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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Tax Reform in the 113th Congress: An Overview of Proposals
This report provides background information regarding tax reform and discusses ways to make the U.S. tax system simpler, fairer, and more efficient.
United Nations Reform: Background and Issues for Congress
This report examines reform priorities from the perspective of several key actors, including Members of Congress, the Obama Administration, selected member states, the U.N. Secretary-General, and a cross-section of groups tasked with addressing U.N. reform. It also discusses congressional actions related to U.N. reform and mechanisms for implementing reform, as well as possible challenges facing U.S. policy makers as they consider existing and future U.N. reform efforts.
Commercial Filming and Photography on Federal Lands
This report discusses the requirements of commercial filming and photography in federal lands, such as national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, ranges, and other landscapes are popular locations for motion pictures and commercial photography
Constitutional Analysis of Suspicionless Drug Testing Requirements for the Receipt of Governmental Benefits
This report gives an overview of the issues related to federal or state laws that condition the initial or ongoing receipt of governmental benefits on passing drug tests. These regulations are vulnerable to constitutional challenge, most often due to issues of personal privacy and Fourth Amendment protections against "unreasonable searches."
Iran: U.S. Economic Sanctions and the Authority to Lift Restrictions
This report identifies the legislative bases for sanctions imposed on Iran, and the nature of the authority to waive or lift those restrictions. It comprises two tables that present legislation and executive orders that are specific to Iran and its objectionable activities in the areas of terrorism, human rights, and weapons proliferation.
Nonimmigrant Overstays: Brief Synthesis of the Issue
This report discusses a fundamental problem of immigration control in which foreign nationals enter legally on a temporary basis and continue to stay after their visas expire.
The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act: Innovation Issues
This report provides an overview of the the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA). It begins by offering a brief overview of the patent system, then identifies and reviews the specific components of this legislation in greater detail. The report closes with further considerations.
Executive Order 13438: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq
This report provides a brief history of the development of presidential powers in peacetime. It discusses some of the issues that might be raised in light of the contrast between the executive order's broad language and its narrow aim (supplementation of sanctions applicable to Al Qaeda and former Iraqi regime officials to cover terrorists operating in Iraq). It also examines the reach of the executive order and provides legal analyses of some of the constitutional questions raised in the courts by similar sanctions programs, noting that the broad language of the executive order is not unprecedented.
Domestic Content Restrictions: The Buy American Act and Complementary Provisions of Federal Law
This report provides an overview of the Buy American Act, Trade Agreements Act, Berry Amendment (including its former specialty metals provision), and Buy America Act, specifically highlighting the commonalities and differences among them. The report also lists other federal domestic content restrictions codified in the U.S. Code.
Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances
This report covers the contentious travel restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba from the 1960s to the present time. Congress, under the Obama Administration, is easing restrictions on family, marketing, agricultural, and medical sales travel. The report also covers legislative action that has taken place in the 112th Congress to harshen travel restrictions.
Country-of-Origin Labeling for Foods and the WTO Trade Dispute on Meat Labeling
This report covers the dispute between the U.S with its neighbors, Canada and Mexico, who say that the recent country-of-origin labeling (COOL) system implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is unfair and does not meet its original objectives. This dispute was brought before the WTO dispute panel and found to be valid. The report ends with a discussion of options for the U.S. in regards to modifying COOL to follow WTO rulings.
Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2014 Appropriations
This report discusses the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill that provides funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and more than two dozen independent agencies.
Federal Health Centers
This report provides an overview of the federal health center program including its statutory authority, program requirements, and appropriation levels. The report then describes health centers in general, where they are located, their patient population, and some outcomes associated with health center use. It also describes some federal programs available to assist health center operations including the FQHC designation for Medicare and Medicaid payments. The report concludes with a brief discussion of issues for Congress such as the potential effect of the ACA on health centers, the health center workforce, and financial considerations for health centers in the context of changing federal and state budgets.
Generalized System of Preferences: Agricultural Imports
This report discusses the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which provides duty-free tariff treatment for certain products from designated developing countries. Opinion within the U.S. agriculture industry is mixed, reflecting both support for and opposition to the current program. The 111th Congress did not extend the GSP in 2010, and it was set to expire December 31, 2010, which will likely become a legislative issue in the 112th Congress.
The Federal Food Safety System: A Primer
This report discusses concerns about food safety, the resources required to ensure food safety, and whether federal food safety laws themselves, first enacted in the early 1900s, have kept pace with the significant changes that have occurred in the food production, processing, and marketing sectors since then.
The President's Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP): Issues for Congress
This report provides an overview of the history of science and technology (S&T) advice to the President. It also discusses selected issues and options for Congress regarding OSTP's Director, OSTP management and operations, the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), and the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC).
Next Steps in Nuclear Arms Control with Russia: Issues for Congress
This report discusses the role of nuclear arms control in the U.S.-Soviet relationship, bilateral treaties and unilateral steps the United States took to alter its nuclear posture, and the role of arms control in the U.S.- Russian relationship.
Jordan: Background and U.S. Relations
This report provides an overview of Jordanian politics and current issues in U.S.-Jordanian relations. It provides a brief discussion of the nation's government and economy, as well as Jordan's cooperation in promoting Arab-Israeli peace and other U.S. policy objectives in the Middle East.
The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics: Security and Human Rights Issues
This report discusses the security and human rights issues at 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
How Measures Are Brought to the Senate Floor: A Brief Introduction
This report discusses two basic methods that are used by the Senate to bring legislation to the floor for consideration. The Senate, at the majority leader's request, grants unanimous consent to take up a matter or agrees to his motion to proceed to consider it. Because the motion to proceed is subject to debate in most circumstances, it is less frequently used. Both methods are derived from the basic premise that the Senate as a body may decide what matters it considers.
Israel: Background and U.S. Relations
This report describes issues related to U.S. aid provided to Palestine to support prevention/combating against terrorism, creating coexistence with Israel and self-governance, and meeting humanitarian needs. In includes introductory and historical background as well as in-depth analysis of the types of U.S. bilateral aid to Palestine, U.S. contributions to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the near East (UNRWA), and the issues involved in determining future aid.
Wildfire Damages to Homes and Resources: Understanding Causes and Reducing Losses
This report focuses on options for protecting structures and for protecting wildlands and natural resources from wildfires. It begins with a brief overview of the nature of wildfires, followed by a discussion of protecting structures. Then, it discusses wildfire damages to wildlands and natural resources, fuel treatment options and their benefits and limitations, and public involvement in federal decisions.
The National Nanotechnology Initiative: Overview, Reauthorization, and Appropriations Issues
This report provides an overview of nanotechnology, the National Nanotechnology Initiative, possible reauthorization of the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-153), and appropriations issues.
Iran Sanctions
This report discusses the reasons that Iran is considered a threat to U.S. security, including Iran's nuclear program, involvement with terrorist organizations, and involvement with neighboring countries' local governments. The report also discusses ways which the U.S. hopes to modify Iran's behavior with sanctions, and the effectiveness of these sanctions.
U.S. Trade Deficit and the Impact of Changing Oil Prices
This report provides an estimate of the initial impact of the changing oil prices on the nation's merchandise trade balance.
Nanotechnology: A Policy Primer
This report provides an overview of these topics: nanomanufacturing and public understanding of and attitudes toward nanotechnology.
U.S. Direct Investment Abroad: Trends and Current Issues
This report provides a brief overview of how foreign investments can affect the U.S.
Preserving Homeownership: Foreclosure Prevention Initiatives
This report describes the consequences of foreclosure on homeowners, outlines recent foreclosure prevention plans implemented by the government and private organizations, and discusses the challenges associated with foreclosure prevention.
Invoking Cloture in the Senate
This report discusses cloture, the only procedure by which the Senate can vote to set an end to a debate without also rejecting the bill, amendment, conference report, motion, or other matter it has been debating.
House Committee on Ethics: A Brief History of Its Evolution and Jurisdiction
This report examines the history and evolution of the House Committee on Ethics, including the committee's jurisdiction and investigative procedure. It does not deal with changes to federal or state criminal law or with criminal prosecutions of Members of Congress or with the specifics of disciplinary cases in the House.
Navy Nuclear Aircraft Carrier (CVN) Homeporting at Mayport: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on the Navy's proposal to homeport a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier (CVN) at Mayport, FL. Transferring a CVN from Norfolk, VA, to Mayport would shift from Norfolk to Mayport the local economic activity associated with homeporting a CVN, which some sources estimate as being worth hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
Biomass: Comparison of Definitions in Legislation
This report discusses the use of biomass, its legislative history, and the proposed redefinition of biomass in legislation.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology: An Appropriations Overview
This report examines the funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Takings Decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court: A Chronology
This report is a reverse chronological listing of U.S. Supreme Court decisions addressing claims that a government entity has "taken" private property, as that term is used in the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
Kyrgyzstan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests
This report examines Kyrgyzstan's uneven political and economic reform efforts. It discusses U.S. policy and assistance for democratization and other programs. Basic facts and biographical information are provided.
Bahrain: Reform, Security, and U.S. Policy
This report discusses the current state of Bahrain, which has undergone substantial political reforms since the late 1990s, but which still suffers from tension between the Shiite majority and the Sunni-led government. This report focuses particularly on Bahrain's relationship with Iran and with the United States.
U.S. Farm Income
This report provides the highlights of 2013 farm income forecast. The report discusses farm asset values and debt, and average farm household income. It also provides annual figures regarding U.S. farms.
Federal Employees' Retirement System: Benefits and Financing
This report discusses the retirement systems in place for federal employees. Most civilian federal employees who were hired before 1984 are covered by the Civil Service Retirement System, and contribute 7.0% of their pay to a retirement fund. Federal employees hired in 1984 or later are covered by the Federal Employees' Retirement System and contribute 0.8% of their pay to a retirement fund. Both require participants to contribute toward the cost of their pensions through a payroll tax. This report also summarizes relevant legislation in the 113th Congress that would make significant changes to federal benefits and financing, including H.J.Res. 59, S. 18, S. 1678, and H.R. 3639.
Latin America and the Caribbean: Fact Sheet on Leaders and Elections
This report provides the results of recent elections in Latin America and the Caribbean. Below are three tables organized by region, including the date of each country's independence, the name of the newly elected president or prime minister, and the projected date of the next election. Information in this report was gathered from numerous sources, including the U.S. State Department, the CIA's Open Source, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), and other news sources.
Spectrum Policy in the Age of Broadband: Issues for Congress
This report discusses some of the commercial and federal radio frequency spectrum policy changes required by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. It also summarizes new policy directions for spectrum management under consideration in the 112th Congress, such as the encouragement of new technologies that use spectrum more efficiently.
Medal of Honor: History and Issues
This report describes the history of the Medal of Honor and the laws and regulations pertaining to the award. The report discusses the privileges/benefits available to the recipients are discussed. Finally, this report analyzes efforts to have the Medal of Honor awarded to certain individuals outside of the normal procedures.
Congressional Member Organizations: Their Purpose and Activities, History, and Formation
This report examines the purpose and activities of Committee on House Administration as congressional Member organizations (CMO) and the reasons Members form them. It also identifies and describes seven CMO types, and it provides an overview of the historical development of informal Member organizations since the first Congress, focusing on their regulation in the House by the Committee on House Oversight/Committee on House Administration, the rise and fall of legislative service organizations (LSOs), and the House's decision in 1995 to issue regulations for establishing CMOs and governing their behavior. It concludes with a step-by-step guide for House Members and staff who might be interested in forming a CMO.
Salaries of Members of Congress: Recent Actions and Historical Tables
The report contains information on congressional pay procedure and recent adjustments. It includes historical information on pay rates since 1789; the adjustments projected by the Ethics Reform Act as compared to actual adjustments in Member pay; details on past legislation enacted with language prohibiting the annual pay adjustment; and Member pay in constant and current dollars since 1992.
GAO Bid Protests: Trends and Analysis
This report provides an overview of the time frames and procedures in a Government Accountability Office (GAO) bid protest, including (1) what issues can be protested with GAO; (2) who can file or be a party to a GAO protest; (3) the procedures for bringing and resolving GAO protests; (4) the time frames involved in GAO protests; (5) the automatic stay of contract award or performance triggered by a GAO protest, as well as the basis for agency overrides of automatic stays and judicial review of agency override determinations; (6) the basis and effects of GAO decisions; and (7) reconsideration and "appeal" of GAO decisions.
Cost-of-Living Adjustments for Federal Civil Service Annuities
This report discusses the Cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) are based on the rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). All CSRS retirees and survivors receive COLAs. Under FERS, however, non-disabled retirees under age 62 do not receive COLAs. This report discusses cost-of-living adjustments for government retirees, as well as related legislation.
Salaries of Members of Congress: Congressional Votes, 1990-2013
The report contains information on the pay procedure of members of Congress and recent adjustments. It provides information on previous actions and votes by year, from 1990-2010.
Small Business Administration HUBZone Program
This report examines arguments both for and against targeting assistance to geographic areas with specified characteristics, such as low income, high poverty, or high unemployment, as opposed to providing assistance to people or businesses with specified characteristics. It then assesses the arguments both for and against the continuation of the HUBZone program
The G-20 and International Economic Cooperation: Background and Implications for Congress
This report discusses the G-20, an international forum for discussing and coordinating economic policies among major advanced and emerging economies. Previous summits have, for example, focused on financial regulatory reform, global imbalances, funding for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), voting power of emerging economies in international financial institutions, and fossil fuel subsidies.
Federal-Aid Highway Program (FAHP): In Brief
This report discusses the major characteristics of the federal highway program that have been constant since the early 1920s. Generally, federal money can be spent only on designated federal-aid highways, which make up roughly a quarter of U.S. public roads.
Intelligence Spending and Appropriations: Issues for Congress
This report discusses the historic trend in intelligence spending, as well as broader issues concerning the intelligence budgeting process, and may help Members of Congress contextualize information concerning the FY2013 budget.