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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
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.
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.
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.
Mandatory Minimum Sentencing: Federal Aggravated Identity Theft
This report discusses sentencing for aggravated identity theft, which is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment for two years, or by imprisonment for five years if it relates to a terrorism offense.
Selected Recently Expired Individual Tax Provisions ("Tax Extenders"): In Brief
This report briefly summarizes and discusses four items categorized as individual tax provisions that are regularly extended for one or two years (tax extenders). These items include deductions for elementary and secondary school teachers, deductions for state and local taxes, deductions for tuition and related expenses, and exclusions for employer-provided transit and parking benefits.
Bahrain: Reform, Security, and U.S. Policy
This report discusses the current state of reform and foreign policy in Bahrain. An uprising against Bahrain's Al Khalifa royal family that began on February 14, 2011, has not achieved the goals of Shiite oppositionists to establish a constitutional monarchy. Public unrest has diminished since 2012, but occasional large demonstrations, opposition boycotts of elections, and continued arrests of dissidents counter government assertions that Bahrain has "returned to normal."
The Greek Debt Crisis: Overview and Implications for the United States
This report provides a brief overview of the Greek dept crisis, including developments through July 2015 when questions about Greece's future in the Eurozone resurfaced and emergency negotiations resulted in a third financial assistance program for Greece. It also discusses potential implications of the crisis for the U.S. economy and U.S.-European cooperation on broader strategic and economic cooperation.
Who Is a "Veteran"?--Basic Eligibility for Veterans' Benefits
This report examines the basic eligibility criteria for Veterans' Administration (VA) benefits, including the eligibility of members of the National Guard and reserve components.
Cybersecurity: Legislation, Hearings, and Executive Branch Documents
This report provides links to cybersecurity committee hearings and legislation from the 112th, 113th, and 114th Congresses, as well as a list of executive orders and presidential directives pertaining to information and computer security. Summaries of activities and findings are included as a series of tables.
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.
The Intelligence Community and Its Use of Contractors: Congressional Oversight Issues
The report examines, from an acquisition perspective, several reasons for interest in the intelligence community's (IC) use of contractors, notably, the types of functions contractors perform, whether the IC's acquisition workforce has the capacity to oversee contractors.
Medal of Honor: History and Issues
This report briefly describes the history of the Medal of Honor (MoH) as well as the criteria and rules used in awarding the medal. It also lists the benefits that are made available to MoH recipients and describes the process involved in reconsidering an individual for receipt of the medal (including what assistance a Member may provide in this process).
Puerto Rico's Current Fiscal Challenges: In Brief
This report discusses the current state of Puerto Rico's public finances. Puerto Rico faces several fiscal hurdles in 2015. Concerns regarding the sustainability of Puerto Rico's public finances have intensified over the past year, despite several measures taken by the island's government to reduce spending, increase revenues, and restructure its obligations.
U.S.-China Nuclear Cooperation Agreement
This report discusses renewal of the peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement between the United States and the People's Republic of China (PRC). It focuses on congressional roles in crafting and carrying out the agreement. Such agreements are subject to Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 as amended (AEA, P.L. 95-242, 42 U.S.C. 2011 et seq.) and commonly are called "123 agreements."
Unaccompanied Alien Children: An Overview
This report opens with an analysis of recent unaccompanied alien children (UAC) apprehension data. It then discusses current policy on the treatment, care, and custody of the population, with a description of the responsibilities of each federal agency involved with the population. The report then discusses both administrative and congressional actions to deal with the UAC surge in FY2014 and ongoing action to address possible future surges.
Women in Combat: Issues for Congress
This report looks at the history of women in U.S. military roles and combat, and discusses key policy issues for Congress to consider including "gender-neutral" standards and selective service.
Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy
This report discusses the current political state of Afghanistan, focusing particularly on the influence of the Taliban and other militant groups, and on the leadership of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. It also discusses the U.S.-Afghanistan relationship, in both the short and long term, and U.S. efforts under the Obama Administration to provide military, reconstructive, and stabilization aid.
China's Currency Devaluation
This report discusses China's recent changes to its method for determining the value of its currency (the renminbi). On Tuesday, August 11, 2015, the People's Bank of China (PBC), China's central bank, surprised global financial markets by lowering the reference rate of the renminbi, effectively depreciating the currency.
Generalized System of Preferences: Background and Renewal Debate
This report presents recent developments and a brief history of the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which provides non-reciprocal, duty-free tariff treatment to certain products imported from designated beneficiary developing countries (BDCs). It discusses the economic rationale and legal background leading to the establishment of the GSP and the U.S. implementation of the GSP. The report also presents an analysis of the U.S. program's effectiveness and the positions of various stakeholders, as well as the implications of the expiration of the U.S. program and possible options for Congress.
Powering Africa: Challenges of and U.S. Aid for Electrification in Africa
This report discusses the Power Africa initiative; policy problems and challenges related to power sector development in Africa; long-term perspectives on energy poverty, need, and future development; and raises some possible oversight questions and issues for Congress.
Agricultural Disaster Assistance
This report discusses several programs offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help farmers recover financially from natural disasters, including drought and floods. All the programs have permanent authorization, and only one requires a federal disaster designation (the emergency loan program). Most programs receive funding amounts that are "such sums as necessary" and are not subject to annual discretionary appropriations.
Biopower: Background and Federal Support
The report begins with general summaries about bioenergy and biopower, including potential benefits and challenges, feedstocks, and biopower technologies. It also describes federal support available for biopower and relevant legislative concerns.
Bitcoin: Questions, Answers, and Analysis of Legal Issues
This report has three major sections. The first section answers some basic questions about Bitcoin and the operation of the Bitcoin network and its interaction with the current dollar-based monetary system. The second section summarizes likely reasons for and against widespread Bitcoin adoption. The third section discusses legal and regulatory matters that have been raised by Bitcoin and other digital currencies.
California Drought: Hydrological and Regulatory Water Supply Issues
This report provides a summary of California's 2012-2015 drought including: comparisons, where applicable, to previous droughts; a summary of the key regulatory requirements that at certain times limit water deliveries (or exports) from the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers' Delta; and a brief discussion of California water rights with their relation to different types of federal contracts and their associated water allocations.
EPA's Clean Power Plan: Highlights of the Final Rule
This report provides an initial analysis of EPA's final rule -- a prepublication version, known as the Clean Power Plan (CPP), pursuant to Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act -- summarizing highlights and identifying differences between the final and proposed rules. The topics discussed do not represent an exhaustive list of the differences from the proposed rule or the support or opposition that may be raised by various stakeholders.
Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy
This report discusses issues regarding Iran's political history and structure. It also takes a look at economic and defense policy responses for Congress, specifically focusing on Iran's nuclear capabilities.
Argentina: Background and U.S. Relations
This report provides background on the political and economic situation in Argentina and U.S.-Argentine relations. Argentina, a South American country with a population of almost 42 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.
House Committee Hearings: Witness Testimony
This report briefly discusses the witness testimony process in House of Representatives committee hearings. Witnesses before House committees must generally file advance copies of their written testimony with the committee and then limit their oral testimony to brief summaries (Rule XI, clause 2(g)(5)). A question-and-answer period usually follows a witness's opening statement. Following hearings, committees usually publish the transcripts of witness testimony and questioning.
Medicare Financial Status: In Brief
This report provides an overview on Medicare, discussing its various components and sources of funding. The report also examines projections for spending within the program.
Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and presents potential issues for Congress concerning the Navy's ship force-structure goals and shipbuilding plans. The planned size of the Navy, the rate of Navy ship procurement, and the prospective affordability of the Navy's shipbuilding plans have been matters of concern for the congressional defense committees for the past several years.
Types of Committee Hearings
This report describes the four types of congressional committee hearings: legislative, oversight, investigative, and confirmation. Hearings may be held on Capitol Hill or elsewhere (e.g., a committee member's district or state, or a site related to the subject of the hearing). These latter hearings are often referred to as field hearings.
Comparing DHS Appropriations by Component, FY2016: Fact Sheet
This report provides a table and figure that compare homeland security appropriations enacted in FY2015 to those requested for FY2016. Generally, the homeland security appropriations bill includes all annual appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), providing resources to every departmental component.
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA)
This report provides background on genetic information, legal implications regarding the use of this information, and relevant laws. It also discusses the statutory provisions of GINA and the regulations regarding both health insurance and employment.
Iran Nuclear Agreement: Selected Issues for Congress
This report addresses some of the many issues raised by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), including: those related to monitoring and enforcing the Iran Nuclear Agreement itself, how the sanctions relief provided by the agreement would affect Iran's regional and domestic policies, the implications for regional security, and the potential for the agreement to change the course of U.S.-Iran relations.
Legislative Procedures for Adjusting the Public Debt Limit: A Brief Overview
This report discusses the procedure for adjusting the public debt limit. Nearly all of the outstanding debt of the federal government is subject to a statutory limit, which is set forth as a dollar limitation in 31 U.S.C. 3101(b). From time to time, Congress considers and passes legislation to adjust or suspend this limit.
Oman: Reform, Security, and U.S. Policy
This report describes the relationship between the United States and the Sultanate of Oman, especially with respect to Oman's support of U.S. efforts toward peace in the Middle East, the U.S. free trade agreement with Oman, and Oman's relatively close relations with Iran.
Presidential Permit Review for Cross-Border Pipelines and Electric Transmission
This report focuses on the Presidential Permit review processes for cross-border energy infrastructure as implemented by the Department of State, The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and The Department of Energy (DOE). These permits have been required for the construction, connection, operation, and maintenance of certain facilities that cross the United States borders with Canada and Mexico.