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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Congressional Oversight and Related Issues Concerning International Security Agreements Concluded by the United States
This report begins by providing a general background on the types of international agreements that are binding upon the United States, as well as considerations affecting whether they take the form of a treaty or an executive agreement. Next, the report discusses historical precedents as to the role that security agreements have taken. The report discusses the oversight role that Congress exercises with respect to entering and implementing international agreements involving the United States.
Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation and Security Issues
This report discusses Pakistan's efforts to produce fissile material and other issues related to nuclear proliferation and improving its nuclear arsenal. It also discusses the steps Pakistan has taken to increase international confidence in its nuclear security. However, continued instability in Pakistan has caused some to question the effectiveness of its nuclear security reforms.
The Army's Future Combat System (FCS): Background and Issues for Congress
This report describes the Future Combat System (FCS) program, which was to be the Army's major research, development, and acquisition program consisting of 14 manned and unmanned systems linked by an extensive communications and information network. This report describes the proposed restructuring of the FCS program, announced by Secretary of Defense Gates in April 2009, which includes modernizing outdated equipment and re-evaluating vehicle design strategy.
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 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.
Transportation Conformity Under the Clean Air Act
This report explains the Clean Air Act requirement that federal departments and agencies demonstrate that their activities--including projects that they fund--"conform" to state plans for achieving air quality standards. The report explains the statutory requirements, reviews the recent history of their implementation, and examines how conformity requirements might affect areas designated "nonattainment" for a revised ozone air quality standard.
Tanzania: Background and Current Conditions
This report discusses the current political climate in Tanzania, an important U.S. ally in Africa. The report also provides some general background information.
The European Union's Reform Process: The Lisbon Treaty
This report provides information on the Lisbon Treaty and possible U.S.-EU implications that may be of interest to the 112th Congress.
Sending Mail to Members of the Armed Forces at Reduced or Free Postage: An Overview
This report discusses proposed legislation to establish a free-mail-to-troops postage benefit. Various bills introduced in Congress would provide members of the Armed Forces serving overseas with free-postage vouchers every month. Recipients of these vouchers would be able to transfer them to family members or other persons in the United States, who then could use the vouchers to mail a letter or package to the troops postage-free.
Afghanistan: Narcotics and U.S. Policy
This report provides current statistical information, profiles the Afghanistan narcotics trade's participants, explores linkages between narcotics, insecurity, and corruption, and reviews U.S. and international policy responses since late 2001. The report also considers ongoing policy debates regarding the counternarcotics role of coalition military forces, poppy eradication, alternative livelihoods, and funding issues for Congress.
The 2015 National Security Strategy: Authorities, Changes, Issues for Congress
This report discusses a number of potential oversight questions raised by a National Security Strategy (NSS) document released by the Obama Administration.
U.S. Foreign Aid to the Palestinians
This report describes issues related to U.S. aid provided to Palestine to support prevention/combating against terrorism, creating coexistence with Israel and self-governance, and meeting humanitarian needs. In includes introductory and historical background as well as in-depth analysis of the types of U.S. bilateral aid to Palestine, U.S. contributions to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the near East (UNRWA), and the issues involved in determining future aid.
Legal Services Corporation: Background and Funding
This report discusses the responsibilities of Legal Services Corporation (LSC), which is a private, nonprofit, federally funded corporation that helps provide legal assistance to low-income people in civil (i.e., noncriminal) matters.
VH-71 Presidential Helicopter Program: Background and Issues for Congress
This report discusses the VH-71 program, which is intended to provide 23 new presidential helicopters to replace the current fleet of 19 aging presidential helicopters.
Mexico's Free Trade Agreements
This report provides an overview of Mexico's free trade agreements, its motivations for trade liberalization and entering into free trade agreements, and some of the issues Mexico faces in addressing its economic challenges.
Federal Employees' Retirement System: Legislation Enacted in the 111th Congress
This report discusses legislation passed during the 111th Congress that affect retirement plans for federal employees, specifically the "Thrift Savings Plan Enhancement Act of 2009".
U.S.-China Military Contacts: Issues for Congress
This report discusses policy issues regarding military-to-military (mil-to-mil) contacts with the People's Republic of China (PRC) and provides a record of major contacts and crises since 1993.
Cybersecurity and Information Sharing: Comparison of Legislative Proposals in the 114th Congress
This report compares two House bills and one Senate bill that address information sharing and related activities in cybersecurity. It also discusses some of the issues that those and other bills address.
The "Islamic State" Crisis and U.S. Policy
This report discusses the current crisis involving the Islamic State, which is a transnational Sunni Islamist insurgent and terrorist group that has expanded its control over areas of parts of Iraq and Syria since 2013.
Venezuela: Political Conditions and U.S. Policy
This report provides an in depth look at political and economic conditions in Venezuela and examines their impact on U.S. policy.
The Advanced Spectroscopic Portal Program: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides an overview of the Advanced Spectroscopic Portal program's history and outlines issues for Congress as the program moves forward.
Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Political Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests
This report discusses the relationships between the United States and Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, as well as these three nations' political and economic conditions. The report also discusses key related issues in the second session of the 111th Congress, including the question of the United States' role in the South Caucasus, the significance of regional energy resources to U.S. interests, and other pertinent issues.
Army Corps of Engineers Water Resources Activities: Authorization and Appropriations
This report provides an overview of the Corps civil works program. It covers the congressional authorization and appropriation process, the standard project development process, and other Corps activities and authorities.
The Help America Vote Act and Election Administration: Overview and Issues
This report discusses the Help America Vote Act (HAVA; P.L. 107-252) enacted in 2002. It provides background information about HAVA and its provisions, the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), funding for the agency and for state programs to improve elections, and a number of enduring election administration issues.
Costa Rica: Background and U.S. Relations
Costa Rica is a relatively politically stable and economically developed nation with a long tradition of civilian democracy. Once a predominantly agricultural nation, Costa Rica has established a diversified economy with a strong export sector. This report examines recent political and economic developments in Costa Rica as well as issues in U.S.-Costa Rica relations.
Country-of-Origin Labeling for Foods and the WTO Trade Dispute on Meat Labeling
This report covers the dispute between the U.S with its neighbors, Canada and Mexico, who say that the recent country-of-origin labeling (COOL) system implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is unfair and does not meet its original objectives. This dispute was brought before the WTO dispute panel and found to be valid. The report ends with a discussion of options for the U.S. in regards to modifying COOL to follow WTO rulings.
The Social Security Retirement Age: In Brief
This report discusses the two important ages that may affect a worker's plans to claim Social Security retired-worker benefits. Workers may claim full Social Security benefits at the full retirement age (FRA), which is rising gradually to age 67 for workers who were born in 1960 or later. Retired workers may claim benefits as early as age 62, which is known as the early eligibility age (EEA). Social Security benefits are reduced, however, for every month that retired worker benefits are claimed before the FRA.
Iran's Nuclear Program: Status
This report looks at the background of Iran's nuclear policy. It covers the current status of Iran's nuclear facilities, and current controversy surrounding them, as well as the effects of international sanctions on Iran, recent sabotages on the Iran Enrichment Program, an estimated timeline of Iran's nuclear weapon capabilities, and whether or not Iran even has a nuclear weapons program.
U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces: Background, Developments, and Issues
This report reviews the ongoing programs that will affect the expected size and shape of the U.S. strategic nuclear force structure. It includes an overview of this force structure during the Cold War, and summarizes the reductions and changes that have occurred since 1991. It also offers details about each category of delivery vehicle--land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine launched ballistic missiles and heavy bombers--focusing on their current deployments and ongoing and planned modernization programs.
The 2009 Influenza Pandemic: Selected Legal Issues
Recent human cases of infection with a novel influenza A(H1N1) virus have been identified both internationally and in the United States. Since there has been human to human transmission and the new virus has the potential to become pandemic, it is timely to examine legal issues surrounding this emerging public health threat. This report will provide a brief overview of selected legal issues.
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.
Income and Poverty Among Older Americans in 2007
This report describes the income and poverty status of the 36.8 million Americans age 65 and older who were living in households in 2007. The report also describes how the proportion of total income received from each source differs between high-income individuals and households and low-income individuals and households.
Iraq: Reconstruction Assistance
Following the 2003 intervention in Iraq, the United States undertook a large-scale assistance program meant to stabilize the country, rehabilitate economic infrastructure, and introduce representative government, among other objectives. Even as the U.S. military role in Iraq winds down, this program, funded through a mix of appropriations accounts, will continue to be scrutinized closely by the 111th Congress. This report describes recent developments in this assistance effort.
Legal Ethics in Immigration Matters: Legal Representation and Unauthorized Practice of Law
Report regarding recent issues in which the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR), the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and various state attorneys general have taken action to address the problems posed by unethical conduct by immigration attorneys and by persons posing as immigration attorneys, such as so-called "notarios" and other immigration consultants.
Colombia: Issues for Congress
This report provides an overview of recent political developments in Colombia, including the administration of President Uribe (2002-2010), continuing into the election of President Juan Manuel Santos. It discusses the political issues including Colombia's longstanding conflict with internal armed groups and ongoing challenges such as human rights, demobilization and displacement, drug trends, and Colombia's regional relations.
Pension Sponsorship and Participation: Summary of Recent Trends
This report discusses trends that will affect the economic well-being of future retirees.
Border Searches of Laptop Computers and Other Electronic Storage Devices
This report discusses a developing issue in the law of search and seizure: whether the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution permits warrantless searches of the content of laptop computers and other electronic storage devices at U.S. borders. The federal courts that have addressed this issue have held that the border search exception to the Fourth Amendment applies to these searches, making warrantless searches permissible.
Piracy off the Horn of Africa
This report discusses recent (2008-2009) pirate attacks on vessels, including United States vessels, in the waters off the Horn of Africa. The Horn of Africa is sometimes called the Somali Peninsula and includes the nations of Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Somalia. This report explores reasons behind the increased number of pirate attacks in recent years, as well as what efforts are being taken to combat said attacks, including those by the 111th Congress and President Obama and his Administration.
Amber Alert Program Technology
This report discusses Amber Alerts (also referred to as AMBER plans) which use technology to disseminate information about child abductions in a timely manner. Technologies used for alerts include the Emergency Alert System (EAS), highway messages boards, telephone alert systems, the Internet, text messaging, and email.
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.
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 FY2016 budget requests $5,340.1 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.
Trafficking in Persons in Latin America and the Caribbean
This report describes the nature and scope of the problem of trafficking in persons in Latin America and the Caribbean. It then describes U.S. efforts to deal with trafficking in persons in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as discusses the successes and failures of some recent country and regional anti-trafficking efforts.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Global Health Programs: FY2001-FY2010
This report explains the role the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) plays in U.S. global health assistance, highlights how much the agency has spent on global health efforts from FY2001 to FY2010, and discusses how funding to each of its programs changed during this period.
Coast Guard Deepwater Acquisition Programs: Background, Oversight Issues, and Options for Congress
This report provides background information and oversight issues for Congress on the Coast Guard's Deepwater acquisition programs for replacing and modernizing the service's aging fleet of deepwater-capable ships and aircraft.
Earmark Disclosure Rules in the House: Member and Committee Requirements
This report outlines the major administrative responsibilities of Members and committees of the House of Representatives associated with the chamber's earmark disclosure rules. Earmark disclosure rules in both the House and Senate were implemented with the stated intention of bringing more transparency to congressionally directed spending. The administrative responsibilities associated with these rules vary by chamber.
Critical Infrastructures: Background, Policy, and Implementation
This report discusses in more detail the evolution of a national critical infrastructure policy and the institutional structures established to implement it. The report highlights two primary issues confronting Congress going forward, both in the context of cybersecurity: information sharing and regulation.
Reauthorizing the Satellite Home Viewing Provisions in the Communications Act and the Copyright Act: Issues for Congress
This report discusses the regulatory framework for the retransmission of broadcast television signals by satellite television operators,the Satellite Home Viewer Act of 1994, the 1999 Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act (SHVIA), and the 2004 Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act (SHVERA)
Regular Vetoes and Pocket Vetoes: In Brief
This report presents information on the process by which Congress can override regular vetoes, the number of vetoes by each President, and the use of vetoes in relation to appropriations acts.
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.
Senate Banking: Financial Regulatory Improvement Act
This report briefly highlights some of the major policy proposals included in a May 12, 2015 discussion draft released by Senator Richard Shelby that is scheduled for markup by the Senate Banking Committee. The draft encompasses a broad package of reforms to the financial regulatory system, including some changes to the Dodd-Frank Act (P.L. 111-203).
Air Force KC-X Tanker Aircraft Program: Background and Issues for Congress
This report discusses issues for Congress in FY2011, which are whether to approve, reject, or modify DOD's new KC-X competition strategy, and whether to approve, reject, or modify the Air Force's request for FY2011 research and development funding for the new KC-X program.