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Alternative Fuels and Advanced Technology Vehicles: Issues in Congress
This report provides an overview of current issues surrounding alternative fuels and advanced technology vehicles - issues discussed in further detail in other CRS reports referred to in each section.
Navy Nuclear Aircraft Carrier (CVN) Homeporting at Mayport: Background and Issues for Congress
On January 14, 2009, the Navy announced that it wants to transfer one of its nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (CVNs) to the Navy home port at Mayport, FL, known formally as Naval Station (NAVSTA) Mayport. The Navy's proposed FY2010 budget requests $46.3 million in Military Construction (MilCon) funding for channel dredging at Mayport. The Navy states that a key reason it wants to transfer a CVN to Mayport is to hedge against the risk of a catastrophic event that could damage the Navy's CVN homeporting facilities at Norfolk, VA, and nearby Newport News, VA. This report discusses potential questions for Congress to consider related to budget appropriations for such a transfer, the potential negative economic effects that a CVN transfer would have on the local homeport, and the other general questions regarding the Navy.
Food Safety in the 111th Congress: H.R. 2749 and S. 510
This report discusses whether the current food safety system has the resources, authority, and structural organization to safeguard the health of American consumers, who spend more than $1 trillion on food each year. Also at issue is whether federal food safety laws, 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.
Food Safety in the 111th Congress: H.R. 2749 and S. 510
This report discusses whether the current food safety system has the resources, authority, and structural organization to safeguard the health of American consumers, who spend more than $1 trillion on food each year. Also at issue is whether federal food safety laws, 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.
Food Safety in the 111th Congress
This report discusses whether the current food safety system has the resources, authority, and structural organization to safeguard the health of American consumers, who spend more than $1 trillion on food each year. Also at issue is whether federal food safety laws, 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.
U.S. Security Assistance to Lebanon
This report discusses key issues facing U.S. policy makers and Members of Congress when considering U.S. security assistance in the context of U.S. policy toward Lebanon. These key issues include assessing the effectiveness of U.S. assistance programs, assessing overall U.S. policy toward Lebanon, and managing relations with other external actors.
Legal Issues Relating to the Disposal of Dispensed Controlled Substances
This report describes an issue that is the fastest-growing drug problem in the country -- the intentional use of prescription drugs for non-medical purposes. It is the second-most common form of illicit drug abuse among teenagers in the United States behind marijuana use. Several bills have been introduced in the 111th Congress that would create a legal framework governing disposal of controlled substances that have been dispensed to patients.
Waste, Fraud, and Abuse in Agency Travel Card Programs
The Travel and Transportation Reform Act of 1998 required federal employees to use travel charge cards to pay for the expenses of official government travel. The dollar volume of travel card transaction has nearly doubled from FY1999 to FY2009. This report discusses card misuse committed by federal employees, and Congress's response, which has included hearings and legislation intended to enhance travel card management and oversight.
Concurrent Receipt: Background and Issues for Congress
"Concurrent Receipt" refers to the simultaneous receipt of two types of monetary benefits: military retired pay and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation. This report addresses the two primary components of the concurrent receipt program: Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) and Concurrent Retirement and Disability Payments (CRDP). It reviews the possible legislative expansion of the program to additional populations and provide several potential options for Congress to consider.
Responsibility Determinations Under the Federal Acquisition Regulation: Legal Standards and Procedures
This report discusses the standards and procedures that federal agencies use in making responsibility determinations under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). It discusses (1) how responsibility determinations relate to other mechanisms that the government relies upon to ensure that contractors are responsible and otherwise eligible for federal contracts; (2) the performance-related and collateral standards used in making responsibility determinations; (3) the procedures for making responsibility determinations; and (4) recently enacted or proposed amendments to the standards or procedures for responsibility determinations.
Chemical Facility Security: Reauthorization, Policy Issues, and Options for Congress
This report discusses the efforts undertaken since even prior to September 11, 2001, to increase safety and security measures for facilities possessing certain amounts of hazardous chemicals. The 109th congress passed legislation in 2006 providing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) statutory authority to regulate chemical facilities for security purposes. This statutory authority expires in December 2010. This report provides a brief overview of the existing statutory authority and the regulation implementing this authority. It describes several policy issues raised in previous debates regarding chemical facility security and identifies policy options that might resolve components of these issues. Finally, legislation introduced in the 111th Congress is discussed.
Guinea: Background and Relations with the United States
This report discusses the current political conditions in Guinea, as well as the considerable changes to Guinea's political landscape that have taken place over the past two years. The report also discusses U.S. interests and associated policy challenges in Guinea, centering around democratization, counternarcotics issues, regional stability, and socioeconomic development, among other issues.
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell": A Legal Analysis
In recent years, several Members of Congress have expressed interest in amending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," (DADT) a legislation that requires those of homosexual orientation in the military to keep quiet about their orientation in order to maintain "morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion." At least two bills that would repeal the law and replace it with a policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation - H.R. 1283 and S. 3065 - have been introduced in the 111th Congress. This report provides a legal analysis of the various constitutional challenges that have been brought against DADT; for a policy analysis, see CRS Report R40782, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell": Military Policy and the Law on
Interagency Contracting: An Overview of Federal Procurement and Appropriations Law
"Interagency contracting" is the term used to describe several procurement relationships between government agencies. This report provides an overview of the federal procurement and appropriations laws governing interagency contracting. It defines key terms used in discussing interagency contracting; surveys the various interagency contracting vehicles; and describes recently enacted and proposed amendments to the laws governing interagency contracting.
Iraq Casualties: U.S. Military Forces and Iraqi Civilians, Police, and Security Forces
This report presents U.S. military casualties as well as governmental and nongovernmental estimates of Iraqi civilian, police, and security forces casualties.
Managing Electronic Waste: Issues with Exporting E-Waste
Electronic waste (e-waste) is a term that is used loosely to refer to obsolete, broken, or irreparable electronic devices like televisions, computer central processing units (CPUs), and computer monitors. There are various issues of concern with regard to e-waste disposal and recycling. This report looks at issues specifically related to its export for recycling. Particularly, it discusses documented impacts to human health and the environment that have been tied to unsafe recycling practices in developing countries, as well as issues that have motivated certain stakeholders to divert e-waste from landfill disposal and, hence, increase recycling. It also provides an overview of various factors necessary to understand why e-waste disposal has become a concern in the United States, and it also discusses waste management requirements in the United States.
Navy SSBN(X) Ballistic Missile Submarine Program: Background and Issues for Congress
This report discusses the Navy's plan to develop and design a class of 12 next-generation ballistic missile submarines, or SSBN(X)s, as replacements for the 14 Ohio class SSBNs currently in operation. The report explores certain related issues for Congress, including the affordability of the project and its potential impact on other Navy shipbuilding programs, alternatives to the program, and which shipyard or shipyards will build the proposed ships.
F-35 Alternate Engine Program: Background and Issues for Congress
This report discusses the past four years of administration proposals to terminate the program to develop the General Electric/Rolls-Royce F136 engine as an alternative to the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine that currently powers the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). These proposals have been continually rejected by Congress. The Obama Administration's FY2011 budget submission against proposes to terminate the program. This report explores both sides of the termination argument.
Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress
The diminishment of Arctic sea ice has led to increased human activities in the Arctic, and has heightened concerns about the region's future. Issues 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 could cause the region in coming years to become an arena of international cooperation, competition, or conflict. 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.
North Korea's 2009 Nuclear Test: Containment, Monitoring, Implications
This report discusses the implications of North Korea's May 25, 2009, underground nuclear test, related issues such as the the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), containment of radioactive materials, and other concerns for Congress, such as improving nuclear monitoring capability.
Long-Term Unemployment and Recessions
This report discusses the recession that began in the United States in December 2007 and officially ended in June 2009 and how this recession affected employment rates. This report analyzes the trend in long-term unemployment over the postwar period and offers explanations for its unusually high incidence during the most recent postwar recession. It compares the individual, job, and household characteristics of the long-term unemployed during the latest recession (2007-2009) with the long-term unemployed at the end of the two previous recessions (1990-1991 and 2001).
TRICARE and VA Health Care: Impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)
The 111th Congress passed, and the President signed into law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, and hereafter referred to as PPACA. This report addresses key questions concerning how PPACA affects the Department of Defense (DOD) TRICARE program and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care.
The New START Treaty: Central Limits and Key Provisions
The United States and Russia signed a new strategic arms reduction treaty - known as New START - on April 8, 2010. This treaty is designed to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (START), which expired, after 15 years of implementation, on December 5, 2009. This report provides an overview of New START, including a comparison to the original START Treaty, the belief of the Obama Administration and outside analysts that New START will enhance U.S. national security, and the criticisms of those who say that New START (and, indeed, the entire issue of U.S.-Russian arms control) is a distraction from more important items on the nonproliferation agenda.
Army Corps of Engineers Water Resource Projects: Authorization and Appropriations
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers attracts congressional attention because its projects can have significant local and regional economic benefits and environmental effects, in addition to their water resource development purposes. This report provides an overview of the Corps civil works program. It covers the congressional authorization and appropriation process, the standard project development process, and other Corps activities and authorities. It also includes an Appendix on the evolution of Corps civil works missions and authorities and a description of the limits on the Corps' role in levee accreditation and improvements for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Special Rules and Options for Regulating the Amending Process
A special rule is a House resolution intended to regulate floor consideration of a specific legislative measure named in the resolution. This report briefly describes the two key functions of special rules, as well as the most common kinds of modifications recommended by the Rules Committee in terms used by the committee.
Bills and Resolutions: Examples of How Each Kind Is Used
When Congress seeks to pass a law, it uses a bill or joint resolution, which must be passed by both houses in identical form, then presented to the President for his approval or disapproval. This report briefly describes this process.
The Democratic Republic of Congo: Background and Current Developments
This report discusses in brief the current political state of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as the crisis situation in eastern Congo that has displaced more than 250,000 civilians. It also describes U.S., U.N., and other international efforts to aid in resolving the crisis.
Rwanda: Background and Current Developments
This report discusses the current political conditions of Rwanda, including a brief historical overview. The report also includes information about the poor human rights conditions in Rwanda and U.S. Rwanda relations.
Chile: Political and Economic Conditions and U.S. Relations
This report discusses the current political and economic conditions of Chile, as well as U.S.-Chile relations.
The President's State of the Union Address: Tradition, Function, and Policy Implications
This report explores the President's State of the Union Address, in which the President reports to Congress on the current conditions of the United States and provides policy proposals for the upcoming legislative year. This report also discusses the State of the Union's considerable evolution over time.
Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): Overview and Issues
This report focuses on the mandated minimum usage requirements - referred to as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) - whereby a minimum volume of biofuels is to be used in the national transportation fuel supply each year. It describes the general nature of the biofuels RFS and its implementation, and outlines some of the emerging issues related to the sustainability of the continued growth in U.S. biofuels production needed to fulfill the expanding RFS mandate, as well as the emergence of potential unintended consequences of this rapid expansion. This report does not address the broader public policy issue of how best to support U.S. energy policy.
Venezuela: Issues in the 111th Congress
This report discusses U.S.-Venezuela relations, including an historical overview. It also discusses the current political conditions in Venezuela, and certain Venezuela-related concerns the 111th Congress faces, such as Venezuela's human rights situation and its deepening relations with Iran.
Argentina's Defaulted Sovereign Debt: Dealing with the "Holdouts"
In December 2001, following an extended period of economic and political instability, Argentina suffered a severe financial crisis, leading to the largest default on sovereign debt in history. This report discusses efforts Argentina has made over the past decade, since that financial crisis, to restructure its debt. The report also includes discussion of the Argentine 2010 Bond Exchange and an outlook of Argentina's economic future.
Beginning and End of the Terms of United States Senators Chosen to Fill Senate Vacancies
This report discusses the procedures for when a Senator is chosen to fill a Senate vacancy during a session of Congress, i.e., when the appointed Senator can begin his or her term of office, and how long the Senator remains in office (until the new "Senator-elect" is sworn in and seated by the Senate).
Survey of Federal Laws Containing Goals, Set-Asides, Priorities, or Other Preferences Based on Race, Gender, or Ethnicity
This report provides a broad, but by no means exhaustive, survey of federal statutes that specifically refer to race, gender, or ethnicity as factors to be considered in the administration of any federal program.
Navy SSBN(X) Ballistic Missile Submarine Program: Background and Issues for Congress
This report discusses the Navy's plan to develop and design a class of 12 next-generation ballistic missile submarines, or SSBN(X)s, as replacements for the 14 Ohio class SSBNs currently in operation. The report explores certain related issues for Congress, including the affordability of the project and its potential impact on other Navy shipbuilding programs, alternatives to the program, and which shipyard or shipyards will build the proposed ships.
Landsat and the Data Continuity Mission
This report discusses the U.S. Landsat Mission, which has collected remotely sensed imagery of the Earth's surface for more than 35 years. The two satellites currently in orbit are operating beyond their designed life and may fail at any time. Most Landsat data is used by federal agencies. Efforts to commercialize Landsat operations have not been successful. This report discusses issues facing Congress regarding funding for new Landsat satellites.
U.S. Sanctions on Burma
Existing U.S. sanctions on Burma are based on various U.S. laws and Presidential Executive Orders. This report provides a brief history of U.S. policy towards Burma and the development of U.S. sanctions, a topical summary of those sanctions, and an examination of additional sanctions that have been considered, but not enacted, by Congress, or that could be imposed under existing law or executive orders. The report concludes with a discussion of options for Congress.
The Obama Administration's Open Government Initiative: Issues for Congress
This report reviews the objectives delineated in President Obama's Open Government Initiative (OGI) and examines the expectations placed on agencies to meet these objectives. This report reviews department and agency attempts to implement Obama Administration initiatives that seek to make the federal government more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. The report then analyzes options for congressional action in this area.
Geoengineering: Governance and Technology Policy
This report is intended as a primer on the policy issues, science, and governance of geoengineering technologies. The report will first set the policy parameters under which geoengineering technologies may be considered. It will then describe selected technologies in detail and discuss their status. The third section provides a discussion of possible approaches to governmental involvement in, and oversight of, geoengineering, including a summary of domestic and international instruments and institutions that may affect geoengineering projects.
Samantar v. Yousef: The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act and Foreign Officials
On June 1, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court decided unanimously in Samantar v. Yousef that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), which governs the immunity of foreign states in U.S. courts, does not apply in suits against foreign officials. The report also addresses legislation considered by the 111th Congress that would have affected the immunity of foreign officials (the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, S. 2930, 111th Cong.).
Criminal Prohibitions on the Publication of Classified Defense Information
The recent online publication of classified defense documents by the organization WikiLeaks and subsequent reporting by the New York Times and other news media have focused attention on whether such publication violates U.S. criminal law. The Justice Department and Department of Defense are investigating the circumstances to determine whether any prosecutions will be undertaken in connection with the disclosure. This report discusses the statutory prohibitions that may be implicated, including the Espionage Act; the extraterritorial application of such statutes; and the First Amendment implications related to such prosecutions against domestic or foreign media organizations and associated individuals. The report provides a summary of recent legislation relevant to the issue as well as some previous efforts to criminalize the unauthorized disclosure of classified information.
Neglected Tropical Diseases: Background, Responses, and Issues for Congress
Over the past decade, global health has become a priority in U.S. foreign policy, more than tripling U.S. funding for such efforts. This report discusses neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), a group of 17 diseases that are found primarily among the poorest people in 149 countries and territories. NTDs are an important focus of U.S. global health assistance and may come under scrutiny as the 112th Congress debates spending levels for ongoing global health programs.
Violence Against Members of Congress and Their Staff: Selected Examples and Congressional Responses
This report describes legislation introduced in the 112th Congress related to violence against members and congressional staff, provides examples of violence in which members of Congress were the apparent target, and some actions Congress has taken based in part on those incidents. This report comes in the aftermath of a recent attack in Tucson, Arizona, in which congressional staff and several constituents were injured or killed.
The Obama Administration's Feed the Future Initiative
The primary objectives of this report are to (1) provide a context for the state of food insecurity in the world; (2) provide an overview of the Obama Administration's global hunger and food security initiative, called Feed the Future; and (3) provide an overview of issues that the 112th Congress may consider in relation to agricultural development and global food security.
Cuba: Issues for the 112th Congress
This report discusses the current political conditions of Cuba, as well as its relationship with the United States. In particular, the report focuses on U.S. policy regarding Cuba, including various economic sanctions, human rights issues, and foreign aid appropriations.
Why Certain Trade Agreements Are Approved as Congressional-Executive Agreements Rather Than as Treaties
U.S. trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), World Trade Organization agreements, and bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) have been approved by majority vote of each house rather than by two-thirds vote of the Senate - that is, they have been treated as congressional-executive agreements rather than as treaties. The congressional-executive agreement has been the vehicle for implementing Congress's long-standing policy of seeking trade benefits for the United States through reciprocal trade negotiations. This report discusses this topic in brief.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
This report discusses the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), a free trade agreement that includes nations on both sides of the Pacific. Original members of the TPP were Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore. The United States, Australia, Peru, and Vietnam have committed themselves to joining and expanding this group. This report discusses similar trade partnerships, the importance of Asia to U.S. trade and security interests, and U.S. participation in the TPP.
The National Intelligence Council: Issues and Options for Congress
The National Intelligence Council (NIC), composed of some 18 senior analysts and national security policy experts, provides the U.S. intelligence community's best judgments on crucial international issues. It is the purpose of this report to describe the statutory provisions that authorize the NIC, provide a brief history of its work, and review its role within the federal government. The report will focus on congressional interaction with the NIC and describe various options for modifying congressional oversight.
Competition in Federal Contracting: An Overview of the Legal Requirements
This report describes the competition requirements currently governing the procurement activities of federal agencies. It addresses several issues, including what contracts are subject to competition requirements, what constitutes full and open competition for government contracts, and the circumstances permitting agencies to award contracts on the basis of other than full and open competition. It also briefly describes the benefits and drawbacks of competition, situates recent reform efforts within their historical context, and discusses how the policy debates surrounding competition in federal contracting can shape legislative responses.