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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Constitutional Points of Order in the Senate
In general, the Senate's presiding officer does not take the initiative in enforcing Senate rules and precedents. Instead, a Senator may raise a point of order if he or she believes the Senate is taking (or is about to take) an action that violates the rules. In most circumstances, the presiding officer rules on the point of order on advice of the Parliamentarian; that ruling is typically subject to an appeal on which the Senate votes (unless the appeal is tabled or withdrawn). Pursuant to Rule XX, however, in certain circumstances a point of order is not ruled on by the presiding officer but is instead submitted to the Senate for its decision. A point of order that a pending matter (a bill or amendment, for example) violates the U.S. Constitution presents one such circumstance. This report explains Senate rules, precedents, and practices in regard to these constitutional points of order, including an analysis of recent cases in which such a point of order has been raised, and will be updated as events warrant. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501515/
Waste, Fraud, and Abuse in Agency Travel Card Programs
This report begins by discussing the structure of agency travel card programs, and then discusses weaknesses in agency controls that have contributed to waste, fraud, and abuse. It concludes with observations on the information available to Congress for oversight of agency travel card programs. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501532/
Secret Sessions of the House and Senate: Authority, Confidentiality, and Frequency
This report discusses secret, or closed, sessions of the House and Senate, which exclude the press and the public. They may be held for matters deemed to require confidentiality and secrecy--such as national security, sensitive communications received from the President, and Senate deliberations during impeachment trials. Although Members usually seek advance agreement for going into secret session, any Member of Congress may request a secret session without notice. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501698/
Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)/Frigate Program: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and potential issues for Congress on the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), a relatively inexpensive Navy surface combatant equipped with modular "plug-and-fight" mission packages for countering mines, small boats, and diesel-electric submarines, particularly in littoral (i.e., near-shore) waters. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501620/
Congressional Careers: Service Tenure and Patterns of Member Service, 1789-2015
This report presents data on Member tenure and a historical analysis of tenure trends. During the 19th century, the average service of Representatives and Senators remained roughly constant, with little or no change over time; the average years of service was slightly higher for the first half of the century than during the second. During the late 19th and through the 20th century, the average years of service for Senators and Representatives steadily increased. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501897/
Congressional Roll Call Votes on the Keystone XL Pipeline
This report provides roll call vote data related to the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline that would transport oil sands crude from Canada and shale oil produced in North Dakota and Montana to a market hub in Nebraska for further delivery to Gulf Coast refineries. Voting information is listed chronologically and broken down by chamber, Congress, and type of legislation. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501859/
The War Powers Resolution: After Thirty-Six Years
This report discusses and assesses the War Powers Resolution and its application since enactment in 1973, providing detailed background on various cases in which it was used, as well as cases in which issues of its applicability were raised. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501937/
Speakers of the House: Elections
This report provides data on elections of the Speaker in each Congress since 1913, when the House first reached its present size of 435 Members. During that period (63rd through 114th Congresses), a Speaker was elected five times with the votes of less than a majority of the full membership. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501928/
Congressional Salaries and Allowances: In Brief
This report provides basic information on congressional salaries and allowances and recent developments. First, the report briefly summarizes the current salary of Members of Congress; limits or prohibitions on their outside earned income, honoraria, and tax deductions; options for life and health insurance; and retirement benefits. Second, the report provides information on allowances available to Representatives and Senators to support them in their official and representational duties. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501848/
Waste, Fraud, and Abuse in Agency Travel Card Programs
This report begins by discussing the structure of agency travel card programs, and then discusses weaknesses in agency controls that have contributed to waste, fraud, and abuse. It then examines relevant legislation introduced or enacted in the 111th Congress, including the Government Charge Card Abuse Prevention Act of 2009 (H.R. 2189 and S. 942), and concludes with observations on the information available to Congress for oversight of agency travel card programs. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501534/
Membership of the 114th Congress: A Profile
This report presents a profile of the membership of the 114th Congress (2015-2016). Statistical information is included on selected characteristics of Members, including data on party affiliation, average age, occupation, education, length of congressional service, religious affiliation, gender, ethnicity, foreign births, and military service. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501504/
Congressional Liaison Offices of Selected Federal Agencies
This report provides a list of roughly 200 congressional liaison offices with phone numbers, addresses, and other contact information. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501725/
Qualifications of Members of Congress
This report discusses the qualifications required to hold the office of U.S. Senator or Representative to Congress that are established and set out within the U.S. Constitution. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501785/
Congressional Commissions: Overview, Structure, and Legislative Considerations
This report provides an overview and analysis of congressional advisory commissions, information on the general statutory structure of a congressional commission, and a catalog of congressional commissions created since the 101st Congress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501704/
Duration of Continuing Resolutions in Recent Years
This report provides information on congressional practices with respect to the duration of continuing resolutions, including the use of full-year measures, and focuses particularly on the period covering FY1998-FY2010. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501773/
Recall of Legislators and the Removal of Members of Congress from Office
Under the United States Constitution and congressional practice, Members of Congress may have their services ended prior to the normal expiration of their constitutionally established terms of office by their resignation or death, or by action of the house of Congress in which they are a Member by way of an "expulsion," or by a finding that in accepting a subsequent "incompatible" public office, the Member would be deemed to have vacated his congressional seat. This report discusses the manner in which a Member of Congress may be removed from office by "expulsion," and then examines the issue of "recall" of legislators. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501738/
Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress
This report provides background information and potential issues for Congress on the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), a relatively inexpensive Navy surface combatant equipped with modular "plug-and-fight" mission packages. The Navy's proposed FY2012 budget requests funding for the procurement of four LCSs. Current issues for Congress concerning the LCS program include changes or potential changes to the composition of LCS mission modules announced by the Navy in January 2011, the combat survivability of the LCS, and hull cracking on LCS-1. Congress's decisions on the LCS program could affect Navy capabilities and funding requirements, and the shipbuilding industrial base. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501619/
Casework in a Congressional Office: Background, Rules, Laws, and Resources
This report discusses House and Senate rules and guidelines, laws, and regulations affecting congressional casework, as well as the role of caseworkers. It also provides sample outlines and document templates for implementing and managing congressional casework. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491264/
Independent Evaluators of Federal Programs: Approaches, Devices, and Examples
Congress and the executive, as well as outside organizations, have long been attentive to the evaluation of federal programs, with frequent interest paid to the independent status of the evaluator. This interest continues into the current era, with numerous illustrations of the multifaceted approaches adopted and proposed. This report focuses on examples of independent evaluators (IEs): when an evaluation is to be conducted by an entity outside the immediate organization that is responsible for policy implementation, and the entity also is intended to have one or more dimensions of independence. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491231/
Legislative Planning: Considerations for Congressional Staff
The Congressional Research Service frequently receives inquiries about legislative planning. Legislative and office action plans are often used by congressional offices for almost every significant project, from organizing an extensive conference in the district or state to introducing and guiding legislation. A major action plan requires a firm understanding of the project's goal, a research strategy, and a time line for completing the project. This report presents some of the factors usually considered in preparing an action plan. The information is provided in three sections. The first provides an overview which lays out summary considerations. The second raises questions to consider in preparing an outline for a project. The third details a sample action plan. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491602/
Federalism, State Sovereignty, and the Constitution: Basis and Limits of Congressional Power
The lines of authority between states and the federal government are, to a significant extent, defined by the United States Constitution and relevant case law. In recent years, however, the Supreme Court has decided a number of cases that would seem to reevaluate this historical relationship. This report discusses state and federal legislative power generally, focusing on a number of these "federalism" cases. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491657/
Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress
This report provides background information and potential issues for Congress on the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), a relatively inexpensive Navy surface combatant equipped with modular "plug-and-fight" mission packages. The Navy's proposed FY2012 budget requests funding for the procurement of four LCSs. Current issues for Congress concerning the LCS program include changes or potential changes to the composition of LCS mission modules announced by the Navy in January 2011, the combat survivability of the LCS, and hull cracking on LCS-1. Congress's decisions on the LCS program could affect Navy capabilities and funding requirements, and the shipbuilding industrial base. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491303/
Franking Privilege: Historical Development and Options for Change
This report provides a history of the Congressional franking privilege and discusses the franking privilege that has carried an element of controversy throughout American history. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491346/
The Congressional Appropriations Process: An Introduction
Congress annually considers several appropriations measures, which provide discretionary funding for numerous activities--such as national defense, education, and homeland security--as well as general government operations. Appropriations acts are characteristically annual and generally provide funding authority that expires at the end of the federal fiscal year, September 30. These measures are considered by Congress under certain rules and practices, referred to as the congressional appropriations process. This report discusses the various aspects of this process. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491371/
Rules and Practices Governing Consideration of Revenue Legislation in the House and Senate
This report provides an overview and analysis of the most consequential revenue-specific rules that apply during the process of developing and considering revenue legislation. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491283/
Export-Import Bank Reauthorization: Frequently Asked Questions
This report addresses frequently asked questions about Ex-Im Bank, grouped in the following categories: congressional interest and the Ex-Im Bank reauthorization debate; market context; international context; organizational structure and management; programs; statutory requirements and policies; risk management; budget and appropriations; implications of a sunset in authority; and historical and current approaches to reauthorization. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491230/
Membership of the 113th Congress: A Profile
This report presents a profile of the membership of the 113th Congress (2013-2014). Statistical information is included on selected characteristics of Members, including data on party affiliation, average age, occupation, education, length of congressional service, religious affiliation, gender, ethnicity, foreign births, and military service. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491368/
Congressional Budget Office: Appointment and Tenure of the Director and Deputy Director
This report discusses the means through which the Director and Deputy Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) are appointed and briefly lists the people who have held the two positions. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491313/
Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies: FY2011 Appropriations
This report discusses the President's Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 budget request for the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, which provides funding for the planning, design, construction, alteration, and improvement of facilities used by active and reserve military components worldwide. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491327/
Congressional Careers: Service Tenure and Patterns of Member Service, 1789-2011
The average service tenure of members of the Senate and House of Representatives has varied substantially since 1789. This report presents data on member tenure and a historical analysis of tenure trends. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc490913/
Department of Defense Energy Initiatives: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and identifies issues for Congress on Department of Defense (DOD) energy initiatives. DOD spends billions of dollars per year on fuel, and is pursuing numerous initiatives for reducing its fuel needs and changing the mix of energy sources that it uses. DOD's energy initiatives pose several potential policy and oversight issues for Congress, and have been topics of discussion and debate at hearings on DOD's proposed FY2013 budget. Congress' decisions on DOD energy initiatives could substantially affect DOD capabilities, funding requirements, and U.S. energy industries. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491036/
Deprivation of Honest Services as a Basis for Federal Mail and Wire Fraud Convictions
The United States Supreme Court in Skilling v. United States construed the honest services branch of the federal mail and wire fraud statutes to reach no more than cases involving bribery or kickbacks. The mail and wire fraud statutes, 18 U.S.C. ยงยง 1341 and 1343, impose criminal penalties for the use of mail or interstate wire communications to deprive another of money or property through a "scheme or artifice to defraud." This report discusses wire and mail fraud and examines relevant court cases. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491069/
Congressional Careers: Service Tenure and Patterns of Member Service, 1789-2011
The average service tenure of members of the Senate and House of Representatives has varied substantially since 1789. This report presents data on member tenure and a historical analysis of tenure trends. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491067/
Emergency Designation: Current Budget Rules and Procedures
Budgetary legislation is constrained by certain enforcement rules that are generally intended to control spending, revenues, and the deficit. Since 1990, those rules have provided, in various forms, procedural mechanisms allowing Congress to effectively exempt certain budgetary amounts from such constraints by designating a provision in a measure as an emergency requirement. This report provides a brief description of the current rules and congressional procedures associated with the emergency designation. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491126/
Latin America and the Caribbean: U.S. Policy and Key Issues for Congress in 2012
This report provides an overview of U.S. policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean in 2012, including the Obama Administration's priorities for U.S. policy and a brief comparison of policies under the Obama and Bush Administrations. It then examines congressional interest in Latin America, first providing an overview, and then looking at selected countries and regional issues and key policy issues faced by Congress in 2012. The final section of the report analyzes several key events in the region that took place in 2012: the Pope's trip to Cuba in March, the sixth Summit of the Americas in April, Mexico's elections in July, and Venezuela's upcoming elections in October. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491124/
Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights
This report discusses the state of Iraqi politics, governance, and human rights, including the worsening relations between local Sunni and Shiite populations. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491133/
Congressional Franking Privilege: Background and Recent Legislation
This report discusses the congressional franking privilege, which dates from 1775 and allows Members of Congress to transmit mail matter under their signature without postage. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491206/
Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies: FY2011 Appropriations
This report discusses the President's Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 budget request for the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, which provides funding for the planning, design, construction, alteration, and improvement of facilities used by active and reserve military components worldwide. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491406/
"First Day" Proceedings and Procedural Change in the Senate
In the early weeks of the 112th Congress, the Senate considered proposals to change its Standing Rules, as well as proposals to alter other practices and procedures. Three resolutions that proposed to amend the Senate rules (S.Res. 8, S.Res. 10, as amended, and S.Res. 21, as amended) received votes, but none were agreed to. These three resolutions proposed a variety of changes, chiefly focused on the operation of the Senate's cloture rule (Rule XXII). The proceedings on these measures occurred in the context of a debate over whether or not the start of a new Congress presents a unique opportunity for the Senate to change its Standing Rules without certain constraints presented by its existing rules. This report is intended to provide context for understanding the issues raised by these proceedings, as well as an accounting of actions taken by the Senate at the start of the 112th Congress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491475/
Navy Aegis Cruiser and Destroyer Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress
The Navy has begun a multi-billion dollar program to modernize its 84 existing Aegis cruisers and destroyers over a period of more than 20 years. This report explores this program in detail, including the reasons for the program and the oversight issues it poses for Congress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491409/
Selected Privileges and Courtesies Extended to Former Members of Congress
This report discusses the courtesies and privileges afforded to Members of the House and Senate, after they leave office. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491446/
House of Representatives and Senate Staff Levels in Member, Committee, Leadership, and Other Offices, 1977-2010
This report provides staffing levels in House and Senate Member, committee, leadership, and other offices since 1977. Data presented here are based on staff listed by chamber entity (offices of Members, committees, leaders, officers, officials, and other entities) in telephone directories published by the House and Senate. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491410/
Speaking on the House Floor: Gaining Time and Parliamentary Phraseology
This report discusses the House rules and precedents that structure Members' opportunities to speak on the floor about pending legislation. Under some circumstances, Members arrange to speak on legislation by communicating with the leaders of the committee that reported the bill. Sometimes the arrangements can be made on the floor during the debate, and at other times they are made prior to floor consideration. The committee leaders from both sides of the aisle manage the consideration of a bill on the floor, under what is known as controlled time, by allocating the debate time among several Members. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491163/
Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress
This report provides background information and potential issues for Congress on the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), a relatively inexpensive Navy surface combatant equipped with modular "plug-and-fight" mission packages. The Navy's proposed FY2012 budget requests funding for the procurement of four LCSs. Current issues for Congress concerning the LCS program include changes or potential changes to the composition of LCS mission modules announced by the Navy in January 2011, the combat survivability of the LCS, and hull cracking on LCS-1. Congress's decisions on the LCS program could affect Navy capabilities and funding requirements, and the shipbuilding industrial base. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491143/
Casework in a Congressional Office: Background, Rules, Laws, and Resources
This report, which will be updated as warranted, discusses House and Senate rules and guidelines, laws, and regulations affecting congressional casework, as well as the role of caseworkers. It also provides sample outlines and document templates for implementing and managing congressional casework. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491118/
House Committee Jurisdiction and Referral: Rules and Practice
This report briefly discusses the factors that determine House committee jurisdiction and more specifically House Rule X. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491127/
Congressional Official Mail Costs
The congressional franking privilege allows Members of Congress to send official mail via the U.S. Postal Service at government expense. This report provides information and analysis on the costs of franked mail in the House of Representatives and Senate. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491523/
Proposed Train and Equip Authorities for Syria: In Brief
This report reviews the authority granted in H.J.Res. 124 and explores similarities and differences among the H.J.Res. 124 authority, the President's requests, and other proposals that may be considered by Congress, including during anticipated consideration of FY2015 full-year appropriations or defense authorization (H.R. 4435/S. 2410) legislation. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491440/
Election Year Restrictions on Mass Mailings by Members of Congress: How H.R. 2056 Would Change Current Law
Current law prohibits the franking of mass mailings by Senators fewer than 60 days, and by House Members fewer than 90 days, prior to any primary or general election in which the Member is a candidate. This report discusses H.R. 2056, which would amend Title 39, United States Code, by altering the prohibition for both Senators and House Members to the period starting 90 days prior to any primary and ending on the day of the general election, unless the Member has made a public announcement that the Member will not be a candidate for reelection to any federal office. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491122/
Members' Representational Allowance: History and Usage
This report provides a history and overview of the MRA and examines spending patterns in the 109th Congress (2005 and 2006). The data exclude non-voting Members, including Delegates and the Resident Commissioner. Members who were not in Congress for all of 2005, whether the Member left Congress prior to the end of the year or entered any time after the beginning of the session, were also excluded. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491177/