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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Israel's Iron Dome Anti-Rocket System: U.S. Assistance and Coproduction
This report provides a background of Israel's Iron Dome anti-rocket system and then briefly touches on other topics including U.S.-Israeli co-production of the system, and proposed future U.S. funding.
Reauthorizing the Office of National Drug Control Policy: Issues for Consideration
This report provides a discussion of the National Drug Control Strategy, the National Drug Control Budget, and Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) evaluation of the National Drug Control Strategy implementation. It then provides an analysis of selected legislative and oversight issues that Congress may consider when debating the reauthorization of ONDCP.
Temporary Professional, Managerial, and Skilled Foreign Workers: Legislation in the 113th Congress
This report provides legislative analyses of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744), as passed by the Senate, and the Supplying Knowledgebased Immigrants and Lifting Levels of STEM Visas Act (SKILLS Visa Act, H.R. 2131), as ordered reported by the House Committee on the Judiciary.
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty: Background and Current Developments
This report discusses the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which bans all nuclear explosion and was in 1996 adopted by the U.N. General Assembly but rejected by the U.S. Senate in 1997. This report discusses the Obama Administration's stated goal of pursuing U.S. ratification of the CTBT, although the Administration has mainly focused on securing Senate consent to ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). This report also discusses other nuclear weapons-related issues as well as the long history of nuclear testing.
The European Union: Questions and Answers
This report provides a brief overview of the European Union (EU), an economic and political partnership between 27 sovereign member states. The report describes the formation of the EU, the three main institutions of the EU, and the EU's relationship with the United States.
Limitations in Appropriations Measures: An Overview of Procedural Issues
This report discusses internal congressional rules and procedures regarding money and policy decisions. It begins by explaining the contrasting procedural contexts that influence the consideration of limitation provisions in appropriations measures on the House and Senate floor. Next, it defines the two forms of limitations that have been allowed under House and Senate precedents, with examples of previous purposes that have been allowed. This report then proceeds to identify the variety of substantive challenges that exist in structuring a limitation provision so that it does not constitute legislative language and thereby violate House and Senate rules. Finally, this report concludes by discussing the effect of points of order during floor consideration and the burden of proof that exists for proponents of limitation provisions to successfully overcome procedural objections.
Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response: The SAFER Grant Program
This report discusses the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Act, which authorizes grants to career, volunteer, and combination local fire departments for the purpose of increasing the number of firefighters to help communities meet industry-minimum standards and attain 24-hour staffing to provide adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards.
United States Fire Administration: An Overview
This report discusses the United States Fire Administration (USFA), which aims to significantly reduce the nation's loss of life from fire, while also achieving a reduction in property loss and non-fatal injury due to fire.
Dark Pools in Equity Trading: Policy Concerns and Recent Developments
This report examines the confluence of factors that led to the rise of dark pools; the potential benefits and costs of such trading; some regulatory and congressional concerns over dark pools; recent regulatory developments by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which oversees broker-dealers; and some recent lawsuits and enforcement actions garnering significant media attention.
Hydraulic Fracturing: Selected Legal Issues
This report focuses on selected legal issues related to the use of hydraulic fracturing. It examines some of the requirements for hydraulic fracturing contained in major federal environmental laws. It also provides an overview of issues involving state preemption of local zoning authority, as well as state tort law.
India-U.S. Economic Relations: In Brief
This report examines the economic status of India, and discusses the countries trade and investment ties to the United States. Although merchandise trade between India and the U.S. has grown rapidly over the last five years, each nation contends that some aspects of the other's economic and trade policies hinder greater trade and investment growth.
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 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) since the law's enactment.
Legislative Support Resources: Offices and Websites for Congressional Staff
This report provides a brief list of telephone numbers, room numbers, and Internet addresses of use to new congressional staffers who work with legislative procedures and conduct legislative research. Internet access restrictions are noted. Some of the websites listed are available only to congressional offices; other sites are restricted further and are only available to House or Senate offices.
Offshore Oil and Gas Development: Legal Framework
This report explains the nature of U.S. authority over offshore areas pursuant to international and domestic law. It also describes the laws, at both the state and federal levels, governing the development of offshore oil and gas and the litigation that has flowed from development under these legal regimes. Also included is an outline of recent changes to the authorities regulating offshore development, as well as a discussion of recent executive action and legislative proposals concerning offshore oil and natural gas exploration and production.
Veterans' Benefits: The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Duty to Assist Claimants
This report analyzes court decisions that have examined the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA's) obligation to assist veterans during the claims process.
Corporate Expatriation, Inversions, and Mergers: Tax Issues
This report discusses relevant portions of the U.S. corporate income tax system and how inversions have commonly been structured. It also looks at how Congress and Department of the Treasury have reduced the benefits of inversions, including The American Jobs Creation Act, as well as post-2004 inversions and treasury regulations, and policy options.
Fire Management Assistance Grants: Frequently Asked Questions
This report answers frequently asked questions about the Fire Management Assistance Grant, which authorized by the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act provides various forms of federal assistance such as the provision of equipment, personnel, and grants to state, local, and tribal governments for the control, management, and mitigation of any fire on certain public or private forest land or grassland that might become a major disaster.
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.
Poverty in the United States: 2013
This report discusses poverty in United States that varies widely across the population according to age, education, labor force attachment, family living arrangements, and area of residence, among other factors. The report elaborates on the poverty among selected groups, the geography of poverty, and the research supplemental poverty measure.
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act: History, Impact, and Issues
This report examines debates regarding what constitutes an "unfunded federal mandate" and the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995's (UMRA) implementation, requirements, and costs. It also assesses UMRA's impact on federal mandates and arguments concerning UMRA's future.
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.
Japan-U.S. Relations: Issues for Congress
This report discusses issues regarding U.S.-Japan economic relations, since the economic condition of each nation can affect the world economy and a U.S.-Japan bilateral economic relationship could influence economic conditions in other countries. U.S. and Japanese leaders have several options on how to manage their relationship, including stronger reliance on the World Trade Organization; special bilateral negotiating frameworks and agreements; or a free trade agreement.
The "Khorasan Group" in Syria
This report briefly discusses the Syria-based terrorists referred to as the "Khorasan Group" and the U.S. airstrikes conducted against them in late September 2014.
Noncitizen Eligibility for Federal Public Assistance: Policy Overview and Trends
This report discusses the extent to which residents of the United States who are not U.S. citizens should be eligible for federally-funded public aid. This issue meets at the intersection of two major policy areas: immigration policy and welfare policy. This report deals with the four major federal means-tested benefit programs: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant programs, and Medicaid.
Unaccompanied Alien Children: Demographics in Brief
This report discusses children coming to the United States who are not accompanied by parents or legal guardians and who lack proper immigration documents has raised complex and competing sets of humanitarian concerns and immigration control issues. This report focuses on the demographics of unaccompanied alien children while they are in removal proceedings.
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant: Responses to Frequently Asked Questions
This report provides responses to frequently asked questions about the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant. It is intended to serve as a quick reference to provide easy access to information and data. This report does not provide information on TANF program rules.
Climate Summit 2014: Warm-Up for 2015
This report discusses Climate Summit 2014, its context, and its impact on future international climate initiatives.
Customer Choice and the Power Industry of the Future
This report will begin to explore the issues, discussing what forms a transition from today's electric power grid to a grid of the future could take, and suggest questions that Congress may want to address. The United States seems to be at a turning point in the history of the electric power sector, some have advocated for the electric utility industry model to be reinvented under a "Utility 2.0" paradigm, wherein the modern needs of society for electric power and services become the driving force behind utility investments.
Cyprus: Reunification Proving Elusive
This report provides a brief overview of the history of the reunification negotiations, a review of the negotiations since 2008, a description of some of the issues involved in the talks, and where things stand today.
Cyprus: Reunification Proving Elusive
This report discusses attempts to resolve the political division of Cyprus that have occurred over the last 45 years. Current issues include the Republic of Cyprus receiving EU presidency in July 2012 and a recent discovery of natural gas deposits off the southern coast of Cyprus.
The Effect of Firm Bankruptcy on Retiree Benefits, with Applications to the Automotive and Coal Industries
This report begins with a discussion of whether bankrupt firms can invalidate previous commitments covering retiree pensions and health insurance. The report next discusses the specific protections accorded to retiree pensions and health insurance benefits. Certain types of pensions are guaranteed by a quasi-public agency, while no such guarantee exists for retiree health insurance. The report concludes with brief case studies of the bankruptcies of Old GM, Delphi, and Patriot.
Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Programs and Unaccompanied Alien Children
This report addresses possible sources of federal support for schools and local educational agencies that have enrolled unaccompanied alien children.
Implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA, P.L. 111-353)
This report documents the scheduled timeline for action on selected FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) provisions, as specified in the enacted law, and FDA-reported actions taken to date, based on available FDA press releases and publicly available progress reports.
The U.S. Postal Service's Financial Condition: A Primer
This report discusses the significant financial challenges facing the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). After running modest profits from FY2003 through FY2006, the USPS lost $45.6 billion between FY2007 and FY2013. Since FY2011, the USPS has defaulted on $16.7 billion in payments to its Retiree Health Benefits Fund (RHBF). The agency reached its $15 billion borrowing limit in FY2012 and did not reduce its total debt in FY2013. In October 2012, the USPS bolstered its liquidity by withdrawing all of the cash from its competitive products fund. This fund has not been replenished since that time.
Unauthorized Aliens' Access to Federal Benefits: Policy and Issues
This report focuses on the policy and legislative debate surrounding unauthorized aliens' access to federal benefits. The number of foreign-born people residing in the United States (40.7 million) is at the highest level in our history and, as a portion of the U.S. population, has reached a percentage (13%) not seen since the early 20th century.1 Of the foreign-born residents in the United States, approximately one-third are speculated to be unauthorized residents (often characterized as illegal aliens).
American Foreign Fighters and the Islamic State: Broad Challenges for Federal Law Enforcement
This report offers a framework for considering the challenges to domestic security posed by American fighters in the terrorist group known as the Islamic State (IS, previously referred to as ISIS or ISIL) and outlines some of the ways that U.S. law enforcement responds to such challenges.
Federal Reserve: Oversight and Disclosure Issues
This report provides an overview of existing Fed oversight and disclosure practices. The report also considers the potential impact of greater oversight and disclosure on the Fed's independence and its ability to achieve its macroeconomic and financial stability goals.
Lame Duck Sessions of Congress, 1935-2012 (74th-112th Congresses)
This report discusses how lame duck sessions occur, and the background of the lame duck sessions between 1940 and 2012. A "lame duck" session of Congress occurs whenever one Congress meets after its successor is elected, but before the term of the current Congress ends.
Medicare: Insolvency Projections
This report focuses on the two separate trust funds that fund Medicare, the Hospital Insurance (HI) trust fund and Supplementary Medical Insurance (SMI) trust fund. Almost from its inception, the HI trust fund has faced a projected shortfall and eventual insolvency. Because of the way it is financed, the SMI trust fund cannot become insolvent; however, the Medicare Trustees continue to express concerns about the rapid growth in SMI costs.
Systemically Important or "Too Big to Fail" Financial Institutions
This report discusses the economic issues raised by "too big to fail" (TBTF), the historical experience with TBTF before and during the financial crisis of the 2000s, broad policy options, and policy changes made by the relevant Dodd-Frank provisions.
Agriculture in the WTO: Rules and Limits on Domestic Support
This report provides a brief overview of the World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments most relevant for U.S. domestic farm policy. The report discusses a key question that policy makers ask of virtually every new farm proposal is, how will it affect U.S. commitments under the WTO? The answer depends not only on cost, but also on the proposal's design and objectives, as described below.
Energy Policy: 113th Congress Issues
This report discusses the energy policy in the United States that is focused on three major goals: assuring a secure supply of energy, keeping energy costs low, and protecting the environment.
The No Fly List: Procedural Due Process and Hurdles to Litigation
This report provides an overview of the operation of the government's watchlists, examine some of the legal issues implicated by challenges to the No Fly list, and describe recent case law on the matter.
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.
Poverty: Major Themes in Past Debates and Current Proposals
This report begins with an overview of trends affecting both the incidence of poverty and characteristics of the population, and highlights changing perceptions of the poor and causes of poverty. The report then provides a short history of key federal policies enacted over the past century to address poverty. To provide a framework for analyzing current and future proposals, the report then presents several overarching themes that have recurred in poverty policy debates over the course of this history.
Russia's Compliance with the INF Treaty
This report discusses the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the Obama administration's claim that Russia has violated the treaty by testing a land-based cruise missile with a range greater than 500 kilometers.
Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance
This report discusses the current political state of Afghanistan and the Afghan government. It also discusses Afghanistan's relationship with the United States, particularly U.S. efforts to urge President Hamid Karzai to address corruption within the Afghan government.
Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response
This report discusses the continuing conflict in Syria including recent regime losses in confrontations with forces of the Islamic State (IS, aka the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL/ISIS) in northeastern Syria. The report also covers Syrian chemical weapons disarmament and U.S. policy.
Increased Department of Defense Role in U.S. Ebola Response
This report discusses the Department of Defense's (DOD) requests to Congress to make excess Overseas Contingency Operations funds appropriated for FY2014 available to use in response to the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Increased Department of Defense Role in U.S. Ebola Response
On September 16, 2014, President Obama announced a major increase in the United States response to the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The Department of Defense (DOD) submitted requests to Congress to make excess Overseas Contingency Operations funds appropriated for FY2014 available to support this effort. This report briefly outlines these requests.