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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Interstate Natural Gas Pipelines: Process and Timing of FERC Permit Application Review
This report provides an overview of the federal certification process for interstate natural gas pipelines. It discusses the length of the review for recent interstate gas pipeline applications--a topic of specific interest to Congress and industry. In this context, the report discusses the key provisions in H.R. 1900 and their implications for gas pipeline certificate approval.
Expiring Unemployment Insurance Provisions
This report discusses several key provisions related to extended federal unemployment benefits that are temporary and, therefore, scheduled to expire. This report describes the consequences of these expirations for the financing and availability of unemployment benefits in states. It also summarizes the last three laws that have extended these expiring provisions: P.L. 112-240, P.L. 112-96, and P.L. 112-78.
Thailand: Background and U.S. Relations
This report looks at the relationship between the U.S. and Thailand, in particular, recent rivalries between populist political forces, nepotism in government, and Thai relationships with neighboring countries.
Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response: The SAFER Grant Program
This report discusses Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Act, which was enacted by the 108th Congress as Section 1057 of the FY2004 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 108-136). It includes background of the SAFER Act, appropriations from FY2011-FY2013, reauthorization of the program in the House and Senate, and information about program implementation.
Burma's Political Prisoners and U.S. Sanctions
This report discusses the release of Burma's political prisoners and the role that plays in U.S. policy and Burma's political future.
War in Afghanistan: Campaign Progress, Political Strategy, and Issues for Congress
This report describes the current strategic context, the state of the campaign, next steps in the campaign, and what it would take to make campaign gains sustainable; and it offers questions that may be of help to Congress in providing oversight of further U.S. efforts in Afghanistan.
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.
Medical Child Support: Background and Current Policy
This report describes current federal policy with respect to medical child support. It also examines the potential impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program. It provides a legislative history of medical support provisions in the CSE program and state data on the medical support coverage of children in the CSE program.
Membership of the 113th Congress: A Profile
This report presents a profile of the membership of the 113th Congress (2013-2014). Statistical information is included on selected characteristics of Members, including data on party affiliation, average age, occupation, education, length of congressional service, religious affiliation, gender, ethnicity, foreign births, and military service.
Majority Cloture for Nominations: Implications and the "Nuclear" Proceedings
This report explains the procedural context within which the precedent was set and addresses the precedent's effects on floor consideration of nominations (as well as noting other potential effects on the nominations process). In addition, since the parliamentary circumstances under which the precedent was set fall within proceedings often called the "nuclear option," the report concludes by briefly noting the precedent's relevance for future proposals to alter or reinterpret Senate rules through the establishment of new precedent.
Federal Civil Aviation Programs: In Brief
This report discusses the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs and activities are funded under four broad budget accounts: operations and maintenance (such as air traffic control and aviation safety functions); facilities and equipment (such as control towers and navigation beacons); grants for airport improvements under the airports improvement program (AIP); and civil aviation research and development conducted or sponsored by FAA. Additionally, aviation programs fund aviation programs administered by the Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of the Secretary, including the Essential Air Service Program that subsidizes airline service to certain small and isolated communities.
The Renewable Fuel Standard: In Brief
This report provides a basic description of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), including some of the widely discussed issues.
Financing the U.S. Trade Deficit
This report provides an overview of the U.S. balance of payments, an explanation of the broader role of capital flows in the U.S. economy, an explanation of how the country finances its trade deficit or a trade surplus, and the implications for Congress and the country of the large inflows of capital from abroad.
The New START Treaty: Central Limits and Key Provisions
This report provides an overview of the New Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (START), including a comparison to the original START Treaty, the belief of the Obama Administration and outside analysts that New START will enhance U.S. national security, and the criticisms of those who say that New START is a distraction from more important items on the nonproliferation agenda.
Keystone XL Pipeline Project: Key Issues
This report describes the Keystone XL pipeline proposal and the process required for federal approval. It summarizes key arguments for and against the pipeline put forth by the pipeline's developers, federal agencies, environmental groups, and other stakeholders. The report discusses potential consistency challenges faced by the State Department in reviewing the pipeline application given its recent prior approvals of similar pipeline projects. Finally, the report reviews the constitutional basis for the State Department's authority to issue a Presidential Permit, and opponents' possible challenges to this authority.
The Federal Communications Commission: Current Structure and Its Role in the Changing Telecommunications Landscape
The report discusses the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)-Related Congressional Actions in the 112th Congress.
Tribal Jurisdiction over Nonmembers: A Legal Overview
The report provides an overview the Indian tribes, which are quasi-sovereign entities that enjoy all the sovereign powers that are not divested by Congress or inconsistent with the tribes' dependence on the United States. The report discusses tribal jurisdiction over nonmember Indians.
Legislative Options for Financing Water Infrastructure
This report addresses several options being considered by Congress to address the financing needs of local communities for wastewater and drinking water infrastructure projects and to decrease or close the gap between available funds and projected needs.
Reauthorization of SNAP and Other Nutrition Programs in the Next Farm Bill: Issues for the 113th Congress
This report discusses the Nutrition Title (Title IV) of the pending farm bills and elaborates on the most controversial issues and differences between Senate and House proposals. Policies that are not necessarily controversial but are complex are also included in this report.
Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons
This report provides basic information about U.S. and Russian nonstrategic nuclear weapons. It begins with a brief discussion of how these weapons have appeared in public debates in the past few decades, then summarizes the differences between strategic and nonstrategic nuclear weapons. It then provides some historical background, describing the numbers and types of nonstrategic nuclear weapons deployed by both nations during the Cold War and in the past decade; the policies that guided the deployment and prospective use of these weapons; and the measures that the two sides have taken to reduce and contain their forces. The report reviews the issues that have been raised with regard to U.S. and Russian nonstrategic nuclear weapons, and summarizes a number of policy options that might be explored by Congress, the United States, Russia, and other nations to address these issues.
National Security Letters in Foreign Intelligence Investigations: A Glimpse at the Legal Background
This report reprints the text of the five National Security Letter (NSL) statutes as they now appear and as they appeared prior to amendment by the USA PATRIOT Act (to which form they would be returned under S.1125 and H.R. 1805).
Unemployment Insurance: Programs and Benefits
This report describes three kinds of unemployment benefit programs: regular Unemployment Compensation (UC), Extended Benefits (EB), and Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC08) . The report explains their basic eligibility requirements, benefits, and financing structure.
South Africa: Politics, Economy, and U.S. Relations
This report provides an overview to South African economy and politics and it discusses the United States relations with the Republic of South Africa.
Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2014 Appropriations
This report will track and describe actions taken by the Administration and Congress to provide FY2014 appropriations for Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) accounts. It also provides an overview of FY2013 appropriations for agencies and bureaus funded as a part of the annual appropriation for CJS.
Presidential Appointee Positions Requiring Senate Confirmation and Committees Handling Nominations
This report identifies, by Senate committee, presidentially appointed positions requiring Senate confirmation based on referrals as of the date of passage of S. 679, which became P.L. 112-166 on August 10, 2012.
Legislative Actions to Repeal, Defund, or Delay the Affordable Care Act
This report summarizes legislative and other actions taken to repeal, defund, or delay the Affordable Care Act (ACA), since the law's enactment. The information is presented in four appendixes.
Campaign Contribution Limits: Selected Questions About McCutcheon and Policy Issues for Congress
This report offers a preliminary analysis of major policy issues and potential implications that appear to be most relevant as the House and Senate prepare for the ruling and decide whether or how to respond.
The 2013 Cybersecurity Executive Order: Overview and Considerations for Congress
This report provides background information regarding the threats and consequences of cybersecurity. The federal legislative framework for cybersecurity is complex, with more than 50 statutes addressing various aspects of it either directly or indirectly.
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.
Proposals to Eliminate Public Financing of Presidential Campaigns
This report discusses the Presidential campaign funding and provides a brief policy overview and raises potential issues for congressional consideration.
Threats to U.S. National Security Interests in Space: Orbital Debris Mitigation and Removal
This report discusses the National Security Space Strategy. After decades of activities in space, Earth's orbit is littered with man-made objects that no longer serve a useful purpose that potentially threaten U.S. national security interests in space, both governmental (military, intelligence, and civil) and commercial. Congress has broadly supported the full-range of these national security interests and has a vested concern in ensuring a strong and continued U.S. presence in space.
U.S.-Taiwan Relationship: Overview of Policy Issues
This report is a succinct overview of the U.S.-Taiwan relationship including an analysis of issues. For decades, Taiwan has been of significant security, economic, and political interest to the United States. While the United States does not diplomatically recognize Taiwan, it is a significant autonomous actor in the world.
The Development of High Speed Rail in the United States: Issues and Recent Events
This report looks at the different ways to construct a high speed rail (HSR) in the U.S., including estimates of construction costs.
Federal Public Transportation Program: In Brief
This report provides an introduction to the Federal Public Transportation Program (FPTP). Includes a brief background of public transportation as well as FPTP's funding, expenses, and structure.
Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda): U.S. and International Response to Philippines Disaster
This report examines the impact of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), which struck the central Philippines on November 8, 2013, and the U.S. and international response.
Past Government Shutdowns: Key Resources
This report provides an annotated list of historical documents and other resources related to several past government shutdowns. The report also includes links to full-text documents when available. There is limited information and guidance related to shutdowns, and it is difficult to predict what might happen in the event of one, but information about past events may help inform future deliberations.
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. It focuses on UMRA's requirement that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issue written cost estimate statements for federal mandates in legislation, its procedures for raising points of order in the House and Senate concerning unfunded federal mandates in legislation, and its requirement that federal agencies prepare written cost estimate statements for federal mandates in rules. It also assesses UMRA's impact on federal mandates and arguments concerning UMRA's future, focusing on UMRA's definitions, exclusions, and exceptions which currently exempt many federal actions with potentially significant financial impacts on nonfederal entities.
The Crisis in South Sudan
This report provides an overview of the recent humanitarian situation in South Sudan. The United States is the largest provider of bilateral foreign assistance to South Sudan and a major financial contributor to international peacekeeping efforts there.
Reaching the Debt Limit: Background and Potential Effects on Government Operations
This report examines the possibility of the federal government reaching its statutory debt limit and not raising it, with a particular focus on government operations. First, the report explains the nature of the federal government's debt, the processes associated with federal borrowing, and historical events that may influence prospective actions. It also includes an analysis of what could happen if the federal government may no longer issue debt, has exhausted alternative sources of cash, and, therefore, depends on incoming receipts or other sources of funds to provide any cash needed to liquidate federal obligations.2 Finally, this report lays out considerations for increasing the debt limit under current policy and what impact fiscal policy could have on the debt limit going forward.
Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990
This report discusses U.S. security assistance to Taiwan, or Republic of China (ROC), including policy issues for Congress and legislation.
Unemployment Insurance: Consequences of Changes in State Unemployment Compensation Laws
This report analyzes several types of recent changes to state Unemployment Compensation (UC) programs. Three categories of UC state law issues are considered: (1) changes in the duration of state UC unemployment benefits; (2) changes in the UC weekly benefit amount; and (3) the enactment into state law of two trigger options for the Extended Benefit (EB) program.
Senate Consideration of Presidential Nominations: Committee and Floor Procedure
This report describes the process by which the Senate provides advice and consent on presidential nominations, including receipt and referral of nominations, committee practices, and floor procedure. The report was updated to reflect the changes resulting from Senate actions on November 21, 2013.
Expiration and Extension of the 2008 Farm Bill
This report discusses the extension of the 2008 Farm Bill for 2013, and provides background information on extension and expiration of this bill.
Spectrum Policy: Provisions in the 2012 Spectrum Act
This report discusses the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. The act established a process for television broadcasters to release spectrum licensed to them for auction as commercial licenses. The act also included provisions to apply future spectrum license auction revenues toward deficit reduction; to establish a planning and governance structure to deploy public safety broadband networks, using some auction proceeds for that purpose; and to assign additional spectrum resources for public safety communications.
Securing U.S. Diplomatic Facilities and Personnel Abroad: Legislative and Executive Branch Initiatives
This report briefly summarizes and tracks congressional and State Department actions in response to the attack on U. S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, and will be updated as necessary to reflect further developments and actions on ongoing policy proposals.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): Categorical Eligibility
This report discusses categorical eligibility and some of the issues raised by it. It first describes the three different types of categorical eligibility: traditional categorical eligibility conveyed through receipt of need-based cash assistance, and the newer "narrow" and "broad-based" categorical eligibilities conveyed via TANF "noncash" benefits. It also provides recent information on current state practices with regard to categorical eligibility. Finally, the report discusses proposals to restrict categorical eligibility.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting: Federal Funding and Issues
This report discusses the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) that receives virtually all of its funding through federal appropriations; overall, about 15% of public television and 10% of radio broadcasting funding comes from the federal appropriations that CPB distributes.
Federal Traffic Safety Programs: In Brief
This report provides an introduction to measures of traffic safety discusses the federal efforts to improve traffic safety programs.
Congressional Liaison Offices of Selected Federal Agencies
This report provides a list of roughly 200 congressional liaison offices, and is intended to help congressional offices in placing telephone calls and addressing correspondence to government agencies.
The Role of Trade Secrets in Innovation Policy
This report provides an overview of the law and policy of trade secrets. It discusses the role of trade secrets in six sections: Trade Secrets and Innovation Policy, An Overview of Trade Secret Law (Basic Principles, and Sources of Law), The Economic Espionage Act, Trade Secrets and Patents (Introduction to the Patent System, Trade Secrets and Patents Compared, and The Prior Commercial User Defense), Congressional Issues and Options, and Concluding Observations.