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Transportation Security: Issues for the 114th Congress
This report examines aviation, transit and passenger rail security, as well as port and maritime security. The difficulty and cost of protecting the transportation sector from attack raises a core question for policymakers, i.e., how much effort and resources to put toward protecting potential targets versus pursuing and fighting terrorists.
A Resurgence of Unaccompanied Alien Children?
This report briefly examines the recently-high number of unaccompanied alien children (UAC). In the first seven months of FY2016, apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border have approached levels close to what they were in FY2014 when such migration flows reached what were characterized as "crisis" proportions.
The Buy American Act--Preferences for "Domestic" Supplies: In Brief
This report discusses the Buy American Act of 1933, which is the earliest and arguably the best known of various statutes regarding federal procurement of domestic products. The act attempts to protect U.S. businesses and labor by restricting the acquisition and use of end products or construction materials that are not "domestic."
Pay Equity: Legislative and Legal Developments
This report begins by presenting data on earnings for male and female workers and by discussing explanations that have been offered for the differences in earnings. It next discusses the major laws directed at eliminating sex-based wage discrimination as well as relevant federal court cases. The report closes with a description of pay equity legislation that has been considered or enacted by Congress in recent years.
Unaccompanied Alien Children: An Overview
This report opens with an analysis of recent unaccompanied alien children (UAC) apprehension data. It then discusses current policy on the treatment, care, and custody of the population, with a description of the responsibilities of each federal agency involved with the population. The report then discusses both administrative and congressional actions to deal with the UAC surge in FY2014 and ongoing action to address possible future surges.
Federal Lifeline Program: Frequently Asked Questions
This report discusses the Federal Lifeline Program established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1985. The program was originally designed to assist eligible low-income households to subsidize the monthly service charges incurred for voice telephone usage and was limited to one fixed line per household.
Availability of Injunctive Relief for Standard-Essential Patent Holders
This report provides an overview of the current debate over whether a holder of a patent essential to an industry standard, who has promised to license such patented technology on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms, may nevertheless obtain an injunction from a federal court or an exclusion order from the International Trade Commission against infringing products that implement the industry standard. The report first summarizes several fundamental principles of patent law, then discusses the relationship between standard-setting organizations and FRAND licensing.
Solar Projects: DOE Section 1705 Loan Guarantees
This report discusses the solar energy initiative and the political implications. The objective of this report is to provide Congress with insight regarding solar projects supported by Department of Energy (DOE’s) loan guarantee program, the risk characteristics of these projects, and how other DOE loan guarantee projects are either similar to or different from the Solyndra solar manufacturing project.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA): Policies, Programs, and Funding
This report discusses the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which is an agency of the Department of Commerce set up to advise on domestic and international telecommunications and information policies.
Patent Reform: Judicial Developments in Areas of Legislative Interest
This report reviews the relationship between Congress and the courts in patent reform. It begins by offering a summary of the patent system. The report then discusses a number of topics that have been the subject of both judicial and legislative consideration. The current state of the law is then contrasted with legislative reform proposals before previous Congresses. The report closes with observations concerning the subtle interaction between legislative, administrative, and judicial actors within the patent system and their impact upon the U.S. innovation environment.
U.S. Implementation of the Basel Capital Regulatory Framework
This report discusses the implementation of the Basel III international regulatory framework, which is the latest in a series of evolving agreements among central banks and bank supervisory authorities to standardize bank capital requirements, among other measures.
Food Safety on the Farm: Federal Programs and Selected Proposals
This report discusses comprehensive food safety bills that are progressing in the 111th Congress and could affect farmers and ranchers. Interest in on-farm practices was renewed after more than 1,300 persons in 43 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada were found to be infected with the same unusual strain of bacteria (Salmonella Saintpaul) in April-July 2008.
International Insurance Issues and H.R. 5143
This report discusses the international response to the financial crisis, which included the creation of a Financial Stability Board (FSB) largely made up of various national financial regulators and the increased focus by the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS).
Supreme Court: Length of the Scalia Vacancy in Historical Context
This report provides data and analysis related to the potential length of the current vacancy on the Supreme Court caused by the death of Antonin Scalia on February 13, 2016. Specifically, this report provides the number of days the Scalia vacancy will have existed on specified future dates if a nominee has not been confirmed.
EPA's Mid-Term Evaluation of Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards
This report discusses the standards set by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for fuel economy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for new light-duty vehicles (defined generally as passenger cars and light trucks).
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.
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.
Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA): A Summary of the Act and Its Major Requirements
This report summarizes the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and its major programs and regulatory requirements. It includes the drinking water security provisions added to the SDWA by the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-188), and lead reduction provisions as amended by P.L. 111-380. It also outlines amendments made in December 2013 by P.L. 113-64 (H.R. 3588) to explicitly exempt fire hydrants from coverage under the act's lead plumbing restrictions.
What is the Proposed U.S.-EU Insurance Covered Agreement?
This report discusses arrangement between the United States and European Union (EU), on the first insurance "covered agreement."
Introduction to the Legislative Process in the U.S. Congress
This report introduces the main steps through which a bill (or other item of business) may travel in the legislative process--from introduction to committee and floor consideration to possible presidential consideration.
Why Did March 2016 U.N. Sanctions Not Curb China's Imports of Coal from North Korea?
This report discusses sanctions on North Korea in response to the country's fourth nuclear test and China's imports of coal from North Korea.
Central Valley Project Operations: Background and Legislation
This report provides an abbreviated background on the Central Valley Project (CVP) and State Water Project (SWP). It also provides a summary of recent hydrologic conditions in California and their effect on water deliveries.
Sanctuary Jurisdictions: Congressional Action and President Trump's Interior Enforcement Executive Order
This report discusses President Trump's executive order (EO) "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States" issued on January 25, 2017, which seeks, among other things, to penalize "sanctuary jurisdictions." The term refers to states and localities that limit their cooperation with federal agencies on immigration law enforcement.
Sea-Level Rise and U.S. Coasts: Science and Policy Considerations
This report provides information for policymakers that are interested in sea-level rise because of the risk to coastal populations and infrastructure and the consequences for coastal species and ecosystems.
State Voter Identification Requirements: Analysis, Legal Issues, and Policy Considerations
This report provides an updated overview of state requirements for voters to present some form of ID before casting a ballot in a federal election. The report also discusses the origins of voter ID, relevant federal legislative action in the 114th Congress, and selected legal and policy issues related to state voter ID laws.
Post-Heller Second Amendment Jurisprudence
This report examines the scope of the Second Amendment, as interpreted by the federal circuit courts of appeals, after the watershed Supreme Court decisions in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago.
Treatment of Noncitizens Under the Affordable Care Act
This report provides information regarding the treatment of noncitizens under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) including definitions of "lawfully present," the health insurance mandate, exchanges, and ACA changes to Medicaid. It also discusses the verification of alien status under the ACA and related legislation in the 113th Congress.
Legislative Options in the 114th Congress for Financing Water Infrastructure
This report addresses several options considered by Congress to address the financing needs of local communities for wastewater and drinking water infrastructure projects and to decrease or close the gap between available funds and projected needs.
Unaccompanied Alien Children: An Overview
This report opens with an analysis of recent unaccompanied alien children (UAC) apprehension data. It then discusses current policy on the treatment, care, and custody of the population, with a description of the responsibilities of each federal agency involved with the population. The report also discusses administrative and congressional actions to deal with the UAC surge in FY2014 and ongoing action to address possible future surges.
EPA Regulations: Too Much, Too Little, or On Track?
This report provides background information on EPA regulatory activity during the Obama Administration. It examines major or controversial regulatory actions taken by or under development at EPA from January 2009 to late 2016, providing details on the regulatory action itself, presenting an estimated timeline for completion of rules not yet promulgated (including identification of related court or statutory deadlines), and, in general, providing EPA's estimates of costs and benefits, where available.
President Trump's Executive Order on Suspending Entry of Select Foreign Nationals: The Seven Countries
This report the executive order (EO) entitled "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorists Entry Into the United States." Invoking Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) §212(f), the President barred citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days, with limited exceptions for those traveling on diplomatic and certain other types of visas.
Oil and Natural Gas Industry Tax Issues in the FY2014 Budget Proposal
This report discusses the FY2014 budget proposal that outlines a set of proposals, framed as the termination of tax preferences, that would potentially increase the taxes paid by the oil and natural gas industries, especially those of the independent producers.
Mandatory Minimum Sentencing: Federal Aggravated Identity Theft
This report discusses the aggravated identity theft, which is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment for two years or by imprisonment for five years if it relates to a terrorism offense.
Federal Mandatory Minimum Sentences: The Safety Valve and Substantial Assistance Exceptions
This report discusses the federal law that requires a sentencing judge to impose a minimum sentence of imprisonment following conviction for any of a number of federal offenses.
The Federal Rulemaking Process: An Overview
The purpose of this report is to provide Congress with an overview of the federal rulemaking process and a brief discussion of the major laws and executive orders that prescribe the procedures agencies are to apply when promulgating regulations.
Department of Health and Human Services Halts Cost-Sharing Reduction (CSR) Payments
This report discusses the the case "House of Representatives v. Hargan" which was a case by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) appealing the House's decision to end cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments. Questions regarding the status of the case and possible legal and legislative methods of restoring CSR payments are addressed.
President Trump's Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement Raises Legal Questions: Parts 1 and 2
This report discusses various legal questions raised by President Trump's announcement of the U.S.'s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. Questions addressed include the withdrawal process, whether the agreement is binding or non-binding, the role of United States in other international climate meetings, and why President Trump announced the exit.
A Primer on U.S. Immigration Policy
This report provides a broad overview of U.S. immigration policy. The first section addresses policies governing how foreign nationals enter the United States either to reside permanently or to stay temporarily. Related topics within this section include visa issuance and security, forms of quasi-legal status, and naturalization. The second section discusses enforcement policies both for excluding foreign nationals from admission into the United States, as well as for detaining and removing those who enter the country unlawfully or who enter lawfully but subsequently commit crimes that make them deportable. The section also covers worksite enforcement and immigration fraud. The third section addresses policies for unauthorized aliens residing in the United States.
Unmanned and Unregulated? Court of Appeals Rejects FAA Regulation of Many Drones
This report discusses a ruling by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals which said that model aircraft including many drones were exempt from the FAA's registration rule. Carious implications of the ruling are also discussed.
The Federal Government's Plenary Immigration Power Collides with the Constitutional Right to an Abortion (Part 2)
This report is the secondt in a two-part series discussing "Garza v. Hargan", a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit involving a detained unaccompanied alien minor and the right to terminate a pregnancy. Debate among judges regarding the right of an unaccompanied alien minor to have an abortion when the minor was detained at the border and technically never formally entered the United States are discussed.
Drug Testing and Crime-Related Restrictions in TANF, SNAP, and Housing Assistance
This report describes and compares the drug- and crime-related policy restrictions contained in selected federal programs that provide assistance to low-income individuals and families: the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps), and the three primary federal housing assistance programs (the public housing program, the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, and the project-based Section 8 rental assistance program).
Banning the Use of Racial Preferences in Higher Education: A Legal Analysis of Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action
This report discusses the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Laws based on suspect classifications such as race or gender, however, typically receive heightened scrutiny and require a stronger, if not compelling, state interest to justify the classification.
Immigration Detainers: Legal Issues
Report that surveys the various authorities governing immigration detainers, including the standard detainer form (Form I-247) sent by ICE to other law enforcement agencies. The report also discusses key legal issues raised by immigration detainers.
Immigration Detainers: Legal Issues
Report that provides background information regarding the Immigration and Naturalization Service rules and regulations and discusses the "immigration detainer", a document by which U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) advises other law enforcement agencies that it seeks custody of individual aliens whom these agencies are detaining.
Presidential Review of Independent Regulatory Commission Rulemaking: Legal Issues
Report that discusses the constitutionality and the legal effects of extending centralized review of rulemaking to independent regulatory commissions (IRC).
Airline Passenger Rights: The Federal Role in Aviation Consumer Protection
This report examines aviation consumer protections following the 1978 elimination of most governmental control regarding airline business practices. It explains the roles of Congress and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) in protecting airline consumers, and discusses some major passenger rights issues and related laws and regulations.
Department of Labor's 2016 Fiduciary Rule: Background and Issues
This report discusses fiduciary standard with respect to his or her advice, an individual had to, which include: (1) make recommendations on investing in, purchasing, or selling securities or other property, or give advice as to the value (2) on a regular basis (3) pursuant to a mutual understanding that the advice (4) will serve as a primary basis for investment decisions, and (5) will be individualized to the particular needs of the plan regarding such matters as, among other things, investment policies or strategy, overall portfolio composition, or diversification of plan investments.
Overview of U.S. Sanctions Regimes on Russia
This report discusses the U.S.-imposed sanctions on Russia for malicious cyber activity.
Energy and Water Development: FY2017 Appropriations for Nuclear Weapons Activities
This report discusses the annual Energy and Water Development appropriations bill that funds civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of Energy (DOE), and several independent agencies.
State Innovation Waivers: Frequently Asked Questions
This report answers nine frequently asked questions about the State Innovation Waiver program under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that allows states to obtain waivers from certain areas of the program and instead use their own state run processes.