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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Investigative Oversight: An Introduction to the Law, Practice and Procedure of Congressional Inquiry
This report will provide an overview of some of the more common legal, procedural and practical issues, questions, and problems that committees have faced in the course of an investigation. Following a summary of the case law developing the scope and limitations of the power of inquiry, the essential tools of investigative oversight--subpoenas, staff interviews and depositions, grants of immunity, and the contempt power -- are described. Next, some of the special problems of investigating the executive are detailed, with particular emphasis on claims of presidential executive privilege, the problems raised by attempts to access information with respect to open or closed civil or criminal investigative matters, or to obtain information that is part of the agency deliberative process, and the effect on congressional access of statutory prohibitions on public disclosure. The discussion then focuses on various procedural and legal requirements that accompany the preparation for, and conduct of, an investigative hearing, including matters concerning jurisdiction, particular rules and requirements for the conduct of such proceedings, and the nature, applicability and scope of certain constitutional and common law testimonial privileges that may be claimed by witnesses. The case law and practice respecting the rights of minority party members during the investigative process is also reviewed. The report concludes with a description of the roles played by the offices of House General Counsel and Senate Legal Counsel in such investigations. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs184/
The Committee System in the U.S. Congress
Due to the high volume and complexity of its work, Congress divides its tasks among approximately 44 committees with 154 subcommittees. The House and Senate each has its own committee systems, which are similar. Within chamber guidelines, however, each committee adopts its own rules; thus, there is considerable variation among panels. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs183/
Committee Numbers, Sizes, Assignments, and Staff: Selected Historical Data
The development of today's committee system is a product of internal congressional reforms, but national forces also have played a role. This report contains data on the numbers and sizes of committees and subcommittees and on Members' assignments since 1945. This report also contains data on committee staff sizes from 1979 through 1995. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26109/
China, Congress, and Sanctions - Findings of a Workshop-Seminar
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Legislative Procedure for Disapproving the Renewal of China's Most-Favored-Nation Status
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Conference Committee and Related Procedures: An Introduction
Conference committees generally are free to conduct their negotiations as they choose, but they are to address only the matters on which the House and Senate have disagreed. Moreover, they are to propose settlements that represent compromises between the positions of the two houses. When they have completed their work, they submit a conference report and joint explanatory statement, and the House and Senate vote on accepting the report without amendments. Sometimes conference reports are accompanied by amendments that remain in disagreement. Only after the two houses have reached complete agreement on all provisions of a bill can it be sent to the President for his approval or veto. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs304/
Congress' Early Organization Meetings
The purposes of these meetings are both educational and organizational. Educational sessions range from legislative procedures and staff hiring to current issues. Organizational sessions elect class officers, party leaders, and chamber officers; name committee representatives and other party officials; and select committee chairmen and often committee members. Such actions are officially ratified at the start of the new Congress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs303/
The Legislative Process on the House Floor: An Introduction
This report discusses the complicated body of rules, precedents, and practices that governs the legislative process on the floor of the House of Representatives. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs302/
House Administrative Reorganization: 104th Congress
This report discusses the management responsibility for financial, security, and legislative operations. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs305/
Legislative Research in Congressional Offices: A Primer
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Special Rules in the House of Representatives
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Casework in a Congressional Office
This report and its appendices present a general overview of congressional office procedures associated with handling casework and the assistance provided by a Member of Congress to help constituents in their dealings with federal agencies. It discusses options for assisting Members’ constituents and the role of Members and staff in providing casework services. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs307/
Clean Air Act Issues
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How to Obtain Copies of Videotapes of Proceedings of Congress and Network and Cable Television Broadcasts
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Line Item Veto Act of 1996: Lessons from the States
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Environmental Protection Issues: From the 104th to the 105th Congress
The continued interest in regulatory reform measures in the final moments of the 104th Congress suggests that the 105th Congress will consider them again. At the same time the fact that the 104th Congress enacted flexibility provisions in drinking water and food safety/pesticides legislation could be an indicator that the 105th Congress may pursue reforms in individual reauthorization legislation rather than in broad regulatory reform bills. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs436/
Congressional Budget Actions in 1997
In 1997, during the first session of the 105th Congress, the House and Senate will consider many different budgetary measures. Most of these measures will pertain to FY1998 and beyond, but some measures will make adjustments in the budget for the current fiscal year, FY1997. This issue brief describes House and Senate action on major budgetary legislation within the framework of the congressional budget process and other procedural requirements. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs413/
Grants Work in a Congressional Office
Members of Congress often get requests from constituents for information and help in obtaining funds for projects. Many state and local governments, nonprofit social service and community action organizations, private research groups, small businesses, and individuals approach congressional offices to find out about funding, both from the federal government and from the private sector. The success rate in obtaining federal assistance is not high, given the competition for federal funds. A grants staff’s effectiveness often depends on both an understanding of the grants process and on the relations it establishes with agency and other contacts. The following report does not constitute a blueprint for every office involved in grants and projects activity, nor does it present in-depth information about all aspects of staff activity in this area. The discussion is aimed at describing some basics about the grants process and some of the approaches and techniques used by congressional offices in dealing with this type of constituent service. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs405/
How Measures Are Brought to the House Floor: A Brief Introduction
This report presents a brief description of the five methods used to bring proposed legislation to the House floor for consideration. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs404/
Congressional Campaign Spending: 1976-1996
The data in this report reflect spending by congressional candidates from funds donated by individuals, political action committees (PACs), parties, and candidates. Thus, it includes expenditures under candidate control and does not reflect spending on their behalf, with or without their cooperation, by parties, PACs, and other groups. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs406/
Environmental Protection Legislation in the 105th Congress
The 105th Congress enacted tax provisions relating to Superfund brownfields sites, transportation- and defense-related environmental provisions, a border smog bill, EPA funding as well as reinstating the tax that supports the Leaking Underground Storage Trust Fund. There were various actions on regulatory reform, the budget resolution, appropriations, highway- and defense-related environmental provisions, Superfund reform bills and underground storage tanks. It is too early to tell if these will be issues for the 106th Congress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs437/
Continuing Appropriations Acts: Brief Overview of Recent Practices
This report provides information on the history of continuing resolutions; the nature, scope, and duration of CRs during the last 30 years; the various types of CRs that have been enacted; and an overview of those instances when budget authority has lapsed and a funding gap has resulted. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs393/
Out-of-State Money in the Congressional Elections of 1992, 1994, and 1996: Trends and Policy Issues
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Environment in Fast Track Trade Authority: Summary of the Clinton Administration Proposal
President Clinton has asked Congress for "fast track" authority for implementing future trade agreements; this authority would limit congressional debate and prevent amendments to implementing legislation. Delays in completing this proposal were attributed to difficulties in reconciling conflicting pressures over environment and labor concerns. The President's proposal contains references to environmental concerns, but various interests are likely to seek clarification on these points. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs408/
Fast-Track Trade Authority: Which Environmental Issues are "Directly Related to Trade"?
This report discusses fast-track negotiating authority, which provides that Congress will consider trade agreements within mandatory deadlines, with limited debate, and without amendment. Trade negotiating objectives have generally been included in fast-track legislation to establish priorities for trade negotiators. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs409/
Congressional Oversight
Congressional oversight of policy implementation and administration, which has occurred throughout the U.S. government experience under the Constitution, takes a variety of forms and utilizes various techniques. These range from specialized investigations by select committees to annual appropriations hearings, and from informal communications between Members or congressional staff and executive personnel to the use of extra congressional mechanisms, such as offices of inspector general and study commissions. Oversight, moreover, is supported by a variety of authorities—the Constitution, public law, and chamber and committee rules—and is an integral part of the system of checks and balances between the legislature and the executive digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs411/
Fast-Track Trade Authority Proposals: Which Environmental Issues are Included in the Principal Negotiating Objectives?
This report discusses fast-track negotiating authority, which provides that Congress will consider trade agreements within mandatory deadlines, with limited debate, and without amendment. Environmental provisions are eligible for the fast-track procedure only if they meet at least one of the principal trade negotiating objectives. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs412/
Economic Sanctions to Achieve U.S. Foreign Policy Goals: Discussion and Guide to Current Law
This report provides background on the range of actions that might be termed foreign policy sanctions and the events that might necessitate their use. Criteria are offered that legislators might consider to judge when sanctions might be appropriate, approaches that might be effective, aspects of the use of sanctions that are sometimes overlooked or not considered fully. The report provides an uncomplicated "map" of where sanctions policies and options currently lay in U. S. law. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs465/
Fast Track for Trade Agreements: Procedural Controls for Congress and Proposed Alternatives
This report discusses the fast track trade procedures in the Trade Act of 1974 operate as procedural rules of the House and Senate, and the statute itself declares them to be enacted as an exercise of the constitutional authority of each house to determine its own rules. These procedures prevent Congress from altering an implementing bill or declining to act, but permit it to enact or reject the bill. By these means Congress retains authority to legislate in the areas covered, yet affords the President conditions for effective negotiation. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs414/
Fiscal Year 1998 Continuing Resolutions
Congress annually considers 13 regular appropriations bills providing funding for agency operations. If any of these bills are not enacted by the start of the fiscal year (October 1), the nonessential activities of the agencies funded in the outstanding bills must cease. In those years in which all 13 bills are not enacted by the deadline, Congress adopts measures continuing funding until the regular bills are enacted. This report discusses these measures, which are referred to as continuing resolutions. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs394/
Agriculture and Fast Track Trade Legislation
Senate and House committees in October reported legislation for new fast track authority enabling the Administration to negotiate trade agreements with foreign countries and to submit them to Congress for consideration under expedited procedures. Many agricultural and food industry interests are among the export-dependent enterprises that support new fast track authority, arguing that foreign trading partners will not seriously negotiate with an Administration that lacks it. However, some agricultural groups argue that fast track provides them with inadequate opportunities for dealing with their issues, and that it ultimately will lead to new agreements that benefit foreign more than U.S. producers, at least in some commodity sectors. Neither bill was taken to the floor in 1997 because of insufficient votes for passage in the House. However, the President is expected to seek approval in 1998. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs407/
Bosnia Stabilization Force (SFOR) and U.S. Policy
In December 1995, a NATO-led implementation force (IFOR) was deployed to Bosnia to enforce the military aspects of the Bosnian peace agreement. After fierce debate, the House and Senate passed separate resolutions in December 1995 expressing support for the U.S. troops in Bosnia, although not necessarily for the mission itself. Legislative efforts to bar funds for the deployment of U.S. troops to Bosnia were narrowly rejected. In the 105th Congress, similar efforts to bar a U.S. deployment after June 1998 were also rejected, although the FY 1998 defense authorization and appropriations laws contain reporting requirements that must be fulfilled before an extended deployment may take place. The defense appropriation measure requires the President to seek a supplemental appropriation for any deployment after June 1998. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs608/
Line Item Vetoes in the 105th Congress, First Session: A Finding Aid
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Procedural Distinctions Between the House and the Committee of the Whole
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Points of Order, Rulings, and Appeals in the House of Representatives
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Privileged Business on the House Floor
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Questions of Privilege in the House
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Special Rules and Waivers of House Rules
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Tracking Current Federal Legislation and Regulations: A Guide to Basic Sources
This report is a guide to basic sources useful in tracking federal legislation and regulations. It has been prepared primarily for the use of constituents who wish to follow the federal government's legislative or regulatory activities at the local level. Brief annotations for the selected printed, telephone, electronic, and related sources describe their scope, focus, and frequency, include publisher contact information, and provide Internet addresses where available. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs592/
Tracking Current Federal Legislation and Regulations: A Guide to Basic Sources
This report is a guide to basic sources useful in tracking federal legislation and regulations. It has been prepared primarily for the use of constituents who wish to follow the federal government's legislative or regulatory activities at the local level. Brief annotations for the selected printed, telephone, electronic, and related sources describe their scope, focus, and frequency, include publisher contact information, and provide Internet addresses where available. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc805476/
Debt-Limit Legislation in the Congressional Budget Process
The gross federal debt consists of the debt held by the public plus the debt held by government accounts. Almost all of the gross federal debt is subject to a public debt limit, as set forth in statute (31 U.S.C. 3101).This report considers legislation needed to change the public debt limit. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs546/
Legislative Powers of Congress: A Brief Reference Guide
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The Congressional Budget Process Timetable
The Congressional Budget Act (CBA) of 1974 (P.L. 93-344), as amended, establishes the congressional budget process, which coordinates the legislative activities on the budget resolution, appropriations bills, reconciliation legislation, revenue measures, and other budgetary legislation. Section 300 of this act provides a timetable (see Table 1) so that Congress may complete its work on the budget by the start of the fiscal year on October 1. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs594/
Revenue Legislation in the Congressional Budget Process
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Term Limits for Members of Congress: State Activity
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Economic Sanctions to Achieve U.S. Foreign Policy Goals: Discussion and Guide to Current Law
This report provides background on foreign policy sanctions and the events that might necessitate their use, criteria to consider when determining if sanctions are appropriate, approaches that might be effective, and aspects of the use of sanctions that are sometimes overlooked or not considered fully. The report also provides an uncomplicated map of where sanctions policies and options currently may be found in U.S. law. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs730/
Kosovo and U.S. Policy
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China: Pending Legislation in the 105th Congress
This report tracks pending human rights legislation, including bills concerning: prison conditions and prison labor exports (H.R. 2195, H.R. 2358); coercive abortion practices (H.R. 2570); China’s policies toward religion (H.R. 967, H.R. 2431); and more general human rights issues (H.R. 2095). Other bills concern Taiwan — in particular, Taiwan’s entry into the World Trade Organization (H.Res. 190) and the U.S. role in helping Taiwan with a theater missile defense system (H.R. 2386). Also, legislation is pending on China’s missile proliferation activities (H.Res. 188), Radio Free Asia broadcasting to China (H.R. 2232), China’s participation in multilateral institutions (H.R. 1712, H.R. 2605), and the activities of China’s military and intelligence services (H.R. 2647, H.R. 2190). digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs760/
China: Pending Legislation in the 105th Congress
The 105 Congress has been active on issues involving China. This report, which will be updated as developments occur, tracks pending human rights legislation, including bills concerning: prison conditions and prison labor exports; coercive abortion practices; China’s policies toward religion; and more general human rights issues. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc821633/
Congressional Liaison Offices of Selected Federal Agencies
This is a directory of approximately 150 government agencies designed to assist congressional staff in contacting agencies of the legislative branch, cabinet departments and other executive branch agencies and boards and commissions. This directory contains names of congressional liaison officers, addresses, telephone and fax numbers, and occasionally e-mail addresses. It is regularly updated each spring. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs591/