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 Country: United States
 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and potential issues for Congress on the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), a relatively inexpensive Navy surface combatant equipped with modular "plug-and-fight" mission packages for countering mines, small boats, and diesel-electric submarines, particularly in littoral (i.e., near-shore) waters.
The Specialty Metal Clause: Oversight Issues and Options for Congress
This report examines the specialty metal clause, potential oversight issues, and options for Congress.
International Law and Agreements: Their Effect upon U.S. Law
This report provides an introduction to the roles that international law and agreements play in the United States. The report discusses forms of international agreements and the effects of international agreements on U.S. law.
The Lacey Act: Protecting the Environment by Restricting Trade
This report looks at the history and applications of the Lacey Act, which allows the U.S. to enforce the laws of other countries.
The Budget Control Act, Sequestration, and the Foreign Affairs Budget: Background and Possible Impacts
This report discusses sequestration and the foreign affairs (150) budget function, and presents FY2013 estimates by account.
The President's State of the Union Address: Tradition, Function, and Policy Implications
This report discusses the State of the Union address, which is a communication between the President and Congress in which the chief executive reports on the current conditions of the United States and provides policy proposals for the upcoming legislative year.
Heritage Areas: Background, Proposals, and Current Issues
This report focuses on heritage areas designated by Congress and related issues and legislation. Over more than two decades, Congress has established 40 National Heritage Areas (NHAs) to commemorate, conserve, and promote areas that include important natural, scenic, historic, cultural, and recreational resources.
Nigeria: Current Issues and U.S. Policy
This report covers the recent economical and political development in Nigeria; elections, development challenges, reform initiatives, social issues, security concerns, and international relations in Nigeria. The report ends with some concerns for Congress, including U.S.-Nigerian trade issues, Nigerian counter-terrorism efforts, and U.S. assistance to Nigeria.
Public Safety Officers' Benefits (PSOB) Program
This report discusses the public safety officers' benefits (PSOB) program that provides three different types of benefits to public safety officers and their survivors: a death, a disability, and an education benefit.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA): A Legal Overview
This report discusses the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 that guarantees parental access to student education records, while limiting the disclosure of those records to third parties.
Nuclear Power Plant Security and Vulnerabilities
This report discusses the physical security at nuclear power plants and concerns of radiological sabotage, a deliberate act against a plant that could directly or indirectly endanger public health and safety through exposure to radiation.
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.
In Re Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001: Claims Against Saudi Defendants Under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA)
This report summarizes the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) and jurisdiction in cases against foreign defendants and analyzes the court of appeals decision. It also discusses legislative efforts to address these issues(S. 1535 and H.R. 3143).
National Security Letters in Foreign Intelligence Investigations: A Glimpse at the Legal Background
This report discusses the USA PATRIOT Act (107-56) and its expanded authority to issue national security letters (NSLs). A report by the Department of Justice's Inspector General (IG) found that in its pre-amendment use of expanded USA PATRIOT Act authority the FBI had "used NSLs in violation of applicable NSL statutes, Attorney General Guidelines, and internal FBI policies," but that no criminal laws had been broken.
The Federal Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Program: Background, Funding, and Activities
This report discusses the federal government's role in the country's information technology (IT) research and development (R&D) activities. The government's support of IT R&D began because it had an important interest in creating computers and software that would be capable of addressing the problems and issues the government needed to solve and study.
Recess Appointments: Frequently Asked Questions
This report supplies brief answers to some frequently-asked questions regarding recess appointments. These are appointments to high-level policy-making positions in federal departments which are generally confirmed by the Senate. When the Senate is in recess, the President may make a temporary appointment, called a recess appointment, to any such position without Senate approval.
U.S. Direct Investment Abroad: Trends and Current Issues
This report discusses issues regarding foreign investments and how that can affect the U.S.
The Paris Club and International Debt Relief
This report discusses the Paris Club, a voluntary, informal group of creditor nations who meet approximately 10 times per year and provide debt relief to developing countries. Members of the Paris Club agree to renegotiate and/or reduce official debt owed to them on a case-by-case basis.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS)
This report gives a brief overview of P.L. 110-49, the Foreign Investment and National Security Act of 2007. Although both the President and Congress are directly involved in formulating the scope and direction of U.S. foreign investment policy, this law broadens Congress' oversight role; it also explicitly includes the areas of homeland security and critical infrastructure as separately-identifiable components of national security that the President must consider when evaluating the national security implications of a foreign investment transaction.
Foreign Direct Investment in the United States: An Economic Analysis
This report discusses the foreign direct investment in the United States that declined sharply after 2000, when a record $300 billion was invested in U.S. businesses and real estate.
Veterans and Homelessness
This report discusses several issues relating to homelessness among veterans, which has become more prominent since the beginning of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Federal Pollution Control Laws: How Are They Enforced?
This report provides an overview of the statutory framework, key players, infrastructure, resources, tools, and operations associated with enforcement and compliance of the major pollution control laws and regulations administered by EPA. It also outlines the roles of federal (including regional offices) and state regulators, as well as the regulated community.
U.S. Periods of War
Many wars or conflicts in U.S. history have federally designated "periods of war," dates marking their beginning and ending. This report lists the beginning and ending dates for "periods of war" found in Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations, dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It also lists and differentiates other beginning dates given in declarations of war, as well as termination of hostilities dates and armistice and ending dates given in proclamations, laws, or treaties.
International Parental Child Abductions
International child custody disputes are likely to increase in frequency as the global society becomes more integrated and mobile. Since 1988, the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction ("Hague Convention" or "Convention") has been the principal mechanism for enforcing the return of abducted children to the United States. This report will discuss the applicability of the Hague Convention and current U.S. laws, both civil and criminal, which seek to address the quandary of children abducted by parents to foreign nations. In addition, pending legislation, including H.R. 3240 and H.R. 3487, is discussed.
The Peace Corps: Current Issues
This report provides a brief overview of the Peace Corps and discusses how the 111th Congress is considering the President's annual funding request for the Peace Corps and efforts to reauthorize the Peace Corps. Current issues for Congress include the extent to which there is available funding for Peace Corps expansion, whether the Peace Corps has the institutional capacity to expand, and whether volunteers are able to function in a safe and secure environment.
U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF): Background and Issues for Congress
This report discusses Special Operations Forces (SOFs), which are elite military units with special training and equipment that can infiltrate hostile territory through land, sea, or air to conduct a variety of operations, many of them classified.
Saving Rates in the United States: Calculation and Comparison
The amount of money saved has important economic consequences. Nationally, the amount of saving affects how much can be invested and ultimately the size of the capital stock. This report explains how national saving is measured, presents recent estimates of saving rates in the United States, and, for comparison, provides those of other major industrial countries.
Special Order Speeches and Other Forms of Non-Legislative Debate in the House
This report briefly discusses non-legislative debate in the House of Representatives, specifically special order speeches, one-minute speeches, and morning hour debate. The purpose of these practices is to permit Members to address the House for specified durations and at specified times of their own choosing, outside the consideration of legislative business.
American Jihadist Terrorism: Combating a Complex Threat
Between May 2009 and August 2010, arrests were made for 19 "homegrown," jihadist-inspired terrorist plots by American citizens or legal permanent residents of the United States. The apparent spike in such activity after May 2009 suggests that at least some Americans - even if a tiny minority - continue to be susceptible to ideologies supporting a violent form of jihad. This report describes homegrown violent jihadists and the plots and attacks that have occurred since 9/11. This report also provides official definitions for terms such as "homegrown," "jihadist," and "violent jihadist." The report also discusses the radicalization process and the forces driving violent extremist activity. It analyzes post-9/11 domestic jihadist terrorism, describes law enforcement and intelligence efforts to combat terrorism and the challenges associated with those efforts. It also outlines actions underway to build trust and partnership between community groups and government agencies and the tensions that may occur between law enforcement and engagement activities.
Authority of State and Local Police to Enforce Federal Immigration Law
This report discusses the authority of state and local law enforcement to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law through the investigation and arrest of persons believed to have violated such laws. It describes current provisions in federal law that permit state and local police to enforce immigration law directly, analyzes major cases concerning the ability of states and localities to assist in immigration enforcement, and briefly examines opinions on the issue by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) within the Department of Justice.
False Patent Marking: Litigation and Legislation
This report will describe and analyze the Federal Circuit's 2009 decision that requires a per-article penalty for false marking, as well as two subsequent Federal Circuit decisions in 2010 that answer several questions that have arisen during the recent false patent marking litigation. It also identifies and discusses legislation in the 111th Congress that would amend ยง 292 in order to retroactively end qui tam false marking suits and with the intent of reducing the number of false marking suits filed in the future.
The U.S. Oil Refining Industry: Background in Changing Markets and Fuel Policies
This report begins by looking at the current production capacity of the oil refineries operating in the United States, and the sources and changes in crude oil supply. It then examines the changing characteristics of petroleum and petroleum product markets and identifies the effects of these changes on the refining industry. The report concludes with discussion of the policy and regulatory factors that are likely to affect the structure and performance of the industry during the next decade.
Biomass Feedstocks for Biopower: Background and Selected Issues
The production of bioenergy - renewable energy derived from biomass - could potentially increase national energy security, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and contribute to rural economic growth. This report provides analyses of commonly discussed biomass feedstocks and their relative potential for power generation. Additional biopower issues - feedstock accessibility, the biomass power plant carbon-neutrality debate, and unintended consequences of legislative activities to promote bioenergy - are also discussed.
Veterans' Benefits: Current Life Insurance Programs
This report provides information on the current Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) life insurance programs available for servicemembers and veterans, management and administration issues, and associated policy issues and legislation.
Energy's Water Demand: Trends, Vulnerabilities, and Management
The nation's energy choices embody many tradeoffs. Water use is one of those tradeoffs. The energy choices before Congress represent vastly different demands on domestic freshwater. The energy sector's water consumption is projected to rise 50% from 2005 to 2030. This rising water demand derives from both an increase in the amount of energy demanded and shifts to more water-intense energy sources and technologies. This report discusses this issue as well as related issues that may arise for the 112th Congress.
Veterans' Benefits: Current Life Insurance Programs
This report provides information on the current Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) life insurance programs available for servicemembers and veterans, management and administration issues, and associated policy issues and legislation.
Screening and Securing Air Cargo: Background and Issues for Congress
The October 2010 discovery of two explosive devices being prepared for loading on U.S.-bound all-cargo aircraft overseas has heightened concerns over the potential use of air cargo shipments to bomb passenger and all-cargo aircraft. This incident renewed congressional interest in air cargo security. This report discusses a number of policy issues that may arise regarding air cargo security.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA): Overview of Workers' Compensation for Certain Private- Sector Maritime Workers
This report discusses the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA), a federal workers' compensation program that covers certain private-sector maritime workers. More than $980 million in LHWCA benefits are paid each year. The LHWCA is administered by the Department of Labor (DOL) and all benefit costs are paid by employers and their insurance carriers.
What Effects Would the Expiration of the 2001 and 2003 Tax Cuts Have on the Economy?
In 2001 and 2003, Congress enacted major tax cuts (popularly referred to as the "Bush tax cuts"), the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003. Congress is currently debating whether to extend some or all of these tax cuts that are scheduled to expire at the end of 2010. This report discusses the two main economic arguments against allowing the tax cuts to expire as scheduled, using historical evidence and by examining the current economic environment.
Responsibility Determinations Under the Federal Acquisition Regulation: Legal Standards and Procedures
This report discusses the standards and procedures that federal agencies use in making responsibility determinations under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). It discusses (1) how responsibility determinations relate to other mechanisms that the government relies upon to ensure that contractors are responsible and otherwise eligible for federal contracts; (2) the performance-related and collateral standards used in making responsibility determinations; (3) the procedures for making responsibility determinations; and (4) recently enacted or proposed amendments to the standards or procedures for responsibility determinations.
Interagency Contracting: An Overview of Federal Procurement and Appropriations Law
"Interagency contracting" is the term used to describe several procurement relationships between government agencies. This report provides an overview of the federal procurement and appropriations laws governing interagency contracting. It defines key terms used in discussing interagency contracting; surveys the various interagency contracting vehicles; and describes recently enacted and proposed amendments to the laws governing interagency contracting.
Beginning and End of the Terms of United States Senators Chosen to Fill Senate Vacancies
This report discusses the procedures for when a Senator is chosen to fill a Senate vacancy during a session of Congress, i.e., when the appointed Senator can begin his or her term of office, and how long the Senator remains in office (until the new "Senator-elect" is sworn in and seated by the Senate).
Managing Electronic Waste: Issues with Exporting E-Waste
Electronic waste (e-waste) is a term that is used loosely to refer to obsolete, broken, or irreparable electronic devices like televisions, computer central processing units (CPUs), and computer monitors. There are various issues of concern with regard to e-waste disposal and recycling. This report looks at issues specifically related to its export for recycling. Particularly, it discusses documented impacts to human health and the environment that have been tied to unsafe recycling practices in developing countries, as well as issues that have motivated certain stakeholders to divert e-waste from landfill disposal and, hence, increase recycling. It also provides an overview of various factors necessary to understand why e-waste disposal has become a concern in the United States, and it also discusses waste management requirements in the United States.
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell": A Legal Analysis
In recent years, several Members of Congress have expressed interest in amending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," (DADT) a legislation that requires those of homosexual orientation in the military to keep quiet about their orientation in order to maintain "morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion." At least two bills that would repeal the law and replace it with a policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation - H.R. 1283 and S. 3065 - have been introduced in the 111th Congress. This report provides a legal analysis of the various constitutional challenges that have been brought against DADT; for a policy analysis, see CRS Report R40782, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell": Military Policy and the Law on
The United States Flag: Federal Law Relating to Display and Associated Questions
This report presents, verbatim, the United States "Flag Code" as found in Title 4 of the United States Code and the section of Title 36 which designates the Star-Spangled Banner as the national anthem and provides instructions on how to display the flag during its rendition. The report also addresses several of the frequently asked questions concerning the flag.
Adopting A Long-Term Budget Focus: Challenges and Proposals
This report focuses on the current federal budget process, including criticisms of that process. This report will provide information on (1) the current horizons used in the budget process, including already existing long-term components; (2) the rationale for increased focus on longterm budgeting; (3) general challenges to long-term budgeting; and (4) an analysis of general proposals that have been made to increase the focus of long-term budgeting in the budget process.
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program: Background and Issues for Congress
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), also called the Lighting II, is a new strike fighter being procured in different versions by the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy. The F-35 program is the Department of Defense's (DOD's) largest weapon procurement program in terms of total estimated acquisition cost. This report details the Obama Administration's proposed FY2010 defense budget requests for F-35 program funding and outlines the issues that Congress must consider when deciding whether to approve, reject, or modify the administration's funding requests.
House Offset Amendments to Appropriations Bills: Procedural Considerations
This report is an introduction to selected House rules and practices governing the consideration of offset amendments to appropriations measures considered in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union (or Committee of the Whole).
Survey of Federal Laws Containing Goals, Set-Asides, Priorities, or Other Preferences Based on Race, Gender, or Ethnicity
This report provides a broad, but by no means exhaustive, survey of federal statutes that specifically refer to race, gender, or ethnicity as factors to be considered in the administration of any federal program.
Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress
The diminishment of Arctic sea ice has led to increased human activities in the Arctic, and has heightened concerns about the region's future. 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, competition, or conflict. 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.