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Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on the sustainment and modernization of the Coast Guard's polar icebreaker fleet, which performs a variety of missions supporting U.S. interests in polar regions. The Coast Guard's proposed FY2015 budget requests $6 million to continue initial acquisition activities for a new polar icebreaker. The issue for Congress is whether to approve, reject, or modify Coast Guard plans for sustaining and modernizing its polar icebreaking fleet. Congressional decisions on this issue could affect Coast Guard funding requirements, the Coast Guard's ability to perform its polar missions, and the U.S. shipbuilding industrial base.
United Nations System Funding: Congressional Issues
This report tracks the process by which Congress provides the funding for U.S. assessed contributions to the regular budgets of the United Nations, its agencies, and U.N. peacekeeping operation accounts, as well as for U.S. voluntary contributions to U.N. system programs and funds. It includes information on the President's request and the congressional response, as well as congressional initiatives during this legislative process. Basic information is provided to help the reader understand this process.
Navy Irregular Warfare and Counterterrorism Operations: Background and Issues for Congress
The Department of Defense (DOD) is placing an increased planning and budgeting emphasis on irregular warfare (IW) operations, such as counterinsurgency operations. In addition, counterterrorism (CT) operations have been a DOD area of emphasis since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Navy for several years has carried out a variety of IW and CT activities, and has taken some steps in recent years to strengthen its ability to conduct such activities. This report discusses these activities and potential oversight issues raised by them.
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 April 2010 Coup in Kyrgyzstan: Context and Implications for U.S. Interests
This report discusses the coup and its aftermath in Kyrgyzstan, and its implications for Kyrgyzstan, U.S. interests, Russia and other Euroasian states.
Potential Stafford Act Declarations for the Gulf Coast Oil Spill: Issues for Congress
This report discusses the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, P.L. 93-288, which presents several options, and could provide a number of programs, to address the Gulf Coast oil spill. The Stafford Act authorizes the President to issue "major disaster" or "emergency" declarations before or after catastrophes occur. Emergency declarations trigger aid that protects property, public health, and safety and lessens or averts the threat of an incident becoming a catastrophic event.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization: An Overview of Legislative Action in the 111th Congress
This report tracks the status of ongoing legislative action and debate related to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization. It is organized into six major program areas: aviation system finance; airport financing; FAA management and organizational issues; system capacity and safety; environmental issues; and airline industry issues. In several cases, provisions that appear in various unrelated sections of proposed legislation have been rearranged in this report in an effort to group and discuss related items in an issue-driven or programmatic context. Since this report is primarily written as a means of communicating key legislative provisions under consideration in the ongoing FAA reauthorization process, it does not go into detail regarding the specific policy issues behind these legislative proposals.
Proposed Train and Equip Authorities for Syria: In Brief
This report reviews the authority granted in H.J.Res. 124 and explores similarities and differences among the H.J.Res. 124 authority, the President's requests, and other proposals that may be considered by Congress, including during anticipated consideration of FY2015 full-year appropriations or defense authorization (H.R. 4435/S. 2410) legislation.
Waste, Fraud, and Abuse in Agency Travel Card Programs
This report begins by discussing the structure of agency travel card programs, and then discusses weaknesses in agency controls that have contributed to waste, fraud, and abuse. It then examines travel card legislation introduced or enacted in the 111th Congress, and concludes with observations on the information available to Congress for oversight of agency travel card programs.
The 2010 Oil Spill: The Minerals Management Service (MMS) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
This report will review environmental procedures after an exploratory oil well in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, killing 11 people and causing an oil spill.
A Federal Chief Technology Officer in the Obama Administration: Options and Issues for Consideration
In November 2007, Senator Barack Obama announced his intention, if elected President, to appoint a federal chief technology officer (CTO). On April 18, 2009, President Obama appointed Virginia Secretary of Technology, Aneesh P. Chopra, to serve as "America's Chief Technology Officer." This report presents President Obama's vision for the CTO position put forth during his campaign for the presidency and during the presidential transition. It also discusses the potential scope of duties and authorities of the CTO, articulates organizational precedents and challenges for the CTO, reviews some of the activities undertaken by Aneesh Chopra during his tenure as CTO, and identifies issues Congress may choose to consider if it opts to exert oversight or to develop legislation to create the position and/or office of the CTO.
Guinea's New Transitional Government: Emerging Issues for U.S. Policy
This report provides background information on the government of national unity of Guinea. The report discusses issues for U.S. policy and bilateral relations with the transitional government.
The FCC's Authority to Regulate Net Neutrality after Comcast v. FCC
This report examines the ramifications of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit's April 6, 2010 ruling that the FCC could not base ancillary authority to regulate cable Internet services solely upon broad policy goals contained in the Communications Act. The decision has intensified the Net Neutrality debate and made the governments regulatory authority on the matter less clear.
A New United Nations Entity for Women: Issues for Congress
In September 2009, U.N. member states, including the United States, adopted a General Assembly resolution expressing strong support for the consolidation of four U.N. bodies addressing women's issues into one composite entity. This report discusses possible policy issues that may arise as the composite gender entity is established, including its funding mechanisms, the creation of an effective governance structure, the entity's possible impact on U.N. system in-country operational capacity, and the relationships and coordination between the entity and other U.N. system bodies. The report also discusses the entity in the context of broader U.N. reform efforts and examines the involvement of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Finally, it analyzes U.S. policy toward the new entity, including its possible role in U.S. foreign policy and the level and extent of U.S. financial contributions to existing U.N. system gender entities.
Ozone Air Quality Standards: EPA's 2015 Revision
This report discusses the standard-setting process, the specifics of the current and most recent reviews, and issues that may be raised as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) brings the current review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone to completion.
U.S. Initiatives to Promote Global Internet Freedom: Issues, Policy, and Technology
This report provides information regarding the role of U.S. and other foreign companies in facilitating Internet censorship by repressive regimes overseas. The report is divided into several sections: Examination of repressive policies in China and Iran, Relevant U.S. laws, U.S. policies to promote Internet freedom, Private sector initiatives, and Congressional action.
Guantanamo Detention Center: Legislative Activity in the 111th Congress
This report analyzes relevant provisions in enacted legislation and selected pending bills relating to the U.S. Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a facility in which alleged enemy belligerents are detained.
Availability of Legislative Measures in the House of Representatives (The "Three-Day Rule")
This report discusses house rules that govern the length of time legislative measures which must be available to Members before being considered on the floor.
Political Status of Puerto Rico: Options for Congress
This report discusses the current U.S.-Puerto Rico relationship, the history of said relationship, and the current political state of Puerto Rico, as well as relevant pieces of U.S. Congressional legislation concerning Puerto Rico.
Chemical Facility Security: Issues and Options for the 113th Congress
This report provides a brief overview of the existing statutory authority and implementing regulation. It describes several policy issues raised in previous debates regarding chemical facility security and identifies policy options for congressional consideration.
Cyber Operations in DOD Policy and Plans: Issues for Congress
This report presents an overview of the threat landscape in cyberspace, including the types of offensive weapons available, the targets they are designed to attack, and the types of actors carrying out the attacks. It presents a picture of what kinds of offensive and defensive tools exist and a brief overview of recent attacks. The report then describes the current status of U.S. capabilities, and the national and international authorities under which the U.S. Department of Defense carries out cyber operations.
Burma's 2010 Elections: Implications of the New Constitution and Election Laws
This report discusses Burma first parliamentary elections in 20 years. The elections are to be held under a new constitution, supposedly approved in a national referendum held in 2008 in the immediate aftermath of the widespread destruction caused by Cyclone Nargis.
Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board: New Independent Agency Status
This report examines initial responses to the 9/11 Commission's call for a board to oversee adherence to presidential guidelines on information sharing that safeguard the privacy of individuals about whom information is shared, and the implementation of this board.
Understanding China's Political System
This report provides an overview of contemporary PRC (People's Republic of China) politics by analyzing the main institutional actors and their interactions. The goal is not so much to provide the definitive study of the current political dynamics in China, but to offer a framework for examining and understanding PRC politics as they play out with respect to particular policies or issues.
Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class Attack Submarine Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on the Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) program. The Navy's proposed FY2015 budget requests $5,883.6 million in procurement, advance procurement (AP), and Economic Order Quantity (EOQ) funding for the program. Decisions that Congress makes on procurement of Virginia-class boats could substantially affect U.S. Navy capabilities and funding requirements, and the U.S. shipbuilding industrial base.
Contract Types: Legal Overview
This report provides an overview of the various contract types (e.g., fixed-price, cost-reimbursement) used in federal procurement and the legal requirements and issues pertaining to each. The types of contracts used by federal agencies have long been of interest to Congress and the executive branch, as they have sought to ensure that the most appropriate type of contract is used to acquire particular supplies or services.
Russian Compliance with the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty: Background and Issues for Congress
This report describes the current status of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and highlights issues that Congress may address as the United States pursues its compliance concerns with Russia.
Terrorism Risk Insurance Legislation: Issue Summary and Side-by-Side Analysis
After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Congress responded to the disruption in the insurance market by passing the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 (TRIA; P.L. 107-297). TRIA created a temporary program, to calm the insurance markets through a government reinsurance backstop sharing in terrorism losses. The current TRIA program expires at the end of 2014. This report briefly outlines the issues involved with terrorism insurance, summarizes the extension legislation, and includes a side-by-side of the current TRIA law and the bills that have been passed by the Senate (S. 2244), reported by the House Committee on Financial Services (H.R. 4871), and passed by the House (S. 2244 with a substitute amendment).
Defense: FY2011 Authorization and Appropriations
The President's FY2011 budget request, released February 1, 2010, included $733.3 billion in new budget authority for national defense. This report discusses and break downs these defense appropriations.
The U.S. Secret Service: An Examination and Analysis of Its Evolving Missions
This report frames potential policy questions concerning the U.S. Secret Service's (USSS's) mission and organization through an examination of the USSS history and its statutory authorities, mission, and present activities within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2015
The federal government has played an important role in supporting research and development (R&D) efforts that have led to scientific breakthroughs and new technologies, from jet aircraft and the Internet to communications satellites, shale gas extraction, and defenses against disease. However, widespread concerns about the federal debt and recent and projected federal budget deficits are driving difficult decisions about the prioritization of R&D, both in the context of the entire federal budget and among competing needs within the federal R&D portfolio. This report begins with a discussion of the overall level of R&D funding requested in the President's budget, followed by analyses of requested R&D funding from a variety of perspectives and for selected multiagency R&D initiatives. The report concludes with discussion and analysis of the R&D budget requests of selected federal departments and agencies that, collectively, account for about 98% of total federal R&D funding.
U.S.-EU Poultry Dispute on the Use of Pathogen Reduction Treatments (PRTs)
This report highlights the dispute between the U.S. and EU over the use of Pathogen Reduction Treatments (PRTs) during the processing of poultry products. PRT's are antimicrobial rinses--including chlorine dioxide, acidified sodium chlorite, trisodium phosphate, and peroxyacids, among others--that have been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for use in poultry processing to reduce the amount of microbes on meat.
U.S. Sanctions on Russia: Economic Implications
This report discusses the U.S.-Russia economic ties, U.S. sanctions and Russia's retaliatory measures, economic trends in Russia, and U.S. economic interest.
Israel's Blockade of Gaza, the Mavi Marmara Incident, and Its Aftermath
This report provides background information on the Israel's blockade on Gaza, and it discusses the raid on the MV Marmara, the free Gaza Movement, views form Israel and Turkey, international reaction and the U.S. position.
Congressional Oversight Manual
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) developed the Congressional Oversight Manual over 30 years ago. Over the years, CRS has assisted many Members, committees, party leaders, and staff aides in the performance of the oversight function: the review, monitoring, and supervision of the implementation of public policy.
Unauthorized Aliens in the United States
This report discusses the unauthorized immigrant (illegal alien) population in the United States, which is a key and controversial immigration issue.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF): Budget and Operations for FY2010
This report provides an overview of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) budget and operations. This report chronicles congressional action on the FY2011 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS), and Related Agencies Appropriations bills, as well as any FY2010 supplemental appropriations bills, that provide funding for ATF.
North Korea's 2009 Nuclear Test: Containment, Monitoring, Implications
This report discusses the implications of North Korea's May 25, 2009, underground nuclear test, related issues such as the the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), containment of radioactive materials, and other concerns for Congress, such as improving nuclear monitoring capability.
Federalism Issues in Surface Transportation Policy: Past and Present
This report provides an historical perspective on contemporary federalism issues in surface transportation policy that are likely to be addressed by Congress during the 111th Congress, including possible devolution of programmatic responsibility to states and proposals to change state maintenance-of-effort requirements and state cost matching requirements.
Outsourcing and Insourcing Jobs in the U.S. Economy: Evidence Based on Foreign Investment Data
This report addresses the issue of jobs outsourcing by analyzing the extent of direct investment into and out of the economy, the role such investment plays in U.S. trade, jobs, and production, and the relationship between direct investment and the broader economic changes that are occurring in the U.S. economy.
Greece's Debt Crisis: Overview, Policy Responses, and Implications
Greece is currently facing such a sovereign debt crisis. On May 2, 2010, the Eurozone members and International Monetary Fund (IMF) endorsed a historic €110 billion (about $145 billion) financial package for Greece in an effort to avoid a Greek default and to stem contagion of Greece's crisis to other European countries, particularly Portugal, Spain, Ireland, and Italy. This report provides an overview of the crisis; outlines the major causes of the crisis, focusing on both domestic and international factors; examines how Greece, the Eurozone members, and the IMF have responded to the crisis; and highlights the broader implications of Greece's debt crisis, including for the United States.
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 and U.S. efforts under the Obama Administration to provide military, reconstructive, and stabilization aid.
China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities--Background and Issues for Congress
This report focuses on the potential implications of China's naval modernization for future required U.S. Navy capabilities. This report is based on unclassified open-source information, such as the annual Department of Defense (DOD) report to Congress on China's military power, and published reference sources such as Jane's Fighting Ships.
Intelligence Authorization Legislation for FY2014 and FY2015: Provisions, Status, Intelligence Community Framework
This report provides background information and discusses Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) for Fiscal Years (FY) 2014 and 2015 (H.R. 4681).
Cybersecurity: Data, Statistics, and Glossaries
This report describes data and statistics from government, industry, and information technology (IT) security firms regarding the current state of cybersecurity threats in the United States and internationally. These include incident estimates, costs, and annual reports on data security breaches, identity thefts, cybercrimes, malwares, and network securities.
Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)/Frigate Program: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)/Frigate program, a program to procure 52 LCSs and frigates. The first ship in the program was procured in FY2005, and a total of 23 have been procured through FY2015. The Navy's proposed FY2016 budget is expected to request funding for the procurement of three more LCSs.
The Peace Corps: Current Issues
The report discusses the President's annual funding request for the Peace Corps, efforts to reauthorize the Peace Corps, and related issues. Current issues 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.
Iraqi Civilian, Police, and Security Forces Casualty Statistics
This report presents various governmental and nongovernmental estimates of Iraqi civilian, police, and security forces fatalities. The Iraq government is releasing increasingly regular data on these deaths. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) releases the monthly pattern of Iraqi civilian, police, and security forces deaths, and it regularly updates total U.S. military deaths and wounded statistics from Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), as reflected in CRS Report RS21578, Iraq: U.S. Casualties, by Susan G. Chesser. Because the estimates contained in this report are based on varying time periods and have been created using differing methodologies, readers should exercise caution when using them and should look to them as guideposts rather than as statements of fact.
Haiti Earthquake: Crisis and Response
The largest earthquake ever recorded in Haiti devastated parts of the country, including the capital, on January 12, 2010. This report discusses the disaster and various responses, ranging from the Haitian government's initial response to foreign humanitarian and financial aid.
Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2011
This report summarizes the FY2011 budget request for research & development (R&D) funding, including comparisons to R&D funding requests in the FY2010 budget. Congress will play a central role in defining the nation's R&D priorities, especially with respect to two overarching issues: the extent to which the Federal R&D investment can grow in the context of increased pressure on discretionary spending and how available funding will be prioritized and allocated. This report breaks down in detail the various aspects of the President's FY2011 R&D funding request.