II and IV. Title III of WIA amends the Wagner-Peyser Act of 1933, which establishes the Employment Service (ES), to make the ES an integral part of the One-Stop system created by WIA. Because the ES is a central part of the One-Stop system, it is discussed briefly in this report even though it is authorized by separate legislation (Wagner-Peyser Act of 1933).
Compulsory DNA Collection: A Fourth Amendment Analysis
This report examines statutory authorities, constitutional principles, and case law related to compulsory DNA extraction and analyzes potential impacts of recent developments for Fourth Amendment cases.
Clean Water Act and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) of Pollutants
This report discusses the section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act, which requires states to identify waters that are impaired by pollution, even after application of pollution controls. For those waters, states must establish a total maximum daily load (TMDL) of pollutants to ensure that water quality standards can be attained. Implementation was dormant until states and EPA were prodded by lawsuits. The TMDL program has become controversial, in part because of requirements and costs now facing states to implement this 35-year-old provision of the law, as well as industries, cities, farmers, and others who may be required to use new pollution controls to meet TMDL requirements. In July 2000, EPA issued revisions to strengthen the program. The rule was widely criticized, and congressional interest was high. The 2000 rule did not go into effect, and in March 2003, EPA withdrew the rule to consider whether to issue an entirely new rule or other options; no timetable has been announced. Consequently, the program continues to operate under regulations issued in 1992.
FDA’s Authority to Ensure That Drugs Prescribed to Children Are Safe and Effective
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved for adult use many drugs never tested in children. Yet clinicians often prescribe them for children believing that the safety and effectiveness demonstrated with adults probably reasonably transfers to younger patients. The data show that this is not always true. To encourage industry to develop drugs and medical devices for pediatric use, Congress has established three programs. The Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007 (FDAAA, P.L. 110-85) reauthorized and strengthened two laws addressing drugs—the Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act (BPCA) of 2002 and the Pediatric Research Equity Act (PREA) of 2003—and enacted a new law addressing devices—the Pediatric Medical Device Safety and Improvement Act (PMDSIA) of 2007. The historical approach of this report allows an understanding of how and why Congress took these steps.
The World Drug Problem: UNGA Convenes for a Special Session
This report briefly discusses the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), which has convened in New York for a special session on "The World Drug Problem." It is the third time the UNGA will convene such a session on global drug issues. Previous special sessions on drugs were held in 1990 and 1998.
The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (S. 524): Comparison of Senate- and House-Passed Versions
This report discusses selected differences and similarities between the Senate- and House-passed versions of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA; S. 524), which aims to address the problem of opioid addiction in the United States. The two versions of the bill differ substantially. The scope of the differences may be illustrated by their structures: The Senate bill has 28 sections organized in 8 titles, whereas the House bill has 69 sections organized in 18 titles.
EPA Policies Concerning Integrated Planning and Affordability of Water Infrastructure
This report examines two recent initiatives by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in which the agency works with states to develop and implement new approaches for water quality goals that will be more cost-effective and address the most pressing water infrastructure problems first. The examples include an integrated planning policy and a framework policy for assessing a community's financial capability to meet objectives and requirements of the Clean Water Act (CWA).
Legislative Options for Financing Water Infrastructure
This report discusses several options considered by Congress to address the financing needs of local communities for wastewater and drinking water infrastructure projects and to decrease or close the gap between available funds and projected needs.
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR): Controversies for the 108th Congress
This report discusses one major element of the energy debate in the 108th Congress, which has been whether to approve energy development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in northeastern Alaska, and if so, under what conditions, or whether to continue to prohibit development to protect the area's biological resources. The Refuge is an area rich in fauna, flora, and commercial oil potential. Current law forbids energy leasing in the Refuge.
The Department of the Interior's Final Rule on Offshore Well Control
This report discusses regulations regarding blowout preventer systems and well control for oil and gas operations on the U.S. outer continental shelf (81 Fed. Reg. 25887). The regulations aim to reduce the risk of an offshore oil or gas blowout that could jeopardize human safety and harm the environment.
Safe Drinking Water Act: Implementation and Issues
This report discusses key drinking water issues in the 108th Congress involving water infrastructure funding and problems caused by specific contaminants, such as the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), perchlorate, and lead in drinking water. Congress last reauthorized the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) in 1996, and although funding authority for most SDWA programs expired in FY2003, broad reauthorization efforts were not pursued as EPA, states, and water utilities continued implementing the 1996 amendments.
Legislative Options for Financing Water Infrastructure
This report discusses several options considered by Congress to address the financing needs of local communities for wastewater and drinking water infrastructure projects and to decrease or close the gap between available funds and projected needs. It provides an overview of six options that are reflected in recent legislative proposals, including their budgetary implications.
Clean Power Plan: Legal Background and Pending Litigation in West Virginia v. EPA
This report provides legal background on the Clean Power Plan rule (CPP) to regulate emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), its Clean Air Act (CAA) framework under Section 111, and climate-related lawsuits that have preceded the present litigation over the CPP. It then gives an overview of the participants in the current litigation, including two groups of Members of Congress, who have offered briefs in support of the petitioners and the respondents, respectively. This report explains the major events in the litigation as of the date of publication, including the Supreme Court stay, and the likely timetable of events in the near term.
FCC Media Ownership Rules: Current Status and Issues for Congress
The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) adopted an order on June 2, 2003 that modified five of its media ownership rules and retained two others. The new rules have never gone into effect. Congress passed the FY2004 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 108-199), Sec. 629 of which instructs the FCC to modify one of the rules — the National Television Ownership rule. This report examines these rules and relevant policy issues.
RICO: A Brief Sketch
This report examines the various elements of federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) provisions and discusses constitutional questions pertaining to the law. In spite of its name and origin, RICO is not limited to "mobsters" or members of "organized crime" as those terms are popularly understood. Rather, it covers those activities which Congress felt characterized the conduct of organized crime, no matter who actually engages in them.
The Open Skies Treaty: Issues in the Current Debate
This report discusses the current debate surrounding the Treaty on Open Skies, which the United States, Canada, and 22 European nations signed on March 24, 1992. The treaty entered into force on January 1, 2002, and now has 34 member states. Each participant must permit unarmed observation aircraft to fly over its entire territory to observe military forces and activities.
Data Security: Federal Legislative Approaches
This report discusses the core areas addressed in federal legislation, including the scope of coverage (who is covered and what information is covered); data privacy and security safeguards for sensitive personal information; requirements for security breach notification (when, how, triggers, frequency, and exceptions); restrictions on social security numbers (collection, use, and sale); credit freezes on consumer reports; identity theft penalties; causes of action; and preemption.