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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
OPM Data Breach: Personnel Security Background Investigation Data
This report provides information on the types of data that may be collected in a typical personnel security background investigation. In a July 9, 2015, news release on the cyber-intrusions of its systems, OPM "concluded with high confidence that sensitive information, including the Social Security Numbers (SSNs) of 21.5 million individuals, was stolen from the background investigation databases." This report is not an official statement of the data that was compromised in the OPM breach.
Defense Health Program Funding Shortfall for Fiscal Year 2015
This report describes the defense health program (DHP) and discusses the DHP budget.
Funding for Workforce Development in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009
This report provides a brief overview of the key provisions related to workforce development programs administered by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that were included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) under Division A, Title VIII, Department of Labor. It also provides estimates of state grants for programs for which these estimates are relevant and for which data needed to produce the estimates are available.
SBA Veterans Assistance Programs: An Analysis of Contemporary Issues
This report opens with an examination of the current economic circumstances of veteran-owned businesses drawn from the Bureau of the Census 2007 Survey of Business Owners, which was administered in 2008 and 2009, and released on May 17, 2011. It also provides a brief overview of veteran employment experiences, describes the employment assistance programs offered by several federal agencies to assist veterans in their transition from the military to the civilian labor force, and examines related Small Business Administration (SBA) initiatives such as business development programs, efforts to assist veterans' access to capital, and veteran contracting programs.
The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): In Brief
This report provides a basic description of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which mandates that U.S. transportation fuel must contain a minimum volume of biofuel, and is a federal statutory requirement. The mandated minimum volume increases annually and can be met using both conventional biofuel (e.g., cornstarch ethanol) and advanced biofuels. This report also includes some of the widely-discussed issues.
The Global Nuclear Detection Architecture: Issues for Congress
This report addresses the global nuclear detection architecture: a multi-layered system of detection technologies, programs, and guidelines designed to enhance the nation's ability to detect and prevent a radiological or nuclear attack.
Transportation and Transportation Security Related Provisions of House and Senate Stimulus Legislation (H.R. 1)
This report discusses the major transportation and transportation security-related provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (H.R. 1) as passed by the House on January 28, 2009, and the Senate on February 10, 2009. The report also discusses the major transportation provisions of the conference report on H.R. 1 (H.Rept. 111-16), which was passed by both the House and Senate on February 13, 2009, and signed by President Barack Obama on February 17, 2009.
Iraq: Politics, Elections, and Benchmarks
This report discusses Iraq's political system, which has been restructured through a U.S.-supported election process. The Iraqi government is increasingly characterized by peaceful competition rather than violence, but sectarianism and ethnic and factional infighting still remain. This report discusses issues relating to opponents of the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and also discusses the atmosphere of nationwide provincial elections.
Laws Affecting the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program
This report tracks legislative changes to the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program. It includes brief discussions of how Congress has changed FEHB through legislative action, including restrictions on the use of federal funds; changing the formula for determining the government's share of FEHB premiums; expanding eligibility for the program; and implementing policies that affect the relationship between Medicare and FEHB.
Biopower: Background and Federal Support
The report begins with general summaries about bioenergy and biopower, including potential benefits and challenges, feedstocks, and biopower technologies. It also describes federal support available for biopower and relevant legislative concerns.
House Committee Hearings: Witness Testimony
This report briefly discusses the witness testimony process in House of Representatives committee hearings. Witnesses before House committees must generally file advance copies of their written testimony with the committee and then limit their oral testimony to brief summaries (Rule XI, clause 2(g)(5)). A question-and-answer period usually follows a witness's opening statement. Following hearings, committees usually publish the transcripts of witness testimony and questioning.
Iran Nuclear Agreement
This report discusses the recently finalized Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that attempts to ensure that Iran's nuclear program can be used for purely peaceful purposes, in exchange for a broad suspension of U.S., European Union (EU), and United Nations sanctions.
The Federal Tax Treatment of Married Same- Sex Couples
This report provides an overview of the federal tax treatment of same-sex married couples, with a focus on the federal income tax.
Federal Information Security and Data Breach Notification Laws
This report provides an overview of federal information security and data breach notification laws that are applicable to certain entities that collect, maintain, own, possess, or license sensitive personal information.
Unemployment Insurance Provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
This report addresses some of the more common questions about unemployment insurance in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, P.L. 111-5).
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA): An Explanation
This report provides a section-by-section summary of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which provides civil protections and rights to individuals based on their service in the Reserve and National Guard military units.
Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and potential oversight issues for Congress on the Coast Guard's programs for procuring 8 National Security Cutters (NSCs), 25 Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPCs), and 58 Fast Response Cutters (FRCs), intended as replacements for 90 aging Coast Guard cutters and patrol craft. The issue for Congress is whether to approve, reject, or modify the Coast Guard's funding requests and acquisition strategies for these programs.
Midwest Floods of 2008: Potential Impact on Agriculture
This report discusses the widespread flooding across much of the Corn Belt that has cast considerable uncertainty over 2008 U.S. corn and soybean production prospects. Estimates of crop damage vary widely, and could change based on the extent of plant recovery or replanting.
Automatic Continuing Resolutions: Background and Overview of Recent Proposals
This report provides background on the historical frequency of federal funding gaps and shutdowns. It also discusses features of Automatic Continuing Resolutions (ACRs), arguments for and against ACRs, relevant Congressional actions, and proposals in the 112th through 114th Congresses.
Department of Homeland Security Assistance to States and Localities: A Summary and Issues for the 111th Congress
This report summarizes several emergency management and homeland security programs, and identifies and analyzes potential issues for the 111th Congress. These issues include the purpose and number of assistance programs; the evaluation of the use of grant funding; the determination of eligible grant recipients; the programs' funding amounts; and the programs' funding distribution methodologies.
The 2009 H1N1 "Swine Flu" Outbreak: An Overview
This report provides an introduction to the situation regarding the potential of a global human influenza pandemic caused by the new H1N1 flu strain. It includes a brief chronology of events; a discussion of key actions taken and authorities invoked by the WHO and the U.S. government; and information about key U.S. government pandemic flu planning documents.
Mandatory Minimum Sentencing: Federal Aggravated Identity Theft
This report discusses sentencing for aggravated identity theft, which is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment for two years, or by imprisonment for five years if it relates to a terrorism offense.
Long Range Strike Bomber Begins to Emerge
This report discusses the U.S. Air Force's top three procurement priorities, including the LRS-B program, which is intended to yield 80 to 100 strategic bombers to replace aging B-52s and B-1s, beginning in the mid-2020s.
Can Military Servicemembers Carry Firearms for Personal Protection on Duty?
This report briefly discusses the applicable law and policy regarding government-issued firearms for personal protection of servicemembers on duty.
The Army's M-4 Carbine: Background and Issues for Congress
This report discusses the M-4 carbine, which is the Army's primary individual combat weapon for infantry units. Reports suggest that soldiers have expressed concerns regarding the reliability and lethality of the M-4.
The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act
This report provides a summary and explanation of the provisions in the HITECH Act, which is intended to promote the widespread adoption of health information technology (HIT) for the electronic sharing of clinical data among hospitals, physicians, and other health care stakeholders. It gives an overview of prior actions taken by Congress and the Administrations to promote HIT, and briefly describes efforts by the 109th and 110th Congresses to enact comprehensive HIT legislation.
Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on sustaining and modernizing the Coast Guard's polar icebreaker fleet, which performs a variety of missions supporting U.S. interests in polar regions.
Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background, Oversight Issues, and Options for Congress
This report discusses the 2007 restructuring of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program, as well as various financial information relating to the program. The issue for Congress is whether to approve, reject, or modify the Navy's plans for the LCS program. The report raises potential oversight issues for Congress relating to various aspects of the program.
Immigration Consequences of Criminal Activity
This report discusses the potential immigration consequences of criminal activity. "Criminal activity" generally refers to conduct for which an alien has been found or plead guilty before a court of law, though in limited circumstances consequences may attach to the commission of a crime or admission of acts constituting the essential elements of a crime.
China's Foreign Policy: What Does It Mean for U.S. Global Interests?
This report provides analysis and discusses China's expanded international engagement. It also discusses implications for U.S. interests, policy options for the U.S. and the general challenges of China's political and economic clout in the international community.
Navy Irregular Warfare and Counterterrorism Operations: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and potential issues for Congress on the Navy's irregular warfare (IW) and counterterrorism (CT) operations. The Navy's IW and CT activities pose a number of potential oversight issues for Congress, including how much emphasis to place on IW and CT activities in future Navy budgets. Congress's decisions regarding Navy IW and CT operations can affect Navy operations and funding requirements, and the implementation of the nation's overall IW and CT strategies.
PILT (Payments in Lieu of Taxes): Somewhat Simplified
This report explains Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), with an analysis of the five major factors affecting the calculation of a payment to a given county. It also describes the effects of recent legislative changes to PILT.
Powering Africa: Challenges of and U.S. Aid for Electrification in Africa
This report discusses the Power Africa initiative; policy problems and challenges related to power sector development in Africa; long-term perspectives on energy poverty, need, and future development; and raises some possible oversight questions and issues for Congress.
Maritime Territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Disputes Involving China: Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on maritime territorial and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) disputes in the East China (ECS) and South China Sea (SCS) involving China, with a focus on how these disputes may affect U.S. strategic and policy interests.
Debt Limit Legislation: The House "Gephardt Rule"
This report describes the legislative history of the Gephardt rule, initially codified as Rule XLIX of the Standing Rules of the House of Representatives, which was established by P.L. 96-78 (93 Stat. 589-591). The goal of the act was to provide for a temporary increase in the public debt limit to contextualize the issue within other budget policies and to reduce time spent and the number of votes taken on the issue. The report also explains its features and reviews how it operated before it was repealed.
Filling the Senate "Amendment Tree"
This report discusses the filing process of "Amendment trees": diagrams that have developed over decades of Senate practice as a way of visualizing certain principles of precedence that govern the offering of, and voting on, amendments in the chamber.
The 2009 Influenza A (H1N1) "Swine Flu" Outbreak: An Overview
This report provides an overview of key actions taken and authorities invoked by WHO and the U.S. government. First, it discusses the WHO process to determine the phase of a threatened or emerging flu pandemic and touches on a number of related issues. The report then examines actions taken by the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services and provides information about appropriations and funding for pandemic flu activities.
Afghanistan: Post-War Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy
This report discusses Afghanistan's political transition; it was completed in December 2005, but insurgent threats to Afghanistan's government since then have escalated to the point that some experts are questioning the future of U.S. stabilization efforts. U.S. stabilization measures focus on strengthening the central government and its security forces and on promoting reconstructing while combating the renewed insurgent challenge.
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 Arctic-related issues. Issues such as Arctic sovereignty claims; commercial shipping through the Arctic; Arctic oil, gas, and mineral exploration; endangered Arctic species; and increased military operations in the Arctic could cause the region in coming years to become an arena of international cooperation or competition.
FY2016 Agriculture and Related Agencies Appropriations: In Brief
This report discusses the Agriculture appropriations bill for fiscal year 2016, which funds the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) -- except for the Forest Service -- as well as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and, in even-numbered fiscal years, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Agriculture appropriations include both mandatory and discretionary spending, however, mandatory amounts are general set by other authorizing laws (such as the farm bill).
Bahrain: Reform, Security, and U.S. Policy
This report discusses the current state of reform and foreign policy in Bahrain. An uprising against Bahrain's Al Khalifa royal family that began on February 14, 2011, has not achieved the goals of Shiite oppositionists to establish a constitutional monarchy. Public unrest has diminished since 2012, but occasional large demonstrations, opposition boycotts of elections, and continued arrests of dissidents counter government assertions that Bahrain has "returned to normal."
The Iran Hostages: Efforts to Obtain Compensation
This report provides background information regarding the 1979-1981 Iran Hostage Crisis, and discusses the Hostage Relief Act.
Sudan: The Crisis in Darfur and Status of the North-South Peace Agreement
This report discusses the history of Sudan's civil unrest and the subsequent crisis in Darfur, as well as United Nations and United States aid and peacekeeping efforts, and current related policy under the Obama Administration.
Iran: U.S. Economic Sanctions and the Authority to Lift Restrictions
This report identifies the legislative bases for sanctions imposed on Iran, and the nature of the authority to waive or lift those restrictions. It comprises two tables that present legislation and executive orders that are specific to Iran and its objectionable activities in the areas of terrorism, human rights, and weapons proliferation.
Quorum Requirements in the House: Committee and Chamber
This report discusses minimum quorum requirements established by House Rule XI, clause 2 for eight areas of committee activity.
The Affordable Care Act's (ACA) Employer Shared Responsibility Determination and the Potential ACA Employer Penalty
This report describes the potential employer penalties related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148, as amended) as well as regulations to implement the ACA employer provisions. The regulations address insurance coverage requirements, methodologies for determining whether a worker is considered full time, provisions relating to seasonal workers and corporate franchises, and other reporting requirements.
The Foreign Tax Credit's Interest Allocation Rules
This report discusses the "worldwide" allocation of interest rule, which was a provision of the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-357; the Jobs Act). The provision relates to the taxation of multi-national corporations and allows more generous rules for multinationals to use in allocating interest expense for purposes of the U.S. foreign tax credit.
The Reliable Replacement Warhead Program: Background and Current Developments
This report describes the Life Extension Program (LEP), which is meant to replace and maintain aging nuclear warheads. It includes extensive background information, program developments, fiscal year actions from 2006-2009, various policy options and issues, and supplemental information about the topic.
House Office of Congressional Ethics: History, Authority, and Procedures
This report describes the history and rationale behind the creation of the House Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), its operations, and its relationship with the House Committee on Ethics, and potential options available for Congress if further amendments to the House ethics process are desired.
International Population Assistance and Family Planning Programs: Issues for Congress
This report discusses the U.S. population assistance issues, policy issues in the U.S. family planning debate, and U.S. funding levels.