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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Oil Sands and the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund: The Definition of "Oil" and Related Issues for Congress
This report provides background on oil sands resources, followed by a discussion of the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund (OSLTF), including authorized uses and revenue sources; the scope of oil subject to the per-barrel tax (that funds the OSLTF) versus the scope of oil that triggers activities under the Oil Pollution Act; and relevant legislative activities of the 113th and 114th Congresses. The final section offers concluding observations.
Qualifications for President and the "Natural Born" Citizenship Eligibility Requirement
This report discusses the history of the qualifications clause in the Federal Convention of 1787, the Common Law meaning of the term "Natural Born" citizen or subject, and common understanding in 18th Century of the term "Natural Born" citizen.
Congressional Oversight: An Overview
This report highlights several reasons for the expansion of the federal government; discuss a few definitions of oversight; spotlight three essential purposes of oversight; comment upon a few oversight laws and rules; review several important oversight techniques; and identify several incentives and disincentives to the conduct of congressional oversight. The report concludes with summary observations.
Mandatory Spending Since 1962
This report looks at mandatory spending and how it has grown over time relative to total federal spending and the size of the U.S. economy. It also analyzes future mandatory spending levels and how they are projected to impact the federal budget.
Emergency Assistance for Agricultural Land Rehabilitation
This report describes emergency agricultural land assistance programs designed to repair agricultural and forest land following a natural disaster and potentially mitigate future risk. It presents background on the programs--purpose, activities, authority, eligibility requirements, and authorized program funding levels, as well as current congressional issues.
Guide to Individuals Seated on the Senate Dais
This report is a brief summary of House and Senate procedures for reaching agreement on legislation. It discusses the provisions of House Rule XXII and Senate Rule XXVIII as well as other applicable rules, precedents, and practices. The report focuses on the most common and customary procedures.
Health Care: Constitutional Rights and Legislative Powers
This report analyzes constitutional and legal issues pertaining to a right to health care, as well as the power of Congress to enact and fund health care programs. It also discusses legal issues that have been raised regarding the power of Congress to mandate that individuals purchase health insurance, and the ability of states to "nullify" or "opt out" of such a requirement.
The Global Financial Crisis: Analysis and Policy Implications
This report provides a historical account and analysis of the crisis through November 14, 2009. While business contraction appears to have abated, unemployment is shown to be on the rise and many businesses and countries are still facing difficulties.
WTO Dispute Settlement: Status of U.S. Compliance in Pending Cases
This report provides a summary of the status of U.S. compliance efforts in pending World Trade Organization (WTO) disputes that have resulted in adverse rulings against the United States. The report contains an overview of WTO dispute settlement procedures, a discussion of U.S. laws relating to WTO dispute proceedings, and a list of pending WTO disputes compliance phase, with a discussion of major issues and the U.S. compliance history in each.
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA): Issues and Options for Congress
This report provides background information about the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) system, describes the major issues WMATA currently faces, and discusses possible approaches for addressing these issues.
Economic Downturns and Crime
This report examines the relationships between selected variables of economic strength and crime. It begins with an overview of crime rates during times of economic recession in the United States. It then reviews the existing literature in the field analyzing various data sets that examine whether the unemployment rate and foreclosures can be related to increases in the national crime rate.
Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2016
This report begins with a discussion of the overall level of the President's FY2016 R&D request, followed by analyses of the R&D funding request from a variety of perspectives and for selected multiagency R&D initiatives. The report concludes with discussion and analysis of the R&D budget requests of selected federal departments and agencies that, collectively, account for more than 98% of total federal R&D funding.
Enemy Combatant Detainees: Habeas Corpus Challenges in Federal Court
This report provides an overview of the early judicial developments and the establishment of Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs) procedures; summarizes selected court cases related to the detentions and the use of military commissions; and discusses the Detainee Treatment Act, as amended by the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and the Military Commissions Act of 2009, analyzing its effects on detainee-related litigation in federal court. The report summarizes the Supreme Court's decision in Boumediene invalidating Congress's efforts to revoke the courts' habeas jurisdiction, and discusses some remaining issues and subsequent developments.
Currency Manipulation: The IMF and WTO
This report describes how the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Trade Organization (WTO) deal with the issue of currency manipulation. It also discusses apparent discrepancies in their charters and ways those differences might be addressed.
Outer Continental Shelf Moratoria on Oil and Gas Development
This report discusses moratoria measures for the outer continental shelf (OCS) which establish bans or restrictions on oil and gas exploration and development in federal ocean areas. It includes a background of offshore oil and gas development, the sources of U.S. moratorium policy, the background of ocean governance, U.S. moratoria in international areas, and related issues for congress.
Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces: Facts and Issues
This report provides an overview of the Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) task forces that has been designated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide specialized assistance after buildings or other structures collapse.
Central Asia's Security: Issues and Implications for U.S. Interests
This report discusses the internal and external security concerns of the Central Asian states. Security concerns faced by the states include mixes of social disorder, crime, corruption, terrorism, ethnic and civil conflict, border tensions, water and transport disputes, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and trafficking in illegal narcotics and persons.
Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances
This report covers the contentious travel restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba from the 1960s to the present time. It includes background on the restrictions, enforcement of restrictions, and arguments for or against maintaining travel restrictions. It also provides background on relevant legislative initiatives during the 106th through the 111th Congresses.
The Corporation for National and Community Service: Overview of Programs and Funding
This report discusses the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which is an independent federal agency that administers the programs authorized by two statutes.
Pipeline Safety and Security: Federal Programs
This report discusses congressional interest in securing the nation's pipelines. Nearly half a million miles of oil and natural gas transmission pipeline crisscross the United States. While an efficient and fundamentally safe means of transport, many pipelines carry hazardous materials with the potential to cause public injury and environmental damage.
Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class Attack Submarine Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on the Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) program. The Navy's proposed FY2015 budget requests $5,883.6 million in procurement, advance procurement (AP), and Economic Order Quantity (EOQ) funding for the program. Decisions that Congress makes on procurement of Virginia-class boats could substantially affect U.S. Navy capabilities and funding requirements, and the U.S. shipbuilding industrial base.
Managing Disaster Debris: Overview of Regulatory Requirements, Agency Roles, and Selected Challenges
This report addresses debris resulting from a "major disaster" or "emergency" declared by the President. First, it discusses the types of debris commonly generated during and after a disaster and selected factors that can make "debris removal"2 such a costly, complex operation. Second, it discusses the roles of federal, state, and local agencies after a disaster has been declared--with regard to both funding debris removal and the actual physical process of removal.
Community Services Block Grants (CSBG): Background and Funding
This report provides information on the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), which is the modern-day program that continues to fund this network of local antipoverty agencies. The report also describes several smaller related programs that are administered by the same federal office that currently oversees the CSBG.
Cyprus: Reunification Proving Elusive
This report provides a brief overview of the history of the negotiations between Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders, a review of the negotiations since 2008, and a description of some of the issues involved in the talks.
The Haitian Economy and the HOPE Act
This report discusses the HOPE Act as it relates to U.S. trade policy, the Haitian economy, and post-earthquake reconstruction efforts.
Emergency Communications: The Future of 911
This report discusses possible paths toward the modernization of the 911 infrastructure. Efforts to splice newer, digital technologies onto the aging infrastructure have created points of failure where a call can be dropped or misdirected, sometimes with tragic consequences.
Islam: Sunnis and Shiites
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 during the 111th Congress.
Veterans' Benefits: Pension Benefit Programs
This report describes several pension benefit programs for veterans and their families, including the eligibility criteria and current benefit levels.
U.S.-China Relations: Policy Issues
This report provides an overview of the U.S.-China relationship, recent developments in the relationship, Obama Administration policy toward China, and a summary of legislation related to China in the 113th and 112th Congresses.
Proposals to Eliminate Public Financing of Presidential Campaigns
Congress is faced with determining whether it wants public financing of presidential campaigns to continue and, if so, how. Proposals to curtail the presidential public financing program have been a consistent theme in recent Congresses. This report provides a brief policy overview and raises potential issues for congressional consideration.
Terrorist Attacks in Europe and Mounting Security Concerns
This report briefly discusses the European policy response to recent terrorist attacks.
Federal Grants to State and Local Governments: A Historical Perspective on Contemporary Issues
This report provides a historical synopsis of the evolving nature of the federal grants-in-aid system, focusing on the role Congress has played in defining the system's scope and nature.
Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy
This report discusses the current political state of Iran, focusing particularly on the influence of the Taliban and other militant groups and on the leadership of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. This report also discusses the U.S.-Iran relationship and U.S. efforts under the Obama Administration to provide military, reconstructive, and stabilization aid.
FEMA's Disaster Declaration Process: A Primer
This report discusses the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (referred to as the Stafford Act - 42 U.S.C. 5721 et seq.), which authorizes the President to issue "major disaster" or "emergency" declarations before or after catastrophes occur. It includes a description of the declaration process, Presidential and gubernatorial discretion, preliminary damage assessments, and factors for public or individual assistance in major disaster declarations, with concluding observations.
Financing the U.S. Trade Deficit
This report provides an overview of the U.S. balance of payments, an explanation of the broader role of capital flows in the U.S. economy, an explanation of how the country finances its trade deficit or a trade surplus, and the implications for Congress and the country of the large inflows of capital from abroad.
"Holds" in the Senate
This report discusses a wide range of proposals aimed at reforming holds (an informal practice among Senators to communicate policy views and scheduling preferences) to infuse more accountability, uniformity, and transparency in their use and to make it clear that holds are not a veto on the majority leader's prerogative of calling up measures or matters.
Insurance Regulation: Issues, Background, and Legislation in the 113th Congress
This report discusses the legislation in the 113th Congress regarding insurance regulation. Among the insurance regulatory issues addressed by legislation in the 113th Congress are the application of federal orderly liquidation authority to insurers (addressed in H.R. 605); the supervision of some insurers by the Federal Reserve (addressed in H.R. 2140, H.R. 4510, H.R. 5461, S. 2102, and S. 2270); and the licensing of insurance agents and brokers (addressed in S. 534, S. 1926, S. 2244, H.R. 1155/H.R. 1064, and H.R. 4871).
Congressional Liaison Offices of Selected Federal Agencies
This list of about 200 congressional liaison offices is intended to help congressional offices in placing telephone calls and addressing correspondence to government agencies. Entries are arranged alphabetically in four sections: legislative branch; judicial branch; executive branch; and agencies, boards, and commissions.
Iran: Interim Nuclear Agreement and Talks on a Comprehensive Accord
This report discusses the nuclear agreement talks between Iran and the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, and Germany--collectively known as the P5+1, which finalized an interim agreement ("Joint Plan of Action," JPA) requiring Iran to freeze many aspects of its nuclear program in exchange for relief from some international sanctions.
Immigration Visa Issuances and Grounds for Exclusion: Policy and Trends
This report's review of the legislative developments in visa policy over the past 20 years and analysis of the statistical trends in visa issuances and denials provide a nuanced study of U.S. visa policy and the grounds for exclusion.
State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2016 Budget Overview
This report provides an overview of the FY2016 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) request and account-by-account funding comparisons with FY2014 actuals and FY2015 estimates.
Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Security Issues and Implications for U.S. Interests
This report discusses the internal and external security concerns of the South Caucasus states and U.S. interests and policy toward the region. The countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia are generally considered as comprising the South Caucasus region, which borders Russia, Turkey, and Iran.
The EMV Chip Card Transition: Background, Status, and Issues for Congress
This report describes the financial harm caused by data breaches and explains how those breaches are carried out. It provides information about the effect of the transition in selected foreign countries. The report also discusses resolved and remaining impediments to completing the EMV ( Europay, MasterCard Visa) transition in the United States and identifies areas of potential congressional interest.
The Role of the Senate in Judicial Impeachment Proceedings: Procedure, Practice, and Data
This report examines the history, practice, and procedures of the Senate in fulfilling its constitutional obligation to try and to vote whether to convict and impose judgment upon judges impeached by the House of Representatives. It includes an overview of the process, and sections that discuss rules governing Senate impeachment proceedings, organizing the Senate for trial, the role of the Presiding Officer, the use of an impeachment trial committee, deliberation and judgment by the full senate, length of Senate impeachment trials, and concluding observations.
Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund: Programs and Policy Issues
This report begins by describing the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund's (Fund's) history, current appropriations, and each of its programs. The next section of the report analyzes four policy considerations of congressional interest, regarding the Fund and the effective use of federal resources to promote economic development. Lastly, this report examines the Fund's programs and management to see if they represent an effective and efficient government effort to promote economic development in low-income and distressed communities.
Balancing Tourism against Terrorism: The Visa Waiver Program
This report briefly discusses Congress's concern that some foreign fighters might exploit the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to enter the United States and commit acts of terrorism. The VWP allows eligible visitors from 38 European nations and a few prosperous Asia-Pacific countries to enter the United States for short business or leisure stays without first obtaining a visa from a U.S. consulate abroad.
Iran Sanctions
This report focuses on the United States' relationship with Iran and how the Obama Administration is handling prior administration's economic sanctions against Iran. The Obama Administration's policy approach toward Iran has contrasted with the Bush Administration's by attempting to couple the imposition of sanctions to an active and direct U.S. effort to negotiate with Iran on the nuclear issue.
Supreme Court Justices: Demographic Characteristics, Professional Experience, and Legal Education, 1789-2010
This report provides an introduction of Supreme Court appointments in historical context. The report discusses the Supreme Court Justices demographic characteristics, professional background, and educational background.
Veterans Affairs: The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims--Judicial Review of VA Decision Making
This report discusses legislation enacted by the 111th Congress to address funding, operations, and benefit appeal procedures within the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veteran Claims (CAVC).
Evaluating the "Past Performance" of Federal Contractors: Legal Requirements and Issues
This report provides an overview of existing legal requirements pertaining to past performance, including the issues raised by federal contractors' attempts to challenge agency evaluations of their past performance, source selection decisions based, in part, on consideration of past performance information, and responsibility determinations. It also surveys recently enacted and proposed legislation and executive branch initiatives related to evaluations of past performance.