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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
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Trade Promotion Authority (TPA): Frequently Asked Questions
The issue of TPA reauthorization raises a number of questions regarding TPA itself and the pending legislation. This report addresses a number of those questions that are frequently asked, including the following: What is trade promotion authority? Is TPA necessary? What are trade negotiating objectives and how are they reflected in TPA statutes? What requirements does Congress impose on the President under TPA? Does TPA affect congressional authority on trade policy?
Ex-Im Bank's General Statutory Authority Expires
This report discusses the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank), a wholly owned federal government corporation which seeks to provide direct loans, loan guarantees, and export credit insurance to: (1) support exports that the private sector is unwilling or unable to finance alone at commercially viable terms; and/or (2) counter government-backed financing offered by foreign countries through their export credit agency (ECA).
Iran: Efforts to Achieve a Nuclear Accord
This report discusses Iran's nuclear program and diplomatic efforts to forge a comprehensive agreement to keep that program peaceful.
Temporary Protected Status: Current Immigration Policy and Issues
This report is a brief overview of current policies regarding temporary protected status (TPS), which is relief from removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). It includes information about humanitarian migrants, temporary protected status, other blanket forms of relief, nationalities receiving protections, and issues with TPS, as well as recent legislation.
Burma's Parliament Defeats Constitutional Amendments
This report discusses the recent defeat of 5 proposed constitutional amendments in Burma that arguably could have advanced democratic reforms in which Congress has shown an interest.
California Agricultural Production and Irrigated Water Use
This report provides an overview of California's farm economy, specifically examining the current state of the water supply and the use of irrigation water.
Iran's Foreign Policy
This report provides an overview of Iran's foreign policy, which has been a subject of numerous congressional hearings and of sanctions and other legislation for many years. The report analyzes Iranian foreign policy as a whole and by region. The regional analysis discusses those countries where Iranian policy is of U.S. concern.
Organization of American States: Background and Issues for Congress
This report briefly looks at the history of the Organization of American States (OAS) and its principal institutional bodies, and examines the organization's funding and current priorities. It also discusses a number of policy issues that have drawn congressional interest in recent years, including the reintegration of Cuba into the inter-American system, the application of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, potential reforms of the inter- American human rights system, the management and budget of the OAS, and the establishment of regional organizations that could serve as possible alternatives to the OAS.
U.S.-Republic of Korea Nuclear Cooperation Agreement
The United States and South Korea have cooperated in the peaceful use of nuclear energy for over 50 years. This cooperation includes commercial power reactor projects as well as research and development work on safety, safeguards, advanced nuclear reactors, and fuel cycle technologies. This report discusses the new civilian nuclear cooperation agreement between the United States and South Korea.
Economic Crisis in Greece
This report briefly discusses the current economic situation in Greece. Questions about whether Greece will stay in the Eurozone have resurfaced, as the government's stalemate with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Eurozone creditors has reached a critical point.
France: Efforts to Counter Islamist Terrorism and Radicalization
This report briefly discusses heightened concern regarding the threat of Islamist terrorism in France and Europe.
Greenhouse Gas Pledges by Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
This report briefly summarizes the existing commitments and pledges of selected national and regional governments to limit their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as contributions to the global effort.
The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): In Brief
This report provides a basic description of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which mandates that U.S. transportation fuel must contain a minimum volume of biofuel, and is a federal statutory requirement. The mandated minimum volume increases annually and can be met using both conventional biofuel (e.g., cornstarch ethanol) and advanced biofuels. This report also includes some of the widely-discussed issues.
Veterans' Benefits: Pension Benefit Programs
This report describes several pension benefit programs for veterans and their families, including the eligibility criteria and current benefit levels, and provides data on the number of pension beneficiaries and average annual benefit amounts for FY1999 through FY2013.
Navy Ohio Replacement (SSBN[X]) Ballistic Missile Submarine Program: Background and Issues for Congress
This report focuses on the Ohio replacement program as a Navy shipbuilding program. The report provides background information and potential oversight issues for Congress on the Ohio replacement program (ORP), a program to design and build a new class of 12 ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) to replace the Navy's current force of 14 Ohio-class SSBNs.
Who is a "Veteran"?--Basic Eligibility for Veterans' Benefits
This report examines the basic eligibility criteria for VA administered veterans' benefits, including the issue of eligibility of members of the National Guard and reserve components.
Wildfire Spending: Background, Issues, and Legislation in the 114th Congress
This report provides background information and analysis of funding for federal wildfire suppression operations. It concludes by summarizing relevant legislative proposals introduced in the 114th Congress and discussing their possible implications.
Sex Trafficking: An Overview of Federal Criminal Law
This report discusses federal laws on sex trafficking. Sex trafficking is a state crime. Federal law, however, makes it a federal crime to conduct the activities of a sex trafficking enterprise in a way that affects interstate or foreign commerce or that involves travel in interstate or foreign commerce.
U.S. Capital Markets and International Accounting Standards: GAAP Versus IFRS
This report briefly explains the different accounting standards and U.S. capital markets. It examines several International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) policy options Congress might consider and the benefits and challenges of each of those options.
The Future of Internet Governance: Should the U.S. Relinquish Its Authority Over ICANN?
This report discusses legislation over the future of Internet government that has been introduced in the 113th and 114th Congresses which would prevent, delay, or impose conditions or additional scrutiny on the transition.
Internet Governance and the Domain Name System: Issues for Congress
This report provides a definition regarding Internet governance and how the Internet is currently governed. The report discusses the role of United States government and future model of Internet governance.
Sifting Domestic Terrorism from Other Illegal Activity
This report briefly discusses key differences between domestic terrorism and ordinary criminal activity. Unlike ordinary criminals--who are often driven by self-centered motives such as profit and tend to opportunistically seek easy prey--domestic terrorists are driven by a cause or ideology.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE): Issues for U.S. Policy
This report discusses the open economy and society of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), provides a general description of the UAE's government and political structure, and outlines the effects of the recent global economic downturn on the UAE in general and on the city of Dubai in particular. It also describes U.S. concern over the proliferation of advanced technology in relation to a recently-signed U.S.-UAE civilian nuclear agreement, due to the UAE economy and the UAE's lax export controls.
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).
Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on the sustainment and modernization of the Coast Guard's polar icebreaker fleet, which performs a variety of missions supporting U.S. interests in polar regions.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)
This report contains information on how to ascertain if an individual is eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) benefits.
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.
Navy Shipboard Lasers for Surface, Air, and Missile Defense: Background and Issues for Congress
This report focuses on potential Navy shipboard lasers for countering surface, air, and ballistic missile threats. It does not discuss the use of lasers on Navy aircraft or submarines, or the use of lasers by other military services. This report is based on unclassified, open-domain information from the Navy, industry, and research organizations such as RAND.
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). Only provisions relating to congressional actions are covered in this report.
Appointment and Confirmation of Executive Branch Leadership: An Overview
This report begins by explaining the three distinct stages that comprise the advice and consent process, which is the means through which most of these positions are filled. The report then provides an overview of recess appointments and briefly discusses other options that are available to Presidents for temporarily filling vacant advice and consent positions. Finally, it discusses certain types of statutory provisions that Congress has applied selectively to specific advice and consent positions in the executive branch.
Hong Kong's Legislative Council Votes Down Chief Executive Election Reform
This report briefly discusses Hong Kong's Legislative Council (Legco), and the recent defeat of a proposal to reform the city's Chief Executive (CE) selection method.
Legislative Research for Congressional Staff: How to Find Documents and Other Resources
This report is one of a series of reports on legislative process and research; it is intended to serve as a finding aid to sources of information, such as documents, news articles, analysis, contacts and services, used in legislative research.
Members' Representational Allowance: History and Usage
This report provides a history and overview of the Members' Representational Allowance (MRA) and examines spending patterns over selected years--2005, 2006, 2007, 2011, and 2012. The data exclude non-voting Members, including Delegates and the Resident Commissioner, as well as Members who were not in Congress for the entirety of the session. Information is provided on total spending and spending for various categories. The data collected demonstrate that, despite variations when considering all Members, many Members allocate their spending in a similar manner.
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 of the critiques of it. 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.
Timeline Related to Health Insurance and Exchange Rules: Backdrop to King v. Burwell
This report provides a timeline that identifies selected 2015 dates related to exchange establishment and operation, legislative calendars, and regulation of the individual health insurance market, among other issues.
Cybersecurity and Information Sharing: Comparison of Legislative Proposals in the 114th Congress
This report compares two House bills and one Senate bill that address information sharing and related activities in cybersecurity. The report consists of an overview of those and other legislative proposals on information sharing, along with selected associated issues, followed by a side-by-side analysis of the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act of 2015 (NCPAA), the Protecting Cyber Networks Act (PCNA), and the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA).
Judiciary Appropriations FY2016
This report provides an overview of the consideration of FY2016 judiciary appropriations, with subsections covering each major action, including the initial submission of the request on February 2, 2015; hearings held by the House and Senate Financial Services Subcommittees; and the House subcommittee markup on June 10, 2015. This overview is followed by a section on prior-year actions and funding and then an overview of judiciary accounts.
Monetary Policy and the Federal Reserve: Current Policy and Issues for Congress
This report provides an overview of monetary policy and recent developments. It discusses issues for Congress, including transparency and proposals to change the Fed's mandate, and ends with a brief overview of the Fed's regulatory responsibilities.
Protecting Civil Aviation from Cyberattacks
This report briefly discusses cyber-security issues in civil aviation. unclear. A recent probe into alleged hacking incidents unfolded just weeks after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) alerted airlines to be on the lookout for passengers trying to tap into aircraft electronics and for evidence of tampering or network intrusions.
South Carolina Church Shooting and Hate Crime in the United States
This report provides statistics on Hate Crimes in the United States, in the wake of the South Carolina Church Shooting on June 18, 2015.
Iran Sanctions
This report analyzes U.S. and international sanctions against Iran. U.S. sanctions have been a major feature of U.S. Iran policy since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, but U.N. and worldwide bilateral sanctions on Iran are a relatively recent (post-2006) development.
The Addition of Trainers to Iraq: Background for Congress
This report provides a brief overview of the conflict with the Islamic State organization (IS, aka ISIL/ISIS/Daesh) and resulting military campaign.
African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA): Background and Reauthorization
This report discusses the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which is a nonreciprocal trade preference program that provides duty-free treatment to U.S. imports of certain products from eligible sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries.
Chinese Land Reclamation in the South China Sea: Implications and Policy Options
This report assesses legal, military/operational, and diplomatic implications of the reclamation and construction activity. It surveys U.S. and Chinese statements on the situation, provides a history of reclamation activity by other nations including the United States and other South China Sea claimants, and discusses U.S. strategy and potential options for U.S. policymakers.
Fact Sheet: Selected Highlights of the FY2016 Defense Appropriations Bills (H.R. 2685 and S. 1558)
This report includes selected highlights of the versions of the FY2016 Defense Appropriations Bill passed by the House on June 11, 2015 (H.R. 2685) and reported by the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 11, 2015 (S. 1558).
Turkey After June 2015 Elections: Erdogan and the AKP Fall Short
This report discusses the parliamentary politics of Turkey in the wake of elections held on June 7, 2015. Although Turkey's Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) won the most seats in parliamentary elections, it lost the governing majority it had enjoyed since 2002--probably ending President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's (air-doe-wan) hopes for constitutional change to increase his formal powers.
Intelligence Authorization Legislation for FY2016: Selected Provisions
This report briefly highlights key provisions of H.R. 2596, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (IAA for FY2016), which provides guidance to, and authorizes appropriations for, components of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC).
Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and the Role of Congress in Trade Policy
This report presents background and analysis on the development of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which expired on July 1, 2007. The report also includes a summary of the major provisions under the recently expired authority and a discussion of the issues that have arisen in the debate over TPA renewal, as well as policy options available to Congress.
China's Economic Rise: History, Trends, Challenges, and Implications for the United States
This report provides background on China's economic rise; describes its current economic structure; identifies the challenges China faces to maintain economic growth; and discusses the challenges, opportunities, and implications of China's economic rise for the United States.
Access to Broadband Networks: The Net Neutrality Debate
This report discusses the current debate over "net neutrality." While there is no single accepted definition of "net neutrality," most agree that any such definition should include the general principles that owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet should not control how consumers lawfully use that network, and they should not be able to discriminate against content provider access to that network.