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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
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Trends in the Timing and Size of DHS Appropriations: In Brief
This report examines trends in the timing and size of homeland security appropriations measures between FY2004 and FY2015. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was officially established on January 24, 2003.
Civilian Nuclear Waste Disposal
This report looks at the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 (NWPA), Yucca Mountain, and the Obama Administration's de-funding of Yucca Mountain. Federal policy is based on the premise that nuclear waste can be disposed of safely, but proposed storage and disposal facilities have frequently been challenged on safety, health, and environmental grounds. Most of the current debate surrounding civilian radioactive waste focuses on highly radioactive spent fuel from nuclear power plants.
How Measures Are Brought to the Senate Floor: A Brief Introduction
This report discusses the two basic methods that are used by the Senate to bring legislation to the floor for consideration: The Senate, at the majority leader's request, (1) grants unanimous consent to take up a matter, or (2) agrees to his motion to proceed to consider it. Both methods are derived from the basic premise that the Senate as a body may decide what matters it considers. The Senate may also use the same two methods to bring up executive business (nominations and treaties).
Nuclear Cooperation with Other Countries: A Primer
This report discusses section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act (AEA), the specific requirements of which must be met in order for the United States to engage in civilian nuclear cooperation with other states. The AEA also provides for exemptions to these requirements, export control licensing procedures, and criteria for terminating cooperation.
Procedures for Congressional Action in Relation to a Nuclear Agreement with Iran: In Brief
This report provides, in brief, analysis of the congressional procedural provisions laid out in the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (P.L. 114-17). The act establishes a period for Congress to review any comprehensive agreement, during which certain presidential actions to provide relief from sanctions on Iran are barred.
Coalition Contributions to Countering the Islamic State
This report discusses the coalition organized as part of a global campaign to counter the Islamic State (ISIL/ISIS), including its military aspects and challenges to its coherence.
The Iran Hostages: Efforts to Obtain Compensation
This report provides background information regarding the 1979-1981 Iran Hostage Crisis, and discusses the Hostage Relief Act.
Iran Sanctions
This report analyzes U.S. and international sanctions against Iran and provides some examples, based on open sources, of companies and countries that conduct business with Iran. U.S. sanctions have been a major feature of U.S.-Iran policy since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, but the imposition of U.N. and worldwide bilateral sanctions on Iran that began in 2006 and increased dramatically as of 2010 is recent by comparison.
Naval Station Guantanamo Bay: History and Legal Issues Regarding Its Lease Agreements
This report briefly outlines the history of the establishment of the U.S. naval station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba during the early twentieth century, its changing relationship to the community around it, and its heightened importance with the onset of military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. It also explains in detail the legal status of the lease of the land on which the naval station stands, the statutory and treaty authorities granted to the President with regard to any potential closure of the naval station, and the second-order effects on such a closure that current Cuba sanctions laws might have.
Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on the Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) program, which is carried out by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Navy; it gives Navy Aegis cruisers and destroyers a capability for conducting BMD operations. Congress's decisions on the Aegis BMD program could significantly affect U.S. BMD capabilities and funding requirements, and the BMD-related industrial base.
The Federal Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Program: Background, Funding, and Activities
This report discusses the federal government's role in the country's information technology (IT) research and development (R&D) activities. Support of IT R&D began because the government had an important interest in creating computers and software that would be capable of addressing the problems and issues the government needed to solve and study.
History of the Navy UCLASS Program Requirements: In Brief
This report details the history of Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) aircraft requirements development through the program's evolution to its current stage. Over time, those requirements have evolved to encompass a less demanding set of capabilities than first envisioned.
Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy
This report provides a background on Libya's descent into conflict and discusses current policy issues for the U.S. Since Muammar al Qadhafi's fall in 2011, Libyan interest groups have pursued diverse objectives based on local and regional identities, tribal affiliations, political and religious ideologies, and shared personal backgrounds. Fighting and political maneuvering during 2014 and 2015 among rival factions and armed groups has reflected a number of unresolved debates.
U.S. Trade Concepts, Performance, and Policy: Frequently Asked Questions
This report discusses trade issues relevant to Congress. It is divided into four sections in a question-and-answer format: trade concepts; U.S. trade performance; formulation of U.S. trade policy; and trade and investment issues.
National Security Letters in Foreign Intelligence Investigations: A Glimpse at the Legal Background
This report discusses the USA PATRIOT Act (107-56) and its expanded authority to issue national security letters (NSLs). A report by the Department of Justice's Inspector General (IG) found that in its pre-amendment use of expanded USA PATRIOT Act authority the FBI had "used NSLs in violation of applicable NSL statutes, Attorney General Guidelines, and internal FBI policies," but that no criminal laws had been broken.
Consumer and Credit Reporting, Scoring, and Related Policy Issues
This report provides background information on the consumer data industry and various specialty areas. One prominent specialty area--consumer scoring--is explained and includes information about various factors used to calculate credit scores. It provides a general description of the current regulatory framework of the consumer data industry. Finally, this report discusses selected policy issues pertaining to credit scoring and proposed modifications that may result in expanded consumer protection and credit access.
Defense Health Program Funding Shortfall for Fiscal Year 2015
This report describes the defense health program (DHP) and discusses the DHP budget.
The Federal Tax Treatment of Married Same- Sex Couples
This report provides an overview of the federal tax treatment of same-sex married couples, with a focus on the federal income tax.
Iran Nuclear Agreement
This report discusses the recently finalized Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that attempts to ensure that Iran's nuclear program can be used for purely peaceful purposes, in exchange for a broad suspension of U.S., European Union (EU), and United Nations sanctions.
Mass Murder with Firearms: Incidents and Victims, 1999-2013
This report analyzes mass shootings for a 15-year period (1999-2013). CRS analysis of the FBI SHR dataset and other research indicates that offenders committed at least 317 mass shootings, murdered 1,554 victims, and nonfatally wounded another 441 victims entirely with firearms during that 15-year period. The prevalence of mass shooting incidents and victim counts fluctuated sporadically from year to year.
Mexico's Oil and Gas Sector: Background, Reform Efforts, and Implications for the United States
This report provides an overview of Pemex and the content and prospects for Mexico's energy reforms, before discussing specific issues facing Mexico's oil and gas industry. It then examines the U.S.-Mexico energy relationship through the lenses of trade and energy cooperation. It concludes by suggesting several oversight issues for Congress related to what the enactment of energy reform might portend for Mexico's economic development, the U.S. energy matrix, and bilateral or North American energy cooperation.
The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act: Overview and Issues
This report discusses the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), under which members of the uniformed services and U.S. citizens who live abroad are eligible to register and vote absentee in federal elections. It discusses recent improvements to UOCAVA, as the result of controversy surrounding ballots received in Florida from absentee voters in the 2000 presidential election. The report also discusses related legislation, such as the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2010, which provided for a major overhaul of UOCAVA.
The 2015 National Military Strategy: Background and Questions for Congress
This report discusses the National Military Strategy (NMS) that describes a global environment marked by increasing interdependence, complexity, and the diffusion of information and technologies across state boundaries.
Armed Career Criminal Act (18 U.S.C. 924(e)): An Overview
This report discusses the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. 924(e). The law requires a minimum 15-year term of imprisonment for recidivists convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm under 18 U.S.C. 922(g), who have three prior state or federal convictions for violent felonies or serious drug offenses.
Navy Ship Names: Background for Congress
This report discusses the process of naming Navy ships, which have traditionally been chosen and announced by the Secretary of the Navy.
Thailand: Background and U.S. Relations
This report looks at the relationship between the U.S. and Thailand, in particular, recent rivalries between populist political forces, nepotism in government, and Thai relationships with neighboring countries.
Trafficking in Persons in Latin America and the Caribbean
This report describes the nature and scope of the problem of human trafficking in Latin America and the Caribbean, including U.S. efforts to deal with trafficking in persons in the region, as well as the successes and failures of some recent country and regional antitrafficking efforts. The report concludes by raising issues that may be helpful for the 113th Congress to consider as it continues to address human trafficking as part of its authorization, appropriations, and oversight activities.
Appropriations Report Language: Overview of Development, Components, and Issues for Congress
This report provides an overview of appropriations report language. In current practice, report language does not accompany formulaic continuing resolutions (CRs), even if funds are provided in this manner for the remainder of the fiscal year.
Army Corps of Engineers: Water Resource Authorizations, Appropriations, and Activities
This report summarizes congressional authorization and appropriations processes for the Army Corps of Engineers and agency activities under general authorities. Congress directs the Corps through authorizations, appropriations, and oversight of its studies, construction projects, and other activities.
China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities--Background and Issues for Congress
This report focuses on the potential implications of China's naval modernization for future required U.S. Navy capabilities. Other CRS reports address separate issues relating to China. This report is based on unclassified open-source information.
Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and potential oversight issues for Congress on the Coast Guard's programs for procuring 8 National Security Cutters (NSCs), 25 Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPCs), and 58 Fast Response Cutters (FRCs), intended as replacements for 90 aging Coast Guard cutters and patrol craft. The issue for Congress is whether to approve, reject, or modify the Coast Guard's funding requests and acquisition strategies for these programs.
Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on sustaining and modernizing the Coast Guard's polar icebreaker fleet, which performs a variety of missions supporting U.S. interests in polar regions.
Expansion of WTO Information Technology Agreement Targets December Conclusion
This report discusses the World Trade Organization (WTO) expansion and agreement to expand the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) and eliminate tariffs on 201 goods not included in the original 1996 ITA.
Filling the Senate "Amendment Tree"
This report discusses the filing process of "Amendment trees": diagrams that have developed over decades of Senate practice as a way of visualizing certain principles of precedence that govern the offering of, and voting on, amendments in the chamber.
Debt Limit Legislation: The House "Gephardt Rule"
This report describes the legislative history of the Gephardt rule, initially codified as Rule XLIX of the Standing Rules of the House of Representatives, which was established by P.L. 96-78 (93 Stat. 589-591). The goal of the act was to provide for a temporary increase in the public debt limit to contextualize the issue within other budget policies and to reduce time spent and the number of votes taken on the issue. The report also explains its features and reviews how it operated before it was repealed.
PILT (Payments in Lieu of Taxes): Somewhat Simplified
This report explains Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), with an analysis of the five major factors affecting the calculation of a payment to a given county. It also describes the effects of recent legislative changes to PILT.
VA Accountability Act of 2015 (H.R. 1994), as Reported to the House
This report describes the VA Accountability Act of 2015 (H.R. 1994) as reported to the House by the Committee on Veterans' Affairs on July 23 2015 and compares it to current law where appropriate.
Who Pays for Long-Term Services and Supports? A Fact Sheet
This report provides information on who the primary long-term services and supports (LTSS) payers are and how much they spend.
Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations
This report provides an overview of the key issues for Congress related to Egypt and U.S. foreign aid to Egypt. The United States has provided significant military and economic assistance to Egypt since the late 1970s. Successive U.S. Administrations have routinely justified aid to Egypt as an investment in regional stability, built primarily on long-running cooperation with the Egyptian military and on sustaining the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.
The European Union: Questions and Answers
This report serves as a primer on the European Union (EU) and provides a brief description of U.S.-EU relations that may be of interest in the 114th Congress. The EU is a political and economic partnership that represents a unique form of cooperation among sovereign countries, comprising 28 member states, including most of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe; the group has helped to promote peace, stability, and economic prosperity throughout the European continent.
Multiemployer Defined Benefit (DB) Pension Plans: A Primer and Analysis of Policy Options
This report discusses the nature of multiemployer defined benefit (DB) pension plans, and issues regarding their financial solvency. DB pension plans are sponsored by more than one employer and maintained as part of a collective bargaining agreement.
OPM Data Breach: Personnel Security Background Investigation Data
This report provides information on the types of data that may be collected in a typical personnel security background investigation. In a July 9, 2015, news release on the cyber-intrusions of its systems, OPM "concluded with high confidence that sensitive information, including the Social Security Numbers (SSNs) of 21.5 million individuals, was stolen from the background investigation databases." This report is not an official statement of the data that was compromised in the OPM breach.
Risk and Needs Assessment in the Criminal Justice System
This report provides information on the use of risk and needs assessment in the criminal justice system. It starts with an overview of risk and needs assessment and a discussion of some critiques. The report concludes with a discussion of the issues policymakers might consider if they debate legislation to expand the use of risk and needs assessment in the federal prison system.
Sanctuary Jurisdictions and Criminal Aliens: In Brief
This report examines the interplay between the federal government -- i.e., Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) -- and state and local jurisdictions in enforcing immigration law, with a specific focus on noncitizens who have been convicted of a crime. It briefly outlines the evolution of the cooperation among law enforcement agencies, then discusses current administrative efforts to involve state and local law enforcement, and explores major programs and federal resources available to those agencies that cooperate with ICE to enforce immigration law.
U.S. Agricultural Trade with Cuba: Current Limitations and Future Prospects
This report reviews the current state of agricultural trade between the United States and Cuba. It identifies key impediments to expanding bilateral trade in agricultural products and key provisions in the law to which these obstacles are anchored, and also considers the potential consequences for trade in agricultural goods if bilateral trade were returned to a more normal footing. It also summarizes several of the bills introduced in the 114th Congress that propose to remove specific restrictions that impede trade in agricultural goods or that seek to lift the embargo on Cuba entirely.
Defense Spending and the Budget Control Act Limits
This report discusses the Budget Control Act, which sets limits on defense spending between fiscal years 2012 and 2021 and possible measures to avoid a sequester. The current debate in Congress has centered on whether to adjust the BCA defense caps upward; move base budget spending to accounts designated for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) that are not subject to spending limits; reduce the defense spending in the Administration's request to comply with BCA revised caps; or use some combination of these approaches.
Department of Defense Contractor and Troop Levels in Iraq and Afghanistan: 2007-2014
This report provides background information for Congress on troop and contractor levels in the Department of Defense (DOD) in support of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Issues
This report provides a brief synopsis of sections in H.R. 1735 that pertain to selected personnel policy. These include major military retirement reforms, end strengths, compensation, health care, and sexual assault, as well as less prominent issues that nonetheless generate significant public interest. This report focuses exclusively on the annual defense authorization process.
House Office of Congressional Ethics: History, Authority, and Procedures
This report describes the history and rationale behind the creation of the House Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), its operations, and its relationship with the House Committee on Ethics, and potential options available for Congress if further amendments to the House ethics process are desired.
Laws Affecting the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program
This report tracks legislative changes to the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program. It includes brief discussions of how Congress has changed FEHB through legislative action, including restrictions on the use of federal funds; changing the formula for determining the government's share of FEHB premiums; expanding eligibility for the program; and implementing policies that affect the relationship between Medicare and FEHB.