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 Decade: 2010-2019
 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Perjury Under Federal Law: A Brief Overview
This report describes perjury under federal law, including a definition as well as in-depth explorations of the three general federal perjury laws. This report is available in abbreviated form - without footnotes, quotations, or citations - as CRS Report 98-807, Perjury Under Federal Law: A Sketch of the Elements.
Membership of the 111th Congress: A Profile
This report presents a profile of the membership of the 111th Congress. Statistical information is included on selected characteristics of Members, including data on party affiliation, average age and length of service, occupation, religious affiliation, gender, ethnicity, foreign births, and military service.
Latin America and the Caribbean: Fact Sheet on Leaders and Elections
This fact sheet tracks the current heads of government in Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. It provides the dates of the last and next elections for the head of government and the national independence date for each country.
Winter Fuels Outlook 2010-2011
This report discusses findings gleaned through the Energy Information Administration's (EIA) publication titled Short-Term Energy and Winter Fuels Outlook (STEWFO) for the 2010-2011 winter heating season. STEWFO projects how much American consumers should expect to see heating expenditures rise during the 2010-2011 winter season. These findings take into account the currently slow economic growth, high unemployment numbers, and uncertainty regarding the federal funding of the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA): Congressional Interest and Executive Enforcement
This report briefly discusses the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act of 1977 (FCPA), which was intended to prevent corporate bribery of foreign officials. Criticisms of the act's operation and scope began almost immediately after its passage and have continued. This report discusses these criticisms.
House Committees: Categories and Rules for Committee Assignments
This report House and party rules, both of which detail procedures for committee assignments. House rules address the election and membership of committees, especially limitations on membership. The Democratic Caucus and Republican Conference rules designate categories of committees (shown below) and specify service limitations in addition to those in the House rules.
Internet Domain Names: Background and Policy Issues
This report discusses the Domain Name System (DNS), which is the distributed set of databases residing in computers around the world that contain address numbers mapped to corresponding domain names, making it possible to send and receive messages and to access information from computers anywhere on the Internet.
House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct: A Brief History of Its Evolution and Jurisdiction
This report briefly outlines the background of ethics enforcement in the House of Representatives, including the creation of both the Select Committee on Ethics and the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. The report also focuses on various jurisdictional and procedural changes that the committee has experienced since 1967 and discusses the committee's current jurisdiction and procedures.
Post-Employment, "Revolving Door," Laws for Federal Personnel
This report provides a brief discussion of the post-employment restrictions, often called "revolving door" laws, that are applicable to members, officers, and employees of Congress after they leave congressional service or employment.
Why Certain Trade Agreements Are Approved as Congressional-Executive Agreements Rather Than as Treaties
U.S. trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), World Trade Organization agreements, and bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) have been approved by majority vote of each house rather than by two-thirds vote of the Senate - that is, they have been treated as congressional-executive agreements rather than as treaties. The congressional-executive agreement has been the vehicle for implementing Congress's long-standing policy of seeking trade benefits for the United States through reciprocal trade negotiations. This report discusses this topic in brief.
Water Infrastructure Projects Designated in EPA Appropriations: Trends and Policy Implications
This report discusses appropriations for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) water infrastructure programs, focusing on congressional special project designations in the account that funds these programs. While some Members of Congress, interest groups, and Administration officials are critical of these types of congressional actions, there is little indication that the practice will cease. Information on the programmatic history of EPA involvement in assisting wastewater treatment and drinking water projects also is provided in two appendixes.
Average Years of Service for Members of the Senate and House of Representatives, 1st - 111th Congresses
The average tenure of Members of the Senate and House of Representatives at the beginning of each Congress has varied substantially since 1789. The purpose of this report is to provide a Congress-by-Congress summary of the average years of service for Senators and Representatives for the First through the 111th Congresses. The report contains a brief summary of some of the explanations by political scientists and others for the various changes in the average years of service.
Visa Waiver Program
This report discusses the visa waiver program (VWP), which allows for a bypass of the first step by which foreign visitors are screened for admissibility to enter the United States. Some policymakers are concerned that this waiver allows terrorists to more easily enter the country. The report provides waiver-related statistics and related legislation.
The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA): A Summary
This report summarizes the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and the major regulatory programs that mandate reporting by industrial facilities of releases of hazardous chemicals to the environment, as well as local planning to respond in the event of significant, accidental releases.
The TANF Emergency Contingency Fund
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 created an Emergency Contingency Fund (ECF) within the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant. The fund expired on September 30, 2010. It helped states, Indian tribes, and territories pay for additional costs of providing economic aid to families during the current economic downturn for FY2009 and FY2010. This report describes the TANF ECF as well as proposals offered in 2010 to extend and modify TANF emergency funding.
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell": A Legal Analysis
In recent years, several Members of Congress have expressed interest in amending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," (DADT) a legislation that requires those of homosexual orientation in the military to keep quiet about their orientation in order to maintain "morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion." At least two bills that would repeal the law and replace it with a policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation - H.R. 1283 and S. 3065 - have been introduced in the 111th Congress. This report provides a legal analysis of the various constitutional challenges that have been brought against DADT; for a policy analysis, see CRS Report R40782, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell": Military Policy and the Law on
Guantanamo Detention Center: Legislative Activity in the 111th Congress
This report analyzes relevant provisions in enacted legislation and selected pending bills relating to teh U.S. Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a facility in which alleged enemy belligerents are detained.
Legal Issues Relating to the Disposal of Dispensed Controlled Substances
Prescription drug abuse is the second-most common form of illicit drug abuse among teenagers in the United States, trailing only marijuana use. Prescription drug abuse has become a particular concern amongst federal policymakers. This report discusses this issue, including related pieces of legislation such as the Controlled Substances Act, the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, and the proper way to dispose of controlled substances.
The Inapplicability of Limitations on Subcontracting to "Preference Contracts" for Small Businesses: Washington-Harris Group
This report discusses Washington-Harris Group, a protest filed with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) alleging, among other things, that an agency improperly awarded a "preference contract" to a service-disabled veteran-owned small business that proposed to subcontract a greater percentage of work on the contract than allowed under the Small Business Administration's limitations on subcontracting.
The U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW): Issues in the U.S. Ratification Debate
The Senate may consider providing its advice and consent to U.S. ratification of the United Nations (U.N.) Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW, or the Convention) during the 112th Congress. CEDAW is the only international human rights treaty that specifically addresses the rights of women. This report provides an overview of CEDAW's background, objectives, and structure, including the role of the Convention's monitoring body, the CEDAW Committee. It examines U.S. policy and issues in the U.S. ratification debate, including the Convention's possible impact on U.S. sovereignty, its effectiveness in combating discrimination, and its role as an instrument of U.S. foreign policy.
Veterans' Benefits: Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) for Survivors
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers directly, or in conjunction with other federal agencies, several benefits for surviving spouses, children, and dependent parents of deceased veterans to provide them with financial, educational, and emotional support. Among these various programs, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a monthly tax-free cash payment for eligible surviving spouses, children, and dependent parents. This report outlines the eligibility requirements and benefit levels for DIC, the policy issues associated with DIC, and legislation in the 111th Congress related to DIC.
Navy Irregular Warfare and Counterterrorism Operations: Background and Issues for Congress
This report discusses the U.S. Navy's efforts in recent years to strengthen its ability to carry out irregular warfare (IW) counterterrorism (CT) activities. Some of the activities and organizations explored in this report are the creation of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC), the Navy's riverine force, the Navy Irregular Warfare Office, and the Global Maritime Partnership. The report also discusses what potential oversight issues the Navy's IW and CT activities pose for Congress, including budget priorities.
DOD Leases of Foreign-Built Ships: Background for Congress
The Department of Defense (DOD) in recent years has leased some foreign-built cargo ships for total periods, including options and renewals, of almost 10 years -- a length of time that some observers argue effectively circumvents a legal requirement that U.S. military ships be built in U.S. shipyards. These observers, particularly the American Shipbuilding Association (ASA), have proposed reducing the current five-year legal limit on ship leases to two years for foreign-built ships. DOD has opposed the idea, arguing that its ship leases are the most cost-effective way to meet its needs for the ships in question. This report briefly discusses this issue, as well as related legislation.
Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2011
This report summarizes the FY2011 budget request for research & development (R&D) funding, including comparisons to R&D funding requests in the FY2010 budget. Congress will play a central role in defining the nation's R&D priorities, especially with respect to two overarching issues: the extent to which the Federal R&D investment can grow in the context of increased pressure on discretionary spending and how available funding will be prioritized and allocated. This report breaks down in detail the various aspects of the President's FY2011 R&D funding request.
Inherently Governmental Functions and Other Work Reserved for Performance by Federal Government Employees: The Obama Administration's Proposed Policy Letter
On March 31, 2010, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a proposed policy letter on inherently governmental functions and other "work reserved for performance by federal government employees." While not final, the policy letter represents the Obama Administration's proposed guidance for agencies determining (1) whether particular functions are inherently governmental and (2) when functions closely associated with the performance of inherently governmental functions and critical functions should be performed by government personnel. The proposed policy letter raises several legal and policy issues of potential interest to Congress, given recently enacted and proposed legislation regarding inherently governmental functions and other limitations upon contracting out.
Homeland Security Department: FY2011 Appropriations
This report describes the FY2011 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Administration requested a net appropriation of $45.0 billion in budget authority for FY2011. This amounts to a $1.1 billion, or a 2.4% increase from the $43.9 billion enacted for FY2010. Total budget authority requested by the Administration for DHS for FY2011 amounts to $52.6 billion as compared to $51.7 billion enacted for FY2010.
Afghanistan Casualties: Military Forces and Civilians
This report collects statistics from a variety of sources on casualties sustained during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), which began on October 7, 2001, and is ongoing. OEF actions take place primarily in Afghanistan, but OEF casualties also include American casualties in other countries, listed within this report.
Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance
This report discusses the current political state of Afghanistan, as well as the Afghan government. This report also discusses Afghanistan's relationship with the United States, particularly U.S. efforts to urge President Hamid Karzai, to address corruption within the Afghan government. The report also includes discussion of election fraud and corruption in Afghanistan.
Agricultural Disaster Assistance
This report has two sections. The first provides an overview of the current U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster assistance programs: federal crop insurance, NAP payments, emergency disaster loans, the new Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program (SURE), and four other smaller disaster programs authorized in the 2008 farm bill. The second section reviews the recent history of emergency supplemental farm disaster assistance.
U.S. National Science Foundation: Major Research Equipment and Facility Construction
The Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) account of the National Science Foundation (NSF) supports the acquisition and construction of major research facilities and equipment that are to extend the boundaries of science, engineering, and technology. The FY2011 request for the NSF is $7,424.4 million, approximately $551.9 million above the FY2010 estimate. This report discusses the research endeavors overseen by the NSF, as well as what NSF projects will be funded by FY2011 appropriations.
China's Currency: An Analysis of the Economic Issues
This report provides an overview of the economic issues surrounding the current debate over China's currency policy. It identifies the economic costs and benefits of China's currency policy for both China and the United States, and possible implications if China were to allow its currency to significantly appreciate or to float freely. It also examines proposed legislation in the 111th Congress that seek to address China's currency policy.
Navy SSBN(X) Ballistic Missile Submarine Program: Background and Issues for Congress
This report discusses the Navy's plan to develop and design a class of 12 next-generation ballistic missile submarines, or SSBN(X)s, as replacements for the 14 Ohio class SSBNs currently in operation. The report explores certain related issues for Congress, including the affordability of the project and its potential impact on other Navy shipbuilding programs, alternatives to the program, and which shipyard or shipyards will build the proposed ships.
State Efforts to Deter Unauthorized Aliens: Legal Analysis of Arizona's S.B. 1070
On April 23, 2010, Arizona enacted S.B. 1070, which is designed to discourage and deter the entry or presence of aliens who lack lawful status under federal immigration law. This report discusses this piece of legislation and some of the notable preemption issues raised by its provisions. Where relevant, it examines the district court's ruling that the federal government is likely to succeed on the merits of its arguments that certain sections of S.B. 1070 are preempted by federal law. It also discusses other preemption issues potentially raised by S.B. 1070 or similar legislation, including some issues that were not expressly addressed by the district court in its preliminary ruling.
Contract Types: An Overview of the Legal Requirements and Issues
This report provides an overview of the various contract types (e.g., fixed-price, cost-reimbursement) used in federal procurement and the legal requirements and issues pertaining to each. Current congressional and public interest in contract types is, in part, an outgrowth of the reported increase in the use of cost-reimbursement contracts during the George W. Bush Administration1 and the Obama Administration's proposal to reduce by at least 10% the funds obligated in FY2010 by "high risk-contracting authorities," such as cost-reimbursement, time-and-materials, and labor-hour contracts.
Location-Based Preferences in Federal and Federally Funded Contracting: An Overview of the Law
This report discusses constitutional and other legal issues related to the creation and implementation of location-based preferences in federal contracting, as well as summarizes key authorities requiring or allowing federal agencies to "favor" contractors located in specific places. The report does not address federal preferences for domestic products or provisions of federal law that could, depending upon their implementation, effectively prefer local contractors, such as project labor agreements.
The European Parliament
The European Parliament (EP) is one of the three key institutions of the European Union (EU), and the only EU institution whose members are directly elected. This report discusses the construction and history of the EP, its role in functions of the EU as well as internationally, various international supports and criticisms of the EP, and the EP's ties with the U.S. Congress.
Islam: Sunnis and Shiites
The majority of the world's Muslim population follows the Sunni branch of Islam, and approximately 10%-15% of all Muslims follow the Shiite (Shi'ite, Shi'a, Shia) branch. Shiite populations constitute a majority in Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, and Azerbaijan. Sunnis and Shiites share most basic religious tenets. However, their differences sometimes have been the basis for religious intolerance, political infighting, and sectarian violence. This report includes a historical background of the Sunni-Shiite split and discusses the differences in religious beliefs and practices between and within each Islamic sect as well as their similarities. The report also relates Sunni and Shiite religious beliefs to discussions of terrorism and sectarian violence that may be of interest to Congress.
The European Union: Questions and Answers
This report provides a brief overview of the European Union (EU), an economic and political partnership between 27 sovereign member states. The report describes the formation of the EU, the three main institutions of the EU, and the EU's relationship with the United States.
Iraq: Politics, Elections, and Benchmarks
Iraq's political system, the result of a U.S.-supported election process, has been increasingly characterized by peaceful competition, as well as by attempts to form cross-sectarian alliances. However, ethnic and factional infighting continues, sometimes involving the questionable use of key levers of power and legal institutions. This report discusses the current political climate of Iraq and also explores speculations as to what will happen after U.S. troops completely withdraw from the region at the end of 2011.
China's Currency: An Analysis of the Economic Issues
This report provides an overview of the economic issues surrounding the current debate over China's currency policy. It identifies the economic costs and benefits of China's currency policy for both China and the United States, and possible implications if China were to allow its currency to significantly appreciate or to float freely. It also examines proposed legislation in the 111th Congress that seek to address China's currency policy.
Latin America: Terrorism Issues
Since the September 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, U.S. attention to terrorism in Latin America has intensified, with an increase in bilateral and regional cooperation. This report discusses the issue in relation to the U.S. State Department's April 2009 Country Report on Terrorism; Colombian President Hugo Chávez's sympathies with terrorist groups and lack of cooperation on antiterrorism efforts; growing U.S. concern over activities of terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas in the tri-border area of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay; and various legislative initiatives related to Latin American terrorism issues being considered by the 111th Congress.
Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress
The diminishment of Arctic sea ice has led to increased human activities in the Arctic, and has heightened concerns about the region's future. Issues such as 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. This report provides an overview of Arctic-related issues for Congress, and refers readers to more in-depth CRS reports on specific Arctic-related issues.
Navy Nuclear-Powered Surface Ships: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress
This report discusses the possibility of increasing the number of Navy surface ships powered by nuclear energy, including the Navy's planned CG(X) cruiser. The report explores a 2006 Navy study that discusses budget considerations, the cost of a nuclear-powered ship compared to a ship powered by crude oil, and other suggestions relating to this proposed expansion. The overall report has a specific emphasis on the planned CG(X) cruiser, and how the implementation of this cruiser may be delayed by current budget proposals.
Unauthorized Alien Students: Issues and "DREAM Act" Legislation
Supporters of comprehensive immigration reform have urged the President and Congress to pursue reform legislation. While legislative action on comprehensive reform does not appear likely during the remainder of the 111th Congress, there may be an effort to enact a measure, commonly referred to as the "DREAM Act," to enable certain unauthorized alien students to legalize their status. This report discusses the DREAM act and related issues.
Navy CG(X) Cruiser Program: Background for Congress
The Navy's FY2011 budget proposes canceling the CG(X) program as unaffordable and instead building an improved version of the Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) class Aegis destroyer called the Flight III version. This report provides background information on the CG(X) program as it existed prior to its proposed cancellation. For further discussion of the proposal to build Flight III DDG-51s in lieu of CG(X)s, see the CRS report on destroyer procurement.
Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation and Security Issues
This report discusses Pakistan's efforts to produce fissile material and other issues related to nuclear proliferation and improving its nuclear arsenal. It also discusses the steps Pakistan has taken to increase international confidence in its nuclear security. However, continued instability in Pakistan has caused some to question the effectiveness of its nuclear security reforms. The report addresses these issues as well, in addition to the U.S.-Pakistan relationship as it regards nuclear policy.
Improper Payments Information Act of 2002: Background, Implementation, and Assessment
This report discusses the Improper Payments Information Act (IPIA), which was signed into law in 2002 with the intention of increasing financial accountability in the federal government, thereby reducing wasteful spending.
Somalia: Current Conditions and Prospects for a Lasting Peace
This report discusses the political climate of Somalia, which has undergone extreme unrest for years. The report focuses on events since October 2002, including the formation of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in 2007 and the TFG's cooperation with the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) in 2008. The report also discusses the U.S. relationship with Somalia under the Obama Administration, including U.S. economic assistance given to Somalia and U.S. efforts to contain Somalian terrorist groups.
Tariff Modifications: Miscellaneous Tariff Bills
This report discusses the current process by which duty suspension bills and other provisions are introduced, reviewed by several government agencies and committee staff, made available for public comment, and finally included in omnibus miscellaneous trade and technical corrections bills (MTBs) legislation reported out by the committees of jurisdiction.
Yemen: Background and U.S. Relations
With limited natural resources, a crippling illiteracy rate, and high population growth, Yemen faces an array of daunting development challenges that some observers believe make it at risk for becoming a failed state in the next few decades. As the country's population rapidly rises, resources dwindle, and terrorist groups take root in the outlying provinces, the Obama Administration and the 111th Congress are left to grapple with the consequences of Yemeni instability. As President Obama and the 111th Congress reassess U.S. policy toward the Arab world, the opportunity for improved U.S.-Yemeni ties is strong, though recurring tensions over counterterrorism cooperation and lack of U.S. interest in Yemen within the broader foreign policy community persist.