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Venezuela: Background and U.S. Relations
This report examines the political and economic situation in Venezuela and U.S.-Venezuelan relations. It is divided into three main sections -- political background, current political and economic environment, U.S. relations and policy -- and also includes introductory and outlook information.
Iran: Politics, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy
This report provides background on Iran's political history and examines the current political climate. The report also considers U.S. policy responses, specifically in regards to Iran's nuclear capabilities.
Navy Irregular Warfare and Counterterrorism Operations: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and potential issues for Congress on the Navy's irregular warfare (IW) and counterterrorism (CT) operations. The Navy's IW and CT activities pose a number of potential oversight issues for Congress, including how much emphasis to place on IW and CT activities in future Navy budgets.
Stealing Trade Secrets and Economic Espionage: An Overview of the Economic Espionage Act
This report discusses the theft of trade secrets, which is considered a federal crime when the information relates to a product in interstate or foreign commerce. Offenders face lengthy prison terms as well as heavy fines, and they must pay restitution.
Fact Sheet: Selected Highlights of the FY2017 Military Construction Appropriations Bills
This report presents a fact sheet that summarizes selected highlights of the military construction and military family housing portions of the FY2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.
How Treasury Issues Debt
This report examines Treasury's debt management practices, focusing on the auction process, how prices and interest rates of securities are determined, and the role of market participants in the process. It also addresses the role of debt plays in influencing present and future budget outcomes.
Navy Columbia Class (Ohio Replacement) Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN[X]) Program: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and potential oversight issues for Congress on the Columbia class program, previously known as the Ohio replacement program (ORP) or SSBN(X) program, a program to design and build a new class of 12 ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) to replace the Navy's current force of 14 Ohio-class SSBNs.
Navy John Lewis (TAO-205) Class Oiler Shipbuilding Program: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on the John Lewis (TAO-205) class oiler shipbuilding program, a program to build a new class of 17 fleet oilers for the Navy.
U.S. Trade with Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Partners
This report presents data on U.S. merchandise (goods) trade with its Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partner countries. The data are presented to show bilateral trade balances for individual FTA partners and groups of countries representing such major agreements as the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central American Free Trade Agreement and Dominican Republic (CAFTA-DR) relative to total U.S. trade balances.
The Zika Outbreak Is Declared a Public Health Emergency in Puerto Rico
This report provides background on the Zika virus (ZIKV) -- first recognized in Uganda in 1947 -- which emerged in South America early in 2015. It also specifically discusses the authority to declare a public health emergency in relation to Zika.
U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy: Considering "No First Use"
This report have discusses the benefits and risks of the U.S. nuclear weapons policy, known as a "no first use" pledge. U.S. officials have repeatedly stated that the United States could, under certain circumstances, use nuclear weapons against a state, even if the latter has not already done so.
Next Steps for Auction of TV Broadcast Airwaves to Commercial Carriers
This report discusses the incentive auction process to license airwaves currently used for television broadcasting. The proceeds of the auction are expected to pay billions of dollars to broadcasters that relinquish their spectrum holdings and may alter the competitive environment for wireless broadband if new entrants acquire spectrum licenses in the auction.
Evolution of the Meaning of "Waters of the United States" in the Clean Water Act
This report outlines how the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (BCTPAA) regulates the eligibility of covered trade agreements for expedited consideration, describes the operation of the statutory expedited procedures for considering implementing bills, and discusses how Congress may use the procedural mechanisms established by the act, as well as other pertinent rules of each chamber, to retain a substantial measure of control over legislation to implement covered trade agreements.
Revisiting U.S.-Mexico Sugar Agreements
This report discusses negotiations of the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) with the government of Mexico regarding consideration of changes to two sugar suspension agreements made in December 2014.
Zika Poses New Challenges for Blood Centers
This report report examines recent steps being taken to prevent the spread of Zika virus (ZIKV) in the blood supply.
The 2016 Olympic Games: Health, Security, Environmental, and Doping Issues
This report discusses a variety of issues might pose risks to the health, safety, and general well-being of athletes and their families, team personnel, and spectators participating in or attending the 2016 Olympic Games. Chief among these are the Zika virus, public safety threats, security concerns, and environmental conditions. The report also discusses the possible implications of hosting the Olympics for Brazil and the issue of doping.
Automakers Seek to Align Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Regulations
This report briefly discusses proposed regulatory changes to revise federal fuel economy and environmental standards and reduce potentially large penalties. The technical proposals would be the first major structural change in these standards since 2012, and they come at a time when federal agencies are undertaking a regulatory review that may result in far greater changes.
Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides an overview of Arctic-related issues for Congress, and refers readers to more in-depth CRS reports on specific Arctic-related issues. Some general issues include Arctic territorial disputes; commercial shipping through the Arctic; Arctic oil, gas, and mineral exploration; endangered Arctic species; and increased military operations in the Arctic, which could cause the region in coming years to become an arena of international cooperation or competition.
Clean Power Plan: Legal Background and Pending Litigation in West Virginia v. EPA
This report provides legal background on the Clean Power Plan rule (CPP or Rule) to regulate emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), its Clean Air Act (CAA) framework under Section 111, and climate-related lawsuits that have preceded the present litigation over the CPP. It then gives an overview of the participants in the current litigation, including two groups of Members of Congress, who have offered briefs in support of the petitioners and the respondents, respectively.
Evolution of the Meaning of "Waters of the United States" in the Clean Water Act
This report examines the changing definition of the phrase, "waters of the United States." The scope of waters that are properly the subject of federal water pollution legislation has been the subject of long-standing consideration by all three branches of the federal government, particularly in the aftermath of the 1972 amendments to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, commonly referred to as the Clean Water Act.
The Federal Circuit Rules on Trademarks Considered Offensive: May Affect Redskins Trademark Dispute
This legal sidebar examines cases involving the revocation of the Washington Redskins' federally-registered trademarks (Pro-Football, Inc. v. Blackhorse) and the refusal to grant registration for a rock band's name (In re Tam). These cases raise questions about the constitutionality of Section 2(a) of the Trademark Act of 1946 (conventionally known as the Lanham Act), which denies trademark registration to certain offensive content.
How Much Slack Remains in the Labor Market?
The amount of "slack" in the labor market--jobless or underemployed workers--has consequences for the appropriate stance of monetary policy, the future path of the budget deficit, and counter-cyclical spending on programs such as unemployment insurance. This report briefly examines this concept in the context of the current economy.
Al Qaeda's Syria Affiliate Declares Independence
This report briefly discusses the implications of a recent announcement from Al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al Nusra, stating that it was reconstituting itself as an independent group.
Trafficking in Persons and U.S. Foreign Policy Responses in the 114th Congress
This report provides an overview of recent global trends and U.S. foreign policy responses to address human trafficking. The report focuses in particular on efforts conducted by the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP) and the President's Interagency Task Force (PITF) on human trafficking, as well as discussion of the 2016 TIP Report.
Fatal Balloon Accident Highlights Disagreement Between Safety Agencies
This report briefly discusses the the safety of hot-air balloons and examines the current regulatory climate. On July 30, 2016, a hot-air balloon tour flight crashed about 30 miles south of Austin, Texas, killing the pilot and all 15 passengers on board.
Medicare: Part B Premiums
This report provides an overview of Medicare Part B premiums, including information on Part B eligibility and enrollment, late-enrollment penalties, collection of premiums, determination of annual premium amounts, premiums for high-income enrollees, premium assistance for low-income enrollees, protections for Social Security recipients from rising Part B premiums, and historical Medicare Part B premium trends. This report also provides a summary of various premium-related issues that may be of interest to Congress.
A New Aid Package for Israel
This report discusses potential legislation that could impact the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on U.S. assistance to Israel as the countries continue to negotiate terms for the period FY2019-FY2028.
Overview of Funding Mechanisms in the Federal Budget Process, and Selected Examples
This report explains various funding mechanisms used to fund federal programs and activities including timelines for budgetary decisionmaking and processes (e.g., committees); it illustrates the mechanisms with examples of how they have been applied in practice. How a particular funding mechanism is structured requires tradeoffs between the frequency of congressional review and the predictability of funding for the program.
Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations In Brief
This report provides information and analysis on key issues related to Turkish foreign and domestic policy issues, particularly regarding the aftermath of the failed July 15-16, 2016 coup attempt.
Use of the Annual Appropriations Process to Block Implementation of the Affordable Care Act (FY2011-FY2017)
This report summarizes the ACA-related language added to annual appropriations legislation by congressional appropriators since the ACA was signed into law. The information is presented in Table 1. While a detailed examination of the ACA itself is beyond the scope of this report, a brief overview of the ACA's core provisions and its impact on federal spending is provided as context for the material in the table.
Zika Poses New Challenges for Blood Centers
This report examines recent steps being taken to prevent the spread of Zika virus (ZIKV) in the blood supply.
2016 Rio Games: Anti-Doping Testing
This report discusses the the anti-doping testing program during the 2016 Summer Olympics. Responsibility for the rests with the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The testing period began July 24, 2016, when the Olympic village opened, and continues through August 21, 2016, the date of the closing ceremony.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission: Proposed Reauthorization in the 114th Congress
This report provides information about the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which regulates futures, most options, and swaps markets. It includes background information, a description of the CFTC reauthorization process, and more extensive explanations of selected provisions in H.R. 2289 and S. 2917 that were recently reauthorized or changed.
Federal Assistance for Victims of Terrorism or Mass Violence: In Brief
This report focuses solely on assistance available from Department of Justice's (DOJ's) Office for Victims of Crime (OVC)--the primary federal assistance available to victims of terrorism or mass violence. Jurisdictions and individuals may be eligible to receive various types of victim assistance both directly from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and indirectly from DOJ through their respective state victim assistance agencies or other programs following incidents of terrorism or mass violence in the United States.
Judiciary Appropriations, FY2017
The first section of this report provides an overview of the consideration of FY2017 judiciary appropriations, followed by a section on prior-year actions and funding. The report then provides an overview of judiciary accounts.
Ukraine: Current Issues and U.S. Policy
This report provides an overview of the situation in Ukraine. In February 2014, the Kremlin-supported government of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych collapsed. The demise of the regime was brought about by bitter protests that had erupted in Kyiv's Maidan Square in late 2013 over the government's decision to reject closer relations with the European Union (EU) and by civil society's reaction to a brutal government response to the Maidan protestors.
Workers' Compensation: Overview and Issues
This report discusses workers' compensation, which provides cash and medical benefits to workers who are injured or become ill in the course of their employment and provides benefits to the survivors of workers killed on the job. Benefits are provided without regard to fault and are the exclusive remedy for workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths.
U.S. Nuclear Weapons in Turkey
This report briefly discusses the debate about the security of U.S. nuclear weapons in Turkey in light of the failed coup in mid-July 2016.
Cuba: Issues for the 114th Congress
This report is divided into three major sections analyzing Cuba's political and economic environment, U.S. policy, and selected issues in U.S.-Cuban relations. Legislative initiatives in the 114th Congress are noted throughout the report, and four appendixes provide a listing of enacted measures (Appendix A), bills receiving some action in 2015 (Appendix B), bills seeing action in 2016 (Appendix C), and additional bills and resolution this Congress (Appendix D).
Orlando Shooting Revives Debate over Restricting Blood Donations by Gay Men
This report discusses new FDA guidance regarding blood donations from sexually-active gay men. Since the 1980s, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended that men who have sex with men (MSM) be indefinitely deferred (i.e., permanently banned) from donating blood. This action was taken to help control the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) through the blood supply.
Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons
This report discusses the current status of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, which probably consists of approximately 110-130 nuclear warheads. Chronic political instability in Pakistan and Islamabad's military efforts against the Taliban and al-Qaeda have raised concerns about the security of the country's nuclear weapons. Some observers fear that Pakistan's strategic nuclear assets could be obtained by terrorists or used by elements in the Pakistani government; however, U.S. officials have generally expressed confidence in the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons.
State Challenges to Federal Enforcement of Immigration Law: From the Mid-1990s to the Present
This report provides an overview of challenges by states to federal officials' alleged failure to enforce provisions of immigration law. It begins by discussing (1) the lawsuits filed by six states in the mid-1990s; (2) Arizona's counterclaims to the federal government's suit to enjoin enforcement of S.B. 1070; and (3) Mississippi's challenge to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. It then describes the challenge brought by over 25 states or state officials in December 2014 to the Obama Administration's proposal to expand DACA and create a similar program for unauthorized aliens whose children are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent resident aliens (LPRs) (commonly known as DAPA).
The Department of Defense Acquisition Workforce: Background, Analysis, and Questions for Congress
This report provides background on the Department of Defense (DOD) acquisition workforce. Specifically, the report addresses the following questions: 1. What is the acquisition workforce? 2. What is the current size of the acquisition workforce? 3. How has Congress sought to improve the acquisition workforce in the past? 4. What are some potential questions for Congress to explore in the area of acquisition workforce management to improve acquisitions?
Economic Development Administration: FY2016 Appropriations
This report discusses budget issues for the Economic Development Administration (EDA), which was created pursuant to the enactment of the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965, with the objective of fostering growth in economically distressed areas characterized by high levels of unemployment and low per-capita income levels.
Federal Benefits and Services for People with Low Income: Overview of Spending Trends, FY2008-FY2015
This report is the most recent in a series that attempts to identify and discuss programs that provide federal benefits and services targeted toward low-income populations, focusing on aggregate spending trends. The report looks at federal low-income spending from FY2008 (at the onset of the 2007-2009 recession) through FY2015 (after implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or ACA).
FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Issues
This report provides a brief synopsis of sections in each bill (H.R. 4909 as passed by the House on May 26, 2016, and S. 2943 as passed by the Senate on July 21, 2016) that pertain to selected personnel policies. These include issues such as military end-strengths, pay and benefits, military healthcare (TRICARE), military retirement, and other major policy issues.
Human Trafficking and Forced Labor: Trends in Import Restrictions
This report discusses issues regarding a provision against forced labor in the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1307), which prohibited from import into the United States "all goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in any foreign country by convict labor or/and forced labor or/and indentured labor under penal sanctions" (Section 307 of the Act).
Numerical Limits on Permanent Employment-Based Immigration: Analysis of the Per-country Ceilings
The report opens with brief explanations of the employment-based preference categories and the per-country ceilings governing annual admissions of lawful permanent residents (LPRs). It continues with a statistical analysis of the pending caseload of approved employment-based LPR petitions and concludes with a set of legislative options to revise per-country ceilings that are meant to serve as springboards for further discussions.
Security Cooperation and the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)
This report discusses provisions in the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that have elevated ongoing debates over U.S. security sector assistance to foreign countries--and raised questions over whether the policy architecture is suited to meet current and emerging requirements.
An Apparent First in U.S. Law Enforcement Use of Unmanned Ground Vehicles
This report discusses the use of a robot to kill an active shooter in Dallas, Texas on July 7, 2016, which has raised questions about what this might mean for how police use force in the future.