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 Decade: 2010-2019
 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Federalism Issues in Surface Transportation Policy: Past and Present
This report provides a historical perspective on contemporary federalism issues in surface transportation policy that are likely to be addressed by Congress during the 111th Congress, including possible devolution of programmatic responsibility to states and proposals to change state maintenance-of-effort requirements and state cost matching requirements.
International Terrorism and Transnational Crime: Security Threats, U.S. Policy, and Considerations for Congress
This report provides a primer on the confluence of transnational terrorist and criminal groups and related activities abroad. It evaluates possible motivations and disincentives for cooperation between terrorist and criminal organizations, variations in the scope of crime-terrorism links, and the types of criminal activities--fundraising, material and logistics support, and exploitation of corruption and gaps in the rule of law--used by terrorist organizations to sustain operations.
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.
Terrorism and Security Issues Facing the Water Infrastructure Sector
This report presents an overview of the large and diverse sector of water infrastructure systems, describes security-related actions by the government and private sector since September 11, 2001, and discusses additional policy issues and responses, including congressional interest.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization: An Overview of Legislative Action in the 111th Congress
This report tracks the status of ongoing legislative action and debate related to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization. It is organized into six major program areas: aviation system finance; airport financing; FAA management and organizational issues; system capacity and safety; environmental issues; and airline industry issues. In several cases, provisions that appear in various unrelated sections of proposed legislation have been rearranged in this report in an effort to group and discuss related items in an issue-driven or programmatic context. Since this report is primarily written as a means of communicating key legislative provisions under consideration in the ongoing FAA reauthorization process, it does not go into detail regarding the specific policy issues behind these legislative proposals.
A U.S.-centric Chronology of the International Climate Change Negotiations
The Copenhagen conference in December 2009 achieved only mandates to continue negotiating toward the next Conference of the Parties (COP) to be held in Mexico City in December 2010. As a background to these proceedings, this document provides a U.S.-centric chronology of the international policy deliberations to address climate change from 1979-2009. Negotiations underway since 2007 have run on two tracks, the Kyoto Protocol the Convention under the Bali Action Plan. Many in the U.S. Congress are concerned with the goals and obligations that a treaty or other form of agreement might embody. For U.S. legislators, additional issues include the compatibility of any international agreement with U.S. domestic policies and laws; the adequacy of appropriations, fiscal measures, and programs to achieve any commitments under the agreement; and the desirable form of the agreement and related requirements, with a view toward potential Senate ratification of the agreement and federal legislation to assure that U.S. commitments are met.
The Palestinians: Background and U.S. Relations
This report provides an overview of current issues in U.S.-Palestinian relations. It also contains an overview of Palestinian society and politics and descriptions of key Palestinian individuals and groups--chiefly the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the Palestinian Authority (PA), Fatah, Hamas, and the Palestinian refugee population.
Ghana, an Emergent Oil Producer: Background and U.S. Relations
This report provides information on current developments in Ghana and Ghanaian-U.S. relations, which are close.
Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance
This report discusses the current political state of Afghanistan, as well as the Afghan government. This report also discusses Afghanistan's relationship with the United States, particularly U.S. efforts to urge President Hamid Karzai to address corruption within the Afghan government.
Automatic Cost of Living Adjustments: Some Economic and Practical Considerations
This report looks at how automatic cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) influence the budget and identifies major programs that have indexing provisions. It also explains what price indexes attempt to measure and discusses some of their weaknesses. Finally, it points out some practical things to keep in mind when establishing an indexing provision.
CRS Issue Statement on Veterans' Benefits
Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom are the largest sustained ground combat missions undertaken by the United States since the Vietnam War. Over 1.7 million service members have been deployed to these two theaters of operation. Since FY2002, more than 1.0 million veterans have left active duty making them potentially eligible for benefits and services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Obama Administration has begun the process of drawing down forces from Iraq and surging the number of combat forces in Afghanistan. These factors will have a continued impact on VA health care, disability, education, vocational rehabilitation, employment and housing benefits. The 2nd Session of the 111th Congress will continue to focus on the treatment and compensation of this latest generation of veterans as well as aging veterans from previous conflicts.
Safe Drinking Water Act: Selected Regulatory and Legislative Issues
This report provides an overview of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), and examines recent issues such as infrastructure funding needs, regulatory compliance issues, and concerns caused by the detection of unregulated contaminants in drinking water.
Strategic Arms Control After START: Issues and Options
The United States and Soviet Union signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in 1991; it entered into force in December 1994 and expired in December 2009. This report provides background information about the START Treaty and reviews the discussions about a possible successor to START. It also presents a range of alternatives that the United States and Russia might consider if they choose to follow START with a new framework for the arms control process.
Job Creation Programs of the Great Depression: the WPA and the CCC
This report first describes the social policy environment in which the 1930s job creation programs were developed and examines the reasons for their shortcomings then and as models for current-day countercyclical employment measures. It then provides a brief overview of the two job creation programs of the Depression-era that Members of Congress have asked about most frequently: the Works Progress or Projects Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
CRS Issue Statement on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations
The closing, reduction in scope, or expansion of military installations on domestic soil and overseas, the privatization of government-built military housing, the provision of benefits and medical care to eligible veterans, and the redeployment of military units to the United States from overseas garrisons have drawn congressional attention in recent sessions. The funds to support all of these activities are provided by the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act debated annually in both chambers.
Hate Crime Legislation
This report provides an overview of the hate crime debate, with background on current law and hate crime statistics, and a legislative history of hate crime prevention bills in recent Congresses. This report does not analyze the constitutional or other legal issues that often arise as part of the hate crime debate.
U.S. Immigration Policy on Haitian Migrants
This report discusses whether the balance should tip more toward humanitarian immigration policies as a consequence of the humanitarian crises that resulted from the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
The Department of Defense's Use of Private Security Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan: Background, Analysis, and Options for Congress
This report examines current private security contractor (PSC) trends in Iraq and Afghanistan, steps Department of Defense (DOD) has taken to improve oversight and management, and the extent to which DOD has incorporated the role of security contractors into its doctrine and strategy. It also reviews steps Congress has taken to exercise oversight over the use of PSCs and includes options for Congress.
The National Nanotechnology Initiative: Overview, Reauthorization, and Appropriations Issues
This report provides an overview of nanotechnology, the National Nanotechnology Initiative, possible reauthorization of the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-153), and appropriations issues.
The U.S. Postal Service's Financial Condition: Overview and Issues for Congress
This report provides an overview of the U.S. Postal Service's (USPS's) financial condition, recent legislation to alleviate the USPS's financial challenges, and possible issues for the 111th Congress.
Federal Employees: Pay and Pension Increases Since 1969
Under the terms of the Federal Employees' Pay Comparability Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-509), pay for civilian federal employees is adjusted each year to keep the salaries of federal workers competitive with comparable occupations in the private sector. The annual increases in federal employee pay are based on changes in the cash compensation paid to workers in the private sector, as measured by the ECI. Under certain circumstances, the President may limit the annual increase in federal pay by executive order. Federal law also requires Social Security benefits and the pensions paid to retired federal employees to be adjusted each year. The COLAs for both Social Security and civil service pensions are based on the rate of inflation as measured by the CPI.
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.
Argentina's Defaulted Sovereign Debt: Dealing with the "Holdouts"
This report reviews Argentina's financial crisis, the bond exchanges of 2005 and 2010, ongoing litigation, prospects for a final solution, related U.S. legislation, and broader policy issues. These include lessons on the effectiveness and cost of Argentina's default strategy, the ability to force sovereigns to meet their debt obligations, and ways to avoid future defaults like Argentina's.
Job Loss and Infrastructure Job Creation Spending During the Recession
This report takes an in-depth look at job creation estimates, including the limitations of the methodology often used to derive them and the difficulties associated with developing job estimates for green infrastructure in particular. The report views these topics in the context of the 2007-2008 recession and its aftermath.
Mérida Initiative for Mexico and Central America: Funding and Policy Issues
This report provides an overview of the funding provided for the Mérida Initiative and related assistance programs in Central America and the Caribbean, the status of Mérida implementation, and a discussion of some policy issues that Congress may consider as it oversees the initiative and related programs.
Concurrent Receipt: Background and Issues for Congress
This report addresses the two primary components of the concurrent receipt program: Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) and Concurrent Retirement and Disability Payments (CRDP). It reviews the possible legislative expansion of the program to additional populations and provide several potential options for Congress to consider.
North Korea: Economic Leverage and Policy Analysis
This report examines the economic side of U.S. leverage with North Korea and reviews U.S. policy and legislation. The security side of U.S.-DPRK relations is addressed in other CRS reports.
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.
Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance
This report discusses the current political state of Afghanistan, as well as the Afghan government. This report also discusses Afghanistan's relationship with the United States, particularly U.S. efforts to urge President Hamid Karzai to address corruption within the Afghan government.
Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances
The first half of this report looks at the background of U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba over the last 40 years. The second half of this report looks at several initiatives from the 111th Congress that would ease U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba.
Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances
This report covers the contentious travel restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba from the 1960s to the present time. It includes background on the restrictions, enforcement of restrictions, and arguments for or against maintaining travel restrictions. It also provides background on relevant legislative initiatives during the 106th through the 111th Congresses.
Foreign Science and Engineering Presence in U.S. Institutions and the Labor Force
The increased presence of foreign students in graduate science and engineering programs and in the scientific workforce has been and continues to be of concern to some in the scientific community. Enrollment of U.S. citizens in graduate science and engineering programs has not kept pace with that of foreign students in those programs. In addition to the number of foreign students in graduate science and engineering programs, a significant number of university faculty in the scientific disciplines are foreign, and foreign doctorates are employed in large numbers by industry. This report explains this issue in detail, as well as probable causes of said incongruity.
Human Rights in China: Trends and Policy Implications
This report analyzes China's mixed record on human rights, major human rights issues, PRC human rights legislation, and the development of civil society, legal awareness, and social and political activism. This report discusses major areas of interest but does not provide an exhaustive account of all human rights abuses or related incidents.
Kosovo: Current Issues and U.S. Policy
This report discusses the current political state of Kosovo, which, on February 7, 2008, declared its independence from Serbia. Since then, Serbia has contested Kosovo's declaration of independence, leading to parallel governing institutions and ongoing talks between the two nations. This report discusses challenges Kosovo faces regarding international recognition and the status of its ethnic minorities. This report also discusses Kosovo's relationship with the United States, and U.S. foreign aid efforts to Kosovo.
Military Base Closures: Socioeconomic Impacts
The most recent Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission submitted its final report to the Administration on September 8, 2005. In the report, the commission rejected 13 of the initial Department of Defense recommendations, significantly modified the recommendations for 13 other installations, and approved 22 major closures.
Border Security: Key Agencies and Their Missions
This report briefly describes the role of various agencies in securing the borders of the United States. These agencies are the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Bureau of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the United States Coast Guard, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Currency Manipulation: The IMF and WTO
This report describes how the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Trade Organization (WTO) deal with the issue of currency manipulation. It also discusses apparent discrepancies in their charters and ways those differences might be addressed.
Disaster Relief Funding and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations
This report describes the various components of the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), including (1) what authorities have shaped it over the years; (2) how FEMA determines the amount of the appropriation requested to Congress (pertaining to the DRF); and (3) how emergency supplemental appropriations are requested. In addition to the DRF, information is provided on funds appropriated in supplemental appropriations legislation to agencies other than the Department of Homeland Security. Aspects of debate concerning how disaster relief is budgeted are also highlighted and examined, and alternative budgetary options are summarized.
Emergency Communications: The Future of 911
This report discusses possible paths toward the modernization of the 911 infrastructure. Efforts to splice newer, digital technologies onto the aging infrastructure have created points of failure where a call can be dropped or misdirected, sometimes with tragic consequences.
Internet Domain Names: Background and Policy Issues
This report discusses the Domain Name System (DNS), which is the distributed set of databases residing in computers around the world that contain address numbers mapped to corresponding domain names, making it possible to send and receive messages and to access information from computers anywhere on the Internet.
Aviation and Climate Change
This report provides background on aviation emissions and the factors affecting them; it discusses the tools available to control emissions, including existing authority under the Clean Air Act and proposed economy-wide cap-and-trade legislation; and it examines international regulatory developments that may affect U.S. commercial airlines.
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.
Economic Downturns and Crime
This report examines the relationships between selected variables of economic strength and crime. It begins with an overview of crime rates during times of economic recession in the United States. It then reviews the existing literature in the field analyzing various data sets that examine whether the unemployment rate and foreclosures can be related to increases in the national crime rate.
Federal Domestic Illegal Drug Enforcement Efforts: Are They Working?
This report examines the federal drug enforcement data reported annually by key agencies charged with enforcing federal drug control laws. This report provides background and an overview of current federal drug control efforts and outcomes.
Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2009
This report reviews hundreds of instances in which the United States has utilized military forces abroad in situations of military conflict or potential conflict to protect U.S. citizens or promote U.S. interests.
Organized Crime in the United States: Trends and Issues for Congress
This report provides a background on organized crime in the United States as well as the tools that Congress has afforded for the federal government to combat it.
Other Transaction (OT) Authority
This report discusses other transactions (OTs) which are special vehicles used by federal agencies for obtaining or advancing research and development (R&D) or prototypes. An OT is not a contract, grant, or cooperative agreement, and there is no statutory or regulatory definition of "other transaction." Only those agencies that have been provided OT authority may engage in other transactions.
Protection of Classified Information by Congress: Practices and Proposals
This report discusses safeguards in place to protect controlled information and proposals for change of some of the mechanisms in place. Congress uses classified national security and other controlled information to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities, particularly overseeing the executive, appropriating funds, and legislating public policy.
Congress as a Consumer of Intelligence Information
This report examines the role of Congress as a consumer of national intelligence and examines several issues that Congress might address during the second session of the 111th Congress.
Latin America and the Caribbean: Fact Sheet on Leaders and Elections
This fact sheet tracks the current heads of government in Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. It provides the dates of the last and next elections for the head of government and the national independence date for each country.