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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
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. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29692/
U.S. International Trade: Trends and Forecasts
This report discusses the U.S. trade deficit in light of the 2008 global financial crisis, with emphasis on international trade and U.S. trade policy, most recent developments in trade of goods and service, trade forecasts for the future, and how issues such as the U.S. trade deficit and international trade, particularly with China, are commonly perceived. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29678/
The 2007-2009 Recession: Similarities to and Differences from the Past
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the U.S. economy was in a recession for 18 months from December 2007 to June 2009. It was the longest and deepest recession of the post-World War II era. This report provides information on the patterns found across past recessions since World War II to gauge whether and how this recession might be different. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29560/
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program
This report briefly discusses the Small Business Innovation Development Act (P.L. 97-219), which in 1982 established Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programs designed to increase participation of small innovative companies in federally funded research and development (R&D). The report also discusses the program's extensions and reauthorization activity over the years. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29500/
Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program: An Overview
This report provides a brief overview of The Hollings Manufacturing Partnership (MEP), which is a program of regional centers set up to assist small and medium-sized manufacturing companies use knowledge and technologies developed under the auspices of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29502/
Job Growth During the Recovery
Congress in recent years passed a number of bills intended in part to jump-start a recovery in the labor market from the recession that began in December 2007. Policymakers are interested in how employment has responded to stimulus measures to determine how effective the legislation has been and to decide whether additional job creation legislation is warranted. This report discusses this topic in brief. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29610/
The Federal Government's Role in Electric Transmission Facility Siting
This report looks at the history of transmission siting and the reason behind the movement toward an increased federal role in siting decisions, explains the new federal role in transmission siting pursuant to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and discusses legal issues related to this and any potential future expansions of the federal role. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29571/
Small Business Administration HUBZone Program
The Small Business Administration (SBA) administers several programs to support small businesses, including the Historically Underutilized Business Zone Empowerment Contracting (HUBZone) program. The HUBZone program is a small business federal contracting assistance program "whose primary objective is job creation and increasing capital investment in distressed communities." This report examines the arguments presented both for and against targeting assistance to geographic areas with specified characteristics, such as low income, high poverty, or high unemployment, as opposed to providing assistance to people or businesses with specified characteristics. It then assesses the arguments presented both for and against the creation and continuation of the HUBZone program. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29592/
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: Executive Compensation
This report discusses the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (H.R. 4173), which was implemented as part of financial regulatory reform initiatives undertaken by Congress in light of the recent global economic crisis. The legislation focuses on executive compensation. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29597/
Legal Protections for Subcontractors on Federal Prime Contracts
This report provides an overview of the payment and other protections for subcontractors on certain federal prime contracts under the Miller Act, the 1988 amendments to the Prompt Payment Act, and the Small Business Act. Congress enacted these statutes to give subcontractors rights and remedies they would not otherwise have because of legal doctrines relating to sovereign immunity, privity of contract, and freedom to contract. The report also discusses legislation introduced in the 111th Congress that would provide additional protections for subcontractors. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29591/
General Motors' Initial Public Offering: Review of Issues and Implications for TARP
This report analyzes the progress General Motors Company has made since it was created from the sale of the bankrupt Old GM in July 2009 and the major issues related to its anticipated 2010 initial public offering (IPO). digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29605/
The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases
This report discusses how the total debt of the federal government can increase, an historical overview of debt limits, and how the current economic slowdown has led to higher deficits and thereby a series of debt limit increases, as well as legislation related to these increases. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29646/
U.S. Government Agencies Involved in Export Promotion: Overview and Issues for Congress
This report provides an overview of the federal agencies that participate in U.S. export promotion efforts and the issues that they raise for Congress. It proceeds first by discussing the coordination, budgets, and functions of federal government agencies involved in promoting exports. Next, the report provides an overview of the missions and activities of key federal government agencies that support exports. The last section of the report discusses agency-related issues for Congress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29636/
Financial Regulatory Reform: Analysis of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) as Proposed by the Obama Administration and H.R. 3126
This report provides a brief summary of the President's Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act of 2009 (the CPFA Act or the Act) and delineates some of the substantive differences between it and H.R. 3126, as introduced. It then analyzes some of the policy implications of the proposal, focusing on the separation of safety and soundness regulation from consumer protection, financial innovation, and the scope of regulation. The report then raises some questions regarding state law preemption, sources of funding, and rule-making procedures that the Act does not fully answer. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26183/
Countercyclical Job Creation Programs
To counter the effect of recessions on workers, Congress has passed legislation to spur job creation through increased spending on public works (infrastructure) and public service programs, revenue sharing with state governments, and employment tax credits. Although the economic stimulus measure enacted during the 110th Congress did not include these direct job creation approaches, additional spending on infrastructure in particular was considered before Congress recessed. (See CRS Report RL34349, Economic Slowdown: Issues and Policies, coordinated by Jane G. Gravelle et al.) Infrastructure spending continues to be mentioned in the context of a second stimulus package, as do state and local government revenue sharing and a jobs tax credit. The focus of this report is on the four countercyclical job creation approaches and related legislation enacted since the Great Depression's end. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26027/
Plant Closings, Mass Layoffs, and Worker Dislocations: Data Issues
For at least 15 years Members of Congress have continued to ask: How many U.S. manufacturing plants have closed? For at least 15 years they have continued to ask: How many U.S. manufacturing plants have relocated abroad, and where have they gone? For at least 15 years the answer has been: For the most part, those questions can't be answered, based on Government data. How many plants are moving to Mexico? What industries and what States are the plants from? How many U.S. workers are losing their jobs as a result? It appears that still, after two legislative attempts to mandate collection of these data, the Government publishes no counts of U.S. plant closings, and almost no information on plant relocations. Options for strengthening the data systems include addressing three main weaknesses: inadequate data program design, a plant closing definition that misses its mark, and publication of partial instead of complete survey results. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26029/
The Advanced Technology Program
President Bush's FY2008 budget request did not include financing for ATP. The FY2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act, P.L. 110-161, replaces ATP with the Technology Innovation Program (TIP) and provides $65.2 million (with an additional $5 million in ATP FY2007 unobligated balances), 17.6% less than the previous fiscal year. P.L. 110- 69, the America COMPETES Act, authorized the creation of TIP. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26083/
DOD's Dual-Use Strategy
In an effort to reduce the costs of its military systems and gain greater access to state-of-the-art technologies, the Department of Defense is pursuing what is being called a "dual-use" strategy. This strategy seeks to make greater use of the commercial sector in developing and manufacturing military goods. This report discusses issues raised over the implementation of this strategy. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26081/
The Labor Market during the Great Depression and the Current Recession
This report analyzes the labor market experiences of workers during the 1930s, which encompassed the almost five years of the Great Depression. Because it was a period very distant and different from today, considerable time is devoted to examining the employment and unemployment measures available at that time. The report ends by comparing the labor market conditions of the 1930s with those encountered by workers thus far during the recession that began in December 2007. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26169/
The Financial Crisis: Impact on and Response by the European Union
According to the most recent National Threat Assessment, the global financial crisis and its geopolitical implications pose the primary near-term security concern of the United States. Over the short run, both the EU and the United States are attempting to resolve the financial crisis while stimulating domestic demand to stem the economic downturn. These efforts have born little progress so far as the economic recession and the financial crisis have become reinforcing events, causing EU governments to forge policy responses to both crises. This report discusses this situation in detail and also discusses individual efforts by both the U.S. and EU to combat the effects of the crisis. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26139/
The Federal Role in Technology Development
The federal government has traditionally played a role in fostering technological progress. This has involved both direct federal research and development (R&D) funding and indirect measures that create incentives for increased private sector investments in innovation. However, this mix of initiatives was challenged since the 104th Congress. While support for all on-going efforts continues, some programs have been funded at reduced levels. However, since FY2001, appropriations appear to have reversed this trend. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26095/
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/
Cigarette Taxes to Fund Health Care Reform: An Economic Analysis
A cigarette excise tax increase of 75 cents per pack has been proposed to finance part of the President's universal health care program. The tax enjoys considerable public support, would raise about $11 billion per year, and would be relatively simple to administer because it would increase an existing manufacturer's excise tax. This report discusses these rationales, as well as other effects of and concerns about the tax, organized into topics of market failure as a justification for the tax (i.e., economic efficiency); potential for revenue; equity; and the job loss the tax might cause in tobacco growing regions. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26039/
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/
The United Arab Emirates (UAE): Issues for U.S. Policy
This report describes the open economy and society of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as well as U.S. concern over proliferation of advanced technology due to said open economy and the UAE's lax export controls. This report describes these issues in relation to a recently-signed U.S.-UAE civilian nuclear agreement. It also provides a general description of the UAE's government and political structure, as well as the effects of the recent global economic downturn on the UAE in general and on the city of Dubai in particular. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26321/
Debarment and Suspension of Government Contractors: An Overview of the Law Including Recently Enacted and Proposed Amendments
The amount spent on government contracts, coupled with widely reported contractors misconduct, has generated congressional interest in debarment and suspension. The 110th Congress enacted several bills addressing debarment and suspension, including the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act, and several others, all of which are detailed in this report. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26290/
Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program: An Overview
This report provides a brief overview of The Hollings Manufacturing Partnership (MEP), which is a program of regional centers set up to assist small and medium-sized manufacturing companies use knowledge and technologies developed under the auspices of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26113/
The Global Financial Crisis: The Role of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
This report discusses two potential roles the International Monetary Fund (IMF) may have in helping to resolve the current global financial crisis: (1) immediate crisis control through balance of payments lending to emerging market and less-developed countries and (2) increased surveillance of the global economy through better coordination with the international financial regulatory agencies. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10812/
The Global Financial Crisis: The Role of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
This report discusses two potential roles the International Monetary Fund (IMF) may have in helping to resolve the current global financial crisis: (1) immediate crisis control through balance of payments lending to emerging market and less-developed countries and (2) increased surveillance of the global economy through better coordination with the international financial regulatory agencies. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10813/
Financial Market Intervention
Financial markets continue to experience significant disturbance and the banking sector remains fragile. Efforts to restore confidence have been met with mixed success thus far. After attempting to deal with troubled institutions on a case-by-case basis, Treasury has proposed a plan to purchase mortgage-related assets to alleviate stress in financial markets and in the banking system. This report provides answers to some frequently asked questions concerning the financial disruptions of September 2008 and the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in H.R. 3997. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10801/
The Resolution Trust Corporation: Historical Analysis
In a 1989 legislative response to financial troubles in the thrift industry, the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA, P.L. 101-73) was enacted. FIRREA's principal mission was to conduct a partially tax-payer funded program to address the troubles of the nation's many insolvent thrifts. To do so, it established a new entity, the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC), whose mission was to address troubled thrifts by arranging their sale to other institutions or shuttering them and disposing of their assets. This report analyzes the creation and functions of the RTC, including criticisms and results of its actions. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10797/
Merger Review Authority of the Federal Communications Commission
This report will explain the merger review process at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission). Whenever companies holding licenses issued by the FCC wish to merge, the merging entities must obtain approval from two federal agencies: the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FCC. The Commission and the DOJ do not follow precisely the same process or reasoning when examining the potential effects of proposed mergers. The Act permits the Commission to grant the transfer only if the agency determines that the transaction would be in the public interest. The public interest standard is generally broader than the competition analysis authorized by the antitrust laws and conducted by the DOJ. Therefore, the Commission possesses greater latitude to examine other potential effects of a proposed merger beyond its possible effect on competition in the relevant market. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10784/
Primer on Energy Derivatives and Their Regulation
Prices of oil and other energy commodities are set in futures and derivatives markets, where producers, commercial users, and financial speculators buy and sell contracts whose value is linked to the price of the underlying commodity. Trading occurs on regulated futures exchanges and in a largely unregulated over-the-counter (OTC) market; both forms of trading are global in scope. This report presents basic information about these markets, the instruments traded, the regulatory framework, speculation, and current legislative proposals. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10772/
The Enron Loophole
The Commodity Exchange Act exempts certain energy derivatives contracts from regulation by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). These exemptions are popularly known as the "Enron loophole." Soaring energy prices have raised concerns about whether the CFTC has enough information about these unregulated markets to monitor energy trading in a comprehensive manner. A number of other bills in the 110th Congress would impose new reporting or regulatory requirements on the bilateral energy swaps market, which was not addressed by the Farm Bill. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10766/
Livestock Feed Costs: Concerns and Options
Sharply higher feed costs, fueled by competing use demands for corn and soybeans and by rising energy prices, are affecting the beef, pork, dairy, and poultry industries. In contrast, wholesales prices for most animal products have held steady. Some analysts argue that current public policies, including financial incentives that divert corn from feed uses into ethanol production, have exacerbated if not caused these higher costs. Other factors include crop production declines due to weather, and higher global demand for consumption. Proposed options aimed at easing the impacts of higher feed costs include changes in ethanol incentives, use of conservation land for forage use, and direct aid to producers. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10763/
Bisphenol A (BPA) in Plastics and Possible Human Health Effects
Bisphenol A (BPA) is used to produce certain types of plastic. Containers made of these plastics may expose people to small amounts of BPA in food and water. Some animal experiments have found that fetal and infant development may be harmed by small amounts of BPA, but scientists disagree about the value of the animal studies for predicting harmful effects in people. This report discusses this issue and relevant legislation, as well as inquiries into studies currently underway to determine the true harm inherent in BPA and the degree to which people are regularly exposed to BPA. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10734/
Bisphenol A (BPA) in Plastics and Possible Human Health Effects
Bisphenol A (BPA) is used to produce certain types of plastic. Containers made of these plastics may expose people to small amounts of BPA in food and water. Some animal experiments have found that fetal and infant development may be harmed by small amounts of BPA, but scientists disagree about the value of the animal studies for predicting harmful effects in people. This report discusses this issue and relevant legislation, as well as inquiries into studies currently underway to determine the true harm inherent in BPA and the degree to which people are regularly exposed to BPA. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10735/
Bisphenol A (BPA) in Plastics and Possible Human Health Effects
Bisphenol A (BPA) is used to produce certain types of plastic. Containers made of these plastics may expose people to small amounts of BPA in food and water. Some animal experiments have found that fetal and infant development may be harmed by small amounts of BPA, but scientists disagree about the value of the animal studies for predicting harmful effects in people. This report discusses this issue and relevant legislation, as well as inquiries into studies currently underway to determine the true harm inherent in BPA and the degree to which people are regularly exposed to BPA. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10733/
Health and Safety Concerns Over U.S. Imports of Chinese Products: An Overview
China is a major source of U.S. imports of consumer products (such as toys) and an increasingly important supplier of various food products. Reports of unsafe seafood, pet food, toys, tires, and other products imported from China over the past year or so have raised concern in the United States over the health, safety, and quality of imported Chinese products. This report provides an overview of this issue and implications for U.S.-China trade relations. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10711/
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. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10676/
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. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10675/
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. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10674/
The Pattern of Interest Rates: Does it Signal an Impending Recession?
The cyclical behavior of the economy is of great interest to Congress, yet the onset of an economic downturn is seldom recognized promptly. Policymakers frequently search for reliable recession predictors. The behavior of interest rates may provide advanced warning of an impending downturn. The easing of monetary policy in evidence since September 2007 is consistent with efforts to forestall or minimize an economic downturn. Economic growth has been low since the last quarter of 2007, and some forecasters are now predicting a recession in 2008. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10658/
General Services Administration Prospectus Thresholds for Owned and Leased Federal Facilities
The General Services Administration (GSA) oversees GSA-owned and -leased federal buildings and courthouses. This report provides an overview of the funding for GSA, GSA procedures, and related legislation, especially in light of recent disasters, i.e., hurricanes, flooding, etc. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10651/
"Price Gouging," the Antitrust Laws, and Vertical Integration in the Petroleum Industry: How They Are Related
This report, which may be updated to further reflect congressional action, attempts to provide the antitrust context for prohibited practices, such as "price gouging"; notes prior congressional action concerning vertical divestiture in the petroleum industry; and provides information on the state "divorcement" statutes. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10649/
Outsourcing and Insourcing Jobs in the U.S. Economy: An Overview of Evidence Based on Foreign Investment Data
Foreign direct investment is sparking a national debate. Local communities compete for investment projects, while many of the residents of those communities fear losing their jobs to foreign outsourcing. Some opponents argue that such job losses have disproportionately negative impact on local communities. Economists generally argue that free and unimpeded international capital flows have a positive impact on both domestic and foreign economies. This report provides an overview of CRS Report RL32461, Outsourcing and Insourcing Jobs in the U.S. Economy: Evidence Based on Foreign Investment Data, that analyzes the extent of direct investment into and out of the economy and the relationship between direct investment and the broader economic changes that are occurring in the U.S. economy. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10609/
Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs): An Institutional Overview
Congress chartered government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) to improve the workings of credit markets. This report briefly describes the nature of GSEs, their mixed governmental-private nature, the differences between GSEs and government agencies, and the arguments for and against GSEs. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10599/
Regulation of Energy Derivatives
After the collapse of Enron Corp. in late 2001, that company's activities came under intense scrutiny. Much of its business consisted of trading financial contracts whose value was derived from changes in energy prices. Enron's derivatives trading was largely "over-the-counter" (OTC) and unregulated: little information about transactions was available. This incident has sparked interest in reform of energy derivatives regulation. This report summarizes energy derivatives regulation and proposed legislation. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10584/
Memorials: Creating National, State, and Local Memorials
This report provides information on the mandatory steps to building a memorial on federal property in the District of Columbia. It also provides information on creating memorials in Arlington National Cemetery, within the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery System, and in state veterans' cemeteries. In addition, it discusses public and private initiatives at the state and local levels to create memorials including successful local fund-raising efforts. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10573/
Industrial Competitiveness and Technological Advancement: Debate Over Government Policy
There is ongoing interest in the pace of U.S. technological advancement due to its influence on U.S. economic growth, productivity, and international competitiveness. Because technology can contribute to economic growth and productivity increases, congressional attention has focused on how to augment private-sector technological development. This report outlines federal efforts to fund technological research and innovations, as well as congressional efforts to eliminate or significantly curtail said efforts. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10314/