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Congressional Lawmaking: A Perspective On Secrecy and Transparency
The objectives of this report are four-fold: first, to outline briefly the historical and inherent tension between secrecy and transparency in the congressional process; second, to review several common and recurring secrecy/transparency issues that emerged again with the 2011 formation of the Joint Select Deficit Reduction Committee; third, to identify various lawmaking stages typically imbued with closed door activities; and fourth, to close with several summary observations.
Egypt in Transition
This report provides a brief overview of the transition underway and information on U.S. foreign aid to Egypt. U.S. policy toward Egypt has long been framed as an investment in regional stability, built primarily on long-running military cooperation and sustaining the March 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. Successive U.S. Administrations have viewed Egypt's government as a moderating influence in the Middle East. U.S. policy makers are now grappling with complex questions about the future of U.S.-Egypt relations and these debates are likely to influence consideration of appropriations and authorization legislation in the 112th Congress.
Pakistan-U.S. Relations: A Summary
This report summarizes important recent developments in Pakistan and in Pakistan-U.S. relations. Obama Administration engagement with Pakistan has been seriously disrupted by recent events. A brief analysis of the current state of Pakistan-U.S. relations illuminates the main areas of contention and uncertainty. Vital U.S. interests related to links between Pakistan and indigenous American terrorism, Islamist militancy in Pakistan and Islamabad's policies toward the Afghan insurgency, Pakistan's relations with historic rival India, nuclear weapons proliferation and security, and the troubled status of Pakistan's domestic setting are reviewed. Ongoing human rights concerns and U.S. foreign assistance programs for Pakistan are briefly summarized, and the report closes with an analysis of current U.S.-Pakistan relations.
Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances
This report discusses details of policy changes regarding travel to Cuba, which have been a key and often contentious component in U.S. efforts to isolate Cuba's communist government since the early 1960s. In January 2011, the Obama Administration announced policy changes further easing restrictions on travel and remittances. In the first session of the 112th Congress, there were several attempts aimed at rolling back the Obama Administration's actions easing restrictions on travel and remittances. Several initiatives were also introduced that would further ease or lift such restrictions altogether.
Women in the United States Congress: 1917-2011
This report identifies the names, committee assignments, dates of service, and (for Representatives) congressional districts of the 274 women who have served in Congress. It will be updated when there are relevant changes in the makeup of Congress.
Congressional Authority to Limit Military Operations
This report begins by discussing constitutional provisions allocating war powers between Congress and the President, and presenting a historical overview of relevant court cases. It considers Congress's constitutional authority to end a military conflict via legislative action. The report discusses Congress's ability to limit funding for U.S. participation in hostilities, examining relevant court cases and prior measures taken by Congress to restrict military operations, as well as possible alternative avenues to fund these activities in the event that appropriations are cut. The report then provides historical examples of measures that restrict the use of particular personnel, and concludes with a brief analysis of arguments that might be brought to bear on the question of Congress's authority to limit the availability of troops to serve in ongoing military operations.
Homeland Security Department: FY2012 Appropriations
This report describes the FY2012 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Total budget authority, including appropriations, fee revenues, and trust funds in the Administration's budget request for DHS for FY2012 amounts to $57,079 million as compared to $55,783 million enacted for FY2011.
Proposals to Reform “Holds” in the Senate
“Holds” are an informal senatorial custom unrecognized in Senate rules or precedents. They allow Senators to give notice to their respective party leader that certain measures or matters should not be brought up on the floor. This report examines, over a more than three-decade period, a wide range of proposals to reform holds.
Protection of Classified Information by Congress: Practices and Proposals
This report discusses safeguards in place to protect conterolled information and proposals for change of some of the mechanisms in place. Congress uses classified national security and other controlled information to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities, particularly overseeing the executive, appropriating funds, and legislating public policy.
Lame Duck Sessions of Congress, 1935-2010 (74th-111th Congresses)
This report discusses how lame duck sessions occur, and the background of the lame duck sessions between 1940 and 2010. A “lame duck” session of Congress occurs whenever one Congress meets after its successor is elected, but before the term of the current Congress ends.
Pages of the United States Congress: History, Background Information, and Program Administration
For more than 180 years, messengers known as pages have served the United States Congress. Several incumbent and former Members of Congress as well as other prominent Americans have served as congressional pages. This report takes a look at the history and current status of Congressional pages. It also details how a student can apply to be a page, and what factors lead to a successful application.
Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances
This report discusses details of policy changes regarding travel to Cuba, which have been a key and often contentious component in U.S. efforts to isolate Cuba's communist government since the early 1960s. In January 2011, the Obama Administration announced policy changes further easing restrictions on travel and remittances. In the first session of the 112th Congress, there were several attempts aimed at rolling back the Obama Administration's actions easing restrictions on travel and remittances. Several initiatives were also introduced that would further ease or lift such restrictions altogether.
Egypt in Transition
This report provides a brief overview of the transition underway after the resignation of Egyption president, Hosni Mubarak, as well as information on U.S. foreign aid to Egypt. U.S. policy toward Egypt has long been framed as an investment in regional stability, however, U.S. policy makers are now grappling with complex questions about the future of U.S.-Egypt relations.
Pakistan: U.S. Foreign Assistance
This report discusses U.S. aid to Pakistan including an overview of current developments, a discussion of aid rendered before and after 9/11, the objectives of requesting aid during FY2012, and various issues that Congress needs to consider relating to this topic.
Legislative Procedure in Congress: Basic Sources for Congressional Staff
Written for congressional staff, this report identifies and provides details on how to obtain official government sources of information on the legislative process and the rules and procedure of the House and Senate. References to selected CRS products are also provided, as well as a listing of selected titles for supplementary reading.
Presidential Appointments, the Senate's Confirmation Process, and Proposals for Change, 112th Congress
The responsibility for populating top positions in the executive and judicial branches of government is shared, with the President having the power of appointment and the Senate having the power of advice and consent. This report provides a brief background on advice and consent issues, an overview of the appointment process in both the executive and legislative branches, and a brief discussion of recent concerns about the system. Next, the report explores the events in the 112th Congress leading up to the introduction and Senate action on S. 679 and S.Res. 116, and concludes with an analysis of the two measures.
Presidential Appointments, the Senate's Confirmation Process, and Proposals for Change, 112th Congress
The responsibility for populating top positions in the executive and judicial branches of government is shared, with the President having the power of appointment and the Senate having the power of advice and consent. This report provides a brief background on advice and consent issues, an overview of the appointment process in both the executive and legislative branches, and a brief discussion of recent concerns about the system. Next, the report explores the events in the 112th Congress leading up to the introduction and Senate action on S. 679 and S.Res. 116, and concludes with an analysis of the two measures.
Congressional Nominations to U.S. Service Academies: An Overview and Resources for Outreach and Management
This report describes statutory requirements for allocating congressional nominations to service academies. It also identifies the qualifications that must be met by potential nominees, as established by statute and each academy. Finally, sample documents that could be used by congressional offices at various stages of the nomination selection process are included.
House Offset Amendments to Appropriations Bills: Procedural Considerations
This report is an introduction to selected House rules and practices governing the consideration of offset amendments to appropriations measures considered in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union (or Committee of the Whole).
Venezuela: Issues for Congress
The United States traditionally has had close relations with Venezuela, a major supplier of foreign oil, but there has been friction in relations under the government of populist President Hugo Chávez. U.S. officials have expressed concerns about human rights, Venezuela's military arms purchases, its relations with Cuba and Iran, and its efforts to export its brand of populism to other Latin American countries. Declining cooperation on anti-drug and anti-terrorism efforts has also been a concern.
Legislative Branch: FY2012 Appropriations
This report gives an overview of the status of FY2012 appropriations and funding issues for the Senate, House of Representatives, and support agencies.
Insourcing Functions Performed by Federal Contractors: An Overview of the Legal Issues
This report provides a brief overview of key legal issues related to recent insourcing initiatives. Recent Congresses and the Obama Administration have taken numerous actions to promote "insourcing," or the use of government personnel to perform functions that contractors previously performed on behalf of federal agencies. Among other things, the 109th through the 111th Congresses enacted several statutes requiring the development of policies and guidelines to ensure that agencies "consider" using government employees to perform functions previously performed by contractors, as well as any new function.
Congressional Liaison Offices of Selected Federal Agencies
This list of about 150 congressional liaison offices is intended to help congressional offices in placing telephone calls and addressing correspondence to government agencies. In each case, the information was supplied by the agency itself and is current as of the date of publication. Entries are arranged alphabetically in four sections: legislative branch; judicial branch; executive branch; and agencies, boards, and commissions.
Sovereign Debt in Advanced Economies: Overview and Issues for Congress
Sovereign debt, also called public debt or government debt, refers to debt incurred by governments. Since the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, public debt in advanced economies has increased substantially. A number of factors related to the financial crisis have fueled the increase, including fiscal stimulus packages, the nationalization of private-sector debt, and lower tax revenue. Even if economic growth reverses some of these trends, such as by boosting tax receipts and reducing spending on government programs, aging populations in advanced economies are expected to strain government debt levels in coming years.
Sovereign Debt in Advanced Economies: Overview and Issues for Congress
Sovereign debt, also called public debt or government debt, refers to debt incurred by governments. Since the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, public debt in advanced economies has increased substantially. A number of factors related to the financial crisis have fueled the increase, including fiscal stimulus packages, the nationalization of private-sector debt, and lower tax revenue. Even if economic growth reverses some of these trends, such as by boosting tax receipts and reducing spending on government programs, aging populations in advanced economies are expected to strain government debt levels in coming years.
Regulatory Reform Legislation in the 112th Congress
In the 112th Congress, a number of bills have been introduced that would, if enacted, change current requirements in the federal rulemaking process. This report describes each of those bills, notes whether similar legislation has been introduced or acted upon in the past, summarizes the comments of those supporting and opposing the proposed legislation, and provides other relevant information.
Federal Employees' Retirement System: Benefits and Financing
One or both houses of Congress may formally express opinions about subjects of current national interest through freestanding simple or concurrent resolutions (called generically "sense of the House," "sense of the Senate," or "sense of the Congress" resolutions). These opinions may also be added to pending legislative measures by amendments expressing the views of one or both chambers. This report identifies the various forms these expressions may take and the procedures governing such actions.
Congressional Oversight Manual
Throughout its history, Congress has engaged in oversight of the executive branch - the review, monitoring, and supervision of the implementation of public policy. The first several Congresses inaugurated such important oversight techniques as special investigations, reporting requirements, resolutions of inquiry, and use of the appropriations process to review executive activity. Contemporary developments, moreover, have increased the legislature's capacity and capabilities to check on and check the Executive. Public laws and congressional rules have measurably enhanced Congress's implied power under the Constitution to conduct oversight.
Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances
Restrictions on travel to Cuba have been a key and often contentious component in U.S. efforts to isolate the communist government of Fidel Castro for much of the past 40 years. Under the Bush Administration, enforcement of U.S. restrictions on Cuba travel has increased, and restrictions on travel and on private remittances to Cuba have been tightened. Several legislative initiatives have been introduced in the 109th Congress that would ease restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba. These bills would, among other things, lift overall restrictions on travel to Cuba, lift the overall embargo, and ease restrictions on exporting agricultural commodities to Cuba.
Nigeria: Elections and Issues for Congress
This report discusses the political climate, development challenges and reform in Nigeria. The report also deliberates the social issues and security concerns of Nigeria. In addition, other issues are considered as Congress provides oversight for over $600 million in U.S. foreign assistance programs to Nigeria.
Pakistan-U.S. Relations: A Summary
This report summarizes important recent developments in Pakistan and in Pakistan-U.S. relations. These include high-profile political assassinations earlier in 2011, the Raymond Davis affair involving a CIA operative accused of murder in the city of Lahore, and the May killing of Osama bin Laden in the military cantonment city of Abbottabad, among others. Obama Administration engagement with Pakistan has been seriously disrupted by recent events. A brief analysis of the current state of Pakistan-U.S. relations illuminates the main areas of contention and uncertainty. Vital U.S. interests related to links between Pakistan and indigenous American terrorism, Islamist militancy in Pakistan and Islamabad's policies toward the Afghan insurgency, Pakistan's relations with historic rival India, nuclear weapons proliferation and security, and the troubled status of Pakistan's domestic setting are reviewed. Ongoing human rights concerns are briefly summarized, and the report closes with discussion of U.S. foreign assistance to Pakistan.
Pakistan-U.S. Relations: A Summary
This report summarizes important recent developments in Pakistan and in Pakistan-U.S. relations. These include high-profile political assassinations in early 2011; the Raymond Davis affair involving a CIA operative accused of murder in the city of Lahore; and the May killing of Osama bin Laden in the city of Abbottabad, among others. The report also summarizes key issues in the bilateral relationship.
Qatar: Background and U.S. Relations
This report presents an overview of Qatar's history and recent economic and political developments. The report discusses U.S. relations with Qatar, U.S. military cooperation and foreign assistance, political reform and elections, as well as human rights and social issues.
Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress
This report provides background information and potential issues for Congress on the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), a relatively inexpensive Navy surface combatant equipped with modular "plug-and-fight" mission packages. The Navy's proposed FY2012 budget requests funding for the procurement of four LCSs.
Expedited Procedures in the House: Variations Enacted Into Law
Congress enacts expedited, or fast-track, procedures into law when it wants to increase the likelihood that one or both houses of Congress will vote in a timely way on a certain measure or kind of measure. These procedures are enacted as rulemaking provisions of law pursuant to the constitutional power of each house to adopt its own rules. The house to which a set of expedited procedures applies may act unilaterally to waive, suspend, amend, or repeal them.
Insourcing Functions Performed by Federal Contractors: An Overview of the Legal Issues
Recent Congresses and the Obama Administration have taken numerous actions to promote "insourcing," or the use of government personnel to perform functions that contractors previously performed on behalf of federal agencies. Among other things, the 109th through the 111th Congresses enacted several statutes requiring the development of policies and guidelines to ensure that agencies "consider" using government employees to perform functions previously performed by contractors, as well as any new function.
Egypt in Transition
This report provides a brief overview of the transition underway and information on U.S. foreign aid to Egypt. U.S. policy toward Egypt has long been framed as an investment in regional stability, built primarily on long-running military cooperation and sustaining the March 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. Successive U.S. Administrations have viewed Egypt's government as a moderating influence in the Middle East. U.S. policy makers are now grappling with complex questions about the future of U.S.-Egypt relations and these debates are likely to influence consideration of appropriations and authorization legislation in the 112th Congress.
Expedited Rescission Bills in the 111th and 112th Congresses: Comparisons and Issues
Expedited rescission bills focus on procedural changes in Congress and typically contain a detailed schedule to ensure immediate introduction of a measure to approve the President's rescission request, prompt reporting by committee or automatic discharge, special limits on floor amendments and debate, and so on. Under expedited rescission, congressional approval is still necessary to rescind the funding, but the fast-track procedures may help to encourage an up-or down vote on the President's proposal.
Legislative Procedures for Adjusting the Public Debt Limit: A Brief Overview
Almost all borrowing by the federal government is conducted by the Treasury Department, within the restrictions established by a single, statutory limit on the total amount of debt that may be outstanding at any time.1 In a few instances, agencies such as the Tennessee Valley Authority operate within their own borrowing limits established separately in law. For years, the public debt limit has been codified in Section 3101(b) of Title 31, United States Code. Periodic adjustments in the debt limit take the form of amendments to 31 U.S.C. 3101(b), usually by striking the current dollar limitation and inserting a new one. In the past, such changes to the debt limit have been either permanent or temporary.
Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress
This report provides background information and potential issues for Congress on the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), a relatively inexpensive Navy surface combatant equipped with modular "plug-and-fight" mission packages. The Navy's proposed FY2012 budget requests funding for the procurement of four LCSs. Current issues for Congress concerning the LCS program include changes or potential changes to the composition of LCS mission modules announced by the Navy in January 2011, the combat survivability of the LCS, and hull cracking on LCS-1. Congress's decisions on the LCS program could affect Navy capabilities and funding requirements, and the shipbuilding industrial base.
Duration of Continuing Resolutions in Recent Years
This report provides information on congressional practices with respect to the duration of continuing resolutions, including the use of full-year measures, and focuses particularly on the period covering FY1998-FY2011.
Continuing Resolutions: Latest Action and Brief Overview of Recent Practices
This report is divided into two segments. The first section provides the most recent information on the FY2011 continuing resolution. The second segment focuses on the (1) history and recent trends, including the nature, scope, and duration of CRs during the past 35 years; (2) CR types by duration; (3) major substantive legislative provisions included in some CRs; and (4) funding gaps.
Continuing Resolutions: Latest Action and Brief Overview of Recent Practices
This report is divided into two segments. The first section provides the most recent information on the FY2011 continuing resolution. The second segment focuses on the (1) history and recent trends, including the nature, scope, and duration of CRs during the past 35 years; (2) CR types by duration; (3) major substantive legislative provisions included in some CRs; and (4) funding gaps.
Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress
This report provides background information and potential issues for Congress on the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), a relatively inexpensive Navy surface combatant equipped with modular "plug-and-fight" mission packages. The Navy's proposed FY2012 budget requests funding for the procurement of four LCSs. Current issues for Congress concerning the LCS program include changes or potential changes to the composition of LCS mission modules announced by the Navy in January 2011, the combat survivability of the LCS, and hull cracking on LCS-1. Congress's decisions on the LCS program could affect Navy capabilities and funding requirements, and the shipbuilding industrial base.
Congressional Liaison Offices of Selected Federal Agencies
This list of about 150 congressional liaison offices is intended to help congressional offices in placing telephone calls and addressing correspondence to government agencies. In each case, the information was supplied by the agency itself and is current as of the date of publication. Entries are arranged alphabetically in four sections: legislative branch; judicial branch; executive branch; and agencies, boards, and commissions.
The Congressional Research Service and the American Legislative Process
The Legislative Reference Service, it was charged with responding to congressional requests for information. For more than 50 years, this department assisted Congress primarily by providing facts and publications and by transmitting research and analysis done largely by other government agencies, private organizations, and individual scholars. In 1970, Congress enacted a law transforming the Legislative Reference Service into the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and directing CRS to devote more of its efforts and increased resources to performing research and analysis that assists Congress in direct support of the legislative process.
War Powers Resolution: Presidential Compliance
Two separate but closely related issues confront Congress each time the President introduces armed forces into a situation 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.
Membership of the 112th Congress: A Profile
This report presents a profile of the membership of the 112th Congress (2011-2012). Statistical information is included on selected characteristics of Members, including data on party affiliation, average age, occupation, education, length of congressional service, religious affiliation, gender, ethnicity, foreign births, and military service.
Continuing Resolutions: Latest Action and Brief Overview of Recent Practices
This report is divided into two segments. The first section provides the most recent information on the FY2011 continuing resolution (CR). The second segment focuses on the (1) history and recent trends, including the nature, scope, and duration of CRs during the past 35 years; (2) CR types by duration; (3) major substantive legislative provisions included in some CRs; and (4) funding gaps.
Congressional Budget Resolutions: Historical Information
This report looks at the history and processes of budget resolution in Congress.