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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
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.
Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance
This report discusses the current political state of Afghanistan, as well as the Afghan government. This report 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. The report also includes discussion of election fraud and corruption in Afghanistan.
Algeria: Current Issues
The focus of this report is Algeria, a country in North Africa that is increasingly important for U.S. efforts to counter international terrorism as a key partner in the fight against Al Qaeda linked groups. As an energy producer, it also is a significant source of natural gas for the United States and not a major recipient of U.S. aid. This report discusses Algeria's current political conditions and Algeria-related U.S. policy.
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.
El Salvador: Political, Economic, and Social Conditions and U.S. Relations
This report discusses the state of the El Salvadoran government and recently elected President Mauricio Funes. This report also discusses the relationship between El Salvador and the United States, notably U.S. efforts to restore democracy and initiate economic reform in El Salvador. This report also briefly addresses the effects of the current financial crisis on El Salvador's economy, poverty levels, and crime rates.
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.
Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance
This report discusses the current political state of Afghanistan, as well as the Afghan government. This report 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. The report also includes discussion of election fraud and corruption in Afghanistan.
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.
Flooding in Pakistan: Overview and Issues for Congress
This report discusses the recent widespread flooding in Pakistan, which has affected about 20 million Pakistanis. U.S. interest in the flooding stems from the significant humanitarian and economic implications for Pakistan, and the security implications for U.S. interests in the region.
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 § 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.
Hamas: Background and Issues for Congress
Hamas, or the Islamic Resistance Movement, is a Palestinian Islamist military and sociopolitical movement that grew out of the Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni religious and political organization founded in Egypt in 1928 that has branches throughout the world. The United States, Israel, the European Union, and Canada consider Hamas a terrorist organization. The overarching U.S. goal regarding Hamas is to deter, transform, marginalize, or neutralize it so that it no longer presents a threat to Israel's security, to a peaceful and lasting resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or to other U.S. interests. This report discusses U.S. efforts and policy debates on these issues.
Hezbollah: Background and Issues for Congress
This report discusses Lebanon's Hezbollah, a Shiite Islamist militia, political party, social welfare organization, and U.S. State Department-designated terrorist organization. The report discusses recent Hezbollah-related conflicts, Hezbollah's relationship with other Lebanese political parties, and U.S. policy regarding Hezbollah.
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.
The Proposed U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement
This report examines three labor issues and arguments related to the pending U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement (CFTA; H.R. 5724 and S. 2830): violence against trade unionists; impunity (accountability for or punishment of the perpetrators); and worker rights protections for Colombians. The congressional debate surrounding the agreement has mostly centered on the violence issues in Colombia.
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 Hamid Karzai. This report 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.
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.
Argentina's Defaulted Sovereign Debt: Dealing with the "Holdouts"
In December 2001, following an extended period of economic and political instability, Argentina suffered a severe financial crisis, leading to the largest default on sovereign debt in history. This report discusses efforts Argentina has made over the past decade, since that financial crisis, to restructure its debt. The report also includes discussion of the Argentine 2010 Bond Exchange and an outlook of Argentina's economic future.
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.
Latin America: Terrorism Issues
Since the September 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, U.S. attention to terrorism in Latin America has intensified, with an increase in bilateral and regional cooperation. This report discusses the issue in relation to the U.S. State Department's April 2009 Country Report on Terrorism; Colombian President Hugo Chávez's sympathies with terrorist groups and lack of cooperation on antiterrorism efforts; growing U.S. concern over activities of terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas in the tri-border area of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay; and various legislative initiatives related to Latin American terrorism issues being considered by the 112th Congress.
Israel's Offshore Natural Gas Discoveries Enhance Its Economic and Energy Outlook
This report discusses Israel's historical dependence on energy imports, and the recent offshore natural gas discoveries that could possibly make Israel a prominent exporter of natural gas. This report also discusses how development of the recently discovered natural gas fields could affect Israel's economy and energy security, and how Israel may or may not consult with the U.S. or other natural gas producting countries while weighing its options.
Northern Ireland: The Peace Process
For years, the British and Irish governments sought to facilitate a peaceful settlement to the conflict in Northern Ireland. This report provides a brief overview of the continuing peace talks and efforts in Northern Ireland, including the deal reached in February 2010 between the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The report also discusses the United States' active support of the Northern Ireland peace process, including the future of the International Fund for Ireland (IFI).
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.
Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990
This CRS Report discusses U.S. security assistance for Taiwan, formally called the Republic of China (ROC), particularly policy issues for Congress. It also lists sales of major defense articles and services to Taiwan, as approved by the President and notified to Congress since 1990. This report uses a variety of unclassified consultations and citations in the United States and Taiwan.
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).
Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy
This report discusses the current political state of Iran, focusing particularly on the influence of the Taliban and other militant groups and on the leadership of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. This report also discusses the U.S.-Iran relationship and U.S. efforts under the Obama Administration to provide military, reconstructive, and stabilization aid.
The Stuxnet Computer Worm: Harbinger of an Emerging Warfare Capability
In September 2010, media reports emerged about a new form of cyber attack that appeared to target Iran, although the actual target, if any, is unknown. This report discusses this cyber attack, a malicious software program known as Stuxnet, which infected computer systems that were used to control the functioning of a nuclear power plant. Once inside the system, Stuxnet had the ability to degrade or destroy the software on which it operated. Although early reports focused on the impact on facilities in Iran, researchers discovered that the program had spread throughout multiple countries worldwide.
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.
The New START Treaty: Central Limits and Key Provisions
The United States and Russia signed a new strategic arms reduction treaty - known as New START - on April 8, 2010. This treaty is designed to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (START), which expired, after 15 years of implementation, on December 5, 2009. This report provides an overview of New 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 (and, indeed, the entire issue of U.S.-Russian arms control) is a distraction from more important items on the nonproliferation agenda.
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.
Army Corps of Engineers Water Resource Projects: Authorization and Appropriations
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers attracts congressional attention because its projects can have significant local and regional economic benefits and environmental effects, in addition to their water resource development purposes. This report provides an overview of the Corps civil works program. It covers the congressional authorization and appropriation process, the standard project development process, and other Corps activities and authorities. It also includes an Appendix on the evolution of Corps civil works missions and authorities and a description of the limits on the Corps' role in levee accreditation and improvements for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Long-Term Unemployment and Recessions
This report discusses the recession that began in the United States in December 2007 and officially ended in June 2009 and how this recession affected employment rates. This report analyzes the trend in long-term unemployment over the postwar period and offers explanations for its unusually high incidence during the most recent postwar recession. It compares the individual, job, and household characteristics of the long-term unemployed during the latest recession (2007-2009) with the long-term unemployed at the end of the two previous recessions (1990-1991 and 2001).
F-35 Alternate Engine Program: Background and Issues for Congress
This report discusses the past four years of administration proposals to terminate the program to develop the General Electric/Rolls-Royce F136 engine as an alternative to the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine that currently powers the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). These proposals have been continually rejected by Congress. The Obama Administration's FY2011 budget submission against proposes to terminate the program. This report explores both sides of the termination argument.
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program: Background and Issues for Congress
This report discusses the largest procurement program in the Department of Defense (DOD), the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), also called the Lightning II. This is a new aircraft being procured in different versions for the United States Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy. Current DOD plans call for acquiring a total of 2,456 JSFs. This report also discusses issues related to the F-35 procurement program within the FY2011 defense budget.
Securing America's Borders: The Role of the Intelligence Community
Maintaining the security of U.S. borders is a fundamental responsibility of the federal government. This report discusses the contribution of intelligence agencies to the border security efforts of the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and other federal agencies that work in cooperation with state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies. Much of the intelligence community's border security-related efforts are classified, however.