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Monetary Policy and the Federal Reserve: Current Policy and Conditions

Description: The Federal Reserve (Fed) defines monetary policy as the actions it undertakes to influence the availability and cost of money and credit. Since the expectations of market participants play an important role in determining prices and growth, monetary policy can also be defined to include the directives, policies, statements, and actions of the Fed that influence how the future is perceived. In addition, the Fed acts as a “lender of last resort” to the nation's financial system, meaning that it ensures continued smooth functioning of financial intermediation by providing financial markets with adequate liquidity. This role has become of great importance following the onset of the recent financial crisis. Congress has delegated responsibility for monetary policy to the Fed, but retains oversight responsibilities to ensure that the Fed is adhering to its statutory mandate “maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.” This report looks at the background and influences of current legislation that would affect the Fed's practices.
Date: January 30, 2012
Creator: Labonte, Marc
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) Status for Russia and U.S.-Russian Economic Ties

Description: The change in Russia's trade status will require legislation to lift the restrictions of Title IV of the Trade Act of 1974 as they apply to Russia, which includes the “freedom-of-emigration” requirements of the Jackson-Vanik amendment. The process for Russia's accession has been completed. As a result, Members of the 112th Congress confront the issue of whether to grant Russia permanent normal trade relations (PNTR).
Date: January 30, 2012
Creator: Cooper, William H.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Russia's Accession to the WTO and Its Implications for the United States

Description: Russia has been invited to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) by July 23, 2012. This report looks at policy issues for Congress, and concerns for the US regarding conditions ensuring that Russia fulfills its obligations and provides meaningful trade and investment opportunities for U.S. firms.
Date: January 30, 2012
Creator: Cooper, William H.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Social Security: The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)

Description: This report discusses the windfall elimination provision (WEP) reduces the Social Security benefits of workers who also have pension benefits from employment not covered by Social Security. Its purpose is to remove an advantage or “windfall” these workers would otherwise receive as a result of the interaction between the Social Security benefit formula and the workers’ relatively short careers in Social Security-covered employment. Opponents contend that the provision is basically imprecise and can be unfair.
Date: January 30, 2012
Creator: Shelton, Alison M.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Water Infrastructure Financing: History of EPA Appropriations

Description: The principal federal program to aid municipal wastewater treatment plant construction is authorized in the Clean Water Act (CWA). In appropriations legislation, funding for EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) wastewater assistance is contained in the measure providing funds for the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. This report summarizes, in chronological order, congressional activity to fund items in the State and Tribal Assistance Grants (STAG) account since 1987.
Date: January 30, 2012
Creator: Copeland, Claudia
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

A Historical Perspective on "Hollow Forces"

Description: This report gives general overview of the history of the origins and uses of "hollow forces" (i.e., "military forces that appear mission-ready but, upon examination, suffer from shortages of personnel and equipment, and from deficiencies in training"). Senior Department of Defense (DOD) leaders have invoked the specter of a "hollow force" to describe what could happen to the U.S. Armed Forces if significant cuts to the defense budget are enacted. As Congress will play a major role in shaping the Armed Forces both in terms of size, capabilities, and how it is equipped and trained, a nuanced understanding of how the military once became "hollow" could provide a useful context for current and anticipated legislative action.
Date: January 31, 2012
Creator: Feickert, Andrew & Daggett, Stephen
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Arms Sales: Congressional Review Process

Description: This report reviews the process and procedures that currently apply to congressional consideration of foreign arms sales proposed by the President. This includes consideration of proposals to sell major defense equipment, defense articles and services, or the re-transfer to third party nations of such military items.
Date: February 1, 2012
Creator: Grimmett, Richard F.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Detention of U.S. Persons as Enemy Belligerents

Description: This report provides a background to the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012, the Authorization to use Military Force act, and the President's power to detain "enemy combatants." It then gives a brief introduction to the law of war pertinent to the detention of different categories of individuals and an overview of U.S. practice during wartime to detain persons deemed dangerous to national security. It concludes by discussion Congress's role in prescribing rules for wartime detention as well as legislative proposals in the 112th Congress to address the detention of U.S. persons.
Date: February 1, 2012
Creator: Elsea, Jennifer K.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Detention of U.S. Persons as Enemy Belligerents

Description: The detainee provisions passed as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012 affirm that the Authorization for Use of Military Force in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, authorizes the detention of persons captured in connection with hostilities. This report provides a background to the legal issues presented, followed by a brief introduction to the law of war pertinent to the detention of different categories of individuals. An overview of U.S. practice during wartime to detain persons deemed dangerous to the national security is presented.
Date: February 1, 2012
Creator: Elsea, Jennifer K.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Terrorist Watch List Screening and Brady Background Checks for Firearms

Description: The November 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, TX, renewed interest in terrorist watchlist screening and Brady background checks for firearms through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). In the 110th Congress, Senator Frank Lautenberg and Representative Peter King introduced a bill based on a legislative proposal developed by DOJ that would have authorized the Attorney General to deny the transfer of firearms or the issuance of firearms (and explosives) licenses/permits to "dangerous terrorists." They reintroduced this proposal in the 111th Congress and supporters dubbed it the "Terror Gap" proposal. It was reintroduced once again in the 112th Congress. The Terror Gap proposal raises several potential issues for Congress, which are discussed in this report.
Date: February 1, 2012
Creator: Krouse, William J.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

War Powers Resolution: Presidential Compliance

Description: This report discusses two separate but closely-related issues regarding the introduction of U.S. armed forces abroad that conceivably could lead to their involvement in hostilities. One issue concerns the division of war powers between the President and Congress, whether the use of armed forces falls within the purview of the congressional power to declare war and the War Powers Resolution. The other issue is whether or not Congress concurs in the wisdom of the action. A longer-term issue is whether the War Powers Resolution is an appropriate and effective means of assuring congressional participation in actions that might get the United States involved in war.
Date: February 1, 2012
Creator: Grimmett, Richard F.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Building Civilian Interagency Capacity for Missions Abroad: Key Proposals and Issues for Congress

Description: Within the past two decades, prominent foreign policy organizations and foreign policy experts have perceived serious deficiencies in the authorities, organizations, and personnel used to conduct interagency missions that prevent the United States from exercising its power to full advantage. For the 112th Congress, proposals to address these problems may be of interest for their perceived potential not only to enhance performance, but also to save money by streamlining processes, encouraging interagency cooperation, and reducing duplication. These proposals also provide context for current and recent legislation, including the Interagency Personnel Rotation Act of 2011 (S. 1268 and H.R. 2314) and the Contingency Operations Oversight and Interagency Enhancement Act of 2011 (H.R. 3660), as well as the new Global Security Contingency Fund contained in the FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, Section 1207, H.R. 1540, P.L. 112-81, signed into law December 31, 2011). The FY2012 NDAA requires the President to submit to Congress a “whole-of-government” implementation plan.
Date: February 2, 2012
Creator: Serafino, Nina M.; Dale, Catherine & Towell, Pat
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Closing Yucca Mountain: Litigation Associated with Attempts to Abandon the Planned Nuclear Waste Repository

Description: Passed in 1982, the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) was an effort to establish an explicit statutory basis for the Department of Energy (DOE) to dispose of the nation's most highly radioactive nuclear waste. The Obama Administration, in conjunction with DOE, has taken three important steps directed toward terminating the Yucca Mountain project. While the result of the ongoing dispute over the legality of the attempted termination of the Yucca Mountain program remains uncertain, congressional action could have a significant impact on the fate of the Yucca Mountain facility. A number of leading House Republicans have voiced strong opposition to shutting down the Yucca Mountain facility. Consequently, the Yucca Mountain dispute will not only be contested before the NRC and the D.C. Circuit, but also in Congress.
Date: February 2, 2012
Creator: Garvey, Todd
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Lebanon and the Uprising in Syria: Issue for Congress

Description: This report gives an overview of the social and political situation in Lebanon and in Syria, and discusses how the uprising in Syria could affect U.S. relations with Lebanon. Syria exerts a strong political influence on Lebanon and Syrian business interests remain prominent in the Lebanese economy. Both Lebanon and Syria have diverse societies where ethnic and sectarian groups compete and cooperate as they seek power within the confines of a rigid political system. Congress may review U.S. priorities and programs in relation to future U.S. policy in Lebanon.
Date: February 2, 2012
Creator: Hopkins, Rebecca A.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations

Description: Congress has an active role to play in shaping and overseeing U.S. relations with Turkey, and several Turkish domestic and foreign policy issues have significant relevance for U.S. interests. This report provides background information on Turkey and discusses possible policy options for Members of Congress and the Obama Administration. U.S. relations with Turkey—a longtime North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally—have evolved over time as global challenges to U.S. interests have changed. Turkey's economic dynamism and geopolitical importance—it straddles Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia and now has the world's 16th-largest economy—have increased its influence regionally and globally.
Date: February 2, 2012
Creator: Zanotti, Jim
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Veterans and Homelessness

Description: This report discusses several issues relating to homelessness among veterans, which has become more prominent since the beginning of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Date: February 2, 2012
Creator: Perl, Libby
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Internet Domain Names: Background and Policy Issues

Description: The Domain Name System (DNS) is the distributed set of databases residing in computers around the world that contain address numbers mapped to corresponding domain names, making it possible to send and receive messages and to access information from computers anywhere on the Internet. Many of the technical, operational, and management decisions regarding the DNS can have significant impacts on Internet-related policy issues such as intellectual property, privacy, ecommerce, and cybersecurity. The expiration of the JPA (Joint Project Agreement), the implementation of the Affirmation of Commitments, and the continuing U.S. authority over the DNS root zone remain issues of interest to the 112th Congress, the Administration, foreign governments, and other Internet stakeholders worldwide.
Date: February 3, 2012
Creator: Kruger, Lennard G.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department