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The National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012 and Beyond: Detainee Matters

Description: This report offers a brief background of the salient issues raised by the detainee provisions of the FY2012 NDAA, provides a section-by-section analysis, and discusses executive interpretation and implementation of the act's mandatory military detention provision. It also addresses detainee provisions in the 2013 NDAA and 2014 NDAA.
Date: January 27, 2014
Creator: Elsea, Jennifer K. & Garcia, Michael J.

Military Retirement: Background and Recent Developments

Description: This report discusses the noncontributory military retirement system which includes monthly compensation and benefits after an active or reserve military career, disability retirement for those physically unfit to continue to serve, and survivor benefits for the eligible survivors of deceased retirees.
Date: January 27, 2014
Creator: Burrelli, David F. & Salazar Torreon, Barbara

"Leahy Law" Human Rights Provisions and Security Assistance: Issue Overview

Description: This report provides background on the Leahy laws, including a brief history of their legislative development; an overview guide to the standards and processes used to "vet"--that is, review and clear--foreign military and other security forces for gross violations of human rights; and a brief review of salient issues regarding the provisions of the laws and their implementation.
Date: January 29, 2014
Creator: Serafino, Nina M.; Beittel, June S.; Ploch Blanchard, Lauren & Rosen, Liana

U.S. Rail Transportation of Crude Oil: Background and Issues for Congress

Description: This report discusses the challenges in the transportation of oil, as refineries that once received crude oil principally from oceangoing tankers are now seeing increasing deliveries by domestic transport. It also outlines possible issues for Congress including rail transport of oil versus pipelines, and the possible increase of oil spills from rail transport.
Date: February 6, 2014
Creator: Frittelli, John; Parfomak, Paul W.; Ramseur, Jonathan L.; Andrews, Anthony; Pirog, Robert & Ratner, Michael

Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy

Description: This report discusses the current political state of Afghanistan, focusing particularly on the influence of the Taliban and other militant groups, and on the leadership of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. This report also discusses the U.S.-Afghanistan relationship, in both the short and long term, and U.S. efforts under the Obama Administration to provide military, reconstructive, and stabilization aid.
Date: January 17, 2014
Creator: Katzman, Kenneth

Temporary Protected Status: Current Immigration Policy and Issues

Description: This report is a brief overview of current policies regarding temporatry protected status (TPS), which is relief from removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). It includes information about humanitarian migrants, temporary protected status, other blanket forms of relief, nationalities receiving protections, and issues with TPS, as well as recent legislation.
Date: January 14, 2014
Creator: Wasem, Ruth Ellen & Ester, Karma

Trends in Discretionary Spending

Description: This report provides a graphical overview of historical trends in discretionary budget authority (BA) from FY1976 through FY2011, enacted levels for FY2012 spending, and the levels consistent with President Obama's proposals for FY2013 through FY2017. It also includes a background on functional categories and a section discussing historical spending trends.
Date: January 24, 2014
Creator: Austin, D. Andrew

Emergency Relief for Disaster Damaged Roads and Transit Systems: In Brief

Description: This report describes Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) assistance for the repair and reconstruction of highways and bridges damaged by disasters (such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012) or catastrophic failures (such as the collapse of the Skagit River Bridge in 2013). It begins with a brief discussion of the legislative origins of federal assistance and then addresses eligibility issues and program operation.
Date: January 28, 2014
Creator: Kirk, Robert S.

Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class Attack Submarine Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress

Description: This report provides background information and issues for Congress on the Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) program. The Navy's proposed FY2014 budget requests $5,285.3 million in procurement and advance procurement (AP) funding for the program. Decisions that Congress makes on procurement of Virginia-class boats could substantially affect U.S. Navy capabilities and funding requirements, and the U.S. shipbuilding industrial base.
Date: February 3, 2014
Creator: O'Rourke, Ronald

State Government Fiscal Stress and Federal Assistance

Description: This report examines the current status of state fiscal conditions and the role of federal assistance in state budgets. It begins with an overview of state budgeting procedures and then provides budgetary data comparing state fiscal conditions in FY2008 to FY2013. This report concludes with an assessment of the consequences current levels of state fiscal stress may have for the 113th Congress.
Date: February 14, 2014
Creator: Dilger, Robert Jay

EPA's Vessel General Permit: Background and Issues

Description: This report is an overview of the revised Vessel General Permit (VGP) from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and two key issues: inclusion of numeric performance standards to limit ballast water discharges from vessels, and controversies about the role of states in regulating vessel discharges.
Date: January 8, 2014
Creator: Copeland, Claudia

Clean Water Act and Pollutant Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs)

Description: This report discusses the total maximum daily load (TMDL) program which regulates pollutants to ensure that water quality standards can be attained; section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act requires states to identify waters that are impaired by pollution, even after application of pollution controls. The report focuses on new challenges facing the TMDL program, including more complex TMDLs, larger scale impairments, and nonpoint sources.
Date: January 17, 2014
Creator: Copeland, Claudia

Yemen: Background and U.S. Relations

Description: This report provides an overview and analysis of U.S.-Yemeni relations and issues, including evolving political change in Yemeni leadership, ongoing U.S. counterterrorism operations against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operatives at large in Yemen's hinterlands, and international efforts to bolster the country's stability despite an array of daunting socio-economic problems.
Date: February 6, 2014
Creator: Sharp, Jeremy M.

Nuclear Cooperation with Other Countries: A Primer

Description: This report discusses section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act (AEA), the specific requirements of which must be met in order for the United States to engage in civilian nuclear cooperation with other states. The AEA also provides for exemptions to these requirements, export control licensing procedures, and criteria for terminating cooperation.
Date: January 27, 2014
Creator: Kerr, Paul K. & Nikitin, Mary Beth

United Nations Reform: Background and Issues for Congress

Description: This report examines reform priorities from the perspective of several key actors, including Members of Congress, the Obama Administration, selected member states, the U.N. Secretary-General, and a cross-section of groups tasked with addressing U.N. reform. It also discusses congressional actions related to U.N. reform and mechanisms for implementing reform, as well as possible challenges facing U.S. policy makers as they consider existing and future U.N. reform efforts.
Date: January 13, 2014
Creator: Blanchfield, Luisa

Constitutional Analysis of Suspicionless Drug Testing Requirements for the Receipt of Governmental Benefits

Description: This report gives an overview of the issues related to federal or state laws that condition the initial or ongoing receipt of governmental benefits on passing drug tests. These regulations are vulnerable to constitutional challenge, most often due to issues of personal privacy and Fourth Amendment protections against "unreasonable searches."
Date: January 29, 2014
Creator: Carpenter, David H.

Iran: U.S. Economic Sanctions and the Authority to Lift Restrictions

Description: This report identifies the legislative bases for sanctions imposed on Iran, and the nature of the authority to waive or lift those restrictions. It comprises two tables that present legislation and executive orders that are specific to Iran and its objectionable activities in the areas of terrorism, human rights, and weapons proliferation.
Date: February 4, 2014
Creator: Rennack, Dianne E.