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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program: Background and Issues for Congress
This report discusses the Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) program. Under current Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and Navy plans, the number of BMD-capable Navy Aegis ships is schedule to grow from 20 at the end of FY2010 to 38 at the end of FY2015. This report discusses the concerns some have over BMD expansion, as well as BMD funding issues.
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 $48 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.
Federalism, State Sovereignty, and the Constitution: Basis and Limits of Congressional Power
The lines of authority between states and the federal government are, to a significant extent, defined by the United States Constitution and relevant case law. In recent years, however, the Supreme Court has decided a number of cases that would seem to reevaluate this historical relationship. This report discusses state and federal legislative power generally, focusing on a number of these "federalism" cases.
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.
U.S.-Russian Civilian Nuclear Cooperation Agreement: Issues for Congress
The United States and Russia signed a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement on May 6, 2008. President Bush submitted the agreement to Congress on May 13. The agreement was withdrawn from congressional consideration by President George W. Bush on September 8, 2008, in response to Russia's military actions in Georgia. President Obama transmitted the proposed text of the agreement to Congress on May 10, 2010, along with the required Nuclear Proliferation Assessment (NPAS) and his determination that the agreement promotes U.S. national security. This report discusses key policy issues related to the agreement, including future nuclear energy cooperation with Russia, U.S.-Russian bilateral relations, nonproliferation cooperation, and Russian policies toward Iran.
U.S. International Trade: Trends and Forecasts
This report discusses the U.S. trade deficit in light of the 2008 global financial crisis, with emphasis on international trade and U.S. trade policy, most recent developments in trade of goods and service, trade forecasts for the future, and how issues such as the U.S. trade deficit and international trade, particularly with China, are commonly perceived.
Federal Inspectors General: History, Characteristics, and Recent Congressional Actions
This report discusses federal inspectors general (IGs), who are authorized to combat waste, fraud, and abuse within their affiliated federal entities. To execute their missions, offices of inspector general (OIGs) conduct and publish audits and investigations--among other duties. Two major enactments--the Inspector General Act of 1978 and its amendments of 1988 (codified at 5 U.S.C. Appendix)--established federal IGs as permanent, nonpartisan, and independent offices in more than 70 federal agencies.
Ocean Dumping Act: A Summary of the Law
The Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act has two basic aims: to regulate intentional ocean disposal of materials, and to authorize related research. Permit and enforcement provisions of the law are often referred to as the Ocean Dumping Act. The basic provisions of the act have remained virtually unchanged since 1972, when it was enacted to establish a comprehensive waste management system to regulate disposal or dumping of all materials into marine waters that are within U.S. jurisdiction, although a number of new authorities have been added. This report presents a summary of the law.
Tax Credit Bonds: Overview and Analysis
Almost all state and local governments sell bonds to finance public projects and certain qualified private activities. Most of the bonds issued are tax-exempt bonds because the interest payments are not included in the bondholder's (purchaser's) federal taxable income. In contrast, Tax Credit Bonds (TCBs) are a type of bond that offers the holder a federal tax credit instead of interest. This report explains the tax credit mechanism and describes the market for the bonds.
Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Political Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests
his report discusses the history and political background of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia since breaking away from the former Soviet Union at the end of 1991. It looks at key issues for the 112th Congress including economies, energy, regional politics, local crime, and terrorism.
Project BioShield: Authorities, Appropriations, Acquisitions, and Issues for Congress
This report discusses the Project BioShield Act (P.L. 108-276), In 2004, passed by Congress to encourage the private sector to develop medical countermeasures against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) terrorism agents and to provide a novel mechanism for federal acquisition of those newly developed countermeasures. This law provides three main authorities: (1) relaxing regulatory requirements for some CBRN terrorism-related spending, including hiring personnel and awarding research grants; (2) guaranteeing a federal market for new CBRN medical countermeasures; and (3) permitting emergency use of unapproved countermeasures.
Spectrum Policy in the Age of Broadband: Issues for Congress
This report discusses spectrum policy issues in the 111th Congress. In formulating spectrum policy, mainstream viewpoints generally diverge on whether to give priority to market economics or social goals. Among the spectrum policy initiatives that have been proposed in Congress in recent years are: allocating more spectrum for unlicensed use; auctioning airwaves currently allocated for federal use; and devising new fees on spectrum use, notably those collected by the FCC's statutory authority to implement these measures is limited.
Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress
This report provides background information and potential issues for Congress on the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), a relatively inexpensive Navy surface combatant equipped with modular "plug-and-fight" mission packages. The Navy's proposed FY2012 budget requests funding for the procurement of four LCSs. Current issues for Congress concerning the LCS program include changes or potential changes to the composition of LCS mission modules announced by the Navy in January 2011, the combat survivability of the LCS, and hull cracking on LCS-1. Congress's decisions on the LCS program could affect Navy capabilities and funding requirements, and the shipbuilding industrial base.
International Trade and Finance: Key Policy Issues for the 112th Congress
This report examines the trade relations between the United States, the European Union, and China.
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 $52 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.
The United States as a Net Debtor Nation: Overview of the International Investment Position
The international investment position of the United States is an annual measure of the assets Americans own abroad and the assets foreigners own in the United States. The net position, or the difference between the two, sometimes is referred to as a measure of U.S. international indebtedness. This report looks at international investing patterns and impacts, and ends with considerations on this topic for Congress.
Free Trade Agreements: Impact on U.S. Trade and Implications for U.S. Trade Policy
This report will monitor pending and possible proposals for U.S. free trade areas (FTAs), relevant legislation and other congressional interest in U.S. FTAs.
FY2011 Budget Proposals and Projections
This report provides an overview of major budget estimates and projections for the FY2011 federal budget cycle. The report presents and compares budget projections calculated by the Obama Administration's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). In addition, the report discusses major budgetary issues.
Federal Proposals to Tax Marijuana: An Economic Analysis
This report focuses solely on issues surrounding a potential federal marijuana tax. First, it provides a brief overview of marijuana production. Second, it presents possible justifications for taxes and, in some cases, estimates the level of tax suggested by that rationale. Third, it analyzes possible marijuana tax designs. The report also discusses various tax administration and enforcement issues, such as labeling and tracking.
Navy LPD-17 Amphibious Ship Procurement: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress
The Navy's FY2011-FY2015 shipbuilding plan calls for procuring an 11th and final San Antonio (LPD-17) class amphibious ship in FY2012. This report discusses the procurement cost estimates of this ship, as well as related issues for Congress.
Coordinated Party Expenditures in Federal Elections: An Overview
This report examines campaign finance law in the context of political party committee expenditures. It discusses relevant Supreme Court precedent and recent legislative activity.
U.S.-EU Cooperation Against Terrorism
This report examines the evolution of counterterrorism cooperation between the United States and the European Union (EU), particularly since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. It includes a discussion of U.S.-EU cooperation progress and ongoing challenges, as well as perspectives and issues for Congress.
Kuwait: Governance, Security, 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.
Saudi Arabia: Background and U.S. Relations
The kingdom of Saudi Arabia, ruled by the Al Saud family since its founding in 1932, wields significant political and economic influence as the birthplace of the Islamic faith and by virtue of its large energy reserves. This report provides background information about Saudi Arabia and analyzes current issues in U.S.-Saudi relations.
Federal Civil and Criminal Penalties Possibly Applicable to Parties Responsible for the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill that began on April 20, 2010 lead Congress to give attention to the compensatory liability provisions of the Oil Pollution Act and, to a lesser extent, those of the Jones Act and the Death on the High Seas Act. However, federal laws possibly relevant to the oil spill also impose civil and criminal money penalties, which may reach dollar amounts in connection with the Gulf spill greater than those for compensatory liability. This report summarizes selected federal civil and criminal penalty provisions that may be found violated in connection with the Gulf spill and related worker fatalities.
U.S. Initiatives to Promote Global Internet Freedom: Issues, Policy, and Technology
This report provides information regarding the role of U.S. and other foreign companies in facilitating Internet censorship by repressive regimes overseas. The report is divided into several sections: Examination of repressive policies in China and Iran, Relevant U.S. laws, U.S. policies to promote Internet freedom, Private sector initiatives, and Congressional action.
Military Retirement: Background and Recent Developments
This report discusses the nature of the military retirement system. The military retirement system is a non-contributory, defined benefit system that has historically been viewed as a significant incentive in retaining a career military force. The system currently includes monthly compensation and benefits after an active or reserve military career, disability retirement for those physically unfit to continue to serve, and survivor benefits for the eligible survivors of deceased retirees.
Uzbekistan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests
This report discusses U.S. policy and assistance regarding Uzbekistan, including basic facts and biographical information. Uzbekistan is a potential Central Asian regional power by virtue of its relatively large population, energy and other resources, and location in the heart of the region. It has failed to make progress in economic and political reforms, and many observers criticize its human rights record.
Franking Privilege: Historical Development and Options for Change
This report provides a history of the Congressional franking privilege and discusses the franking privilege that has carried an element of controversy throughout American history.
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. This report is based on unclassified information from Navy, RAND, and industry briefings on shipboard lasers provided to CRS and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in the summer of 2010, as well as unclassified open-domain information.
The Congressional Appropriations Process: An Introduction
Congress annually considers several appropriations measures, which provide discretionary funding for numerous activities--such as national defense, education, and homeland security--as well as general government operations. Appropriations acts are characteristically annual and generally provide funding authority that expires at the end of the federal fiscal year, September 30. These measures are considered by Congress under certain rules and practices, referred to as the congressional appropriations process. This report discusses the various aspects of this process.
Army Active Component (AC)/Reserve Component (RC) Force Mix: Considerations and Options for Congress
The Army is composed of both an Active Component (AC) and a Reserve Component (RC). The AC consists of soldiers who are in the Army as their full-time occupation. The RC is composed primarily of soldiers who serve part-time but who can be ordered to full-time duty. The Army's RC is made up of both the Army National Guard (ARNG) and the United States Army Reserve (USAR). AC/RC force mix refers to the distribution of units between the active and reserve components of the armed forces. This report discusses the ongoing debate over the AC/RC mix, which center on whether or not to shift force structure between the AC and the RC and, if so, what types of units to shift.
The Kaesong North-South Korean Industrial Complex
This purpose of this report is to provide an overview of the role, purposes, and results of the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) and examine U.S. interests, policy issues, options, and legislation.
Libya: Background and U.S. Relations
This report discusses the recent revolution in Libya, from its 2011 uprising to the end of the Qadhafi era. It specifically looks at Libya's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) disarmament, political reform and human rights, and energy as it relates to the Libyan economy.
Who Regulates Whom? An Overview of U.S. Financial Supervision
This report provides an overview of current U.S. financial regulation: which agencies are responsible for which institutions, activities, and markets, and what kinds of authority they have. Some agencies regulate particular types of institutions for risky behavior or conflicts of interest, some agencies promulgate rules for certain financial transactions no matter what kind of institution engages in it, and other agencies enforce existing rules for some institutions, but not for others. These regulatory activities are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
Iran Sanctions
This report analyzes U.S. and international sanctions against Iran and, in so doing, provides examples, based on a wide range of open source reporting, of companies and countries that conduct business with Iran.
Child Welfare and Child Support: The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (P.L. 113-183)
This report begins with an overview and topical summary of the provisions of the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (H.R. 4980), which seeks to ensure that child welfare agencies are responsive to particular issues for children and youth in foster care or those who otherwise have contact with the child welfare system. The report follows this with a review of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate for H.R. 4980 and the legislative origins of the enacted bill.
The European Union's Response to the 2007-2009 Financial Crisis
This report examines the EU responses to the financial crisis through changes to the financial regulatory structure at the EU level as well as the member country level. The countries examined are Germany and the United Kingdom, which have single financial regulators; the Netherlands, which has a twin peaks regulatory structure; and Spain, which has a functional structure.
Reserve Component Personnel Issues: Questions and Answers
The term "Reserve Component" is used to refer collectively to the seven individual reserve components of the armed forces: the Army National Guard of the United States, the Army Reserve, the Navy Reserve, the Marine Corps Reserve, the Air National Guard of the United States, the Air Force Reserve, and the Coast Guard Reserve. This report provides insight to reserve component personnel issues through a series of questions and answers.
Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (Management Assessment of Internal Controls): Current Regulation and Congressional Concerns
This report discusses Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which requires the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to issue rules requiring annual reports filed by reporting issuers to state the responsibility of management for establishing and maintaining an adequate internal control structure and procedures for financial reporting and for each accounting firm auditing the issuer's annual report to attest to the assessment made of the internal accounting procedures made by the issuer's management.
The TANF Emergency Contingency Fund
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 created an Emergency Contingency Fund (ECF) within the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant. The fund expired on September 30, 2010. It helped states, Indian tribes, and territories pay for additional costs of providing economic aid to families during the current economic downturn for FY2009 and FY2010. This report describes the TANF ECF as well as proposals offered in 2010 to extend and modify TANF emergency funding.
Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected (MRAP) Vehicles: Background and Issues for Congress
This report discusses the background and present status of Congress' involvement in the MRAP program. Topics include the deployment of MRAPs, their efficacy at reducing casualties, and possible issues of unused vehicles and redundancy.
The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11
This report analyzes war funding for the Defense Department and tracks funding for USAID and VA Medical funding. Information on costs is useful to Congress to assess the FY2010 Supplemental for war costs for the Department of Defense (DOD) and State/USAID, FY2011 war requests, conduct oversight of past war costs, and consider the longer-term costs implications of the buildup of troops in Afghanistan and potential problems in the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
China-U.S. Trade Issues
This report discusses the U.S.-China economic relationship and China's rapid expansion as a global economic market, both with respect to the current global economic crisis. It also examines major U.S.-China trade issues and related legislation.
Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2011
This report discusses mechanisms used to continue appropriations in the absence of enactment of regular appropriations acts and to complete the annual appropriations process. Completion of appropriations after the beginning of each fiscal year may cause agencies to delay or cancel some planned R&D and equipment acquisition.
Immigration Legislation and Issues in the 113th Congress
Immigration reform was an active legislative issue in the first session of the 113th Congress. The Senate passed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744), a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes provisions on border security, interior enforcement, employment eligibility verification and worksite enforcement, legalization of unauthorized aliens, immigrant visas, nonimmigrant visas, and humanitarian admissions. For its part, the House took a different approach to immigration reform. Rather than considering a single comprehensive bill, the House acted on a set of immigration bills that address border security, interior enforcement, employment eligibility verification and worksite enforcement, and nonimmigrant and immigrant visas. House committees reported or ordered to be reported the following immigration bills: Border Security Results Act of 2013 (H.R. 1417); Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement (SAFE) Act (H.R. 2278); Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 1772); Agricultural Guestworker (AG) Act (H.R. 1773); and Supplying Knowledge-based Immigrants and Lifting Levels of STEM Visas (SKILLS Visa) Act (H.R. 2131). This report discusses these and other immigration-related issues that received legislative action or have been of significant congressional interest in the 113th Congress.
Classified Information Policy and Executive Order 13526
This report provides information on classified information policy, which also is called security classification policy and national security classification information policy. It discusses the history, costs, and agencies assigned roles in classified information policy. The report focuses on Executive Order 13526, which establishes much of the current policy, and the report identifies possible oversight issues for Congress.
The Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act
This report reviews the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act (PSEECA) and discusses the possible impact of the legislation. The report also identifies existing state laws that recognize collective bargaining rights for public safety employees, and considers the constitutional concerns raised by the measure.
Natural Gas for Cars and Trucks: Options and Challenges
The increase in domestic supplies of natural gas has raised new interest in expanding its use in the transportation sector. This report considers issues related to wider use of natural gas as a fuel in passenger cars and commercial vehicles.
The EU-South Korea Free Trade Agreement and Its Implications for the United States
This report discusses the free trade agreement (FTA) between South Korea and the European Union (EU). It looks at various aspects of the South Korea-EU FTA (KOREU FTA) including economic ties, trade strategies, and an overview of the key provisions of the agreement focusing on manufactured goods, agriculture, services, and various other provisions of particular interest to U.S. policymakers and the U.S. business community. The report also gives an analysis of the potential economic impact of the KOREU FTA and potential implications of the agreement for the United States.