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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
State Legalization of Recreational Marijuana: Selected Legal Issues
This report summarizes the Washington and Colorado marijuana legalization laws and evaluates whether, or the extent to which, they may be preempted by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) or by international agreements. It also highlights potential responses to these recent legalization initiatives by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and identifies other noncriminal consequences that marijuana users may face under federal law.
Compulsory DNA Collection: A Fourth Amendment Analysis
This report examines compulsory DNA collection by law enforcement and its implications in regards to 4th amendment protections by examining legal precedents and considering the contemporary scientific understanding of DNA.
Brief History of Comprehensive Immigration Reform Efforts in the 109th and 110th Congresses to Inform Policy Discussions in the 113th Congress
This report opens with brief legislative histories of "comprehensive immigration reform" (CIR) in the 109th and 110th Congresses. A comparative overview of key CIR provisions in the three bills that received floor action in the 109th and 110th Congresses follows. In addition to a narrative discussion of how the bills addressed the main provisions of CIR, the report provides a table that presents a comparative summary of the key features of the bills. The report concludes with observations contrasting the 2006-2007 period with the context of today's CIR debate. The report also provides an appendix that summarizes the three major CIR bills.
Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Review of Fluoridation and Regulation Issues
This report discusses the potential benefits and adverse effects associated with the fluoridation of drinking water supplies. It also discusses the regulation of fluoride in drinking water to protect against adverse health effects from exposure to higher levels of fluoride, and it reviews the status of federal efforts to update the health risk assessment for fluoride and the primary drinking water standard for fluoride.
Administrative Agencies and Claims of Unreasonable Delay: Analysis of Court Treatment
This report discusses judicial remedies available for delayed agency actions that are somewhat limited. Generally, a court is restricted to ordering an agency to act by a specific deadline. The following sections outline the timing requirements imposed by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), discuss the available judicial remedies when actions are found to be unreasonably delayed, and provide an examination of cases where courts have been asked to compel agency action. Finally, the report concludes with a discussion of legislative tools that Congress can use to try to set agency priorities.
Congressional Participation in Article III Courts: Standing to Sue
This report seeks to provide an overview of Congress's ability to participate in litigation before Article III courts. The report is limited to a discussion of Congress's participation in litigation as either a plaintiff (e.g., the party initiating the suit alleging some sort of harm or violation of law) or as a third-party intervener (e.g., a party who is seeking to join litigation already initiated by another plaintiff).
Rising Energy Competition and Energy Security in Northeast Asia: Issues for U.S. Policy
This report analyzes how China, Japan, and South Korea's pursuits to bolster their energy security impacts U.S. interests. It also examines decisions being made by Asian states now that will significantly shape global affairs in the future, how these decisions might play out, and how Congress and the executive branch might play a role in those decisions.
Safe Drinking Water Act: A Summary of the Act and Its Major Requirements
This report summarizes the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and its major programs and regulatory requirements. It excerpts, with several additions, the SDWA chapter of CRS Report RL30798, Environmental Laws: Summaries of Major Statues Administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which provides summaries of the principal environmental statutes administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This report includes the drinking water security provisions added to the SDWA by the Public Heath Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002.
The Fair Labor Standards Act: Continuing Issues in the Debate
This reports details the history of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). It focuses on the administration of the act and the interpretation of provisions, which Congress has left to the discretion of the Secretary of Labor. It also considers judicial decisions, which make up a substantial part of wage/hour issues and have an impact upon enforcement of the statute.
Unaccompanied Alien Children: Demographics in Brief
This report discusses children coming to the United States who are not accompanied by parents or legal guardians and who lack proper immigration documents has raised complex and competing sets of humanitarian concerns and immigration control issues. This report focuses on the demographics of unaccompanied alien children while they are in removal proceedings.
Unauthorized Aliens Residing in the United States: Estimates Since 1986
This report presents data estimating since 1986 the number of unauthorized aliens who have been living in the United States.
International Trade and Finance: Key Policy Issues for the 113th Congress, Second Session
This report highlights major international trade and finance issues that the 113th Congress may address. This report presents broader congressional oversight of the economic and political context of the current U.S. participation in the global economy.
The No Fly List: Procedural Due Process and Hurdles to Litigation
This report provides an overview of the operation of the government's watchlists, examine some of the legal issues implicated by challenges to the No Fly list, and describe recent case law on the matter.
International Law and Agreements: Their Effect Upon U.S. Law
This report provides an introduction to the roles that international law and agreements play in the United States. International law is derived from two primary sources — international agreements and customary practice.
U.S.-EU Cooperation on Ukraine and Russia
This report discusses the United States, and European Union policies with Russia in response to the crisis in Ukraine.
EPA Regulations: Too Much, Too Little, or On Track?
This report provides background information on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulatory activity during the Obama Administration to help address these issues. It examines major or controversial regulatory actions taken by or under development at EPA since January 2009, providing details on the regulatory action itself, presenting an estimated timeline for completion of the rule (including identification of related court or statutory deadlines), and, in general, providing EPA's estimates of costs and benefits, where available. The report includes tables that show which rules remain under development, and an appendix that describes major or controversial rules that are now final.
The Higher Education Opportunity Act: Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act
This report begins with a brief overview of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), its organization into various titles, and the major programs and program requirements specified under each title. It then identifies and describes selected amendments made to the HEA and other laws by the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA).
Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides an overview of Arctic-related issues for Congress and refers readers to more in-depth CRS reports on specific relevant topics.
An Overview of the "Patent Trolls" Debate
This report reviews the current debate and controversy surrounding "patent assertion entities" (PAEs) and their effect on innovation, examines the reasons for the rise in PAE litigation, and explores the legislative options available to Congress if it decides that these are issues that should be addressed.
International Drug Control Policy
This report provides an overview of U.S. international drug control policy. It describes major international counternarcotics initiatives and evaluates the broad array of U.S. drug control policy tools currently in use. The report also considers alternative counterdrug policy approaches to international drug control initiatives and raises several counterdrug policy issues and considerations for policy makers.
The Constitutionality of Campaign Finance Regulation: Buckley v. Valeo and Its Supreme Court Progeny
This report first discusses the key holdings enunciated by the Supreme Court in Buckley, including those upholding reasonable contribution limits, striking down expenditure limits, upholding disclosure reporting requirements, and upholding the system of voluntary presidential election expenditure limitations linked with public financing. It then examines the Court's extension of Buckley in several subsequent cases, evaluating them in various regulatory contexts: contribution limits, expenditure limits, disclosure requirements, and political party soft money and electioneering communication restrictions.
Maritime Territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Disputes Involving China: Issues for Congress
This report presents policy and oversight issues for Congress arising from maritime territorial disputes involving China in the South China Sea (SCS), East China Sea (ECS), and an additional dispute over whether China has a right under international law to regulate U.S. and other foreign military activities in its maritime Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The Take Care Clause and Executive Discretion in the Enforcement of Law
This report addresses the President's general obligation to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." The report then discusses the limited role the judicial branch has traditionally adopted in reviewing discretionary enforcement decisions, including the decision to initiate a criminal prosecution or an administrative enforcement action. The report concludes with a discussion of Congress's authority to restrict executive discretion in the enforcement of federal law.
Tax Havens: International Tax Avoidance and Evasion
The first section of this report reviews what countries might be considered tax havens, including a discussion of the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) initiatives and lists. The next two sections discuss, in turn, the corporate profit-shifting mechanisms and evidence on the existence and magnitude of profit shifting activity. The following two sections provide the same analysis for individual tax evasion. The report concludes with overviews of alternative policy options and a summary of specific legislative proposals.
Drones in Domestic Surveillance Operations: Fourth Amendment Implications and Legislative Responses
This report first explores the potential uses of drones in the domestic sphere by federal, state, and local governments. It then surveys current Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, including cases surrounding privacy in the home, privacy in public spaces, location tracking, manned aerial surveillance, and those involving the national border. Next, it considers how existing jurisprudence may inform current and proposed drone uses. It then describes the various legislative measures introduced in the 113th Congress to address the legal and policy issues surrounding drones. Finally, it briefly identifies several alternative approaches that may constrain the potential scope of drone surveillance.
Unaccompanied Alien Children: An Overview
This report opens with an analysis of the data of the recent surge in UAC crossing the border. It then discusses current policy on the treatment, care, and custody of the population. The processing and treatment of UAC is detailed, with a discussion of each agency that is involved with the population. The report then discusses both Administrative and Congressional action to deal with the current crisis. As this issue is still emerging, the report concludes with a series of questions related to UAC that remain unanswered.
Comparison of Rights in Military Commission Trials and Trials in Federal Criminal Court
This report provides a brief summary of legal issues raised by the choice of forum for trying accused terrorists and a chart comparing selected military commissions rules under the Military Commissions Act, as amended, to the corresponding rules that apply in federal court.
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Legislation in the 110th Congress
This report summarizes action on more than 360 energy efficiency and renewable energy bills introduced during the 110th Congress.1 These bills cover a wide range of policy and issue areas that include appropriations, authorizations, budget, research and development (R&D), grants, loans, financing, regulation (including a renewable fuel standard), tax incentives, goals, plans, impacts, and the environment/climate change.2 Most of these bills have focused on grants and tax incentives. The bills also cover a range of sectors and topics that include buildings, defense, education, federal lands and energy management, farms, American Indians, and international activities. Thus far, the sector of international activities has generated the greatest number of bills. For each bill listed in this report, a brief description and a summary of action are given, including references to committee hearings and reports.
U.S. Naturalization Policy
This report reviews the rights and obligations that come with naturalization. It examines the naturalization process, discusses recent trends regarding who, among the roughly 1 million immigrants entering the United States each year, ultimately becomes a U.S. citizen, and discusses recent naturalization-related policy issues.
The Defense Production Act of 1950: History, Authorities, and Reauthorization
This report examines some of the history of the Defense Production Act of 1950 (DPA), focusing primarily on its creation and most recent legislative reauthorization. It also discusses the foremost active authorities of the DPA.
Intellectual Property Rights Violations: Federal Civil Remedies and Criminal Penalties Related to Copyrights, Trademarks, and Patents
This report provides information describing the federal civil remedies and criminal penalties that may be available as a consequence of violations of the federal intellectual property laws: the Copyright Act of 1976, the Patent Act of 1952, and the Trademark Act of 1946 (conventionally known as the Lanham Act).
The Strategic Petroleum Reserve: History, Perspectives, and Issues
This report offers a brief history of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) in the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. It discusses the establishment of a regional home heating oil reserve and addresses the question when the SPR should be used.
Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances
The first half of this report looks at the background of U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba over the last 40 years. The second half of this report looks at several initiatives from the 110th Congress that would ease U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba.
Shipping U.S. Crude Oil by Water: Vessel Flag Requirements and Safety Issues
This report provides an introduction to new shipping routes, vessel types and capacities and maritime safety issues. The report discusses the Jones Act, recent U.S. shipbuilding activity, and current legislation.
Federal and State Quarantine and Isolation Authority
This report provides an overview of federal and state public health laws as they relate to the quarantine and isolation of individuals and a discussion of constitutional issues that may be raised should individual liberties be restricted in a quarantine or isolation situation.
Maritime Territorial Disputes in East Asia: Issues for Congress
This report discusses the territorial claims in East Asia that underlie the growing tensions, U.S. interests that are at stake, factors that may be driving the growing tensions, and possible options for Congress to consider.
Protecting the U.S. Perimeter: "Border Searches" Under the Fourth Amendment
This report addresses the scope of the government's authority to search and seize individuals at the border pursuant to the constitutional framework that encompasses the border search exception to the warrant and probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment. This report also describes the varying levels of suspicion generally associated with each type of border search as interpreted by the courts. In addition, this report highlights some of the border security recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission and legislative actions taken in the 108th, 109th, and 110th Congresses.
Immigration: Terrorist Grounds for Exclusion and Removal of Aliens
This report focuses on the terrorism-related grounds for inadmissibility and deportation/removal. It opens with an overview of the terror-related grounds as they evolved through key legislation enacted in recent years. The section on current law explains the legal definitions of "terrorist activity," "engage in terrorist activity," and "terrorist organization," and describes the terror-related grounds for inadmissibility and removal. The report then discusses the alien screening process to determine admissibility and to identify possible terrorists, both during the visa issuance process abroad and the inspections process at U.S. ports of entry.
Petroleum Refining: Economic Performance and Challenges for the Future
This report discusses the petroleum refining industry and its relation to the economy. Along with volatile changes in crude oil prices, the industry has faced evolving health, safety, and environmental requirements which have changed and multiplied product specifications and required capital investment in refineries. This report also seeks to describe the recent performance of the refining industry, to evaluate the structural changes that are occurring in the industry, and to analyze the nature and effects of the challenges confronting the industry.
Drones in Domestic Surveillance Operations: Fourth Amendment Implications and Legislative Responses
This report first explores the potential uses of drones in the domestic sphere by federal, state, and local governments. It then surveys current Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, including cases surrounding privacy in the home, privacy in public spaces, location tracking, manned aerial surveillance, and those involving the national border. Next, it considers how existing jurisprudence may inform current and proposed drone uses. It then describes the various legislative measures introduced in the 113th Congress to address the legal and policy issues surrounding drones. Finally, it briefly identifies several alternative approaches that may constrain the potential scope of drone surveillance.
Ocean Piracy and Its Impact on Insurance
This report examines the issue of piracy off the coast of East Africa in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. The report looks into the impact of such piracy on the insurance industry and explains the available options for Congress to mitigate piracy's negative effects on the industry.
U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond
This report provides a framework for examining the current status and future prospects for U.S.- Mexican security cooperation. It begins with a brief discussion of the threat that drug trafficking and related crime and violence pose to both nations, followed by an analysis of the evolution of the Mérida Initiative. The report then provides an overview of the Peña Nieto government's security strategy and how it is affecting the Mérida Initiative. The report then examines key aspects of the current U.S.-Mexican security strategy and concludes by raising policy issues that may affect bilateral efforts.
Energy Policy: 113th Congress Issues
This report discusses the energy policy in the United States that is focused on three major goals: assuring a secure supply of energy, keeping energy costs low, and protecting the environment.
Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses
This report discusses the reasons that Iran is considered a threat to U.S. security, including Iran's nuclear program, involvement with terrorist organizations, and involvement with neighboring countries' local governments. It also discusses ways in which the U.S. hopes to modify Iran's behavior with sanctions, and the effectiveness of these sanctions.
The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA): Implementation and New Challenges
This report provides an overview of basic Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) provisions, briefly examines the history of TSCA implementation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and describes the legal, scientific, and technological developments that are being used to provide support to calls for TSCA reform.
Federal Liability for Flood Damage Related to Army Corps of Engineers Projects
This report examines selected issues of the federal government's liability depending on the theory of the levee failures, and analyzes legal defenses available to the federal government. The report uses flood damage related to Hurricane Katrina as an illustration of these legal issues regarding federal liability, but the general principles in the analysis would apply to flood damage resulting from any such flood control project.
Food and Agricultural Imports from China
This report first provides information on the most recent Chinese-related food safety concern, the use of melamine in dairy ingredients. Following this section, the report provides data on U.S.-China trends in agricultural trade, examines U.S. programs to monitor the safety of imports, and reports on other recent Chinese food safety developments. It concludes with a brief discussion of the congressional role.
Integration of Drones into Domestic Airspace: Selected Legal Issues
This report describes the regulatory framework for permitting the use of unmanned vehicles and the potential rulemaking that will occur over the next few years. It also discusses theories of takings and property torts as they relate to drone flights over or near private property and the privacy interests implicated by drone surveillance conducted by private actors and the potential countervailing First Amendment rights to gather and receive news. Finally, this report explores possible congressional responses to these privacy concerns, discusses how the FAA has approached these concerns, and identifies additional potential legal issues.
Offshore Oil and Gas Development: Legal Framework
This report explains the nature of U.S. authority over offshore areas pursuant to international and domestic law. It also describes the laws, at both the state and federal levels, governing the development of offshore oil and gas and the litigation that has flowed from development under these legal regimes. Also included is an outline of recent changes to the authorities regulating offshore development, as well as a discussion of recent executive action and legislative proposals concerning offshore oil and natural gas exploration and production.
Unaccompanied Alien Children--Legal Issues: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
This report addresses the questions regarding the number of children arriving at the United States southern border, their reasons for coming to the United States, and current and potential responses of the federal government and other entities to their arrival