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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Cyprus: Reunification Proving Elusive
This report discusses attempts to resolve the Cyprus problem and reunify the island which have undergone various levels of negotiation for almost 40 years. Beginning in 2008, Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias, a Greek Cypriot, and the former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat engaged in what appeared to be a positive and concerted effort to reach some type of acceptable solution. However, by the end of March 2010 time and politics ran out on both.
Agriculture in the WTO Bali Ministerial Agreement
At the World Trade Organization's (WTO's) Ninth Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, December 3-7, 2013, ministers adopted the so-called Bali Package--a series of decisions aimed at streamlining trade (referred to as trade facilitation), allowing developing countries more options for providing food security, boosting least-developed-country trade, and helping development more generally. This report focuses on those aspects of the Bali Package that deal with and are specific to agriculture. It also includes a section (at the end of the report) that provides an update on the status of implementation of the various Bali Package provisions agreed to by the WTO.
FEMA Disaster Housing: From Sheltering to Permanent Housing
This report reviews standard disaster housing procedures as well as options that could be taken to improve disaster housing including increased FEMA/HUD cooperation, the use of the case management authority, the repair and renovation of private rental housing units, and the use of alternative manufactured housing.
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.
Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy
This report discusses the current political state of Afghanistan, 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.-Afghanistan relationship, in both the short and long term, and U.S. efforts under the Obama Administration to provide military, reconstructive, and stabilization aid.
Proposed Amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA): Senate and House Bills Compared with Current Law
On April 15, 2010, Senator Lautenberg introduced legislation (S. 3209) to amend the core provisions of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Title I. Representatives Waxman and Rush introduced comprehensive legislation to amend TSCA (H.R. 5820) on July 22, 2010. This report compares key provisions of S. 3209, as introduced, H.R. 5820, as introduced, and current law (15 U.S.C. 2601 et seq.).
A New Authorization for Use of Military Force Against the Islamic State: Comparison of Current Proposals in Brief
This report discusses the President's constitutional authority to use military force against the armed offensive of the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIL or ISIS) in northern and western Iraq and northeastern Syria. It also covers current proposals for action under congressional authorizations for use of military force (AUMFs).
Military Service Records and Unit Histories: A Guide to Locating Sources
This report provides information on locating military unit histories and individual service records of discharged, retired, and deceased military personnel. It includes contact information for military history centers, websites for additional sources of research, and a bibliography of other publications.
Credit for Military Service Under Civilian Federal Employee Retirement Systems
This report discusses the earned pension benefits under one of two retirement plans for the federal employees with permanent appointments.
Welfare, Work, and Poverty Status of Female- Headed Families with Children: 1987-2013
The report focuses on welfare dependency and work engagement among single mothers, a major dynamic that welfare reform and accompanying policy changes have attempted to affect. It also examines the role of programs other than Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) in providing support to single female-headed families with children.
Afghanistan: U.S. Foreign Assistance
The U.S. program of assistance to Afghanistan is intended to stabilize and strengthen the Afghan economic, social, political, and security environment so as to blunt popular support for extremist forces in the region. Since 2001, nearly $47 billion has been appropriated toward this effort. This report provides a "big picture" overview of the U.S. aid program and congressional action. It describes what various aid agencies report they are doing in Afghanistan. It does not address the effectiveness of their programs.
Emergency Designation: Current Budget Rules and Procedures
Budgetary legislation is constrained by certain enforcement rules that are generally intended to control spending, revenues, and the deficit. Since 1990, those rules have provided, in various forms, procedural mechanisms allowing Congress to effectively exempt certain budgetary amounts from such constraints by designating a provision in a measure as an emergency requirement. This report provides a brief description of the current rules and congressional procedures associated with the emergency designation.
Aiding, Abetting, and the Like: An Overview of 18 U.S.C. 2
This report discuses the issues that virtually every federal criminal statute has a hidden feature; helpers and hands-on offenders face the same punishment. This results from 18 U.S.C. 2, which visits the same consequences on anyone who orders or assists in the commission of a federal crime.
China and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Missiles: Policy Issues
This report discusses the national security problem of the PRC's role in weapons proliferation and issues related to the U.S. policy response, including legislation, since the mid- 1990s.
Yemen: Background and U.S. Relations
This report provides an overview and analysis of U.S.-Yemeni relations amidst evolving political change in Yemeni leadership, ongoing U.S. counterterrorism operations against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operatives at large in Yemen's hinterlands, and international efforts to bolster the country's stability despite an array of daunting socio-economic problems.
Trade Primer: Qs and As on Trade Concepts, Performance, and Policy
The 112th Congress has a full legislative and oversight agenda on international trade. The agenda may include considering legislation to implement pending free trade agreements with Panama, South Korea, and Colombia, enhanced enforcement of U.S. trade agreements, as well as oversight of the World Trade Organization's Doha Round and trade relations with China. This report provides information and context for many of these topics. The report is divided into four sections in a question-and-answer format: trade concepts, U.S. trade performance, formulation of U.S. trade policy, and trade and investment issues.
Habeas Corpus Legislation in the 111th Congress
This report is a brief overview of the recommendations from the Constitution Subcommittee of the House Committee on the Judiciary and legislative proposals on habeas review.
The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act: Overview and Issues
This report discusses the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), under which members of the uniformed services and U.S. citizens who live abroad are eligible to register and vote absentee in federal elections. The report discusses recent improvements to UOCAVA, necessary as the result of controversy surrounding ballots received in Florida from absentee voters in the 2000 presidential election. The report also discusses related legislation, such as the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2010, which provided for a major overhaul of UOCAVA.
North Korea: Back on the Terrorism List?
This report describes the rationales for including North Korea on the terrorism list from 1987- 2008, for North Korea's delisting in 2008, and the debate in 2010 over whether to re-list North Korea. The major impact of a decision to return North Korea to the list would likely be symbolic, because removing North Korea from the list does not appear to have provided Pyongyang with direct, tangible benefits.
Border Security: The Role of the U.S. Border Patrol
This report includes some issues for Congress to consider which include the slow rate of integration between the United States Border Patrol's (USBP) biometric database of illegal aliens and the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) biometric database of criminals and terrorists; the number of unauthorized aliens who die attempting to enter the country each year; the organized human smuggling rings that have proliferated as entering the country has become more difficult; and the threat posed by terrorists along the sparsely defended Northern border as well as the more porous Southwest border.
Criminal Prohibitions on the Publication of Classified Defense Information
The recent online publication of classified defense documents by the organization Wikileaks and subsequent reporting by the New York Times and other news media have focused attention on whether such publication violates U.S. criminal law. This report discusses the statutory prohibitions that may be implicated, including the Espionage Act; the extraterritorial application of such statutes; and the First Amendment implications related to such prosecutions against domestic or foreign media organizations and associated individuals.
Latin America and the Caribbean: U.S. Policy and Key Issues for Congress in 2012
This report provides an overview of U.S. policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean in 2012, including the Obama Administration's priorities for U.S. policy and a brief comparison of policies under the Obama and Bush Administrations. It then examines congressional interest in Latin America, first providing an overview, and then looking at selected countries and regional issues and key policy issues faced by Congress in 2012. The final section of the report analyzes several key events in the region that took place in 2012: the Pope's trip to Cuba in March, the sixth Summit of the Americas in April, Mexico's elections in July, and Venezuela's upcoming elections in October.
Internet Domain Names: Background and Policy Issues
This report discusses the Domain Name System (DNS), which is the distributed set of databases that contain address numbers mapped to corresponding domain names, making it possible to send and receive messages and to access information on the Internet. The report includes background on the DNS and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) that manages the services, as well as related issues for the 113th Congress.
Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights
This report discusses the state of Iraqi politics, governance, and human rights, including the worsening relations between local Sunni and Shiite populations.
Industrial Competitiveness and Technological Advancement: Debate Over Government Policy
This report discusses congressional interest in the pace of U.S. technological advancement due to its influence on U.S. economic growth, productivity, and international competitiveness. The proper role of the federal government in technology development and the competitiveness of U.S. industry continues to be a topic of congressional debate.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE): Issues for U.S. Policy
This report describes the open economy and society of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as well as U.S. concern over proliferation of advanced technology due to said open economy and the UAE's lax export controls. This report describes these issues in relation to a recently-signed U.S.-UAE civilian nuclear agreement. It also provides a general description of the UAE's government and political structure, as well as the effects of the recent global economic downturn on the UAE in general and on the city of Dubai in particular.
FY2010 Supplemental for Wars, Disaster Assistance, Haiti Relief, and Other Programs
This report discusses the $64 billion in requested supplemental appropriations for FY2010, which includes $2.8 billion for Haiti earthquake-related reconstruction and foreign aid and $243 million for activities related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and more.
Preventing the Introduction and Spread of Ebola in the United States: Frequently Asked Questions
This report answers common legal and policy questions about the potential introduction and spread of Ebola Virus Disease in the United States.
The National Flood Insurance Program: Status and Remaining Issues for Congress
This report provides an analysis of flood risk management, summarizes major challenges facing the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and outlines key reforms in the recently enacted Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. The report also identifies and presents some key remaining flood management issues for congressional considerations, and it concludes with a discussion of relevant policy options for the future financial management of flood hazards in the United States.
Economic Recovery: Sustaining U.S. Economic Growth in a Post-Crisis Economy
This report looks at how Congress has been proactive in helping the economy recover after the 2008-2009 recession, as well as how it can help to keep recessions at bay in the future. Issues include typical post-war recessions, insufficient pace of private spending, and the long-term debt problem.
NAFTA and the Mexican Economy
This report provides an overview of Mexico's motivations for entering the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Mexican economy, the economic effects of NAFTA in Mexico, and the views of NAFTA within Mexico. It also provides information on NAFTA's effect on Mexico's agricultural sector because this has been one of the more controversial issues surrounding NAFTA in Mexico.
Unauthorized Alien Students: Issues and "DREAM Act" Legislation
In recent years, multiple bills have been introduced in Congress to provide relief to unauthorized alien students. In most cases, these bills have proposed to repeal the 1996 provision and enable certain unauthorized alien students to adjust to legal permanent resident (LPR) status in the United States. These bills have often been entitled the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, or the DREAM Act. This report discusses the background and debate surrounding "Dream Act" legislation in the 110th and 111th Congress.
United Nations System Funding: Congressional Issues
This report tracks the process by which Congress provides the funding for U.S. assessed contributions to the regular budgets of the United Nations, its agencies, and U.N. peacekeeping operation accounts, as well as for U.S. voluntary contributions to U.N. system programs and funds. It includes information on the President's request and the congressional response, as well as congressional initiatives during this legislative process. Basic information is provided to help the reader understand this process.
Cyprus: Reunification Proving Elusive
This report discusses attempts to resolve the Cyprus problem and reunify the island which have undergone various levels of negotiation for almost 40 years. Prospects for a settlement that would end the political division of Cyprus appear to have reached a stalemate and may now enter a period of retrenchment possibly dominated by harder-line views by both sides and more difficult negotiations.
Somalia: Current Conditions and Prospects for a Lasting Peace
This report discusses the political climate of Somalia, which has undergone extreme unrest for years. The report focuses on events since October 2002, including the formation of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in 2007 and the TFG's cooperation with the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) in 2008. The report also discusses the U.S. relationship with Somalia under the Obama Administration, including U.S. economic assistance given to Somalia and U.S. efforts to contain Somalian terrorist groups.
Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2011 Appropriations
This report discusses the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) FY2011 appropriations bill, which includes funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and 26 independent agencies, including the Small Business Administration and the United States Postal Service.
The Federal Food Safety System: A Primer
Numerous federal, state, and local agencies share responsibilities for regulating the safety of the U.S. food supply, which many experts say is among the safest in the world. This report discusses various food safety proposals in Congress, as well as agencies with food safety related responsibilities.
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA): Resources for Frequently Asked Questions
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148, as amended) has numerous provisions affecting private health insurance and public health coverage programs. This report provides resources to help congressional staff respond to constituents' frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the law. The report lists selected resources regarding consumers, employers, and other stakeholders, with a focus on federal sources. It also lists CRS reports that summarize ACA's provisions.
The Law of Church and State: Public Aid to Sectarian Schools
This report gives a brief overview of the evolution of the Court's interpretation of the Establishment Clause in this area and analyzes the categories of aid that have been addressed by the Court. The report explains which categories have been held to be constitutionally permissible or impermissible, both at the elementary and secondary school level and at the postsecondary level. The report also briefly addresses a set of cases (Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn; Garriott v. Winn) currently before the Court regarding the constitutionality of an Arizona statute that permits individuals to claim a tax credit for certain donations to school tuition organizations that use the funds for scholarships to private and, in some instances, religious schools.
Double-Dip Recession: Previous Experience and Current Prospect
This report discusses factors suggesting an increased risk of double-dip recession. It discusses other factors that suggest economic recovery will continue. The U.S. historical experience with double-dip recessions is also presented. It examines the role of deleveraging by households and businesses in the aftermath of the recent financial crisis in shaping the likely pace of economic recovery. The report concludes with a look at current economic projections.
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: The Fate of the Oil
This report highlights actions taken and issues raised as a result of the April 20, 2010, explosion on the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig, and the resulting oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010
Since enactment of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 (Post-9/11 GI Bill; P.L. 110-252; Title 38 U.S.C., Chapter 33), there has been discussion of problems and possible enhancements to improve the program's implementation, administration, and benefits. This report summarizes provisions in the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010 (S. 3447), as reported by the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs on August 5, 2010, for full Senate consideration.
Retirement and Survivor Annuities for Former Spouses of Federal Employees
This report discusses the retirement benefits for federal employees that are governed by chapters 83 (CSRS) and 84 (FERS) of Title 5 of the United States Code.
Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class Attack Submarine Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and oversight issues for Congress on the Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) program. The Navy's proposed FY2012 budget requests procurement funding for the 15th and 16th Virginia-class boats, and advance procurement (AP) funding for Virginia-class boats to be procured in future years. 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.
Department of Defense Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan: Background and Analysis
The Department of Defense (DOD) increasingly relies upon contractors to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has resulted in a DOD workforce that has 19% more contractor personnel (207,600) than uniformed personnel (175,000). This report discusses the issues raised by this fact including (1) what role contractors should play in contingency operations, (2) whether DOD is gathering and analyzing the right data on the use of contractors, (3) what steps DOD is taking to improve contract management and oversight, and (4) the extent to which contractors are being effectively included into military doctrine and strategy. This report examines current contractor trends in Iraq and Afghanistan, the steps DOD has taken to improve contractor oversight and management, and the extent to which DOD has incorporated the role of contractors into its doctrine and strategy. The report also reviews steps Congress has taken to exercise oversight over DOD contracting, including contracting issues that have been the focus of hearings and legislation.
America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (H.R. 5116) and the America COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69): Selected Policy Issues
This report provides background information on P.L. 110-69 and H.R. 5116, includes information about related legislative activity in the 111th Congress, and analyzes four policy issues addressed by these measures: (1) STEM Education, (2) Federal Research Programs and Activities, (3) Broadening Participation, and (4) Funding. It also discusses selected policy concerns identified in the debate about U.S. competitiveness and describes how the House-passed version of H.R. 5116 responds to those concerns. It contains a description of federal multi-agency research and development initiatives that are included in H.R. 5116, as passed by the House.
"Living Wills": The Legal Regime for Constructing Resolution Plans for Certain Financial Institutions
One of the chief objectives of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (DFA) is to promote financial stability within the United States, without the need for emergency governmental assistance to troubled firms. To achieve this goal, the DFA establishes a heightened regulatory regime for certain, generally large "covered financial institutions." A pillar of this heightened regulatory regime is that each covered financial institution must submit "credible" plans to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FRB) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) detailing how the firm could be quickly resolved in an orderly fashion under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code or other applicable insolvency regime "in the event of a material financial distress or failure." These resolution plans are commonly referred to as "living wills." This report reviews the legal structure of the DFA's living will requirements, pursuant to both DFA Section 165(d) and the regulations and guidance issued jointly by the FRB and FDIC, and explains the August 2014 joint announcement of the FRB and FDIC regarding the inadequacies of the 2013 living wills filed by the 11 largest, most complex financial institutions in the country. This report also examines some of the steps that these institutions might voluntarily take.
Kuwait: Security, Reform, and U.S. Policy
This report looks at Kuwait's relationships with its neighbors in the Persian Gulf, and its own political system which has been in turmoil since 2006.
Navy DDG-51 and DDG-1000 Destroyer Programs: Background and Issues for Congress
This report discusses issues Congress faces regarding the Navy's proposed FY2011 budget, particularly as relating to destroyer procurement plans and programs.
Africa: U.S. Foreign Assistance Issues
The United States provides assistance to 47 African countries, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has 23 missions in Africa. In recent years, U.S. assistance to Africa saw a major increase, especially in health-related programs. This report provides an overview of U.S. aid to Africa, including the strategic objectives that shape U.S. aid to Africa, information about specific aid programs and initiatives, and the Obama Administration's FY2011 foreign aid budget request.