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Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on the sustainment and modernization of the Coast Guard's polar icebreaker fleet. The Coast Guard's proposed FY2017 budget requests $150 million in acquisition funding for a new polar icebreaker that the Coast Guard wants to begin building in FY2020. The issue for Congress is whether to approve, reject, or modify the Administration's FY2017 acquisition funding request for a new polar icebreaker, and, more generally, whether to approve, reject, or modify the Coast Guard's overall plan for sustaining and modernizing the polar icebreaking fleet.
Department of Defense Contractor and Troop Levels in Iraq and Afghanistan: 2007-2016
This report provides background information for Congress on the levels of Department of Defense (DOD) troop and contractor personnel deployed in support of prior and ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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.
Job Creation in the Manufacturing Revival
This report examines the current status of the manufacturing sector in the U.S., which is a subject of ongoing interest in Congress. After rebounding from the 2007-09 recession, U.S. manufacturing output has grown little since the second half of 2014 while employment in the U.S. sector has been flat. These trends defy expectations that forces such as higher labor costs, heightened concern about the risk of disruptions to complex supply chains, and the development of inexpensive domestic supplies of natural gas.
Transportation Spending Under an Earmark Ban
This report explains what earmarks are and discusses their use in surface transportation finance. It then discusses how federal transportation funding is distributed with a ban in place and how Members of Congress might influence the distribution.
Oman: Reform, Security, and U.S. Policy
This report describes the relationship between the United States and the Sultanate of Oman, especially with respect to Oman's support of U.S. efforts toward peace in the Middle East, the U.S. free trade agreement with Oman, and Oman's relatively close relations with Iran.
Help Wanted: Supreme Court Holds Vacancies Act Prohibits Nominees from Serving as Acting Officers
This report discusses the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 and a recent Supreme Court case decision in "NLRB v SW General Inc." related to acting officials filling Presidential nominated positions under the Vacancies Act.
Review of Offshore Energy Leasing: President Trump's Executive Order
This report discusses President Trump's executive order (E.O.) on U.S. offshore energy strategy including a brief overview of previous policies and the scope of the E.O.
Economic Impact of Infrastructure Investment
This report provides an overview of the trends surrounding infrastructure investment in the United States and examines the potential impact of additional infrastructure investments on economic output and employment.
NAFTA and Motor Vehicle Trade
This report discusses the development of U.S. motor vehicle production under the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) and analyzes the North American motor vehicle market, including production, plant locations, and continental trade patterns. It summarizes the motor vehicle rules of origin in NAFTA and compares them with similar requirements in other trade agreements, and examines how the potential changes in NAFTA might affect the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts industries in the United States.
Arms Sales: Congressional Review Process
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 states of such military items.
Iran Sanctions
This report analyzes U.S. and international sanctions against Iran and provides some examples, based on open sources, of companies and countries that conduct business with Iran.
U.S. Role in the World: Background and Issues for Congress
This report presents background information and issues for Congress on the overarching U.S. foreign policy issue of the U.S. role in the world. Certain statements and actions from the Trump Administration have led to uncertainty about the Administration's intentions regarding the future U.S. role, and have intensified an ongoing debate among foreign policy specialists, strategists, policymakers, and the public about what that role should be.
U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces: Background, Developments, and Issues
This report reviews the ongoing programs that will affect the expected size and shape of the U.S. strategic nuclear force structure.
Military Officers
This report provides background information and includes charts that show active military officers by pay grade and branch, as well as associated insignia.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and U.S. Agriculture
The focus of this report is The U.S. food and agricultural sectors, which has benefited especially from NAFTA.
Comparing DHS Component Funding, Fiscal Year 2018: In Brief
This report illustrates the appropriations for various parts of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for fiscal year 2018 compared with funding levels for fiscal year 2017 in a series of charts and tables.
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.
North Korean Cyber Capabilities: In Brief
This report discusses how as North Korea has accelerated its missile and nuclear programs in spite of international sanctions, Congress and the Trump Administration have elevated North Korea to a top U.S. foreign policy priority. Legislation such as the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016 (P.L. 114-122) and international sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council have focused on North Korea's WMD and ballistic missile programs and human rights abuses. North Korea's cyberattacks have the potential not only to disrupt international commerce, but to direct resources to its clandestine weapons and delivery system programs, potentially enhancing its ability to evade international sanctions. This report will provide a brief summary of what unclassified open-source reporting has revealed about the secretive program, introduce four case studies in which North Korean operators are suspected of having perpetrated malicious operations, and provide an overview of the international finance messaging service that these hackers may be exploiting.
Who Regulates Whom? An Overview of the U.S. Financial Regulatory Framework
This report attempts to set out the basic frameworks and principles underlying U.S. financial regulation and to give some historical context for the development of that system. The first section briefly discusses the various modes of financial regulation and the next section identifies the major federal regulators and the types of institutions they supervise (see Table 1). It then provides a brief overview of each federal financial regulatory agency. Finally, the report discusses other entities that play a role in financial regulation--interagency bodies, state regulators, and international standards.
Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Issues
This report discusses military personnel issues considered during deliberations on H.R. 2810 and S. 1519 which were passed on July 14, 2017 as the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018. A brief synopsis of sections in each bill that pertain to selected personnel policies such as military end-strengths, pay and benefits, and other major policy issues are provided.
Reform of U.S. International Taxation: Alternatives
This report describes and assesses the principal prescriptions that have been offered for broad reform of the international system. It begins with an overview of current law and possible revisions. It then sets the framework for considering economic efficiency as well as tax shelter activities. Finally, it reviews alternative approaches to revision in light of those issues.
U.S. Trade in Services: Trends and Policy Issues
This report provides background information and analysis on U.S. international trade in services, as well as policy issues. It examines emerging issues and current negotiations, including the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP).
Iran's Presidential Elections
This report analyzes Iran's 2009 presidential election, particularly the campaigns of reformist candidate Mir Hussein Musavi and incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It also describes the Obama Administration's reaction to the election results and briefly discusses the current relationship between the U.S. and Iran, as well as U.S. concerns regarding Iran, such as Iran's efforts at building a nuclear weapons program.
Legislative Proposals Seek Statutory Protections Related to Removing a Special Counsel
This report discusses the current rules for special counsels investigating executive branch officials and new proposed laws regarding special counsels and the process required to remove one from their position.
China's Economic Rise: History, Trends, Challenges, and Implications for the United States
This report provides background on China's economic rise; describes its current economic structure; identifies the challenges China faces to maintain economic growth; and discusses the challenges, opportunities, and implications of China's economic rise for the United States.
Vermont Utility Cybersecurity Alarm
This report discusses the cyber-security alarm, which was raised after a joint report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) urged electric utilities to search their networks for signs of an infiltration linked to a Russian hacking operation (called the Grizzly Steppe) suspected in the hack of Democratic Party servers.
Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on the Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) program, which is carried out by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Navy, and gives Navy Aegis cruisers and destroyers a capability for conducting BMD operations. Congress's decisions on the Aegis BMD program could significantly affect U.S. BMD capabilities and funding requirements, and the BMD-related industrial base.
Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy
This report examines the current political state of Afghanistan at length, discussing the political background, security policy, and regional relations.
Presidential Pardons: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
This report provides a general overview of the pardon power and briefly addresses a few frequently-asked legal questions concerning its scope and application, such as: whether the President can issue a "prospective pardon, pardon himself or issue "secret" pardons, whether the acceptance of a pardon is an admission of guilt, and whether Congress can regulate the President's pardon power.
China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities-Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on China's naval modernization effort and its implications for U.S. Navy capabilities. The question of how the United States should respond to China's military modernization effort, including its naval modernization effort, is a key issue in U.S. defense planning and budgeting. Decisions that Congress reaches on this issue could affect U.S. Navy capabilities and funding requirements and the U.S. defense industrial base.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): Frequently Asked Questions
This report answers frequently asked questions about the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program and the recent announcement on September 5, 2017 that the program was being rescinded.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE): Issues for U.S. Policy
This report outlines the United Arab Emirates (UAE) governmental structure, economy, military, foreign policy, human rights issues and U.S. policies and relations with the UAE. Major areas of U.S. policy concerns discussed are the UAE's participation in the war in Yemen supporting Saudia Arabia and the current standoff with Quatar over alleged sponsorship of terrorism by Quatar in relation to the significant amount of U.S. military personnel based in the UAE.
The U.S. Export Control System and the Export Control Reform Initiative
This report discusses the U.S. export control system and initiatives to reform the export control system. Topics covered include the dual-use system, military export controls, nuclear controls, and President Obama's export control initiative.
FEMA Disaster Housing: The Individuals and Households Program-Implementation and Potential Issues for Congress
This report explains the traditional approach for temporary housing through the IHP program following a disaster, how it is implemented, and considers if the current policy choices are equitable for disaster victims. This report will review those expenditures and provide information on the relative costs, and applications of, several categories of assistance. As a part of this examination, the report looks at other forms of housing repair assistance such as the Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Loan Program for homeowners as well as assistance that is provided, in some instances, through the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG-DR) program.
The U.S. Metric System
This report provides an overview to the metric system including origins and usage as well as a discussion of the pros and cons of "metrication" in the United States with a history of the movement and related legislation.
The Budget Control Act: Frequently Asked Questions
This report addresses several frequently-asked questions related to the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) and the annual budget.
Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings for Supreme Court Nominations: Historical Overview and Data
This report the process of Supreme Court nominations to the Senate and the role of the Judiciary Committee, which investigates the background and qualifications of each Supreme Court nominee.
Cross-Border Energy Trade in North America: Present and Potential
This report provides an overview of the United States' energy trade with Canada and Mexico. For the principal energy commodities, it summarizes estimates of the resource potential for the three countries, recent energy production, and expectations for future production.
Department of Veterans Affairs FY2017 Appropriations
This report provides an overview of Veterans Affairs (VA) appropriations. The VA provides a range of benefits and services to veterans and eligible dependents who meet certain criteria as authorized by law.
Biennial Budgeting: Issues, Options, and Congressional Actions
This report discusses biennial budgeting, which includes several variations. It may involve multiyear authorizations, two-year budget resolutions, two-year appropriations, or some combination of the three.
FY2018 Defense Budget Request: The Basics
This report discusses the federal budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2018 released by the Trump Administration on May 23, 2017.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission: Proposed Reauthorization in the 115th Congress
This report describes the re-authorization of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), created in 1974.
Mexican-U.S. Relations: Increased Tensions
This report describes the increased tensions in Mexican-U.S. relations after Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto canceled an upcoming meeting with President Donald J. Trump following exchanges between the two leaders over social media concerning U.S. policies toward Mexico.
Sponsorship and Cosponsorship of House Bills
This report briefly discusses the processes of sponsoring, cosponsoring, and gaining cosponsors for bills in the House of Representatives.
Iran's Foreign and Defense Policies
This report discusses Iran's national security policy. Some experts forecast that Iran's foreign and defense policies might shift after international sanctions were eased in January 2016 in accordance with the July 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement with Iran (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA).
Dakota Access Pipeline: Siting Controversy
This report discusses the Dakota Access Pipeline including background on the project and information about siting approval, as well as opposition and litigation against the pipeline.
The Protection of Classified Information: The Legal Framework
This report provides an overview of the relationship between executive and legislative authority over national security information, and summarizes the current laws that form the legal framework protecting classified information -- including current executive orders and some agency regulations pertaining to the handling of unauthorized disclosures of classified information by government officers and employees. The report also summarizes criminal laws that pertain specifically to the unauthorized disclosure of classified information, as well as civil and administrative penalties, and some recent developments.
What is the Proposed U.S.-EU Insurance Covered Agreement?
This report discusses the first insurance covered agreement between the United States and European Union (EU) that concluded on January 13, 2017.
Barriers Along the U.S. Borders: Key Authorities and Requirements
This report discusses key statutory authorities and requirements governing the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) construction of barriers along the U.S. borders. It also includes appendixes listing federal laws that have been waived by DHS in furtherance of border construction projects.