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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
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U.S. Immigration Policy: Chart Book of Key Trends
This report is a chart book of selected immigration trends that touch on the main elements of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). Most policymakers agree that the main issues in CIR include increased border security and immigration enforcement, improved employment eligibility verification, revision of legal immigration, and options to address the millions of unauthorized aliens residing in the country. The report offers snapshots of time series data, using the most complete and consistent time series currently available for each statistic. The key findings and elements germane to the data depicted are summarized with the figures. The summary offers the highlights of key immigration trends.
Cybersecurity Issues and Challenges: In Brief
The information and communications technology (ICT) industry has evolved greatly over the last half century. The technology is ubiquitous and increasingly integral to almost every facet of modern society. ICT devices and components are generally interdependent, and disruption of one may affect many others. Over the past several years, experts and policy makers have expressed increasing concerns about protecting ICT systems from cyberattacks, which many experts expect to increase in frequency and severity over the next several years. This report discusses the concept of cybersecurity, the management of cybersecurity risks, and the federal government's role in managing such risks.
Ebola: Selected Legal Issues
Several West African countries are currently grappling with an unprecedented outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD). Here in the United States, where Ebola is not endemic, a handful of EVD cases have been diagnosed, and domestic transmission of the virus has occurred in only two cases to date. This report provides a brief overview of selected legal issues regarding measures to prevent transmission of Ebola virus and the civil rights of individuals affected by the disease.
Generalized System of Preferences: Background and Renewal Debate
The U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program provides non-reciprocal, duty-free tariff treatment to certain products imported from designated beneficiary developing countries (BDCs). This report presents, first, recent developments and a brief history, economic rationale, and legal background leading to the establishment of the GSP. Second, the report presents a discussion of U.S. implementation of the GSP. Third, the report presents an analysis of the U.S. program's effectiveness and the positions of various stakeholders. Fourth, implications of the expiration of the U.S. program and possible options for Congress are discussed.
Mexico: Background and U.S. Relations
This report provides an overview of political and economic conditions in Mexico followed by assessments of some key issues of congressional interest in Mexico: security, human rights, trade, migration, energy, and water issues. The report summarizes legislative action that occurred related to these topics during the 113th Congress and refers to other CRS products and experts that can be consulted for further information.
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.
Overview of Selected Federal Criminal Civil Rights Statutes
Federal criminal civil rights laws impose criminal penalties for deprivation of certain federal rights, privileges, or immunities. These laws prohibit hate crimes based on race, color, religion, or national origin; the burning of places of worship; violence against health care providers; and the transport of persons (particularly women and children) for the purpose of enslavement or forced labor. Some of these laws require a discriminatory motivation while others, such as human trafficking, do not. Some cover offenders acting "under color of any law." The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigates alleged violations. Punishments can range from a fine to lifetime imprisonment; in some cases the death penalty may be imposed, depending upon the circumstances and the resulting injury, if any. This report provides a brief summary of selected federal criminal civil right statutes.
Russian Compliance with the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty: Background and Issues for Congress
This report describes the current status of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and highlights issues that Congress may address as the United States pursues its compliance concerns with Russia.
The SSCI Study of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program: Issues to Consider
This report briefly discusses issues pertaining to the 500-page Executive Summary of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA's) Detention and Interrogation Program, which released to the public on December 9, 2014 describes the history of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program from late 2001 to January 2009, including a review of each of the 119 individuals known to have been held in CIA custody.
The 2013 Cybersecurity Executive Order: Overview and Considerations for Congress
The federal role in cybersecurity has been a topic of discussion and debate for over a decade. Despite significant legislative efforts in the 112th Congress on bills designed to improve the cybersecurity of U.S. critical infrastructure (CI), no legislation on that issue was enacted in that Congress. This report discusses the ramifications of Executive Order 13636, which issued in February 2013 was an attempt to enhance security and resiliency of CI through voluntary, collaborative efforts involving federal agencies and owners and operators of privately owned CI, as well as use of existing federal regulatory authorities.
Radio Broadcasting Chips for Smartphones: A Status Report
This report provides information on consumer and industry trends in radio and wireless network communications to give perspective on the proposal for widespread deployment of FM radio chips in smartphones as an emergency preparedness measure. It also provides a brief overview of the role of technology in disseminating emergency alerts and information.
Analysis of H.R. 5781, California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014
This report provides a description and analysis of H.R. 5781, the California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014, which passed the House December 9, 2014. It includes a summary of key provisions of the bill, and compares it with two other bills from the 113th Congress aiming to address different aspects of drought and water management in California.
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.
FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Issues
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has selected a number of the military personnel issues considered in deliberations on H.R. 4435, the initial House-passed version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015; S. 2410, the version of the NDAA reported by the Senate Committee on Armed Services (S.Rept. 113-176) but not considered by the full Senate; and H.R. 3979, the proposed final version. This report provides a brief synopsis of sections in each bill that pertain to selected military personnel policy. These include 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.
Iran: U.S. Economic Sanctions and the Authority to Lift Restrictions
The United States has led the international community in imposing economic sanctions on Iran, in an effort to change the government of that country's support of acts of international terrorism, poor human rights record, weapons and missile development and acquisition, role in regional instability, and development of a nuclear program. This report identifies the legislative bases for sanctions imposed on Iran, and the nature of the authority to waive or lift those restrictions. It comprises two tables that present legislation and executive orders that are specific to Iran and its objectionable activities in the areas of terrorism, human rights, and weapons proliferation. It will be updated if and when new legislation is enacted, or, in the case of executive orders, if and when the President takes additional steps to change U.S. policy toward Iran.
Iran: U.S. Economic Sanctions and the Authority to Lift Restrictions
The United States has led the international community in imposing economic sanctions on Iran, in an effort to change the government of that country's support of acts of international terrorism, poor human rights record, weapons and missile development and acquisition, role in regional instability, and development of a nuclear program. This report identifies the legislative bases for sanctions imposed on Iran, and the nature of the authority to waive or lift those restrictions.
Latin America and Climate Change
This report briefly discusses recent policy efforts in Latin America to confront climate change and the Obama Administrations' Energy and Climate Partnership for the Americas (ECPA).
Legislation to Facilitate Cybersecurity Information Sharing: Economic Analysis
This report analyzes the incentives for companies to share information about cybersecurity breaches with other companies and the federal government. Data breaches, such as those at Target, Home Depot, Neiman Marcus, and JPMorgan Chase, affecting financial records of tens of millions of households seem to occur regularly. Companies typically respond by trying to increase their cybersecurity by hiring consultants and purchasing new hardware and software. Policy analysts have suggested that sharing information about these breaches could be an effective and inexpensive part of improving cybersecurity. Firms share information directly on an ad hoc basis and through private-sector, nonprofit organizations such as Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs) that can analyze and disseminate information.
Terrorism Risk Insurance Legislation: Issue Summary and Side-by-Side Analysis
After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Congress responded to the disruption in the insurance market by passing the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 (TRIA; P.L. 107-297). TRIA created a temporary program, to calm the insurance markets through a government reinsurance backstop sharing in terrorism losses. The current TRIA program expires at the end of 2014. This report briefly outlines the issues involved with terrorism insurance, summarizes the extension legislation, and includes a side-by-side of the current TRIA law and the bills that have been passed by the Senate (S. 2244), reported by the House Committee on Financial Services (H.R. 4871), and passed by the House (S. 2244 with a substitute amendment).
U.S.-Taiwan Relationship: Overview of Policy Issues
This report is a succinct overview of the U.S.-Taiwan relationship including an analysis of issues. For decades, Taiwan has been of significant security, economic, and political interest to the United States. While the United States does not diplomatically recognize Taiwan, it is a significant autonomous actor in the world.
Overview of Federal Real Property Disposal Requirements and Procedures
This report begins with an explanation of the central role played by the General Services Administration (GSA) in the disposal of federal real estate property at most agencies. It then provides a discussion of the unique disposal processes at Department of Defense and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), which each have independent statutory authority to dispose of their own properties. It concludes with an overview of the environmental and historic preservation requirements that apply to the disposal of properties at all federal agencies.
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA): Resources for Frequently Asked Questions
This report provides resources to help congressional staff respond to constituents' frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148, as amended). The report lists selected resources regarding consumers, employers, and other stakeholders, with a focus on federal sources. It also lists Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports that summarize the ACA's provisions. The resources are arranged by topic.
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.
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 certain legislative changes to PILT in recent years.
Addressing the Long-Run Budget Deficit: A Comparison of Approaches
The growth of the national debt, which is considered unsustainable under current policies, continues to be one of the central issues of domestic federal policy making. On August 2, 2011, Congress adopted, and the President signed, the Budget Control Act (BCA; P.L. 112-25), which might be viewed as an initial step in addressing long-run debt issues. This report examines alternative approaches to reducing the deficit, relating to the immediate issues arising from the BCA and the extended tax cuts as well as to ongoing, longer-term decisions about how to bring the debt under control. It focuses on the trade-offs between limiting the provision of defense and domestic public goods, reducing transfers to persons including entitlements for the elderly and those with low income, reducing support for state and local governments, and raising taxes. Using projections of the debt and deficit, it also addresses how limiting reliance on one source of deficit reduction creates pressure on other sources.
Argentina: Background and U.S. Relations
Argentina, a South American country with a population of around 41 million, has had a vibrant democratic tradition since its military relinquished power in 1983. Argentina has Latin America's third-largest economy and is endowed with vast natural resources. Agriculture has traditionally been a main economic driver, but the country also has a diversified industrial base and a highly educated population. U.S.-Argentine relations, as described by the Department of State, are based on such shared interests as regional peace and stability, nuclear nonproliferation, human rights, education, and cooperation on science and technology. Commercial relations are robust, with the United States running a $5.7 billion trade surplus and U.S. companies investing approximately $15 billion in the country. This report provides background on the political and economic situation in Argentina and U.S.- Argentine relations.
Cost-Benefit and Other Analysis Requirements in the Rulemaking Process
A common concern voiced by proponents of regulatory reform in recent decades has been that the costs associated with certain regulations outweigh the benefits that the regulations are intended to provide. Another, and somewhat related, view is that more intelligent regulatory policies could achieve the same social goals (e.g., cleaner environment, safer workplaces) at less cost, or could achieve more ambitious goals at the same cost. Although many federal agencies are currently required to prepare cost-benefit analyses and cost-effectiveness analyses for certain rules before they are published in the Federal Register, proposed legislation has been introduced in the 113th Congress to expand those requirements to more agencies and more types of rules, and to produce more detailed analyses. This report identifies a number of those bills, but first describes the existing requirements for cost-benefit and other types of analysis in the federal rulemaking process. It also discusses options for changing the current set of analytical requirements. The report does not, however, attempt to address issues related to the quality of the analyses that agencies develop, or whether agencies use the results of cost-benefit analyses to guide decision making.
The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11
Congress has approved appropriations for the past 13 years of war that total $1.6 trillion for military operations, base support, weapons maintenance, training of Afghan and Iraq security forces, reconstruction, foreign aid, embassy costs, and veterans' health care for the war operations initiated since the 9/11 attacks. This report discusses the Department of Defense's FY2015 war request and various issues for Congress regarding the funding of the war on terror.
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.
Federal Lands and Natural Resources: Overview and Selected Issues for the 113th Congress
This report introduces some of the broad themes and issues Congress considers when addressing federal land policy and resource management. Federal land policy includes questions about the extent and location of the federal estate.
Hospital-Based Emergency Departments: Background and Policy Considerations
This report describes Emergency departments (EDs), the role they play in the health care delivery system, and current federal involvement in supporting EDs. It then discusses the causes and consequences of three commonly identified and interrelated challenges that EDs face: (1) crowding, (2) providing repeat care to a subset of patients who are frequent users, and (3) providing care to a large population who have behavioral health conditions when an ED lacks the appropriate resources to provide such treatment. The report concludes with policy options that Congress may consider to potentially improve ED functioning and reduce payer costs.
The "Islamic State" Crisis and U.S. Policy
This report discusses the problems facing Iraq as the Islamic State (IS, aka the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL/ISIS) gains power in the region. IS is a transnational Sunni Islamist insurgent and terrorist group that has expanded its control over areas of northwestern Iraq and northeastern Syria since 2013, threatening the security of both countries and drawing increased attention from the international community. The Islamic State has thrived in the disaffected Sunni Muslim-inhabited areas of Iraq and in the remote provinces of Syria torn by the civil war. The Islamic State's tactics have drawn the ire of the international community, increasing U.S. attention on Iraq's political problems and on the civil war in Syria.
Israel: Background and U.S. Relations
This report describes issues related to U.S. aid provided to Palestine to support prevention/combating against terrorism, creating coexistence with Israel and self-governance, and meeting humanitarian needs. In includes introductory and historical background as well as in-depth analysis of the types of U.S. bilateral aid to Palestine, U.S. contributions to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the near East (UNRWA), and the issues involved in determining future aid.
Nuclear Energy Cooperation with Foreign Countries: Issues for Congress
This report begins with a brief overview of the global nuclear power industry, including the possessors of enrichment and reprocessing technology. It then describes the state of the U.S. nuclear industry, particularly its dependence on both international trade and foreign suppliers. The report then reviews the multilateral nuclear nonproliferation mechanisms. It concludes with a detailed summary of U.S. nuclear cooperation agreements, the primary mechanism by which the United States both promotes U.S. nuclear commerce and ensures that such commerce does not contribute to clandestine nuclear weapons programs.
Security Assistance Reform: "Section 1206" Background and Issues for Congress
This report discusses Section 1206 of the FY2006 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which provides the Secretary of Defense with authority to train and equip foreign military forces for two specified purposes--counterterrorism and stability operations--and foreign security forces for counterterrorism operations.
State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2015 Budget and Appropriations
This report tracks the FY2015 State Department, Foreign Operations and Related Programs appropriations process. It includes information about recent actions, current requests and past trends, state operations and related agencies, and foreign operations.
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.
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.
Closing a Congressional Office: Overview of House and Senate Practices
Turnover of membership in the House and Senate necessitates closing congressional offices. The closure of a congressional office requires an outgoing Member of Congress to evaluate pertinent information regarding his or her staff; the disposal of personal and official records; and final disposition of office accounts, facilities, and equipment. This report is designed to address questions that arise when a congressional office is closing.
The First Day of a New Congress: A Guide to Proceedings on the House Floor
This report focuses on the floor activities of the House during its first formal session in a new Congress, and serves as a guide for those participating in or watching these proceedings.
The Help America Vote Act and Election Administration: Overview and Issues
The deadlocked November 2000 presidential election focused national attention on previously obscure details of election administration. Even before the U.S. Supreme Court had resolved the election in December, numerous bills to address the failings of the election system were introduced in Congress and state legislatures. The response at the federal level was the Help America Vote Act (HAVA; P.L. 107-252), enacted in 2002. HAVA created the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), established a set of election administration requirements, and provided federal funding, but did not supplant state and local control over election administration. Several issues have arisen or persisted in the years since HAVA was enacted. This report provides background information about HAVA and its provisions, the EAC, funding for the agency and for state programs to improve elections, and a number of enduring election administration issues.
North Korea: U.S. Relations, Nuclear Diplomacy, and Internal Situation
North Korea has presented one of the most vexing and persistent problems in U.S. foreign policy in the post-Cold War period. The United States has never had formal diplomatic relations with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (the official name for North Korea), although contact at a lower level has ebbed and flowed over the years. Negotiations over North Korea's nuclear weapons program have occupied the past three U.S. administrations, even as some analysts anticipated a collapse of the isolated authoritarian regime. North Korea has been the recipient of over $1 billion in U.S. aid (though none since 2009) and the target of dozens of U.S. sanctions. This report covers the overall U.S.-North Korea relationship, with an emphasis on nuclear diplomacy.
Preventing the Introduction and Spread of Ebola in the United States: Frequently Asked Questions
This report answers common legal and policy questions about the potential introduction and spread of Ebola Virus Disease in the United States.
The Receipt of Gifts by Federal Employees in the Executive Branch
This report provides information on the federal statutes, regulations, and guidelines concerning the restrictions on the acceptance of gifts and things of value by officers or employees in the executive branch of the United States government.
Selected Privileges and Courtesies Extended to Former Members of Congress
This report discusses the courtesies and privileges afforded to Members of the House and Senate, after they leave office.
Attorney General Nominations Since the Reagan Administration
On November 9, 2014, President Obama announced his intention to nominate U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch to replace Eric H. Holder Jr. as Attorney General (AG). Presidents have nominated a total of 11 individuals, including Lynch, for the position of AG since the beginning of the Reagan Administration in 1981. This report provides a table with information regarding these 11 nominations.
FY2015 Budget Requests to Counter Ebola and the Islamic State (IS)
This report discusses the emergency request for the U.S. Ebola response and provides data on health and human services funds for Ebola and other infectious diseases.
The Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Strategy: In Brief
This report briefly analyzes the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Strategy (HSRS), which is the key strategic document released by the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force established by executive order. This report also discusses overarching issues for Congress that may arise during oversight of the Hurricane Sandy recovery process and how lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy can be applied to future disasters.
"Living Wills": The Legal Regime for Constructing Resolution Plans for Certain Financial Institutions
One of the chief objectives of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (DFA) is to promote financial stability within the United States, without the need for emergency governmental assistance to troubled firms. To achieve this goal, the DFA establishes a heightened regulatory regime for certain, generally large "covered financial institutions." A pillar of this heightened regulatory regime is that each covered financial institution must submit "credible" plans to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FRB) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) detailing how the firm could be quickly resolved in an orderly fashion under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code or other applicable insolvency regime "in the event of a material financial distress or failure." These resolution plans are commonly referred to as "living wills." This report reviews the legal structure of the DFA's living will requirements, pursuant to both DFA Section 165(d) and the regulations and guidance issued jointly by the FRB and FDIC, and explains the August 2014 joint announcement of the FRB and FDIC regarding the inadequacies of the 2013 living wills filed by the 11 largest, most complex financial institutions in the country. This report also examines some of the steps that these institutions might voluntarily take.
State Marijuana Legalization Initiatives: Implications for Federal Law Enforcement
This report provides a background on federal marijuana policy as well as an overview of state trends with respect to marijuana decriminalization and legalization--for both medical and recreational uses. It then analyzes relevant issues for U.S. federal law enforcement as well as for the criminal organizations involved in producing, distributing, and profiting from the black market sale of marijuana. This report also outlines a number of related policy questions that Congress may confront.