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  Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
America COMPETES Act and the FY2010 Budget
This report discusses in detail the America COMPETES Act, which is intended to increase the nation's investment in research and development (R&D), and in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. This report discusses the funding increases authorized by the act for various relevant institutions, e.g., the National Science Foundation (NSF); the act's education activities intended to enhance the skills of STEM educators; and if Congress will continue to similarly fund the America COMPETES Act in the FY2010 budget.
Multiemployer Defined Benefit (DB) Pension Plans: A Primer and Analysis of Policy Options
This report discusses the nature of multiemployer defined benefit (DB) pension plans, and issues regarding their financial solvency.
Survivor Benefits for Families of Civilian Federal Employees and Retirees
This report discusses federal employees with permanent appointments that may be eligible for retirement and disability benefits under either the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).
Crimes of Violence Committed Against Federal Officials or Employees: A Brief Overview of Federal Criminal Law
This report discusses dozens of federal statutes that outlaw homicide, assault, and threats under varying jurisdictional circumstances.
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 112th Congress, including possible devolution of programmatic responsibility to states and proposals to change state maintenance-of-effort requirements and state cost matching requirements.
Ricin: Technical Background and Potential Role in Terrorism
This report describes what ricin is, how it is made, its effects, examples of its use, its potential for use as a bioterror weapon, and how its possession is currently regulated.
Improper Payments Information Act of 2002: Background, Implementation, and Assessment
This report discusses the Improper Payments Information Act (IPIA), which signed into law in 2002 requires agencies to identify each year programs and activities vulnerable to significant improper payments, to estimate the amount of overpayments or underpayments, and to report to Congress on steps being taken to reduce such payments.
Health Savings Accounts and High- Deductible Health Plans: A Data Primer
This report discusses health savings accounts (HSAs), which are generally used to pay for unreimbursed medical expenses on a tax-advantaged basis. HSAs are tax-advantaged and provide some incentives for people to monitor, and perhaps reduce, their expenditures on health care.
U.S.-EU Poultry Dispute
This report discusses the European Union (EU) refusal to accept U.S. imports of poultry treated with antimicrobial rinses. Prior to 1997, when the prohibition took effect, U.S. exports of broiler and turkey meat to the 15 countries that then constituted the EU were reported to total nearly 32,000 MT with a value of $44.4 million.
Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations
This report provides a brief overview of the key issues for Congress related to Egypt and information on U.S. foreign aid to Egypt. The United States has provided significant military and economic assistance to Egypt since the late 1970s. U.S. policy makers have routinely justified aid to Egypt as an investment in regional stability, built primarily on long-running military cooperation and on sustaining the March 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.
U.S. Family-Based Immigration Policy
This report provides an examination of family-based immigration policy. In doing so, it outlines a brief history of U.S. family-based immigration policies, discusses current law governing admissions, and summarizes recommendations made by previous congressionally mandated committees charged with evaluating immigration policy. It then presents descriptive figures on legal immigrants entering the United States during the past decade and discusses the sizable queue of approved immigrant petitioners waiting for an immigrant visa. It closes by discussing selected policy issues.
Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected (MRAP) Vehicles: Background and Issues for Congress
This report covers the 2007 Department of Defense (DOD) major procurement initiative to replace most up-armored High Mobility, Multi-Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs) with Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles. It looks at the cost and subsequent budgets of this initiative. Among potential issues for congressional consideration are the status of older, unused MRAPS in Afghanistan that are reportedly not being used because of their size and weight; possible redundancies with the MRAP, M-ATV, and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) programs; and actual Marine M-ATV requirements.
Public Safety Communications and Spectrum Resources: Policy Issues for Congress
This report discusses possible actions for improving emergency communications. Congress has before it an opportunity to bring public safety communications into the 21st century by assuring that a nationwide, interoperable communications network is put in place. The tools at its disposal include homeland security policy, spectrum policy, funding programs, and leadership.
Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses
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. It also discusses ways in which the U.S. hopes to modify Iran's behavior with sanctions, and the effectiveness of these sanctions.
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, Florida. Economic and homeland security concerns are discussed.
Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program: Background and Issues for Congress
This report discusses the Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) program. Under current Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and Navy plans, the number of BMD-capable Navy Aegis ships is schedule to grow from 20 at the end of FY2010 to 38 at the end of FY2015. This report discusses the concerns some have over BMD expansion, as well as BMD funding issues.
National Security Letters in Foreign Intelligence Investigations: A Glimpse of the Legal Background and Recent Amendments
This report discusses the National Security Letters (NSLs), which seek customer and consumer transaction information in national security investigations from communications providers, financial institutions, and credit agencies.
The Helium-3 Shortage: Supply, Demand, and Options for Congress
The world is experiencing a shortage of helium-3, a rare isotope of helium with applications in homeland security, national security, medicine, industry, and science. Federal officials have testified that the shortage is acute and, unless alternatives are found, will affect federal investments in homeland security, scientific research, and other areas. This report discusses the nature of the shortage; federal actions undertaken so far to address it; current and potential sources of helium-3 and options for increasing the supply; current and projected uses of helium-3 and options for reducing the demand; and options for allocating the supply if it continues to fall short of demand.
Navy Ohio Replacement (SSBN[X]) Ballistic Missile Submarine Program: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and potential oversight issues for Congress on the Ohio replacement program (ORP), a program to design and build a new class of 12 ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) to replace the Navy's current force of 14 Ohio-class SSBNs. The Ohio replacement program is also known as the SSBN(X) program. The Navy's proposed FY2013 budget requests $564.9 million for continued research and development work on the Ohio replacement program. Decisions that Congress makes on the Ohio replacement program could substantially affect U.S. military capabilities and funding requirements, and the U.S. shipbuilding industrial base.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: Titles III and VI, Regulation of Depository Institutions and Depository Institution Holding Companies
This report discusses Titles III and VI of the Dodd-Frank Act, which effectuate changes in the regulatory structure governing depository institutions and their holding companies and, thus, constitute a substantial component of the reform effort.
Water Infrastructure Financing: The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) Program
Policy makers have recently been considering several legislative options to help finance water infrastructure projects, including projects to build and upgrade wastewater and drinking water treatment systems. This report examines one particular option, a "Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act," or WIFIA, program, which Congress included in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA). As enacted (P.L. 113-121), the legislation creates a WIFIA pilot program based on provisions in Senate-passed S. 601 with some additions and modifications.
Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background, Issues, and Options 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. The Navy's proposed FY2012 budget requests funding for the procurement of four LCSs. Current issues for Congress concerning the LCS program include changes or potential changes to the composition of LCS mission modules announced by the Navy in January 2011, the combat survivability of the LCS, and hull cracking on LCS-1. Congress's decisions on the LCS program could affect Navy capabilities and funding requirements, and the shipbuilding industrial base.
United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan: Background and Policy Issues
This report examines the role of United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in Afghanistan and discusses the obstacles the organization faces in coordinating international efforts and explores related policy issues and considerations for the 112th Congress.
Item Veto and Expanded Impoundment Proposals: History and Current Status
This report discusses various points of contention in regards to presidential budgeting authority, specifically that of impoundment and the line item veto. Presidential impoundment actions have sometimes been controversial. The subject of granting the President item veto authority, akin to that exercised by 43 governors, also has elicited considerable debate. With an item veto, the executive can delete specific provisions in a piece of legislation presented for signature, and then proceed to sign the measure into law.
Pending U.S. and EU Free Trade Agreements with South Korea: Possible Implications for Automobile and Other Manufacturing Industries
This report provides U.S. lawmakers with a comparison of the manufacturing components in the South Korea free trade agreement (KORUS) and the European Union and South Korea free trade agreement (KOREU FTA). Also included is a brief overview of the possible implications of the two pending FTAs on other selected industrial sectors affected by the FTAs: home appliances, consumer electronics, textiles and apparel, and pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
U.S. International Trade: Trends and Forecasts
This report discusses the U.S. trade deficit in light of the 2008 global financial crisis, with emphasis on international trade and U.S. trade policy, most recent developments in trade of goods and service, trade forecasts for the future, and how issues such as the U.S. trade deficit and international trade, particularly with China, are commonly perceived.
Animal Identification and Traceability: Overview and Issues
This report provides a summary of current developments in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) effort to establish a national animal traceability capacity with the intended goal of being able to rapidly identify and respond to an animal disease outbreak. National animal identification and traceability appear to have substantial economic value, yet federal proposals have proven controversial among certain segments of the U.S. cattle industry. This report provides background on animal ID and traceability in general, and the development of the current U.S. system of animal ID and traceability in particular. In addition, it reviews the claims and counter-claims of proponents and opponents of a national animal ID system, and describes many of the unresolved issues related to program development. Finally, two appendixes offer a brief chronology of the development of the U.S. National Animal Identification System (NAIS) and its successor program, and a brief description of the major international organizations involved in setting standards and rules for animal health and trade in animal products, along with summary descriptions of animal ID and traceability programs found in other major livestock producer and consumer countries.
Cooperative R&D: Federal Efforts to Promote Industrial Competitiveness
This report provides background and rationale on collaborative R&D, and discusses federal initiative in cooperative R&D.
The Economic Effects of Capital Gains Taxation
One provision of the 1913 individual income tax that generated a great deal of confusion was the taxation of income from the sale of property (i.e., capital gains income). This initial confusion has led to almost 100 years of legislative debates over capital gains. Beginning in 1922 capital gains were first subject to lower tax rates than ordinary income. This preferential treatment has continued throughout most of the history of the income tax. Proposals dealing with the taxation of capital gains have ranged from the outright elimination of capital gains taxation to the reduction of capital gains tax rates for certain classes of taxpayers to the elimination of the preferential tax treatment. This report discusses the manner in which capital gains are taxed, including rates and revenue figures. It also examines various economic issues regarding such taxes.
Air Force KC-X Tanker Aircraft Program: Background and Issues for Congress
This report discusses issues for Congress in FY2011, which are whether to approve, reject, or modify DOD's new KC-X competition strategy, and whether to approve, reject, or modify the Air Force's request for FY2011 research and development funding for the new KC-X program.
The First Day of a New Congress: A Guide to Proceedings on the House Floor
This report focuses on the floor activities of the House during its first formal session in a new Congress, and serves as a guide for those participating in or watching these proceedings.
The Help America Vote Act and Election Administration: Overview and Issues
The deadlocked November 2000 presidential election focused national attention on previously obscure details of election administration. Even before the U.S. Supreme Court had resolved the election in December, numerous bills to address the failings of the election system were introduced in Congress and state legislatures. The response at the federal level was the Help America Vote Act (HAVA; P.L. 107-252), enacted in 2002. HAVA created the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), established a set of election administration requirements, and provided federal funding, but did not supplant state and local control over election administration. Several issues have arisen or persisted in the years since HAVA was enacted. This report provides background information about HAVA and its provisions, the EAC, funding for the agency and for state programs to improve elections, and a number of enduring election administration issues.
Geoengineering: Governance and Technology Policy
This report is intended as a primer on the policy issues, science, and governance of geoengineering technologies. The report will first set the policy parameters under which geoengineering technologies may be considered. It will then describe selected technologies in detail and discuss their status. The third section provides a discussion of possible approaches to governmental involvement in, and oversight of, geoengineering, including a summary of domestic and international instruments and institutions that may affect geoengineering projects.
Considerations for Possible Authorization for Use of Military Force Against the Islamic State
This report discusses the concerns for the Middle Eastern governments and the United States regarding the armed offensive of the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIL or ISIS) in northern and western Iraq and northeastern Syria.
Afghanistan: U.S. Foreign Assistance
The U.S. program of assistance to Afghanistan is intended to stabilize and strengthen the Afghan economic, social, political, and security environment so as to blunt popular support for extremist forces in the region. Since 2001, nearly $38 billion has been appropriated toward this effort. This report provides a "big picture" overview of the U.S. aid program and congressional action. It describes what various aid agencies report they are doing in Afghanistan. It does not address the effectiveness of their programs.
Security and the Environment in Pakistan
This report focuses on the nexus between security and environmental concerns in Pakistan that have the potential to affect American security and foreign policy interests. The report examines the potentially destabilizing effect that, when combined with Pakistan's demographic trends and limited economic development, water scarcity, limited arable land, and food security may have on an already radicalized internal and destabilized international political security environment.
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. The question of how the United States should respond to China's military modernization effort, including its naval modernization effort, has emerged as a key issue in U.S. defense planning.
How Legislation Is Brought to the House Floor: A Snapshot of Recent Parliamentary Practice
The House of Representatives has several different parliamentary procedures through which it can bring legislation to the chamber floor. Which of these will be used in a given situation depends on many factors, including the type of measure being considered, its cost, the amount of political or policy controversy surrounding it, and the degree to which members want to debate it and propose amendments. This report provides a snapshot of the forms and origins of measures which, according to the Legislative Information System of the U.S. Congress (LIS), received action on the House floor in the 110th Congress (2007-2008) and the parliamentary procedures used to bring them up.
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.
Nuclear Energy Cooperation with Foreign Countries: Issues for Congress
This report begins with a brief overview of the global nuclear power industry, including the possessors of enrichment and reprocessing technology. It then describes the state of the U.S. nuclear industry, particularly its dependence on both international trade and foreign suppliers. The report then reviews the multilateral nuclear nonproliferation mechanisms. It concludes with a detailed summary of U.S. nuclear cooperation agreements, the primary mechanism by which the United States both promotes U.S. nuclear commerce and ensures that such commerce does not contribute to clandestine nuclear weapons programs.
China-U.S. Trade Issues
This report provides an overview of U.S.- China economic relations, surveys major trade disputes, and lists bills introduced in Congress that could affect bilateral commercial ties.
Following World War II, the United States led efforts to establish an open and nondiscriminatory trading system with the expressed goal of raising the economic well-being of all countries and bolstering world peace. These efforts culminated in the creation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1948, a provisional agreement on tariffs and trade rules that governed world trade for 47 years. The World Trade Organization (WTO) succeeded the GATT in 1995 and today serves as a permanent body that administers the rules and agreements negotiated and signed by 153 participating parties, as well as a forum for dispute settlement and negotiations. The purpose of this report is to analyze some of the main issues in any debate on U.S. participation in the WTO and to address some of the criticisms leveled at the organization. Academic studies indicate that the United States benefits from broad reductions in trade barriers worldwide, but some workers and industries might not share in those gains. Decisions in the WTO are made by member governments, which determine their negotiating positions, file dispute challenges, and implement their decisions. However, some argue that smaller countries are left out of decision-making and that governments tend to represent the interests of large corporations disproportionately.
Cuba's Offshore Oil Development: Background and U.S. Policy Considerations
This report first examines Cuba's oil sector, including current production and consumption levels. It then looks at Cuba's offshore development, including the Repsol project, other offshore projects involving state-owed foreign oil companies, and the outlook for Cuba's offshore oil production. The report then analyzes considerations for the United States raised by Cuba's offshore oil development, examining oil spill risks and environmental dangers if spilled oil reaches U.S. waters, the status of disaster coordination between the United States and Cuba, and potential approaches on the issue. The report then examines the debate over broader U.S. involvement in Cuba's offshore oil development, and touches on two outstanding boundary issues related to Cuba's offshore oil development. Finally, the report examines legislative initiatives that reflect two contrasting policy approaches toward Cuba's offshore oil development - one would authorize U.S. investment in the sector, and the other would not affect current prohibitions on U.S. firms' economic dealings with Cuba and would impose sanctions on foreign companies and individuals who support the development of Cuba's petroleum resources.
The Jurisprudence of Justice John Paul Stevens: Selected Opinions on the Jury's Role in Criminal Sentencing
This report discusses Justice John Paul Stevens' opinions on the Jury's role in criminal sentencing. Justice Stevens has played a critical role in the Supreme Court's interpretation of a jury's role in criminal sentencing. In 2000, he wrote the majority opinion for the Court in Apprendi v. New Jersey, a landmark case in which the Court held that a judge typically may not increase a sentence beyond the range prescribed by statute unless the increase is based on facts determined by a jury "beyond a reasonable doubt." In 2005, he wrote one of two majority opinions in United States v. Booker, in which the Court applied the Apprendi rule to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. In those two cases and in several other cases on this issue during the past few decades, Justice Stevens has been a leading voice, articulating a broad interpretation of the jury trial and due process rights at issue.
Salaries of Members of Congress: Congressional Votes, 1990-2014
The report contains information on the pay procedure for members of Congress and recent adjustments. It provides information on previous actions and votes by year.
The 2010 Oil Spill: Criminal Liability Under Wildlife Laws
In April 2010 an explosion occurred on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, reportedly killing 11 people, and, according to federal experts, causing the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Millions of barrels of oil are believed to have leaked into the Gulf of Mexico. As the oil spreads, the implications for harm to wildlife grow. The United States has many laws that protect wildlife from harm. This report discusses three: the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Cuba: Issues for the 111th Congress
This report discusses the current political conditions of Cuba, as well as its relationship with the United States. In particular, the report focuses on U.S. policy regarding Cuba, including various economic sanctions, human rights issues, and foreign aid appropriations.
The Proposed U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA): Provisions and Implications
This report is designed to assist Members of Congress as they consider the costs and benefits of the U.S.-South Korean Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA.) It examines the provisions of the KORUS FTA in the context of the overall U.S.-South Korean economic relationship, U.S. objectives, and South Korean objectives.
Attorney General Nominations Since the Reagan Administration
On November 9, 2014, President Obama announced his intention to nominate U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch to replace Eric H. Holder Jr. as Attorney General (AG). Presidents have nominated a total of 11 individuals, including Lynch, for the position of AG since the beginning of the Reagan Administration in 1981. This report provides a table with information regarding these 11 nominations.
The President's Budget Request: Overview and Timing of the Mid-Session Review
This report provides an overview of the mid-session review and analysis of the timing of the mid-session review and discusses the President's budget request.