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Unemployment Benefits: Legislative Issues in the 108th Congress
This report discusses the federal-state unemployment compensation (UC) system, which pays benefits to covered workers who become involuntarily unemployed for economic reasons and meet state-established eligibility rules.
Forest Fire/Wildfire Protection
This report provides historical background on wildfires, and describes concerns about the wildland-urban interface and about forest and rangeland health. It discusses fuel management, fire control, and fire effects and also examines federal, state, and landowner roles and responsibilities in protecting lands and resources from wildfires. The report concludes by discussing current issues for federal wildfire management.
Social Security Notch Issue: A Summary
This report discusses recent attempts at legislative action regarding changes to the computation of benefits under Social Security Amendments of 1977 (P.L. 95-216), which directly affected retirees born in the 5- to 15-year period after 1916. These persons fall in the "notch" between previous Social Security legislation and those affected by the amendments.
Appropriations for FY2005: Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs
This report is a guide to one of the 13 regular appropriations bills that Congress considers each year, related to foreign operations, export financing and other programs. It is designed to supplement the information provided by the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Foreign Operations. It summarizes the status of the bill, its scope, major issues, funding levels, and related congressional activity, and is updated as events warrant.
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR): Controversies for the 108th Congress
This report discusses one major element of the energy debate in the 108th Congress, which has been whether to approve energy development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in northeastern Alaska, and if so, under what conditions, or whether to continue to prohibit development to protect the area's biological resources. The Refuge is an area rich in fauna, flora, and commercial oil potential. Current law forbids energy leasing in the Refuge.
Background and Legal Issues Related to Stem Cell Research
This report discusses issues regarding stem cell research. With certain restrictions, the President has announced that federal funds may be used to conduct research on human embryonic stem cells. Federal research is limited to "the more than 60" existing stem cell lines that were derived (1) with the informed consent of the donors; (2) from excess embryos created solely for reproductive purposes; and (3) without any financial inducements to the donors. No federal funds will be used for the derivation or use of stem cell lines derived from newly destroyed embryos; the creation of any human embryos for research purposes; or cloning of human embryos for any purposes.
Appropriations for FY2005: Interior and Related Agencies
This report is a guide to one of the 13 regular appropriations bills that Congress considers each year, regarding the Department of the Interior and related agencies. It is designed to supplement the information provided by the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Interior and Related Agencies. It summarizes the status of the bill, its scope, major issues, funding levels, and related congressional activity, and is updated as events warrant.
Appropriations for FY2004: Energy and Water Development
This report is a guide to one of the 13 regular appropriations bills that Congress considers each year, related to energy and water development. It is designed to supplement the information provided by the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Energy and Water Development. It summarizes the status of the bill, its scope, major issues, funding levels, and related congressional activity, and is updated as events warrant.
Stem Cell Research
This report provides background on the research and potential applications of research that uses embryonic and adult stem cells. It also provides information about the current federal and state regulatory landscape, related Congressional and international actions, and relevant ethical concerns.
How to Find Information in a Library and on the Internet
This guide to finding information in libraries and on the Internet has been prepared for constituents who want to learn more about topics that interest them. It includes background directories, current information, reference books, and websites for government, politics, legislation, and other sources. It lists a number of Internet search engines, which can be used at many public libraries. It also suggests guides on how to search, including one for kids.
Soil and Water Conservation Issues
This report discusses soil and water conservation, which were prominent farm policy topics in the 108th Congress as the Administration implemented provisions in the 2002 farm bill (P.L. 107-171). This farm bill increased spending and expanded the scope of the conservation effort by reauthorizing and amending most existing conservation programs and enacting new ones through FY2007.
Energy Policy: The Continuing Debate and Omnibus Energy Legislation
This report discusses a variety of issues pertaining to energy policy. It includes information about most recent developments, background and analysis broken down into major categories, and relevant legislation.
Title IX, Sex Discrimination, and Intercollegiate Athletics: A Legal Overview
This report provides an overview of Title IX in general and of the intercollegiate athletics regulations in particular. It includes a summary of the report issued by the Commission on Opportunity in Athletics and the Department of Education's (ED's) response with a discussion of recent legal challenges to the regulations and to the three-part test.
Safe Drinking Water Act: Implementation and Issues
This report discusses key drinking water issues in the 108th Congress involving water infrastructure funding and problems caused by specific contaminants, such as the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), perchlorate, and lead in drinking water. Congress last reauthorized the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) in 1996, and although funding authority for most SDWA programs expired in FY2003, broad reauthorization efforts were not pursued as EPA, states, and water utilities continued implementing the 1996 amendments.
Congressional Salaries and Allowances
This report provides basic information on congressional salaries and allowances. First, the report briefly summarizes the current salary of Members of Congress, limits on their outside earned income and honoraria, and applicable health insurance and retirement benefits. Second, it provides information on allowances available to Representatives and Senators to support them in their official and representational duties as Members. Third, it provides the salaries and allowances available to the Speaker of the House and the Vice President, as President of the Senate, and lists the salaries of congressional officers and officials and committee staff.
Tax-Advantaged Accounts for Health Care Expenses: Side-by-Side Comparison
This report provides brief summaries and background information about four accounts related to medical expenses: Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Archer Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs), Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), and Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs). It also compares them with respect to characteristics such as eligibility, contribution limits, and use of funds.
Clean Air Act: A Summary of the Act and Its Major Requirements
This report summarizes the Clean Air Act and its major regulatory requirements. It describes the Act's major provisions and provides tables listing all major amendments, with the year of enactment and Public Law number, and crossreferencing sections of the Act with the major U.S. Code sections of the codified statute.
Title IX and Sex Discrimination in Education: An Overview
This report provides an overview of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and the various aspects of education affected by this law. Although Title IX has been only partially successful in eliminating sex discrimination in education, the effects of this legislation have been far-reaching.
Trade Negotiations During the 109th Congress
This report discusses trade issues in the 109th Congress. For over 50 years, U.S. trade officials have negotiated multilateral trade agreements to achieve lower trade barriers and rules to cover international trade. During the 108th Congress, U.S. officials negotiated and Congress approved four bilateral free-trade agreements with Australia, Chile, Morocco, and Singapore.
Campaign Financing
This report discusses various issues regarding campaign finance law and potential options for policy responses.
Fishery, Aquaculture, and Marine Mammal Legislation in the 108th Congress
This report discusses policy and legislation regarding fish and marine mammals. These animals are important resources in open ocean and nearshore coastal areas. Commercial and sport fishing are jointly managed by the federal government and individual states. Many laws and regulations guide the management of these resources by federal agencies.
Overview of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003
This report examines the the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, which creates a prescription drug benefit for Medicare beneficiaries and establishes a new Medicare Advantage program to replace the current Medicare+Choice program.
The 2003 Tax Cut: Proposals and Issues
This report provides a brief description of each tax cut proposal, including major proposals offered by the Democrats in both the House and the Senate during 2003. It discusses the distributional affects of the proposals and potential effects on short and long term economic growth.
Clean Water Act Issues in the 108th Congress
This report discusses issues regarding the Clean Water Act. Prospects for legislative initiatives to comprehensively amend the Clean Water Act (CWA) have stalled for some time over whether and exactly how to change the law, and Congress has recently focused legislative attention on narrow bills to extend or modify selected CWA programs, rather than taking up comprehensive proposals. For example, the 108th Congress enacted one bill amending the CWA, legislation to reauthorize the National Estuary Program (H.R. 4731, P.L. 108-399).
Brownfields and Superfund Issues in the 108th Congress
This report discusses the Superfund program for cleaning up the nation's worst hazardous waste sites, created by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, or CERCLA (P.L. 96-510, as amended). It includes recent development and background issues, superfund issues, revenue issues, comprehensive reauthorization, and legislation regarding superfund program.
Social Security Reform
This report examines the debate over the future of the Social Security system. It includes discussion of recent developments; background and analysis with information about the basic debate, specific area of contention, reform initiatives; and relevant legislation.
The Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR)
This report introduces the adverse effect wage rate (AEWR) and the concerns out of which it grew, from the perspective of labor policy (not of immigration policy). American agricultural employers have long utilized foreign workers on a temporary basis, regarding them as an important manpower resource. Often employed at low wages and under adverse conditions, such alien workers, some argue, may compete unfairly with U.S. workers. To mitigate any "adverse effect" for the domestic workforce, a system of wage floors was developed that applies, variously, both to alien and citizen workers.
Federal Research and Development: Budgeting and Priority-Setting Issues, 108th Congress
This report discusses federal funding for research and development. National R&D funding continues to grow, but the federal R&D share has declined to less than 30% of the total. Debates focus on which fields of federal R&D should be increased and how to set priorities and to "balance" health and nonhealth fields.
Frequently Asked Questions Concerning the Federal Income Tax
This report addresses some of the frequently asked historical, constitutional, procedural, and legal questions concerning the federal income tax.
School Choice: Current Legislation
This report provides an overview of current local, state, and federal policies and programs that support school choice and identifies and summarizes recent federal school choice legislation.
Major Tax Issues in the 108th Congress
This report provides an overview of major tax issues. It begins by describing three aspects of the economic context in which the tax policy debate during 2004 is likely to occur: the general state of the U.S. economy; the position of the federal budget; and the level of taxes in the United States.
Social Security Reform: Economic Issues
This report tackles the issue of Social Security reform from an economic perspective that focuses not merely on reform that achieves programmatic sustainability (sustainability within the trust fund), but reform that achieves sustainability for the government and economy as a whole. The President has indicated that Social Security reform will be a major issue in the 109th Congress. For some time comprehensive reform has been an issue of debate in Congress, but no major action has occurred.
Automobile and Light Truck Fuel Economy: The CAFE Standards
This report discusses energy legislation pertaining to fuel standards. The current corporate average fuel economy standard (CAFE) is 27.5 miles per gallon (mpg) for passenger automobiles and 20.7 mpg for light trucks (scheduled to increase to 22.2 mpg in model year [MY] 2007), a classification that also includes sport utility vehicles (SUVs). Congress had included language in the FY1996-FY2001 Transportation Appropriations prohibiting the use of appropriated funds for any rulemaking on CAFE, effectively freezing the standards.
21st Century Community Learning Centers in P.L. 107-110: Background and Funding
This report summarizes the major provisions of the reauthorized 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program. It includes sections on fundings, national reservations, formula grants to states, competitive local grants, history, program effectiveness, and relevant legislation in the 107th Congress.
The Davis-Bacon Act: Issues and Legislation During the 108th Congress
This report discusses the debate surrounding the Davis-Bacon Act (1931, as amended), which requires, among other things, that not less than the locally-prevailing wage be paid to workers employed in federal contract construction. Through recent decades, the Act has become a continuing source of contention, particularly regarding its impacts, whether it should be modified, strengthened, or repealed, and if it is being administered effectively.
Child Welfare: Reauthorization of the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program in the 107th Congress
This report discusses the reauthorization of the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Amendments of 2001. The new law maintains the FY2001 mandatory funding level, authorizes additional discretionary funding, and grants new program authority to provide mentoring services for children of prisoners. In addition, the enacted legislation allows states to use Promoting Safe and Stable Families funds for infant "safe haven" programs, provides for reallocation of unused program funds, clarifies language defining family support programs, and gives more explicit instructions to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding use of funds set aside for research, evaluation and technical assistance.
Telecommunications Discounts for Schools and Libraries: The "E-Rate" Program and Controversies
This report addresses the controversial issues surrounding the E-rate program's implementation and subsequent legislative measures introduced to address these issues. An additional issue, concern that minors may gain access to "inappropriate" material through the Internet has also had an impact on the E-rate program.
Issues Affecting Tidal, Wave, and In-Stream Generation Projects
This report provides an overview of developments and considerations regarding wave, tidal, and in-stream energy generation technology. It summarizes federal involvement in the regulation of this new industry and highlights current issues in the field.
Air Quality Issues and Animal Agriculture: EPA's Air Compliance Agreement
This report discusses a plan announced by EPA in January 2005, called the Air Compliance Agreement, intended to produce air quality monitoring data on animal agriculture emissions from a small number of farms, while at the same time protecting all participants (including farms where no monitoring takes place) through a "safe harbor" from liability under certain provisions of federal environmental laws.
Conservation Reserve Program: Status and Current Issues
This report discusses the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) enacted in 1985, which provides payments to farmers to take highly erodible or environmentally-sensitive cropland out of production for ten years or more to conserve soil and water resources.
Water Resources Development Act (WRDA): Army Corps of Engineers Authorization Issues in the 109th Congress
The Corps is a federal agency in the Department of Defense with military and civilian responsibilities. At the direction of Congress, the Corps plans, builds, operates, and maintains a wide range of water resources facilities in U.S. states and territories.
The Endangered Species Act and "Sound Science"
This report provides a context for evaluating legislative proposals through examples of how science has been used in selected cases, a discussion of the nature and role of science in general, and its role in the Endangered Species Act (ESA) process in particular, together with general and agency information quality requirements and policies, and a review of how the courts have viewed agency use of science.
Recreation on Federal Lands
This report discuses the 109th Congress's considering legislation and conducting oversight on issues involving recreation on federal lands, including traditional recreational pursuits and newer forms of motorized recreation. The Administration is addressing these issues through budgetary, regulatory, and other actions.
Funding Levels for Conservation Programs in the 2007 Farm Bill
This report consists of two tables, preceded by a brief narrative. The first table summarizes the annual funding provisions, by program, in (1) current law, (2) H.R. 2419 as passed, and (3) the Bush Administration's farm bill proposals. The second table compares FY2007 authorized and actual funding levels for programs authorized in the 2002 farm bill with FY2008 and FY2012 funding levels that would be authorized in the 2007 House-passed farm bill.
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program: How are State Allotments Determined?
This report discusses the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which is a block grant program under which the federal government provides states annual grants to operate multi-component home energy assistance programs for needy households.
Wave, Tidal, and In-Stream Energy Projects: Which Federal Agency Has the Lead?
This report describes wave, tidal, and in-stream energy generation technologies -- also referred to as hydrokinetic or marine energy. It discusses the recent changes in law aimed to clarify the federal role in ocean wave and renewable energy.
Polar Bears: Proposed Listing Under the Endangered Species Act
This report discusses the polar bear status and they are affected by climate change, contaminants, and subsistence and sport hunting.
Entering the Executive Branch of Government: Potential Conflicts of Interest With Previous Employments and Affiliations
This report examines the federal laws and regulations relevant to entering into Government employment from the private sector. It is intended to provide those conducting congressional oversight with an outline of some of the issues, rules, regulations, ad oversight tools that may be available regarding this subject.
Forestry in the 2007 Farm Bill
This report briefly describes the Agriculture Committees' jurisdiction over forestry, with examples of legislation addressed by the committees. It discusses forestry issues likely to be debated in the upcoming farm bill and presents information on the forestry provisions in the Administration's proposal for the 2007 farm bill, followed by the forestry provisions in the Farm, Nutrition, and Bioenergy Act of 2007 (H.R. 2419).
The Toxic Substances Control Act: A Summary of the Act and Its Major Requirements
This report summarizes the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the major regulatory programs dealing with chemical production and distribution in U.S. commerce.