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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
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Insurance Regulation: Issues, Background, and Legislation in the 113th Congress
This report discusses the legislation in the 113th Congress regarding insurance regulation. Among the insurance regulatory issues addressed by legislation in the 113th Congress are the application of federal orderly liquidation authority to insurers (addressed in H.R. 605); the supervision of some insurers by the Federal Reserve (addressed in H.R. 2140, H.R. 4510, H.R. 5461, S. 2102, and S. 2270); and the licensing of insurance agents and brokers (addressed in S. 534, S. 1926, S. 2244, H.R. 1155/H.R. 1064, and H.R. 4871).
Social Security Reform: Legal Analysis of Social Security Benefit Entitlement Issues
This report addresses selected legal issues that may be raised regarding entitlement to Social Security benefits as Congress considers possible changes to the Social Security program in view of projected long-range shortfalls in the Social Security Trust Funds.
Chemical Facility Security: Issues and Options for the 113th Congress
This report provides a brief overview of the existing statutory authority and implementing regulation. It describes several policy issues raised in previous debates regarding chemical facility security and identifies policy options for congressional consideration.
Child Welfare: An Overview of Federal Programs and Their Current Funding
This report begins with a review of federal appropriations activity in FY2014 as it relates to child welfare programs, including the effect of the automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration. The bulk of the report provides a short description of each federal child welfare program, including its purpose and recent (FY2012-FY2014) funding levels.
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.
Proposed Train and Equip Authorities for Syria: In Brief
This report presents the President's requests for authority and funding for the Department of Defense to provide overt assistance, including possible military training and weapons, to vetted members of the Syrian opposition and other vetted Syrians for select purposes are the subject of close congressional consideration.
U.S.-EU Cooperation on Ukraine and Russia
This report discusses the United States, and European Union policies with Russia in response to the crisis in Ukraine.
The U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA): Provisions and Implementation
This report examines the provisions of the South Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) and issues related to its implementation in the context of the overall U.S.-South Korean economic relationship, U.S. objectives, and South Korean objectives. It also examines recent trade patterns.
Common Core State Standards: Frequently Asked Questions
This report addresses frequently asked questions related to the Common Core State Standards and federal involvement with the standards.
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.
Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2014
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.
Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights
This report discusses the state of Iraqi politics, governance, and human rights, including the worsening relations between local Sunni and Shiite populations.
Scotland's Independence Referendum
This report examines varying opinion in regards to Scotland's Independence Referendum. The report also discusses U.S. views on the topic.
U.S.-Vietnam Nuclear Cooperation Agreement: Issues for Congress
This report discusses the U.S.-Vietnamese cooperation on nuclear energy and nonproliferation that has grown in recent years along with closer bilateral economic, military, and diplomatic ties.
Delayed Federal Grant Closeout: Issues and Impact
This report is designed to assist Congress in its oversight of federal grants-in-aid programs by providing a summary of relevant laws, processes, and authorities. The report analyzes the causes of undisbursed grant funds in expired grant accounts and presents congressional options to reform federal grant administration to increase the timeliness, reliability, and comprehensiveness of grant management-related information.
Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Programs
This report analyzes the special immigrant visa (SIV) classifications for Iraqis and Afghans within the context of both the larger Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) special immigrant category and selected other permanent admissions categories. It discusses the legislative changes to the individual Iraqi and Afghan special immigrant programs since their initial authorization, provides statistics on visa issuance, and considers challenges facing the programs today.
Legislative Actions to Repeal, Defund, or Delay the Affordable Care Act
This report summarizes legislative actions taken to repeal, defund, delay, or otherwise amend the ACA since the law's enactment. The information is presented in three appendices.
Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response
This report discusses the recent conflict in Syria including an overview of the situation, information about anti- and pro-Asad forces, background on chemical weapons and disarmament, plans for U.S. policy and assistance, and a general sense of the future outlook.
The Federal Trade Commission's Regulation of Data Security Under Its Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices (UDAP) Authority
This report will discuss the FTC's legal authority under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC Act) in relation to data security, and the two aforementioned cases.
An Overview of the HOME Investment Partnerships Program
This report provides an introduction to the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, including a brief history, an overview of allowable uses of HOME funds, and a description of certain program requirements. It also provides information on funding for the program and how that funding has been used.
Same-Sex Marriage: A Legal Background After United States v. Windsor
This report discusses the legal recognition of same-sex marriage, which is generating increasing debate on both the federal and state levels as many states have statutes and/or constitutional amendments limiting marriage to the union of one man and one woman.
Casework in a Congressional Office: Background, Rules, Laws, and Resources
This report discusses House and Senate rules and guidelines, laws, and regulations affecting congressional casework, as well as the role of caseworkers. It also provides sample outlines and document templates for implementing and managing congressional casework.
Diplomatic and Embassy Security Funding Before and After the Benghazi Attacks
This report presents a history and analysis of the requested and actual funding for diplomatic/embassy security since FY2008--what actually became available for the Department of State to spend after rescissions, sequestration, and transfers. It also provides funding data that was requested by the Administration, passed by the House of Representatives, passed by the Senate, and enacted by Congress for the two accounts that provide the bulk of the funding: the Worldwide Security Protection (WSP) and Worldwide Security Upgrades (WSU).
EPA and the Army Corps' Proposed Rule to Define "Waters of the United States"
This report describes the March 25 proposed rule to define "waters of the United States," particularly focused on clarifying the regulatory status of waters located in isolated places in a landscape, the types of waters with ambiguous jurisdictional status following the Supreme Court's ruling. It includes a table comparing the proposal to existing regulatory language.
The Help America Vote Act and Election Administration: Overview and Issues
This report discusses the Help America Vote Act (HAVA; P.L. 107-252) enacted in 2002. It provides background information about HAVA and its provisions, the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), funding for the agency and for state programs to improve elections, and a number of enduring election administration issues.
The "Islamic State" Crisis and U.S. Policy
This report provides background and current information on the Islamic State, a transnational Sunni Islamist insurgent and terrorist group that has expanded its control over areas of northwestern Iraq and northeastern Syria since 2013. The report also examines possible U.S. policy options in the wake of increasing international outrage at the Islamic States' brutality and apparent disregard for typical human rights conventions.
U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: Recent Trends and FY2015 Appropriations
This report provides an overview of U.S. assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean. It examines historical and recent trends in aid to the region as well as the Obama Administration's FY2015 request for State Department and U.S Agency for International Development (USAID)-administered assistance. It also tracks congressional action on foreign aid appropriations for Latin America and the Caribbean in FY2015, and raises questions Congress may consider as it appropriates funding for the region.
Authorization of Appropriations: Procedural and Legal Issues
This report provides a brief explanation of the distinction between authorized and unauthorized appropriations, and its significance for understanding how appropriations and other legislation work in conjunction to determine how agencies may spend appropriated funds.
Considerations for Possible Authorization for Use of Military Force Against the Islamic State
This report briefly discusses different options available for confronting the Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS or ISIL) with the use of military force. The examines the legal considerations relevant to each approach.
U.S. Military Action Against the Islamic State: Answers to Frequently Asked Legal Questions
This report addresses select legal questions raised by the use of military force against Islamic State (IS). Questions addressed in this report include potential sources (and limitations) of presidential authority to use military force against the Islamic State without congressional authorization; the potential relevance of the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq (2002 Iraq AUMF; P.L. 107-243) and the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (2001 AUMF; P.L. 107-40); the applicability of the United Nations Charter to ongoing U.S. military strikes in Iraq and any prospective strikes against IS forces in Syria; and the constraints imposed by the War Powers Resolution upon U.S. military action that has not been authorized by Congress.
Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment
This report provides an overview of the major exceptions to the First Amendment--of the ways that the Supreme Court has interpreted the guarantee of freedom of speech and press to provide no protection or only limited protection for some types of speech.
Health Care Fraud and Abuse Laws Affecting Medicare and Medicaid: An Overview
This report provides an overview of some of the more commonly used federal statutes used to fight health care fraud and abuse and discusses some of the changes made to these statutes by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Offices of Inspectors General and Law Enforcement Authority: In Brief
This report identifies the laws and regulations that vest certain offices of inspector general (OIGs) with law enforcement authority, which permits the use of guns and ammunition. This report also describes some of the requirements and expectations of OIGs that have law enforcement authority, and includes some reasons that OIGs have expressed a need for law enforcement authority.
Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes, and Effects
This report discusses the causes of funding gaps and shutdowns of the federal government, processes that are associated with shutdowns, and how agency operations may be affected by shutdowns. The report concludes with a discussion of potential issues for Congress.
Asylum and Gang Violence: Legal Overview
This report discusses the basis for asylum in International and U.S. Law. The recent increase in the number of unaccompanied alien children (UACs) apprehended at the border between Mexico and the United States has raised questions about the role that gang-related violence in Central America may play in determining whether such children are eligible for refugee status and asylum.
Aviation War Risk Insurance: Background and Options for Congress
This report discusses aviation war risk insurance that provides coverage for hostile acts of violence against airlines, such as terrorism, hijackings, and sabotage.
China's Leaders Quash Hong Kong's Hopes for Democratic Election Reforms
This report briefly discusses a recent decision by China's National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) that places strict conditions on any possible electoral reforms in Hong Kong. The report covers the decision, Hong Kong's response, and options for Congress.
Defense Surplus Equipment Disposal, Including the Law Enforcement 1033 Program
This report focuses on the disposal of defense surplus property that is delegated to Department of Defense (DOD) from the General Services Administration. Law enforcement agencies are a recipient of defense surplus property, along with many other recipients.
Medal of Honor: History and Issues
This report briefly describes the history of the Medal of Honor and the criteria and rules used in awarding the medal.
Protection of Trade Secrets: Overview of Current Law and Legislation
This report starts out with background information regarding trade secrets and an overview of current legal landscape for trade secret protection.
U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces: Background, Developments, and Issues
This report reviews the ongoing programs and issues that will affect the expected size and shape of the U.S. strategic nuclear force structure. It includes an overview of this force structure during the Cold War summarizes the reductions and changes that have occurred since 1991, and offers details about each category of delivery vehicle--land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and heavy bombers--focusing on their current deployments and ongoing and planned modernization programs.
Congressional Participation in Article III Courts: Standing to Sue
This report seeks to provide an overview of Congress's ability to participate in litigation before Article III courts. The report is limited to a discussion of Congress's participation in litigation as either a plaintiff (e.g., the party initiating the suit alleging some sort of harm or violation of law) or as a third-party intervener (e.g., a party who is seeking to join litigation already initiated by another plaintiff).
A Primer on the Reviewability of Agency Delay and Enforcement Discretion
This report discusses the general legal principles applied in determining whether administrative delays are reviewable in court in these two different contexts and then address whether the procedures outlined in the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) are applicable to these delays.
The Take Care Clause and Executive Discretion in the Enforcement of Law
This report addresses the President's general obligation to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." The report then discusses the limited role the judicial branch has traditionally adopted in reviewing discretionary enforcement decisions, including the decision to initiate a criminal prosecution or an administrative enforcement action. The report concludes with a discussion of Congress's authority to restrict executive discretion in the enforcement of federal law.
Ukraine: Current Issues and U.S. Policy
This report offers background information on Ukraine's current political and economic situation. It also discusses U.S. policy, U.S. aid to Ukraine, the congressional response, and related legislation.
Corporate Expatriation, Inversions, and Mergers: Tax Issues
This report begins with a brief discussion of relevant portions of the U.S. corporate income tax system before examining how inversions were commonly structured. The report then looks at how Congress and Department of the Treasury have reduced the benefits of inversions. The report concludes with an examination of methods that remain to invert and policy options available to prevent or limit these inversions.
The Elder Justice Act: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides a brief legislative history of the Elder Justice Act, summarizes elder justice provisions enacted as part of ACA, and administrative efforts related to implementation and funding. The report then describes several issues for Congress with respect to the act's reauthorization.
Government Assistance for GMAC/Ally Financial: Unwinding the Government Stake
This report explains the governments relationship with Ally Financial (formerly known as General Motors Acceptance Corporation, or GMAC). Under the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) the government purchased preferred shares in Ally Financial, acquiring a 73.8% ownership state. This report discusses the reasoning behind this assistance to Ally and the ultimate costs.
Mongolia: Issues for Congress
This report examines current economic and political issues in Mongolia, including the country's democratic development, investment climate, military engagement and foreign relations.
Pakistan Political Unrest: In Brief
This report provides an overview of the latest developments in Islamabad. The report discusses the recent political unrest in Pakistan and implications for the U.S. interest.