Congressional Research Service Reports - Browse

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Clean Air Act Issues in the 109th Congress

Description: This report discusses major decisions on clean air issues facing the courts and the executive branch in 2006. One focus will be EPA's recent proposal to strengthen air quality standards for fine particles. Other issues of continuing interest are EPA's 2005 decisions limiting interstate transport of air pollution and establishing cap-and-trade systems for emissions from coal fired power plants, and the agency's proposed changes to New Source Review.
Date: January 3, 2005
Creator: McCarthy, James E.
Item Type: Report
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Flag Protection: A Brief History and Summary of Recent Supreme Court Decisions and Proposed Constitutional Amendment

Description: This report gives a brief history of the flag protection issue, from the enactment of the Flag Protection Act in 1968 through current consideration of a constitutional amendment. A second part briefly summarizes the two decisions of the United States Supreme Court -- Texas v. Johnson and United States v. Eichman -- that struck down the state and federal flag protection statutes as applied in the context punishing expressive conduct.
Date: January 3, 2005
Creator: Luckey, John
Item Type: Report
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Clean Water Act and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) of Pollutants

Description: Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act requires states to identify waters that are impaired by pollution, even after application of pollution controls. For those waters, states must establish a total maximum daily load (TMDL) of pollutants to ensure that water quality standards can be attained. Implementation of this provision has been dormant until recently, when states and EPA were prodded by numerous lawsuits. The TMDL issue has become controversial, in part because of requirements and costs now facing states to implement a 25-year-old provision of the law. Congressional activity to reauthorize the Act, a possibility in the 2nd Session of the 105th Congress, could include TMDL issues, but the direction for any such action is unclear at this time.
Date: January 4, 2005
Creator: Copeland, Claudia
Item Type: Report
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Capital Punishment: An Overview of Federal Death Penalty Statutes

Description: With the passage of P.L. 103-322, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, the federal death penalty became available as a possible punishment for a substantial number of new and existing civilian offenses. On April 24, 1996, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 made further modifications and additions to the list of federal capital crimes. On June 25, 2002, P.L. 107-197, the Terrorist Bombings Convention Implementation Act of 2002, added another capital crime to the United States Code. The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, P.L. 108-458, enacted December 17, 2004, included provisions which impacted or expanded some of the existing death penalty provisions. This report lists the current federal capital offenses and summarizes the procedures for federal civilian death penalty cases.
Date: January 5, 2005
Creator: Bazan, Elizabeth B
Item Type: Report
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Copyright Law: Digital Rights Management Legislation in the 107th and 108th Congresses

Description: Digital Rights Management (DRM) refers to the technology that copyright owners use to protect digital media. This report surveys several of the DRM bills that were introduced in the 107th and 108th Congresses. Generally, the bills are directed at two separate goals. One goal is to increase access to digitally-protected media for lawful purposes. The other attempts to thwart digital piracy and would do so by enhancing civil and criminal sanctions for digital (and traditional) copyright infringement and educating the public about the rights of copyright holders.
Date: January 5, 2005
Creator: Jeweler, Robin
Item Type: Report
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Analysis of Changes Made by P.L. 108-446

Description: This report discusses the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA — 20 U.S.C. §1400 et seq.), which is both a grants statute and a civil rights statute. It provides federal funding for the education of children with disabilities and requires, as a condition for the receipt of such funds, the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE). The statute also contains detailed due process provisions to ensure the provision of FAPE. Originally enacted in 1975, the act responded to increased awareness of the need to educate children with disabilities, and to judicial decisions requiring that states provide an education for children with disabilities if they provided an education for children without disabilities.
Date: January 5, 2005
Creator: Apling, Richard N & Jones, Nancy Lee
Item Type: Report
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Climate Change Legislation in the 108th Congress

Description: Climate change and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have been an issue in the 108th Congress, as they have been over the past decade. Bills directly addressing climate change issues range from those focused primarily on climate change research (H.R. 1578 and S. 1164) to comprehensive emissions cap and trading programs for all six greenhouse gases (S. 139 and H.R. 4067). This report briefly discusses basic concepts on which these bills are based, and compares major provisions of the bills in each of the following categories: climate change research, GHG reporting and registries, and cap and trade programs.
Date: January 6, 2005
Creator: Yacobucci, Brent D & Powers, Kyna
Item Type: Report
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Access to Government Information In the United States

Description: The Constitution of the United States makes no specific allowance for any one of the co-equal branches to have access to information held by the others and contains no provision expressly establishing a procedure for, or a right of, public access to government information. Nonetheless, Congress has legislated various public access laws. These include two records access statutes — the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act — and two meetings access statutes — the Federal Advisory Committee Act and the Government in the Sunshine Act. This report provides background on the issue of government transparency.
Date: January 7, 2005
Creator: Relyea, Harold C.
Item Type: Report
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Access to Government Information in the United States

Description: The Constitution of the United States makes no specific allowance for any one of the co-equal branches to have access to information held by the others and contains no provision expressly establishing a procedure for, or a right of, public access to government information. Nonetheless, Congress has legislated various public access laws. These include two records access statutes — the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552) and the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. 552a) — and two meetings access statutes — the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.) and the Government in the Sunshine Act (5 U.S.C. 552b). Moreover, due to the American separation of powers model of government, interbranch conflicts over the accessibility of information are neither unexpected nor necessarily destructive. The federal courts, historically, have been reluctant to review and resolve “political questions” involving information disputes between Congress and the executive branch. Although there is considerable interbranch cooperation, such conflicts probably will continue to occur on occasion.
Date: January 7, 2005
Creator: Relyea, Harold C.
Item Type: Report
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Alternative Transportation Fuels and Vehicles: Energy, Environment, and Development Issues

Description: This report reviews several issues relating to alternative fuels and vehicles, mainly to combat dependence on petroleum imports and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The report discusses the advantages and drawbacks of various alternative fuels and vehicles, as well as related legislation.
Date: January 7, 2005
Creator: Yacobucci, Brent D
Item Type: Report
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Campaign Finance: Constitutional and Legal Issues of Soft Money

Description: Prior to enactment of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), P.L. 107-155, the term “soft money” generally referred to unregulated funds, perceived as resulting from loopholes in the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), 2 U.S.C. §§ 431 et seq. The general intent of BCRA, (effective November 6, 2002), which amends FECA, is to restrict the raising and spending of soft money. This Issue Brief discusses constitutional and legal issues surrounding two major types of soft money that BCRA regulates: political party soft money and soft money used for issue advocacy communications. Corporate and labor union soft money, which FECA exempts from regulation and is not addressed by BCRA, is also discussed.
Date: January 10, 2005
Creator: Whitaker, L. Paige
Item Type: Report
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

War On Drugs: Legislation in the 108th Congress and Related Developments

Description: This report covers significant legislative and oversight activities of the 108th Congress that concern domestic law enforcement aspects of federal anti-drug policy. It also includes an overview of significant executive branch actions and other current developments of likely interest to the congressional audience that follows this issue.
Date: January 10, 2005
Creator: Eddy, Mark
Item Type: Report
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Mining on Federal Lands

Description: This report discusses the General Mining Law of 1872, which is the law that grants free access to individuals and corporations to prospect for minerals in public domain lands, and allows them, upon making a discovery, to stake (or “locate”) a claim on that deposit.
Date: January 11, 2005
Creator: Humphries, Marc
Item Type: Report
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Appropriations Bills: What is Report Language?

Description: When the Senate or House Appropriations Committee reports an appropriations bill to the full Senate or House, respectively, the committee typically publishes a committee report explaining the bill. This fact sheet provides a brief overview of what these reports entail and the language used within them.
Date: January 12, 2005
Creator: Streeter, Sandy
Item Type: Report
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Caribbean Basin Interim Trade Program: CBI/NAFTA Parity

Description: To provide an idea of the nature and scope of changes in trade competitiveness between the CBERA countries and Mexico that have resulted from the implementation of the NAFTA, this report describes the relevant preferential or special tariff treatments, as applicable. The aspects of trade policy that apply generally to all (or most) U.S. trading partners (e.g., most-favored-nation/normal-trade-relations status, or production-sharing provisions) are not included in any detail.
Date: January 12, 2005
Creator: Pregelj, Vladimir N.
Item Type: Report
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Naming Post Offices Through Legislation

Description: This report describes how the practice of naming post offices through public law originated and how it is commonly done today. House and Senate practices for approving legislation and procedures followed by the U.S. Postal Service in organizing a dedication ceremony, are also described. An increasingly common form of legislation is the naming of post offices for former Members of Congress or other figures of local or national renown. About one in six public laws passed by the 108th Congress was a post office naming bill approved under suspension of the rules. Unanimity of a state's congressional delegation is required for the movement of naming bills to the floor of the House or Senate. The costs of dedicating a post office in the name of an individual are modest, and this action results in no change in public identification of the facility by its geographic location.
Date: January 13, 2005
Creator: Stevens, Nye
Item Type: Report
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

The Department of Defense Rules for Military Commissions: Analysis of Procedural Rules and Comparison with Proposed Legislation and the Uniform Code of Military Justice

Description: This report provides a background and analysis comparing military commissions as envisioned under M.C.O. No. 1 to general military courts-martial conducted under the UCMJ. The report notes some of the criticism directed at the President’s M.O., and explains how those concerns are addressed by the military commission orders and instructions. The report provides two charts to compare the regulations issued by the Department of Defense and standard procedures for general courts-martial under the Manual for Courts-Martial. The second chart, which compares procedural safeguards incorporated in the regulations with established procedures in courts martial, follows the same order and format used in CRS Report RL31262, Selected Procedural Safeguards in Federal, Military, and International Courts, in order to facilitate comparison with safeguards provided in federal court and the International Criminal Court.
Date: January 18, 2005
Creator: Elsea, Jennifer K
Item Type: Report
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department