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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
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Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides an overview of Arctic-related issues for Congress, and refers readers to more in-depth CRS reports on specific Arctic-related issues. Issues such as Arctic sovereignty claims; commercial shipping through the Arctic; Arctic oil, gas, and mineral exploration; endangered Arctic species; and increased military operations in the Arctic could cause the region in coming years to become an arena of international cooperation or competition.
Drought Legislation: Comparison of Selected Provisions in H.R. 2898 and S. 1894
This report summarizes the provisions of S. 1894, as introduced, and H.R. 2898, as passed by the House for conservation of fish species and their habitats in drought-stricken areas. It identifies comparable provisions between the two bills and discusses some of the ways in which those provisions overlap or differ. It also summarizes selected other major provisions in each bill.
The European Union: Questions and Answers
This report serves as a primer on the European Union and provides a brief description of U.S.-EU relations that may be of interest in the 114th Congress.
Europe's Migration and Refugee Crisis
This report discusses the migration and refugee crisis in Europe, as people flee conflict and poverty in neighboring regions. Many are from the Middle East and Africa; others come from Ukraine, as well as Kosovo and elsewhere in the Western Balkans. Experts have characterized the influxes as mixed migration, defined as flows of different groups of people--such as economic migrants, refugees, asylum-seekers, stateless persons, trafficked persons, and unaccompanied children--who travel the same routes and use the same modes of transportation.
Tax Provisions that Expired in 2014 ("Tax Extenders")
This report provides a broad overview of tax extenders -- a collective of temporary tax provisions for which measures have regularly extended the provisions when expired or expiring. Fifty-two temporary tax provisions expired at the end of 2014.
The Vessel Incidental Discharge Act: Background and Issues
This report discusses the combination of regulations and standards for controlling vessel discharges, which is at issue today and is addressed in legislation in the 114th Congress, the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act.
Essential Air Service (EAS)
This report discusses Congress' establishment of the Essential Air Service (EAS), a program to ensure that small communities that were served by certificated air carriers before the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 would continue to receive scheduled passenger service, with subsidies if necessary. Deregulation gave airlines almost total freedom to determine which domestic markets to serve and what airfares to charge, which raised the concern that communities with relatively low passenger levels would lose service as carriers shifted their operations to serve larger and often more profitable markets.
Federal Tactical Teams
This report provides a brief overview of the development of tactical teams at the state and local level and the concerns raised by their expansion. It then discusses the composition of these teams in the federal government. It concludes with a discussion of potential issues for policymakers to consider if they take up legislation or conduct oversight related to how the federal government uses tactical teams.
Across-the-Board Rescissions in Appropriations Acts: Overview and Recent Practices
This report provides information on the main components of across-the-board rescissions and recent practices since FY2008. The annual appropriations process reqires an agreement on the level of funding for individual items or accounts but also with regard to the total amount of discretionary budget authority that will be provided for that fiscal year. If that agreed-upon amount requires a reduction in budget authority and sufficient reductions are not associated with individual programs, an alternative method to reduce that amount is an "across-the-board rescission."
Arms Control Ratification: Opportunities for Modifying Agreements
This report briefly examines arms control ratification and opportunities for modifying agreements. On July 14, 2015, Iran, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, and Germany (the P5+1) finalized a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)--an agreement that restricts Iran's nuclear program in an effort to ensure that it can only be used for peaceful purposes.
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. Coast Guard polar icebreakers perform a variety of missions supporting U.S. interests in polar regions. The operational U.S. polar icebreaking fleet currently consists of one heavy polar icebreaker, Polar Star, and one medium polar icebreaker, Healy.
History and Authority of the Joint Economic Committee
This report briefly discusses joint committees, which are composed of members from both the House and the Senate. The work of these committees generally involves conducting studies and overseeing aspects of congressional operations. This report focuses specifically on the Joint Economic Committee.
Is Global Growth Slowing?
This report discusses concerns about a slowdown in the global economy, particularly in China and other emerging markets. Some projections indicate that global economic growth in 2016 could be slightly weaker for emerging markets, primarily Latin America, and developed economies, except the United States and the United Kingdom.
Long Range Strike Bomber Begins to Emerge
This report discusses the U.S. Air Force's top three procurement priorities, including the LRS-B program, which is intended to yield 80 to 100 strategic bombers to replace aging B-52s and B-1s, beginning in the mid-2020s.
Navy Lasers, Railgun, and Hypervelocity Projectile: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on three potential new weapons that could improve the ability of Navy surface ships to defend themselves against enemy missiles: solid state lasers (SSLs), the electromagnetic railgun (EMRG), and the hypervelocity projectile (HVP). Any one of these new weapon technologies, if successfully developed and deployed, might be regarded as a "game changer" for defending Navy surface ships against enemy missiles.
Renegotiating Arms Control Agreements: A Brief Review
This report discusses previous arms control agreements that affected U.S. weapons programs or military activities. On July 14, 2015, Iran, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, and Germany finalized a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)--an agreement that restricts Iran's nuclear program in an effort to ensure that it can only be used for peaceful purposes.
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.
The Affordable Care Act's (ACA) Employer Shared Responsibility Determination and the Potential ACA Employer Penalty
This report describes the potential employer penalties related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148, as amended) as well as regulations to implement the ACA employer provisions. The regulations address insurance coverage requirements, methodologies for determining whether a worker is considered full time, provisions relating to seasonal workers and corporate franchises, and other reporting requirements.
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA): Resources for Frequently Asked Questions
This report contains links to contacts for specific Affordable Care Act (ACA) questions and provides basic consumer sources, including a glossary of health coverage terms. It also provides sources on the ACA's provisions on mental health, public health, workforce, quality, and taxes, as well as sources on ACA costs and appropriations, legal issues, the treatment of noncitizens under the ACA, and sources for obtaining the law's full text.
Women in Combat: Issues for Congress
This report looks at the history of women in US military roles and combat since the 1990s. It also discusses critic's views of exclusionary policy as a civil rights issue. Over the past two decades of conflict, women have served with valor and continue to serve on combat aircraft, naval vessels, and in support of ground combat operations. The expansion of roles for women in the armed forces has evolved since the early days of the military when women were restricted by law and policy from serving in certain occupations and units.
Drug Testing and Crime-Related Restrictions in TANF, SNAP, and Housing Assistance
This report describes and compares the drug- and crime-related policy restrictions contained in selected federal programs that provide assistance to low-income individuals and families: the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps), and the three primary federal housing assistance programs (the public housing program, the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, and the project-based Section 8 rental assistance program).
Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2015 Appropriations
This report discusses the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill, which includes funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and more than two dozen independent agencies.
Maritime Territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Disputes Involving China: Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on maritime territorial and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) disputes in the East China (ECS) and South China Sea (SCS) involving China, with a focus on how these disputes may affect U.S. strategic and policy interests.
Navy Irregular Warfare and Counterterrorism Operations: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and potential issues for Congress on the Navy's irregular warfare (IW) and counterterrorism (CT) operations. The Navy's IW and CT activities pose a number of potential oversight issues for Congress, including how much emphasis to place on IW and CT activities in future Navy budgets. Congress's decisions regarding Navy IW and CT operations can affect Navy operations and funding requirements, and the implementation of the nation's overall IW and CT strategies.
Financial Regulatory Improvement Act Included in Senate Appropriations Bill
This report highlights some of the major policy proposals included in S. 1484, as reported by the Senate Banking Committee on June 2, 2015. The text of the bill was among the financial regulatory changes included in the FY2016 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act (S. 1910). S. 1484 encompasses a broad package of reforms to the financial regulatory system, including some changes to the Dodd-Frank Act (P.L. 111-203).
Gold King Mine Spill May Renew Interest in "Good Samaritan" Legislation
This report discusses legislation related to an accidental spill from the Gold King Mine, a long-abandoned gold mine site in Colorado, which released acid mine drainage (AMD) wastewater into a tributary of the Animas River and downstream to the San Juan River. The proposed legislation would authorize Good Samaritan remediation, in which third parties who have no history of polluting at a particular site or legal responsibility for its pollution step forward to clean up AMD or other historic mine residue of pollution.
How Many UAVs for DOD?
This report briefly discusses the Department of Defense's (DOD) projected procurement levels for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or "drones") over the next several years.
The International Labor Organization (ILO): Background in Brief
This report discusses the International Labor Organization (ILO), and describes the ILO's mission, structure, and functions; presents case studies on how the ILO offers assistance to countries in promoting worker rights; and identifies issues for Congress.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's Essential Health Benefits (EHB)
This report provides an overview of the first component of the essential health benefits (EHB) package--a core package of health care services required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148, as amended) for non-group and small-group private health insurance markets. The report examines how the EHB are defined, regulations related to the EHB, state variation in the EHB, applicability of the EHB to health plans, and how the EHB interact with other ACA provisions.
Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (H.R. 3230; P.L. 113-146)
This report begins with a brief overview of the legislative history that lead up to the enactment of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-146), and discusses subsequent amendments to the act. The Act was largely in response to issues pertaining to delays in patient care and patient wait time manipulation at various Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system facilities.
Health Insurance: Small is the New Large
This report discusses aspects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that expand the definition of small employer to include employers with 100 or fewer employees. States must implement the expanded definition for plan years beginning in 2016, but have the option of implementing the expanded definition prior to the deadline.
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. Rules for giving certain types of names to certain types of Navy ships have evolved over time.
Amendments in the Senate: Types and Forms
This report briefly describes the various types of amendments that take place in the Senate. It has sections describing distinctions among amendments, degrees of amendments, forms of amendments, and the scope of amendments.
Apprenticeship in the United States: Frequently Asked Questions
This Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) report focuses on the Registered Apprenticeship system, through which the U.S. Department of Labor (or a recognized state apprenticeship agency) certifies a program as meeting certain federal requirements related to duration, intensity, and benefit to the apprentice. The report also discusses federal programs for which supporting apprenticeship activities is an allowable, but not required, use of funds.
Calendars of the House of Representatives
This report describes the use of "calendars" in the House of Representatives, referring to (1) lists of measures and motions eligible for consideration and (2) documents that contain the eligible motions and information about the status of legislation.
Delegates to the U.S. Congress: History and Current Status
This report provides historical background on the development of the position of delegate to Congress and on the rights of a delegate once seated. Delegates, representing territories that had not yet achieved statehood, have served in the House since the late 1700s. In the 20th century, the concept of delegate grew to include representation of territories where the United States exercises some degree of control but were not expected to become states.
House Committee Hearings: Arranging Witnesses
This report briefly discusses the selection of witnesses for House committee hearings. House committees and subcommittees pay careful attention to which viewpoints will be represented, who should testify, and the order and format for presenting witnesses. Witnesses do not have an inherent right to appear at a hearing but must be invited by a committee or subcommittee in order to testify; committees and subcommittees may also subpoena reluctant witnesses to appear at a hearing.
House Committee Hearings: Preparation
This report contains a checklist that identifies many of the tasks that need to be performed for committee hearings. Committee hearings provide Representatives an opportunity to gather information on, and draw attention to, legislation and issues within a committee's purview; conduct oversight of programs or agencies; and investigate allegations of mismanagement or wrongdoing.
House Committee Hearings: Scheduling and Notification
This report briefly discusses scheduling and notification requirements, and practices for House committee hearings.
Pairing in Congressional Voting: The House
This report discusses the practice of "pairing" for votes in the House of Representatives. Under certain procedural circumstances, a Member who is absent during a vote on the House floor may arrange with a Member on the opposite side of a specific question (who will be present) to announce that the Member who is present is forming a "pair" with the absent Member, thus allowing the absent Member to have his intended vote recorded.
Policy Implications of the Internet of Things
This report briefly discusses the Internet of Things (IoT), which is an umbrella term that many policymakers use to refer to the technologies and network structures that interconnect objects, humans, and animals to collect and analyze data and manage processes.
Quorum Requirements in the House: Committee and Chamber
This report discusses minimum quorum requirements established by House Rule XI, clause 2 for eight areas of committee activity.
Federal Employees' Retirement System: Budget and Trust Fund Issues
This report discusses the two retirement systems for federal employees: (1) the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) for individuals hired before 1984, and (2) the Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS) for individuals hired in 1984 or later.
Expedited Removal Authority for VA Senior Executives (38 U.S.C. ยง 713): Selected Legal Issues
This report discusses selected legal issues relating to the authority for summary removal of individuals in senior executive positions at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Section 707 of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act, P.L. 113-146, enacted on August 7, 2014, created this authority by adding Section 713 to Title 38 of the United States Code. It authorizes the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to remove an individual in a senior executive position from federal service or transfer him or her to a position in the General Schedule if the Secretary determines that the individual's performance or misconduct warrants removal.
Farm Safety Net Programs: Background and Issues
This report discusses several programs operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that supplement the income of farmers and ranchers in times of low farm prices and natural disasters. Federal crop insurance, farm programs, and disaster assistance are collectively called the farm safety net.
Automatic Continuing Resolutions: Background and Overview of Recent Proposals
This report provides background on the historical frequency of federal funding gaps and shutdowns. It also discusses features of Automatic Continuing Resolutions (ACRs), arguments for and against ACRs, relevant Congressional actions, and proposals in the 112th through 114th Congresses.
Birthright Citizenship Under the 14th Amendment of Persons Born in the United States to Alien Parents
This report traces the history of birthright citizenship under U.S. law and discusses some of the legislation in recent Congresses intended to alter it. In the current and recent Congresses, some Members have introduced or supported legislation that would revise or reinterpret the Citizenship Clause to address several concerns.
Brazil: Background and U.S. Relations
This report discusses the current political and economic situation in Brazil, and examines the U.S.'s commercial relationship with the country. The United States traditionally has enjoyed robust economic and political relations with Brazil, which is the seventh-largest economy in the world and is recognized by the Obama Administration as a "major global player" and an "indispensable partner" on issues ranging from international development to climate change.
The Excise Tax on High-Cost Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage: Background and Economic Analysis
This report gives a brief description of the excise tax on high-cost employer-sponsored coverage, commonly referred to as the Cadillac tax, including the legislative origins of the tax and an analysis of the revenue effects of the tax. It also analyzes the Cadillac tax using standard economic criteria of efficiency, equity, and administrative simplicity as well as an analysis of health insurance premium data to provide insights into what share of health insurance plans could exceed the Cadillac tax threshold and how the threshold could affect more health plans over time.
The Excise Tax on High-Cost Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance: Estimated Economic and Market Effects
This report examines several issues: it evaluates the potential of the Cadillac tax to affect health insurance coverage (and, therefore, the health market), and examines the expected incidence (burden) of the tax--that is, which group will pay the price of the tax.