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Armed Career Criminal Act (18 U.S.C. 924(e)): An Overview

Description: This report briefly explores the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. 924(e), which requires imposition of a minimum 15-year term of imprisonment for recidivists convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm under 18 U.S.C. 922(g). Section 924(e) applies only to those defendants who have three prior state or federal convictions for violent felonies or serious drug offenses. The report includes descriptions of constitutional challenges to the application of section 924(e), which have been generally unsuccessful.
Date: October 13, 2010
Creator: Doyle, Charles

Azerbaijan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests

Description: This report discusses political, economic, and security challenges facing Azerbaijan, including the unsettled conflict in the breakaway Nagorno Karabakh region. A table provides basic facts and biographical information. Related products include CRS Report RL33453, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, Political Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests, by Jim Nichol.
Date: June 3, 2010
Creator: Nichol, Jim

Asian Pacific Americans in the United States Congress

Description: Asian Pacific Americans have served in both houses of Congress representing California, Hawaii, Louisiana, Oregon, Virginia, American Samoa, and Guam. They have served in leadership positions, including committee and subcommittee chairmanships. This report presents information on Senators, Representatives, and Delegates, including party affiliations, length and dates of service, and committee assignments.
Date: February 1, 2010
Creator: Tong, Lorraine H.

Average Years of Service for Members of the Senate and House of Representatives, 1st - 111th Congresses

Description: The average tenure of Members of the Senate and House of Representatives at the beginning of each Congress has varied substantially since 1789. The purpose of this report is to provide a Congress-by-Congress summary of the average years of service for Senators and Representatives for the First through the 111th Congresses. The report contains a brief summary of some of the explanations by political scientists and others for the various changes in the average years of service.
Date: November 2, 2010
Creator: Glassman, Matthew Eric & Hemlin, Erin

China's Sovereign Wealth Fund: Developments and Policy Implications

Description: China's ruling executive body, the State Council, established the China Investment Corporation (CIC), a sovereign wealth fund, in September 2007 to invest $200 billion of China's then $1.4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves. Congress and financial analysts raised concerns about the CIC after its creation, partly because it was a comparatively large sovereign wealth fund, partly because it was government-owned, and partly because it reported directly to the State Council. These concerns raise question about U.S. policies on inward foreign direct investment (FDI) and the global competitiveness of U.S. financial institutions. Certain commentators suggest that more should be done to protect the United States from China's rising role in international capital markets.
Date: September 23, 2010
Creator: Martin, Michael F.

China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities -- Background and Issues for Congress

Description: Concern has grown in Congress and elsewhere about China's military modernization. The topic is an increasing factor in discussions over future required U.S. Navy capabilities. The issue for Congress addressed in this report is: How should China's military modernization be factored into decisions about U.S. Navy programs?
Date: October 1, 2010
Creator: O'Rourke, Ronald

The Federal Debt: An Analysis of Movements from World War II to the Present

Description: This report will define the measures of debt, discuss the reasons why debt levels change, and use historical examples to illustrate the factors causing debt movements over the last seven decades. Recent policies that have affected the budgetary outlook and the debt will also be discussed. Finally, this report will examine the long-term U.S. debt outlook and implications of rising federal debt levels.
Date: September 17, 2010
Creator: Levit, Mindy R.

Federal Employees: Pay and Pension Increases Since 1969

Description: Under the terms of the Federal Employees' Pay Comparability Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-509), pay for civilian federal employees is adjusted each year to keep the salaries of federal workers competitive with comparable occupations in the private sector. The annual increases in federal employee pay are based on changes in the cash compensation paid to workers in the private sector, as measured by the ECI. Under certain circumstances, the President may limit the annual increase in federal pay by executive order. Federal law also requires Social Security benefits and the pensions paid to retired federal employees to be adjusted each year. The COLAs for both Social Security and civil service pensions are based on the rate of inflation as measured by the CPI.
Date: January 20, 2010
Creator: Purcell, Patrick

Extraterritorial Application of American Criminal Law

Description: Crime is ordinarily proscribed, tried, and punished according to the laws of the place where it occurs. American criminal law applies beyond the geographical confines of the United States, however, under certain limited circumstances. A surprising number of federal criminal statutes have extraterritorial application, but prosecutions have been few. This may be because when extraterritorial criminal jurisdiction does exist, practical and legal complications, and sometimes diplomatic considerations, may counsel against its exercise.
Date: March 26, 2010
Creator: Doyle, Charles

False Patent Marking: Litigation and Legislation

Description: This report will describe and analyze the Federal Circuit's 2009 decision that requires a per-article penalty for false marking, as well as two subsequent Federal Circuit decisions in 2010 that answer several questions that have arisen during the recent false patent marking litigation. It also identifies and discusses legislation in the 111th Congress that would amend § 292 in order to retroactively end qui tam false marking suits and with the intent of reducing the number of false marking suits filed in the future.
Date: October 20, 2010
Creator: Yeh, Brian T.

The Federal Food Safety System: A Primer

Description: The combined efforts of the food industry and the regulatory agencies often are credited with making the U.S. food supply among the safest in the world. Nonetheless, many food-related health issues persist. At issue is whether the current U.S. regulatory system has the resources and structural organization to protect consumers from these dangers. Also at issue is whether the federal food safety laws themselves, first enacted in the early 1900s, have kept pace with the significant changes that have occurred in the food production, processing, and marketing sectors since then.
Date: September 22, 2010
Creator: Johnson, Renée

The Federal Government's Role in Electric Transmission Facility Siting

Description: This report looks at the history of transmission siting and the reason behind the movement toward an increased federal role in siting decisions, explains the new federal role in transmission siting pursuant to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and discusses legal issues related to this and any potential future expansions of the federal role.
Date: October 28, 2010
Creator: Vann, Adam

The European Union: Questions and Answers

Description: This report provides a brief overview of the European Union (EU), an economic and political partnership between 27 sovereign member states. The report describes the formation of the EU, the three main institutions of the EU, and the EU's relationship with the United States.
Date: November 5, 2010
Creator: Archick, Kristin & Mix, Derek E.

The European Parliament

Description: The European Parliament (EP) is one of the three key institutions of the European Union (EU), and the only EU institution whose members are directly elected. This report discusses the construction and history of the EP, its role in functions of the EU as well as internationally, various international supports and criticisms of the EP, and the EP's ties with the U.S. Congress.
Date: November 5, 2010
Creator: Archick, Kristin & Mix, Derek E.

Iran Sanctions

Description: There appears to be a growing international consensus to adopt progressively strict economic sanctions against Iran to try to compel it to compromise on its further nuclear development. The U.S. view - increasingly shared by major allies-is that sanctions should target Iran's energy sector, which provides about 80% of government revenues, and try to isolate Iran from the international financial system. U.S. efforts to curb international energy investment in Iran's energy sector began in 1996 with the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA). ISA has been expanded significantly in 2010. This report discusses said expansions, provides background on the ISA, and explores how this Act has affected
Date: October 7, 2010
Creator: Katzman, Kenneth

Iran Sanctions

Description: This report focuses on the United States' relationship with Iran and how the Obama Administration is handling prior administration's economic sanctions against Iran. The Obama Administration's policy approach toward Iran has contrasted with the Bush Administration's by attempting to couple the imposition of sanctions to an active and direct U.S. effort to negotiate with Iran on the nuclear issue. That approach was not initially altered because of the Iranian dispute over its June 12, 2009, elections. However, with subsequent negotiations yielding no firm Iranian agreement to compromise, since early 2010 the Administration has focused on achieving the imposition of additional U.N., U.S., and allied country sanctions whose cumulative effect would be to compel it to accept a nuclear bargain.
Date: November 9, 2010
Creator: Katzman, Kenneth

Inherently Governmental Functions and Other Work Reserved for Performance by Federal Government Employees: The Obama Administration's Proposed Policy Letter

Description: On March 31, 2010, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a proposed policy letter on inherently governmental functions and other "work reserved for performance by federal government employees." While not final, the policy letter represents the Obama Administration's proposed guidance for agencies determining (1) whether particular functions are inherently governmental and (2) when functions closely associated with the performance of inherently governmental functions and critical functions should be performed by government personnel. The proposed policy letter raises several legal and policy issues of potential interest to Congress, given recently enacted and proposed legislation regarding inherently governmental functions and other limitations upon contracting out.
Date: October 1, 2010
Creator: Halchin, L. Elaine; Manuel, Kate M.; Reese, Shawn & Schwartz, Moshe

Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses

Description: Much of the debate over U.S. policy toward Iran has centered on the nature of the current regime; some believe that Iran, a country of about 70 million people, is a threat to U.S. interests because hardliners in Iran's regime dominate and set a policy direction intended to challenge U.S. influence and allies in the region. President George W. Bush, in his January 29, 2002, State of the Union message, labeled Iran part of an "axis of evil" along with Iraq and North Korea. This report discusses how the Obama Administration differs from the Bush Administration regarding strategy in Iran relations. This report also discusses the current political state of Iran, including incidents of violence and unrest.
Date: October 26, 2010
Creator: Katzman, Kenneth

Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses

Description: Much of the debate over U.S. policy toward Iran has centered on the nature of the current regime; some believe that Iran, a country of about 70 million people, is a threat to U.S. interests because hardliners in Iran's regime dominate and set a policy direction intended to challenge U.S. influence and allies in the region. President George W. Bush, in his January 29, 2002, State of the Union message, labeled Iran part of an "axis of evil" along with Iraq and North Korea.
Date: September 22, 2010
Creator: Katzman, Kenneth

International Climate Change: A Negotiations Side-by-Side

Description: This report discusses various cooperative international efforts to address the issue of global climate change. The two major international agreements discussed in a side-by-side comparison are the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the 2010 Copenhagen Accord. The report discusses how many observers are hoping that initiatives carried out under the Copenhagen Accord may help bridge divides between the various tracks and economic groupings established under the Kyoto Protocol.
Date: November 18, 2010
Creator: Leggett, Jane A.

India-U.S. Relations

Description: This report focuses on relations between the United States and India, a relationship deepened in the Clinton and G. W. Bush Administrations. The Obama Administrations seeks to continue developing this relationship. Continuing U.S. interest in South Asia focuses on ongoing tensions between India and Pakistan, the proliferation of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, human rights issues, caste-based discrimination, and India's economic expansion.
Date: October 27, 2010
Creator: Kronstadt, K. Alan; Kerr, Paul K.; Martin, Michael F. & Vaughn, Bruce