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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
RICO: A Brief Sketch
This report examines the various elements of federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) provisions and discusses constitutional questions pertaining to the law. In spite of its name and origin, RICO is not limited to "mobsters" or members of "organized crime" as those terms are popularly understood. Rather, it covers those activities which Congress felt characterized the conduct of organized crime, no matter who actually engages in them.
Social Security Reform: Economic Issues
This report tackles the issue of Social Security reform from an economic perspective that focuses not merely on reform that achieves programmatic sustainability (sustainability within the trust fund), but reform that achieves sustainability for the government and economy as a whole. The President has indicated that Social Security reform will be a major issue in the 109th Congress. For some time comprehensive reform has been an issue of debate in Congress, but no major action has occurred.
Automobile and Light Truck Fuel Economy: The CAFE Standards
This report discusses energy legislation pertaining to fuel standards. The current corporate average fuel economy standard (CAFE) is 27.5 miles per gallon (mpg) for passenger automobiles and 20.7 mpg for light trucks (scheduled to increase to 22.2 mpg in model year [MY] 2007), a classification that also includes sport utility vehicles (SUVs). Congress had included language in the FY1996-FY2001 Transportation Appropriations prohibiting the use of appropriated funds for any rulemaking on CAFE, effectively freezing the standards.
21st Century Community Learning Centers in P.L. 107-110: Background and Funding
This report summarizes the major provisions of the reauthorized 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program. It includes sections on fundings, national reservations, formula grants to states, competitive local grants, history, program effectiveness, and relevant legislation in the 107th Congress.
Iran Sanctions
This report analyzes U.S. and international sanctions against Iran and provides some examples, based on open sources, of companies and countries that conduct business with Iran.
The Davis-Bacon Act: Issues and Legislation During the 108th Congress
This report discusses the debate surrounding the Davis-Bacon Act (1931, as amended), which requires, among other things, that not less than the locally-prevailing wage be paid to workers employed in federal contract construction. Through recent decades, the Act has become a continuing source of contention, particularly regarding its impacts, whether it should be modified, strengthened, or repealed, and if it is being administered effectively.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's Five-Year Program for Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing: History and Proposed Program for 2017-2022
The first two sections of this report discuss the history and legal framework for Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's (BOEM) five-year offshore oil and gas leasing programs. Subsequent sections outline BOEM's development process, briefly summarize previous years' programs, and analyze the proposal for 2017-2022. The final section of the report discusses the role of Congress, with a focus on congressional oversight and legislation related to the 2017-2022 program.
The First Responder Network (FirstNet) and Next-Generation Communications for Public Safety: Issues for Congress
This report discusses the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), which is a federal agency that includes private sector and other non-federal representation on its board of directors. FirstNet was created by Congress with provisions in Title VI (Spectrum Act) of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-96) to ensure the deployment and operation of a nationwide, broadband network for public safety communications.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Supreme Court's 4-4 Split on Immigration
This report addresses commonly asked questions regarding the Supreme Court's evenly-divided June 23, 2016 decision about immigration. Consistent with recent practice, the decision affirms without any opinion or indication of the Justices' voting alignment an earlier decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit barring the Obama Administration from implementing two initiatives that would potentially have granted relief from removal to millions of aliens who entered or remained in the United States in violation of federal immigration law and lack legal immigration status.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): Key Provisions and Issues for Congress
This report discusses the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) among the United States and 11 Asia-Pacific countries. It examines the key provisions of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), related policy and economic contexts, and issues of potential interest to Congress.
The United Kingdom and the European Union: Stay or Go?
This report briefly discusses the British referendum regarding whether or not to remain in the European Union. The outcome of the referendum remains difficult to predict. Polling results have varied from week to week and continue to suggest a close race with a significant number of undecided voters. Some polls in mid-June have shown a late shift in favor of the Leave campaign.
U.S. Manufacturing in International Perspective
This report is designed to inform the debate over the health of U.S. manufacturing through a series of charts and tables that depict the position of the United States relative to other countries according to various metrics. Understanding which trends in manufacturing reflect factors that may be unique to the United States and which are related to broader changes in technology or consumer preferences may be helpful in formulating policies intended to aid firms or workers engaged in manufacturing activity.
FinCEN Seeks Shell-Company Transparency
This legal sidebar discusses the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network's (FinCEN) rules outlining anti-money laundering due diligence requirements. These rules require certain financial institutions to identify and verify beneficial owners of legal entity customers.
Child Welfare: Reauthorization of the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program in the 107th Congress
This report discusses the reauthorization of the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Amendments of 2001. The new law maintains the FY2001 mandatory funding level, authorizes additional discretionary funding, and grants new program authority to provide mentoring services for children of prisoners. In addition, the enacted legislation allows states to use Promoting Safe and Stable Families funds for infant "safe haven" programs, provides for reallocation of unused program funds, clarifies language defining family support programs, and gives more explicit instructions to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding use of funds set aside for research, evaluation and technical assistance.
National Security Space Launch at a Crossroads
This report examines the history and current status of the EELV (Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle) program. The United States is in the midst of making significant changes in how best to pursue an acquisition strategy that would ensure continued access to space for national security missions. The current strategy for the EELV program dates from the 1990s and has since been revised a few times.
Navy Ship Names: Background for Congress
This report discusses the process of naming Navy ships, which have traditionally been chosen and announced by the Secretary of the Navy. Rules for giving certain types of names to certain types of Navy ships have evolved over time.
The Economic Effects of Trade: Overview and Policy Challenges
This report focuses on some of the major issues associated with trade and trade agreements and the impact of trade on the U.S. economy. Discussions of trade and trade agreements often focus on a number of issues, including the role that trade plays in the U.S. economy, the impact of trade agreements on employment gains and losses, and the size of the U.S. trade deficit.
United States Lifts Remaining Restrictions on Arms Sales to Vietnam
This report discusses the recent removal of remaining U.S. restrictions on sales of lethal weapons and related services to Vietnam. During the Vietnam War (1955-1975), the United States imposed a complete embargo on arms sales to North Vietnam, and then expanded it to cover the entire country after Communist forces defeated U.S-backed South Vietnamese government in 1975. In 2007, the Bush Administration eased the ban by allowing non-lethal defense items and defense services to be exported on a case-by-case basis.
Fact Sheet: FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) DOD Reform Proposals
This report discusses information on extant Department of Defense (DOD) reform proposals being considered during the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act debates. As such, it includes key provisions incorporated in H.R. 4909, the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) reported by the House Armed Services Committee on May 4, 2016 (H.Rept. 114-537), and S. 2943, the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act reported by the Senate Armed Services Committee on May 18, 2016 (S.Rept. 114-255). Wherever possible, it also includes the Administration's views.
Multiyear Procurement (MYP) and Block Buy Contracting in Defense Acquisition: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on multiyear procurement (MYP) and block buy contracting (BBC), which are special contracting mechanisms that Congress permits the Department of Defense (DOD) to use for a limited number of defense acquisition programs.
The Open Skies Treaty: Issues in the Current Debate
This report discusses the current debate surrounding the Treaty on Open Skies, which the United States, Canada, and 22 European nations signed on March 24, 1992. The treaty entered into force on January 1, 2002, and now has 34 member states. Each participant must permit unarmed observation aircraft to fly over its entire territory to observe military forces and activities.
U.S. Agricultural Trade with Cuba: Current Limitations and Future Prospects
This report reviews the current state of agricultural trade between the United States and Cuba, identifies key impediments to expanding bilateral trade in agricultural products and key provisions in the law to which these obstacles are anchored. It also summarizes several of the bills introduced in the 114th Congress that propose to remove specific restrictions that impede trade in agricultural goods or that seek to lift the embargo on Cuba entirely.
Iran's Foreign Policy
This report provides an overview of Iran's foreign policy, which has been a subject of numerous congressional hearings and of sanctions and other legislation for many years. The report analyzes Iranian foreign policy as a whole and by region.
Legislative Procedures for Adjusting the Public Debt Limit: A Brief Overview
This report discusses the procedure for adjusting the public debt limit. Nearly all of the outstanding debt of the federal government is subject to a statutory limit, which is set forth as a dollar limitation in 31 U.S.C. 3101(b). From time to time, Congress considers and passes legislation to adjust or suspend this limit.
Salaries of Members of Congress: Congressional Votes, 1990-2016
This report contains information on actions taken that affect the salaries for members of Congress, broken down by year and starting with the establishment of the Ethics Reform Act adjustment procedure (1990). It also provides background on the most recent developments and information on other related floor action.
Synthetic Drugs: Overview and Issues for Congress
This report discusses the federal scheduling of controlled substances, including the temporary scheduling of substances. It also provides an overview of current trends in selected synthetic cannabinoids and stimulants. It concludes with a review of relevant legislation as well as possible issues policymakers might consider.
"Sense of" Resolutions and Provisions
This report discusses specific kinds of resolutions by which Congress may formally express opinions about subjects of current national interest through freestanding simple or concurrent resolutions (called generically "sense of the House," "sense of the Senate," or "sense of the Congress" resolutions). These opinions expressing the views of one or both chambers may be included in other legislation upon introduction or subsequently added by amendment. This report identifies the various forms these expressions may take and the procedures governing such actions.
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.
Zika Response Funding: Request and Congressional Action
This report presents the Administration's request for supplemental appropriations for the Zika response. It includes sections outlining Congressional actions, the emergency supplemental appropriations request for Zika response efforts -- by both U.S. health and human services agencies and international assistance programs -- and information about unobligated Ebola response funds.
Telecommunications Discounts for Schools and Libraries: The "E-Rate" Program and Controversies
This report addresses the controversial issues surrounding the E-rate program's implementation and subsequent legislative measures introduced to address these issues. An additional issue, concern that minors may gain access to "inappropriate" material through the Internet has also had an impact on the E-rate program.
Puerto Rico and Health Care Finance: Frequently Asked Questions
This report provides answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Puerto Rico's health care system.
China's Natural Gas: Uncertainty for Markets
This report discusses China's natural gas plans. Despite China's pollution problems and international environmental commitments, the role of natural gas in China's energy mix remains relatively low, particularly compared to the United States; however, China has announced big plans for its natural gas development and use. These changes will require significant investment in exploration, production, infrastructure, and consumption.
DOT's Federal Pipeline Safety Program: Background and Key Issues for Congress
This report reviews the history of federal programs for pipeline safety, significant safety issues, and recent developments focusing on key issues for Congress.
Phase 2 Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles
This report briefly discusses the second phase of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles jointly proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on July 13, 2015.
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. The diminishment of Arctic sea ice has led to increased human activities in the Arctic, and has heightened interest in, and concerns about, the region's future.
U.S.-EU Data Privacy: From Safe Harbor to Privacy Shield
This report describes the financial harm caused by data breaches, explains how those breaches are carried out, discusses resolved and remaining impediments to completing the EMV (Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) transition in the United States, and identifies areas of potential Congressional interest.
What's RICO?
This legal sidebar briefly discusses the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) portion of Title 18 of the United States Code. In spite of its name and origin, RICO is not limited to "mobsters" or members of "organized crime" as those terms are popularly understood. Rather, it covers those activities which Congress felt characterized the conduct of organized crime, no matter who actually engages in them.
Issues Affecting Tidal, Wave, and In-Stream Generation Projects
This report provides an overview of developments and considerations regarding wave, tidal, and in-stream energy generation technology. It summarizes federal involvement in the regulation of this new industry and highlights current issues in the field.
EPA Policies Concerning Integrated Planning and Affordability of Water Infrastructure
This report examines recent initiatives by EPA, an integrated planning policy, and a framework policy for assessing a community's financial capability to meet objectives and requirements of the Clean Water Act (CWA).
Air Quality Issues and Animal Agriculture: EPA's Air Compliance Agreement
This report discusses a plan announced by EPA in January 2005, called the Air Compliance Agreement, intended to produce air quality monitoring data on animal agriculture emissions from a small number of farms, while at the same time protecting all participants (including farms where no monitoring takes place) through a "safe harbor" from liability under certain provisions of federal environmental laws.
Climate Change Paris Agreement Opens for Signature
This report briefly provides background on the new international Paris Agreement to address greenhouse-gas-induced climate change. No international agreement has attracted as many signatures on a single day.
Conservation Reserve Program: Status and Current Issues
This report discusses the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) enacted in 1985, which provides payments to farmers to take highly erodible or environmentally-sensitive cropland out of production for ten years or more to conserve soil and water resources.
Water Resources Development Act (WRDA): Army Corps of Engineers Authorization Issues in the 109th Congress
The Corps is a federal agency in the Department of Defense with military and civilian responsibilities. At the direction of Congress, the Corps plans, builds, operates, and maintains a wide range of water resources facilities in U.S. states and territories.
The Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA): Workers' Compensation for Federal Employees
This report focuses on several key policy issues facing the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA) program, including the disproportionate share of claims and program costs attributed to postal workers, the payment of FECA benefits after retirement age, the overall level of FECA disability benefits as compared with those offered by the states, and the administration of the FECA program.
The Endangered Species Act and "Sound Science"
This report provides a context for evaluating legislative proposals through examples of how science has been used in selected cases, a discussion of the nature and role of science in general, and its role in the Endangered Species Act (ESA) process in particular, together with general and agency information quality requirements and policies, and a review of how the courts have viewed agency use of science.
Brazil in Crisis
Brazil is in the midst of deepening economic and political crises that are closely intertwined and unlikely to be resolved quickly. This report briefly examines the political situation and discusses public opinion regarding the Rousseff Administration.
Negative Interest Rates
In a few foreign economies, including the euro area, Switzerland, and Japan, central banks have purposely set some short-term interest rates used to carry out monetary policy at negative levels. This report briefly discusses the reasons behind this phenomenon.
Counting Casualties in Syria and Iraq: Process and Challenges
This report discusses the difficulties of collecting war-related casualty data in Iraq and Syria and provides an overview of some of the current estimated figures available through selected organizations.
Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class Aircraft Carrier Program: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and potential oversight issues for Congress on the Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) class aircraft carrier program. Congress's decisions on the CVN-78 program could substantially affect Navy capabilities and funding requirements and the shipbuilding industrial base.
U.S.-South Korea Relations
This report contains two main parts: a section describing recent events and a longer background section on key elements of the U.S.-South Korea relationship. The end of the report provides a list of CRS products on South Korea and North Korea. The report identifies South Korean individuals by using their last name first.