Congressional Research Service Reports - 34 Matching Results

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Congress's Contempt Power and the Enforcement of Congressional Subpoenas: Law, History, Practice, and Procedure
This report examines the source of the contempt power, reviews the historical development of the early case law, outlines the statutory and common law basis for Congress's contempt power, and analyzes the procedures associated with inherent contempt, criminal contempt, and the civil enforcement of subpoenas. It also includes a detailed discussion of two recent information access disputes that led to the approval of contempt citations in the House against then-White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers, as well as Attorney General Eric Holder. Finally, the report discusses both non-constitutional and constitutionally-based limitations on the contempt power.
Congress's Contempt Power and the Enforcement of Congressional Subpoenas: Law, History, Practice, and Procedure
This report examines the source of the contempt power, reviews the historical development of the early case law, outlines the statutory and common law basis for Congress's contempt power, and analyzes the procedures associated with inherent contempt, criminal contempt, and the civil enforcement of subpoenas. In addition, the report discusses both non-constitutional and constitutionally based limitations on the power. Finally, the report includes a discussion of the significance of the House Judiciary Committee dispute with the White House over the dismissal of several U.S. Attorneys that resulted in votes for criminal contempt of Congress and the United States District Court opinion in Committee on the Judiciary v. Miers.
Offices of Inspectors General and Law Enforcement Authority: In Brief
This report identifies the laws and regulations that vest certain offices of inspector general (OIGs) with law enforcement authority, which permits the use of guns and ammunition. This report also describes some of the requirements and expectations of OIGs that have law enforcement authority, and includes some reasons that OIGs have expressed a need for law enforcement authority.
Money Laundering: An Abridged Overview of 18 U.S.C. 1956 and Related Federal Criminal Law
This is an overview of the elements of federal criminal money laundering statutes and the sanctions imposed for their violation.
The Federal Circuit Rules on Trademarks Considered Offensive: May Affect Redskins Trademark Dispute
This legal sidebar examines cases involving the revocation of the Washington Redskins' federally-registered trademarks (Pro-Football, Inc. v. Blackhorse) and the refusal to grant registration for a rock band's name (In re Tam). These cases raise questions about the constitutionality of Section 2(a) of the Trademark Act of 1946 (conventionally known as the Lanham Act), which denies trademark registration to certain offensive content.
The President's Immigration Accountability Executive Action of November 20, 2014: Overview and Issues
This report discusses President Obama's Immigration Accountability Executive Action which revises some U.S. immigration policies and initiates several programs, including a revised border security policy for the Southwest border.
Energy Policy: 112th Congress Issues and Legislative Proposals
This report discusses the energy policy in the United States, which has focused on three major goals: assuring a secure supply of energy, keeping energy costs low, and protecting the environment.
Water Quality Issues in the 113th Congress: An Overview
This report discusses the legislative and oversight issues regarding water quality, as well as wastewater treatment funding issues.
Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant
This report analyzes the special immigrant visas (SIVs) classifications for Iraqis and Afghans within the context of both the larger special immigrant category and selected other permanent admissions categories. It discusses the legislative changes to the individual Iraqi and Afghan special immigrant programs since their initial authorization, provides statistics on visa issuances, and considers challenges that have faced the programs.
The Proposed Equal Rights Amendment: Contemporary Ratification Issues
This report examines the legislative history of the various proposals that ultimately emerged as the proposed Equal Rights Amendment; it identifies and provides an analysis of contemporary factors that may bear on its present and future viability.
S. 2262, Shaheen-Portman Bill 2014: Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act
This report reviews the provisions of S. 2262, highlights the most controversial bill provision, and identifies potential amendments to the bill.
Patentable Subject Matter Reform
This report reviews the current law governing patentable subject matter and recent proposals for legislative reform. It begins by providing a basic overview of the patent system and introducing the principles of patentable subject matter. It then considers the leading Supreme Court decisions construing section 101 of the Patent Act. The report then considers the implications of these decisions within the information technology and life sciences industries. The report closes with a review of legislative reform options.
Unauthorized Aliens in the United States: Policy Discussion
This report discusses the unauthorized immigrant (illegal alien) population in the United States, which is a key and controversial immigration issue.
Same-Sex Marriages: Legal Issues
This report discusses Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and legal challenges to it. It reviews legal principles applied to determine the validity of a marriage contracted in another state and surveys the various approaches employed by states to enable or to prevent same-sex marriage. The report also examines House and Senate resolutions introduced in previous Congresses proposing a constitutional amendment and limiting federal courts' jurisdiction to hear or determine any question pertaining to the interpretation of DOMA.
The 2010 Oil Spill: Natural Resource Damage Assessment Under the Oil Pollution Act
The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill leaked an estimated 4.1 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, damaging the waters, shores, and marshes, and the fish and wildlife that live there. When resources in the public trust are harmed by contamination, federal, state, foreign, and tribal governments may seek compensation for damage to natural resources under certain laws. This is done in two steps: first, by assessing the harm; then, by determining how and what restoration will take place. Compensation for natural resource damage is intended to restore the natural resources to their condition before the damage and to compensate the public for the lost use of those resources. This report discusses legislation that provides a framework for assessing and mitigating the damage caused by such spills.
EPA Policies Concerning Integrated Planning and Affordability of Water Infrastructure
This report examines recent initiatives by EPA, an integrated planning policy and a framework policy for assessing a community's financial capability to meet objectives and requirements of the Clean Water Act (CWA).
Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF): Program Overview and Issues
This report discusses the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Amendments of 1996, which authorized a drinking water state revolving loan fund (DWSRF) program. The program was intended to help public water systems finance infrastructure projects that were needed to comply with federal drinking water regulations and to meet the Act's health objectives. It includes an overview of funding, allotments and set-asides, drinking water infrastructure needs, program issues, and legislative activity.
Clean Power Plan: Legal Background and Pending Litigation in West Virginia v. EPA
This report provides legal background on the Clean Power Plan rule (CPP) to regulate emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), its Clean Air Act (CAA) framework under Section 111, and climate-related lawsuits that have preceded the present litigation over the CPP. It then gives an overview of the participants in the current litigation, including two groups of Members of Congress, who have offered briefs in support of the petitioners and the respondents, respectively.
Clean Power Plan: Legal Background and Pending Litigation in West Virginia v. EPA
This report provides legal background on the Clean Power Plan rule (CPP or Rule) to regulate emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), its Clean Air Act (CAA) framework under Section 111, and climate-related lawsuits that have preceded the present litigation over the CPP. It then gives an overview of the participants in the current litigation, including two groups of Members of Congress, who have offered briefs in support of the petitioners and the respondents, respectively.
Unauthorized Aliens in the United States: Policy Discussion
This report discusses the unauthorized immigrant (illegal alien) population in the United States, which is a key and controversial immigration issue.
EPA Regulations: Too Much, Too Little, or On Track?
This report provides background information on EPA regulatory activity during the Obama Administration to help address these issues. It examines major or controversial regulatory actions taken by or under development at the Environmental Protection Agency since January 2009. The report includes tables that show which rules remain under development, and an appendix that describes major or controversial rules that are now final.
Abortion Services and Military Medical Facilities
The purpose of this report is to describe and discuss the provisions for providing abortion services to military personnel, their dependents and other military health care beneficiaries at military medical facilities. The report describes the history of these provisions, with particular emphasis on legislative actions. Finally, this report discusses a number of proposals to modify the law as well as other related legislative and administrative actions.
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.
Nuclear Cooperation with Other Countries: A Primer
This report discusses section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act (AEA), the specific requirements of which must be met in order for the United States to engage in civilian nuclear cooperation with other states. The AEA also provides for exemptions to these requirements, export control licensing procedures, and criteria for terminating cooperation.
Cuba: Issues for the 114th Congress
This report is divided into three major sections analyzing Cuba's political and economic environment, U.S. policy, and selected issues in U.S.-Cuban relations.
Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress
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. Some general issues include Arctic territorial disputes; commercial shipping through the Arctic; Arctic oil, gas, and mineral exploration; endangered Arctic species; and increased military operations in the Arctic, which could cause the region in coming years to become an arena of international cooperation or competition.
Evolution of the Meaning of "Waters of the United States" in the Clean Water Act
This report examines the changing definition of the phrase, "waters of the United States." The scope of waters that are properly the subject of federal water pollution legislation has been the subject of long-standing consideration by all three branches of the federal government, particularly in the aftermath of the 1972 amendments to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, commonly referred to as the Clean Water Act.
EPA's Vessel General Permit: Background and Issues
This report is an overview of the revised Vessel General Permit (VGP) from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and two key issues: inclusion of numeric performance standards to limit ballast water discharges from vessels, and controversies about the role of states in regulating vessel discharges.
Environmental Laws: Summaries of Major Statutes Administered by the Environmental Protection Agency
This report summarizes several federal statutes providing legal authority for the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) programs and activities. These include: the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Ocean Dumping Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the Solid Waste Disposal Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA), the Emergency Planning Act, and the Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).
Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response: The SAFER Grant Program
The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Act (the "SAFER Act") was enacted by the 108th Congress as part of the FY2004 National Defense Authorization Act. This report describes the SAFER Act in brief, discusses possible budgetary modifications to the SAFER Act that are being considered due to the recent economic downturn, and explores related issues for the 112th Congress as they consider reauthorization.
Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress
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.
A U.S.-centric Chronology of the International Climate Change Negotiations
The United States is a Party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), but not to its subsidiary Kyoto Protocol. Negotiations under way since 2007 have run on two tracks: one under the Kyoto Protocol, to extend commitments of developed parties beyond 2012, and the second track under the UNFCCC, regarding commitments for all Parties. Both tracks convened in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009 under a deadline to agree on steps to address climate change beyond 2012. As background for congressional deliberations, this document provides a U.S.-centric chronology of international climate change policy from 1979 to 2010. This chronology identifies selected external events and major multilateral meetings that influence both the current legal and institutional arrangements, and the contentious choices about future international cooperation.
U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond
This report provides a framework for examining the current status and future prospects for U.S.- Mexican security cooperation. It begins with a brief discussion of the threat that drug trafficking and related crime and violence pose to both nations, followed by an analysis of the evolution of the Mérida Initiative. The report then provides an overview of the Peña Nieto government's security strategy and how it is affecting the Mérida Initiative. The report then examines key aspects of the current U.S.-Mexican security strategy and concludes by raising policy issues that may affect bilateral efforts.
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.