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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Navy Shipboard Lasers for Surface, Air, and Missile Defense: Background and Issues for Congress
This report focuses on potential Navy shipboard lasers for countering surface, air, and ballistic missile threats. It does not discuss the use of lasers on Navy aircraft or submarines, or the use of lasers by other military services.
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, 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 identifying key policy issues facing Congress in 2012. The final section of the report analyzes several key events in the region 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.
Worker Safety in the Construction Industry: The Crane and Derrick Standard
This report first examines the incidence of fatal and nonfatal on-the-job injuries in the private sector. It next analyzes the causes of fatalities in the construction industry and the involvement of cranes in those deaths. The report then addresses the status of a proposed rule to update the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) crane and derrick standard. It closes with an overview of jurisdictions having safety regulations for cranes more stringent, in whole or part, than the existing federal standard.
The U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW): Issues in the U.S. Ratification Debate
This report addresses CEDAW's background, objectives, and structure and provides an overview of U.S. policy toward the Convention. It examines issues that have been raised in the U.S. ratification debate, including the treaty's impact on U.S. sovereignty, the effectiveness of the Convention, and its possible use as an instrument of U.S. foreign policy. It also describes controversial provisions and CEDAW Committee recommendations addressing the role of women in society and women's equal access to education and healthcare.
Army Drawdown and Restructuring: Background and Issues for Congress
This report discusses the new defense strategy, which was unveiled by senior Department of Defense (DOD) leadership based on a review of potential future security challenges, current defense strategy, and budgetary constraints. This strategy will rebalance the Army's global posture and presence, emphasizing where potential problems are likely to arise, such as the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East.
State and Local Economic Sanctions: Constitutional Issues
This report discusses the Constitutionality and ongoing legal concerns of sanctions enacted by states and localities restricting their agencies from conducting economic transactions with firms that do business with or in foreign countries whose conduct the jurisdictions find objectionable.
Bolivia: Political and Economic Developments and Relations with the United States
This report includes background information on Bolivia's political unrest, particularly regarding instability in shifting leaderships, economic situation, and relations with the United States.
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty: Background and Current Developments
This report discusses the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which bans all nuclear explosion and was in 1996 adopted by the U.N. General Assembly but rejected by the U.S. Senate in 1997. This report discusses the Obama Administration's stated goal of pursuing U.S. ratification of the CTBT, although the Administration has mainly focused on securing Senate consent to ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). This report also discusses other nuclear weapons-related issues as well as the long history of nuclear testing.
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 the definition of Navy IW activities and how much emphasis to place on IW and CT activities in future Navy budgets.
No-Fly Zones: Strategic, Operational, and Legal Considerations for Congress
This report discusses the establishment of no-fly zones and several related issues for Congress surrounding the strategy, including international authorization, congressional authorization, operations, and costs of establishing and maintaining no-fly zones.
Assistance to North Korea
This report summarizes U.S. assistance to the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea (DPRK, also known as North Korea). It will be updated periodically to track changes in U.S. provision of aid to North Korea.
Nuclear Energy Policy
This report discusses the nuclear energy policy issues facing Congress that include the implementation of federal incentives for new commercial reactors, radioactive waste management policy, research and development priorities, power plant safety and regulation, nuclear weapons proliferation, and security against terrorist attacks.
Ukraine: Current Issues and U.S. Policy
This report offers background information on Ukraine's current political and economic situation. The report covers the country's "intensified dialogue" with NATO regarding membership and also discusses U.S. policy, U.S. aid to Ukraine, the congressional response, and related legislation.
Trafficking in Persons: U.S. Policy and Issues for Congress
This report focuses on human trafficking both internationally and within the United States. The report begins with an overview of human trafficking including a discussion of the definition of human trafficking, the scope of the problem globally, and an examination of the victims. It follows with an analysis of global antitrafficking efforts by the United States and the international community. The report then focuses on trafficking into and within the United States, examining relief for trafficking victims in the United States and discussing U.S. law enforcement efforts to combat domestic trafficking. The report concludes with an overview of antitrafficking legislation in the 110th Congress, and an analysis of policy issues related to human trafficking.
Nondiscrimination in Environmental Regulation: A Legal Analysis
This report will examine the relevant legal authorities that may be asserted to address disproportionate impacts that result from how an agency implements environmental regulations, including the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and various environmental and conservation statutes. It will discuss administrative efforts to address "environmental justice," a term used by some advocates to refer to the distribution of environmental quality across various demographic groups, including the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Plan EJ 2014. It will also analyze the use of these authorities to prevent such impacts and the likelihood of success for future challenges under each legal theory.
Vulnerable Youth: Employment and Job Training Programs
This report provides an overview of federal employment programs for vulnerable young people. It begins with a discussion of the current challenges in preparing all youth today for the workforce. The report then provides a chronology of job training and employment programs for at-risk youth that began in the 1930s and were expanded or modified from the 1960s through the 1990s. It goes on to discuss the five youth programs authorized under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA), and draws comparisons between these programs.
Emergency Assistance for Agricultural Land Rehabilitation
This report discusses the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) several permanently authorized programs to help producers recover from natural disasters. Most of these programs offer financial assistance to producers for a loss in the production of crops or livestock. In addition to the production assistance programs, USDA also has several permanent disaster assistance programs that help producers repair damaged crop and forest land following natural disasters.
Battery Manufacturing for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles: Policy Issues
This report examines the nascent battery manufacturing industry and considers efforts to strengthen U.S. capacity to manufacture batteries and battery components for hybrid and electric vehicles.
Human Rights in China and U.S. Policy: Issues for the 113th Congress
This report examines human rights issues in the People's Republic of China (PRC), including ongoing rights abuses, legal reforms, and the development of civil society.
War Powers Resolution: Presidential Compliance
This report gives a summary of the usage of the War Powers Resolution (WPR) and various issues related to proposals to modify or repeal the resolution. The report summarizes most recent developments and background, and gives an overview of United Nations actions, and WPR activities in former Yugoslavia/Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq (post-1991), Haiti, and Somalia. It also includes commentary on the instances formally reported under the WPR, consultation with Congress, and the current issues which Congress is considering.
Congressional Oversight of Intelligence: Current Structure and Alternatives
This report first describes the current select committees on intelligence and then the former Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, often cited as a model for a counterpart on intelligence. The study also sets forth proposed characteristics for a joint committee on intelligence, differences among these, and their pros and cons. The report examines other actions and alternatives affecting congressional oversight in the field.
Rwanda: Background and Current Developments
This report discusses the current political conditions of Rwanda, including a brief historical overview. The report also includes information about the poor human rights conditions in Rwanda and U.S. Rwanda relations.
Climate Change: Design Approaches for a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program
This report explores strategies to control greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and options to address the cost issue in four parts. First, the basic economic tradeoff between controlling the quantity of GHG emissions and the program's compliance costs is introduced and explained. Second, the five dimensions of the cost issue that have arisen so far in the climate change debate are identified and discussed. Third, a representative sample of proposed approaches to address cost concerns is compared and analyzed according to the five cost dimensions identified previously. Finally, the proposed options are summarized and opportunities to combine or merge different approaches are analyzed.
Closing the Guantanamo Detention Center: Legal Issues
This report provides an overview of major legal issues likely to arise as a result of executive and legislative action to close the Guantanamo detention facility. It discusses legal issues related to the transfer of Guantanamo detainees, the continued detention of such persons in the United States, and the possible removal of persons brought into the country. It also discusses selected constitutional issues that may arise in the criminal prosecution of detainees, emphasizing the procedural and substantive protections that are utilized in different adjudicatory forums.
Early Childhood Education: Preschool Participation, Program Efficacy, and Federal Policy Issues
This report examines what we currently know about preprimary programs, including numbers of children served and their family characteristics; as well as data on the efficacy of preprimary programs in enhancing later learning and other life skills. Current federal programs that serve preschool age children are described, and policy issues which may arise as the federal role in early childhood education is debated are discussed.
Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Programs and Unaccompanied Alien Children
This report addresses possible sources of federal support for schools and local educational agencies that have enrolled unaccompanied alien children.
The First Day of a New Congress: A Guide to Proceedings on the House Floor
This report focuses on the floor activities of the House during its first formal session in a new Congress, and serves as a guide for those participating in or watching these proceedings.
TRICARE and VA Health Care: Impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)
This report addresses key questions concerning how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) affects the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system.
The U.S. Science and Engineering Workforce: Recent, Current, and Projected Employment, Wages, and Unemployment
This report uses a modified version of the Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) system to categorize scientists and engineers. The report taxonomy includes six science and engineering (S&E) S&E occupational groups, each composed of closely related detailed occupations.
Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2013
This report lists hundreds of instances in which the United States has used its Armed Forces abroad in situations of military conflict or potential conflict or for other than normal peacetime purposes. It was compiled in part from various older lists and is intended primarily to provide a rough survey of past U.S. military ventures abroad, without reference to the magnitude of the given instance noted.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA): Background, Legislation, and Policy Issues
This report provides background on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), discusses the categories of records FOIA exempts from public release, and analyzes statistics on FOIA administration. It also provides background on several legal and policy issues related to FOIA, including the release of controversial records, the growth in use of certain FOIA exemptions, and the adoption of new technologies to improve FOIA administration. The report concludes with an examination of potential FOIA-related policy options for the 113th Congress.
Budget Control Act: Potential Impact of Sequestration on Health Reform Spending
This report examines how automatic spending reductions triggered by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) might affect health reform implementation under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). It is divided into three sections. The first section provides an overview of ACA's health insurance reforms and some analysis of the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO's) estimates of the impact of the law's implementation on federal direct spending and revenues. The second section examines the automatic spending reductions under the BCA. The final section discusses which types of health reform spending are likely subject to, or exempt from, those reductions.
The Army's Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) Program: Background and Issues for Congress
This report looks at the history and current need for a Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) program. The report discusses potential issues for Congress include the role and need for the GCV in a downsized Army that will likely have fewer heavy brigade combat teams (HBCTs).
Presidential Appointments to Full-Time Positions in Independent and Other Agencies During the 111th Congress
This report explains the process for filling positions to which the President makes appointments with the advice and consent of the Senate (also referred to as PAS positions). It also identifies, for the 111th Congress, all nominations to full-time positions requiring Senate confirmation in 40 organizations in the executive branch (27 independent agencies, 6 agencies in the Executive Office of the President (EOP), and 7 multilateral organizations) and 4 agencies in the legislative branch. It excludes appointments to executive departments and to regulatory and other boards and commissions, which are covered in other reports.
Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses
This report discusses the reasons that Iran is considered a threat to U.S. security, including Iran's nuclear program, involvement with terrorist organizations, and involvement with neighboring countries' local governments. The report also discusses ways which the U.S. hopes to modify Iran's behavior with sanctions, and the effectiveness of these sanctions.
Implementation of Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS): Issues for Congress
This report analyzes data from a variety of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) presentations, testimony, and other sources to present a historical overview of program performance to date. It identifies an ongoing gap between the number of facilities that have received final risk tier assignments and the total number of regulated facilities.
Immigration Detainers: Legal Issues
"This report surveys the various authorities governing immigration detainers, including the standard detainer form (Form I-247) sent by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to other law enforcement agencies. The report also discusses key legal issues raised by immigration detainers, including whether Department of Homeland Security's (DHS's) detainer regulations and practices are beyond its statutory authority; whether states and localities are required to comply with immigration detainers; who has custody of aliens subject to detainers; and whether detainer practices violate aliens' constitutional rights. In considering these topics, it is important to note that Form I-247 and DHS's detainer practices have changed several times since 2010, and that decisions on the merits have not yet been issued in many cases challenging the use of detainers in conjunction with the Secure Communities program" (p. 6).
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.
Border Security: Understanding Threats at U.S. Borders
This report focuses on the first major step in managing border-related risks: assessing the risk posed by different types of threats at U.S. borders.
Suits Against Terrorist States by Victims of Terrorism
This report provides background on the doctrine of State immunity and the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA); details the evolution of the terrorist State exception and some of the resulting judicial decisions; describes legislative efforts to help claimants satisfy their judgments; summarizes the decision in the hostages' suit against Iran and Congress's efforts to intervene; summarizes what has happened with Iraq's assets, and provides an overview of proposed legislation
Federal Pollution Control Laws: How Are They Enforced?
This report focuses on enforcement of federal environmental pollution control requirements under the Clean Air Act (CAA); the Clean Water Act (CWA); the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund); and other statutes for which EPA is the primary federal implementing agency.1 The report provides a brief synopsis of the statutory framework that serves as the basis for pollution control enforcement, including an overview of the key players responsible for correcting violations and maintaining compliance. Implementation and enforcement of pollution control laws are interdependent and carried out by a wide range of actors including federal, state, tribal, and local governments; the regulated entities themselves; the courts; interest groups; and the general public.
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.
Party Leaders in the United States Congress, 1789-2013
This report briefly describes current responsibilities and selection mechanisms for 15 House and Senate party leadership posts and provides tables with historical data, including service dates, party affiliation, and other information for each. Tables have been updated as of the report's issuance date to reflect leadership changes.
The President's State of the Union Address: Tradition, Function, and Policy Implications
This report discusses the State of the Union address, which is a communication between the President and Congress in which the chief executive reports on the current conditions of the United States and provides policy proposals for the upcoming legislative year.
Terrorism, Miranda, and Related Matters
This report provides background information regarding Miranda rights and public safety exception. The report discusses Supreme Court decisions on Miranda v. Arizona, due process inquiry, and the Fifth Amendment right.
Tax Reform in the 113th Congress: An Overview of Proposals
This report provides background information regarding tax reform and discusses ways to make the U.S. tax system simpler, fairer, and more efficient.
Ebbs and Flows of Federal Debt
This report will define the measures of debt, discuss the mechanisms of how debt levels change, and use historical examples to illustrate the factors causing debt movements over the last seven decades. In addition, some policies which may affect the future budgetary outlook and the debt will be discussed.
Navy TAO(X) Oiler Shipbuilding Program: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on the TAO(X) oiler shipbuilding program, a program to build a new class of fleet oilers for the Navy. The Navy wants to procure the first TAO(X) in FY2016. The issue for Congress is whether to approve, reject, or modify the Navy's funding requests and acquisition strategy for the TAO(X) program. Decisions that Congress makes regarding the program could affect Navy capabilities and funding requirements and the U.S. shipbuilding industrial base.
The U.S. Trade Deficit, The Dollar, and The Price of Oil
This report analyzes the relationship between the dollar and the price of oil and how the two might interact. This report provides an assessment of the impact a range of prices of imported oil could have on the U.S. trade deficit.
Congressional Influence on Rulemaking and Regulation Through Appropriations Restrictions
This report examines the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2008, and identifies four types of such provisions: (1) restrictions on the finalization of particular proposed rules, (2) restrictions on regulatory activity within certain areas, (3) implementation or enforcement restrictions, and (4) conditional restrictions (e.g., preventing implementation of a rule until certain actions are taken). The report then examines appropriations acts in nine previous fiscal years, noting that some provisions have been included in appropriations bills every year, and others have appeared for several years in a row. Numerous examples of regulatory appropriations restrictions are provided in this report.