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Ukraine: Current Issues and U.S. Policy

Description: This report provides an overview of the situation in Ukraine, two years after the February 2014 collapse of the Kremlin-supported government of President Viktor Yanukovych. Following the collapse, there was an emergence of a pro-Western, pro-reform government and an energized public generally anxious to lessen Moscow's influence, committed to addressing the need for serious reform and determined to draw closer to Europe and the United States.
Date: February 22, 2016
Creator: Morelli, Vincent L.

State Minimum Wages: An Overview

Description: This report begins with a brief discussion of Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) minimum wage coverage. It then provides a summary of state minimum wage laws, followed by an examination of rates and mechanisms of adjustments in states with minimum wage levels above the FLSA rate. The report also discusses the interaction of federal and state minimum wages over time.
Date: February 3, 2016
Creator: Bradley, David H.

Volkswagen, Defeat Devices, and the Clean Air Act: Frequently Asked Questions

Description: This report provides answers to a series of frequently asked questions focusing on a description of modern diesel technologies, their market and emissions profiles, and some potential reasons that could underlie the use of defeat devices. It summarizes the specific allegations filed against VW under the Clean Air Act, the current status of federal and state investigations, and the potential civil and criminal penalties. Further, the report introduces several outstanding issues currently under debate regarding the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) resources and activities, and issues surrounding VW's defeat device.
Date: February 10, 2016
Creator: Canis, Bill; Lattanzio, Richard K.; Vann, Adam & Yacobucci, Brent D.

"Regulatory Relief" for Banking: Selected Legislation in the 114th Congress

Description: This report discusses regulatory relief legislation for banks in the 114th Congress that has seen floor action or has been ordered to be reported by a committee. Many, but not all, of the bills would make changes to the Dodd-Frank Act (P.L. 111-203), a wide-ranging financial reform enacted in response to the financial crisis.
Date: January 19, 2016
Creator: Hoskins, Sean M.; Gnanarajah, Raj; Labonte, Marc; Murphy, Edward V. & Shorter, Gary

Continuing Resolutions: Overview of Components and Recent Practices

Description: The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of the components of Continuing Resolutions (CRs) and a longitudinal analysis of recent congressional practices. Consequently, the data and analysis in this report are inclusive of all appropriations acts entitled or otherwise designated as providing continuing appropriations. The first section of this report explains six of the possible main components of CRs: coverage, duration, funding rate, restrictions on new activities, anomalies, and legislative provisions. The second section discusses the enactment of regular appropriations prior to the start of the fiscal year and the number of regular appropriations bills enacted through a CR since FY1977. The third section analyzes variations in the number and duration of CRs enacted each fiscal year since FY1997, the most recent fiscal year that all regular appropriations were enacted on time. Finally, the fourth section of this report discusses the features of the 15 CRs that provided funding through the remainder of the fiscal year since FY1977. A list of all CRs enacted between FY1977 and FY2016 is provided at the end of this report in Table 4.
Date: January 14, 2016
Creator: Saturno, James V. & Tollestrup, Jessica

Iran Sanctions

Description: 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.
Date: January 21, 2016
Creator: Katzman, Kenneth

Oil Sands and the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund: The Definition of "Oil" and Related Issues for Congress

Description: This report provides background on oil sands resources followed by a discussion of the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund (OSLTF), including authorized uses and revenue sources; the scope of oil subject to the per-barrel tax (that funds the OSLTF) versus the scope of oil that triggers activities under the Oil Pollution Act; and relevant legislative activities of the 113th and 114th Congresses. The final section offers concluding observations.
Date: February 3, 2016
Creator: Ramseur, Jonathan L.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): In Brief

Description: This report briefly summarizes some of the key controversial issues of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), including select market access issues (such as on dairy and other agricultural products, autos, and textiles and apparel) as well as the level of intellectual property protection, the scope and enforcement of environment and worker rights provisions, investor-state dispute settlement, access to government procurement, and the potential inclusion of provisions on currency valuation and exchange rates. The TPP is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) among 12 Asia-Pacific countries, which the Obama Administration casts as comprehensive, with economic and strategic significance for the United States.
Date: February 9, 2016
Creator: Fergusson, Ian F.; McMinimy, Mark A. & Williams, Brock R.

Intelligence Spending: In Brief

Description: This report examines intelligence funding over the past several decades, with an emphasis on the period from 2007-2017--the period in which total national and military intelligence program spending dollars have been publicly disclosed on an annual basis.
Date: February 26, 2016
Creator: Daugherty Miles, Anne

Iran-U.S. Air Service Not Imminent

Description: This report discusses the prospect of air travel between Iran and the U.S., which last operated during 1979, when the U.S. government imposed an embargo on flights following the Iran hostage crisis. Since then, travel and air cargo shipments between the two countries have been routed through third countries, and their extent has been limited by U.S. sanctions.
Date: January 21, 2016
Creator: Tang, Rachel Y.

Federal Securities Law: Insider Trading

Description: This report discusses various regulations regarding insider trading violations. Insider trading in securities may occur when a person in possession of material nonpublic information about a company trades in the company's securities and makes a profit or avoids a loss.
Date: March 1, 2016
Creator: Seitzinger, Michael V.

Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress

Description: This report provides an overview of Arctic-related issues for Congress such as: Arctic sovereignty claims; commercial shipping through the Arctic; Arctic oil, gas, and mineral exploration; endangered Arctic species; and increased military operations in the Arctic that could cause the region in coming years to become an arena of international cooperation or competition.
Date: January 19, 2016
Creator: O'Rourke, Ronald

Deficits and Debt: Economic Effects and Other Issues

Description: This report explores distinctions in the concept and composition of deficits and debt, explains how these two measures interact, and discusses their possible effects on the economy. The combination of persistent budget deficits and a large and increasing federal debt has generated discussions over the long-term sustainability of current budget projections. Federal debt totaled $18.922 trillion at the end of calendar year 2015, and as a percentage of GDP is at its highest value since the end of World War II; $13.673 trillion of that debt was held by the public.
Date: February 17, 2016
Creator: Driessen, Grant A.

Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)/Frigate Program: Background and Issues for Congress

Description: This report provides background information and issues for Congress on the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)/Frigate program, a program to procure a large number of LCSs and modified LCSs (frigates). The Navy's execution of the program has been a matter of congressional oversight attention for several years.
Date: January 5, 2016
Creator: O'Rourke, Ronald

Ocean Energy Agency Appropriations, FY2016

Description: This report discusses FY2016 appropriations for the Department of the Interior's (DOI's) Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), and Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR)--the three agencies that collectively administer federal ocean energy resources covering more than 1.7 billion acres on the U.S. outer continental shelf (OCS).
Date: February 5, 2016
Creator: Comay, Laura B. & Humphries, Marc

Iran Sanctions

Description: 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.
Date: January 12, 2016
Creator: Katzman, Kenneth

Is Biopower Carbon Neutral?

Description: This report discusses biomass energy, or bioenergy, which may receive more attention from stakeholders as an alternative to fossil fuels because of its potential to minimize the environmental impacts of energy production, provide energy security, and promote economic development. The report discusses some factors taken into account when considering whether biopower is carbon neutral.
Date: February 4, 2016
Creator: Bracmort, Kelsi

Congress and the Budget: 2016 Actions and Events

Description: This report seeks to assist in (1) anticipating what federal budget-related actions might occur within the year 2016, and (2) staying abreast of budget actions that occur this year. It provides a general description of the recurrent types of budgetary actions, and reflects on current events that unfold in each category during 2016. In addition, it includes information on certain events that may affect Congress's work on the budget, such as the President's budget request and the Congressional Budget Office's budget and economic outlook.
Date: January 19, 2016
Creator: Driessen, Grant A. & Lynch, Megan S.