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Education Vouchers: Constitutional Issues and Cases

Description: This report details the constitutional standards that currently apply to indirect aid programs and summarizes all of the pertinent state and federal court decisions, including the Ohio case that will be heard by the Supreme Court. On September 25, 2001, the Supreme Court agreed to review a case raising the controversial issue of the constitutionality of education vouchers. In Zelman v. Simmons-Harris the Sixth Circuit held Ohio’s Pilot Scholarship Program, which provided up to $2500 to help low-income students in Cleveland’s public schools attend private schools in the city, to violate the establishment of religion clause of the First Amendment.
Date: November 15, 2001
Creator: Ackerman, David M.

Environmental Exemptions for the Navy's Mid-Frequency Active Sonar Training Program

Description: This report discusses laws related to the protection of marine mammals when using mid-frequency active sonar including the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA). The report discusses each of the laws generally, and then reviews the litigation surrounding the Navy's compliance with these laws in the context of using the sonar for training purposes off California's coast.
Date: April 15, 2008
Creator: Alexander, Kristina

Europe and Counterterrorism: Strengthening Police and Judicial Cooperation

Description: The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States gave new momentum to European Union (EU) initiatives to combat terrorism and other crossborder crimes such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, and financial fraud. For many years, EU efforts to address such challenges were hampered by national sovereignty concerns, insufficient resources, and a lack of trust among law enforcement agencies. However, the terrorist attacks and the subsequent revelation of Al Qaeda cells in Europe changed this status quo as it became increasingly evident that the EU’s open borders and different legal systems allowed terrorists and other criminals to move around easily and evade arrest and prosecution. Thus, EU officials renewed their efforts to harmonize national laws and bring down traditional barriers among member states’ police, intelligence, and judicial authorities. As part of this initiative, the EU has also sought to enhance ongoing cooperation with U.S. law enforcement and judicial authorities so that information can be meaningfully shared and suspects apprehended expeditiously.
Date: October 15, 2004
Creator: Archick, Kristin

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: January 15, 2014
Creator: Archick, Kristin

Western Sahara

Description: This report discusses how Morocco and the independence-seeking Popular Front for the Liberation of Saqiat al Hamra and Rio de Oro (Polisario) have been vying for control of the Western Sahara, a former Spanish territory, since the 1970s. The report discusses recent settlement attempts, as well as how the Western Sahara issue has affected Algerian-Moroccan bilaterial relations, Moroccan relations with the African Union, and regional cooperation on economic and security issues. The report also discusses the United States' involvement in and stance on the issue.
Date: February 15, 2011
Creator: Arieff, Alexis

Mandatory Spending Since 1962

Description: Mandatory spending includes federal government spending on entitlement programs as well as other budget outlays controlled by laws other than appropriation acts. Entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare make up the bulk of mandatory spending. This report looks at mandatory spending and how it has grown over time relative to total federal spending and the size of the U.S. economy. It also analyzes future mandatory spending levels and how they are projected to impact the federal budget.
Date: September 15, 2010
Creator: Austin, D. A. & Levit, Mindy R.

Trends in Discretionary Spending

Description: This report discusses recent trends in discretionary spending. Topics examined include fiscal policy in the wake of the recession, discretionary spending limits reimposed in 2011, the FY2013 sequestration, long term trends, and security spending.
Date: April 15, 2013
Creator: Austin, D. Andrew

The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases

Description: This report discusses how the total debt of the federal government can increase, an historical overview of debt limits, and how the current economic slowdown has led to higher deficits and thereby a series of debt limit increases, as well as legislation related to these increases.
Date: October 15, 2013
Creator: Austin, D. Andrew & Levit, Mindy R.

The Endangered Species Act: Consideration of Economic Factors

Description: The Endangered Species Act (ESA) provides for the listing and protection of species that are found to be “endangered” or “threatened” – species that might become extinct. The listing of a species as endangered triggers the prohibitions in the Act against “taking” (killing or harming) individuals of the protected species, unless a permit is obtained to take individuals incidental to an otherwise lawful proposed action, or an exemption for the proposed action is obtained. Unauthorized taking of a listed species can result in civil or criminal penalties. These prohibitions and potential penalties can affect various activities, including development and use of land, with attendant economic impacts.
Date: April 15, 2003
Creator: Baldwin, Pamela

Energy Policy: Setting the Stage for the Current Debate

Description: The Bush Administration issued its plan for a national energy policy on May 16, 2001. The plan was controversial, characterized by some as leaner on conservation and renewables than Democratic proposals, and predisposed to trade off environmental considerations to increase supply. Comprehensive energy legislation was introduced in the Senate by both parties by late March (S. 388, S. 389, S. 596, S. 597). Bills reported by several House committees (H.R. 2436, H.R. 2460, H.R. 2511, and H.R. 2587) were combined in a single bill, H.R. 4, passed by the House, August 1, 2001. The House version of H.R. 4 would require a 5 billion gallon reduction in light-duty truck and SUV fuel consumption and would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to leasing.
Date: March 15, 2002
Creator: Bamberger, Robert L.

Energy Policy: The Continuing Debate

Description: On April 10, 2003, the House passed comprehensive energy legislation, H.R. 6 (247- 175). The bill was a composite of four measures – H.R. 39, reported from the House Committee on Resources, H.R. 238, marked up by the House Science Committee, H.R. 1531, reported from Ways and Means, and an unnumbered bill reported out of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Unlike comprehensive energy legislation (H.R. 4) debated in the 107th Congress, H.R. 6 includes a section on electricity which has stirred some controversy. H.R. 6 would provide authorization for exploration and development of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
Date: September 15, 2003
Creator: Bamberger, Robert L.

Basic Reference Sources For Use by Congressional Offices: An Annotated Selection of Publications and Services

Description: This is an annotated guide to publications and other sources of information useful to Members of Congress and their staffs, covering congressional office management, the organization and operation of Congress, legislative responsibilities, services to constituents, and other duties of Congress.
Date: December 15, 1982
Creator: Barry, Rozanne M. & Ovenshire, Ruthann

Hurricane Katrina: Medicaid Issues

Description: This report discusses the following: Medicaid’s rules on eligibility, benefits, and financing in the context of current questions and issues raised by Hurricane Katrina. Recent state actions in response to Medicaid issues raised by the hurricane. Federal Medicaid waiver authority, including information on current activity in this area and the New York Disaster Relief Medicaid waiver granted in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks. Current federal legislation related to Medicaid and Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
Date: September 15, 2005
Creator: Baumrucker, Evelyne P.; Grady, April; Hearne, Jean P.; Herz, Elicia J.; Rimkunas, Richard; Stone-Axelrad, Julie et al.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act: An Overview of the Statutory Framework and U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review Decisions

Description: This report discusses the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, and other related amendments that were included in the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002.
Date: February 15, 2007
Creator: Bazan, Elizabeth B.