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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
Item Type: Report

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.
Item Type: Report

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
Item Type: Report

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
Item Type: Report

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
Item Type: Report

United States Fire Administration: An Overview

Description: This report describes and analyzes the United States Fire Administration's (USFA's) FY2013 budget proposal, as well as related information and legislation.
Date: January 23, 2014
Creator: Kruger, Lennard G.
Item Type: Report

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
Item Type: Report

Federal Reserve: Unconventional Monetary Policy Options

Description: This report discusses the Federal Reserve (Fed) unconventional policies in an attempt to reduced the federal funds rate and revive the economy. The Fed has also changed its communication policies since rates reached the zero bound.
Date: February 6, 2014
Creator: Labonte, Marc
Item Type: Report

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
Item Type: Report

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
Item Type: Report

Commercial Filming and Photography on Federal Lands

Description: This report discusses the requirements of commercial filming and photography in federal lands, such as national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, ranges, and other landscapes are popular locations for motion pictures and commercial photography
Date: October 30, 2013
Creator: Comay, Laura B.
Item Type: Report

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.
Item Type: Report

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.
Item Type: Report

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act: Innovation Issues

Description: This report provides an overview of the the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA). It begins by offering a brief overview of the patent system, then identifies and reviews the specific components of this legislation in greater detail. The report closes with further considerations.
Date: January 15, 2014
Creator: Thomas, John R.
Item Type: Report

Executive Order 13438: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq

Description: This report provides a brief history of the development of presidential powers in peacetime. It discusses some of the issues that might be raised in light of the contrast between the executive order's broad language and its narrow aim (supplementation of sanctions applicable to Al Qaeda and former Iraqi regime officials to cover terrorists operating in Iraq). It also examines the reach of the executive order and provides legal analyses of some of the constitutional questions raised in the courts by similar sanctions programs, noting that the broad language of the executive order is not unprecedented.
Date: January 24, 2014
Creator: Murphy, M. Maureen
Item Type: Report

Domestic Content Restrictions: The Buy American Act and Complementary Provisions of Federal Law

Description: This report provides an overview of the Buy American Act, Trade Agreements Act, Berry Amendment (including its former specialty metals provision), and Buy America Act, specifically highlighting the commonalities and differences among them. The report also lists other federal domestic content restrictions codified in the U.S. Code.
Date: January 6, 2014
Creator: Manuel, Kate M.; Dolan, Alissa M.; Murrill, Brandon J. & Perry, Rodney M.
Item Type: Report

Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances

Description: This report covers the contentious travel restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba from the 1960s to the present time. Congress, under the Obama Administration, is easing restrictions on family, marketing, agricultural, and medical sales travel. The report also covers legislative action that has taken place in the 112th Congress to harshen travel restrictions.
Date: February 4, 2014
Creator: Sullivan, Mark P.
Item Type: Report

Country-of-Origin Labeling for Foods and the WTO Trade Dispute on Meat Labeling

Description: This report covers the dispute between the U.S with its neighbors, Canada and Mexico, who say that the recent country-of-origin labeling (COOL) system implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is unfair and does not meet its original objectives. This dispute was brought before the WTO dispute panel and found to be valid. The report ends with a discussion of options for the U.S. in regards to modifying COOL to follow WTO rulings.
Date: January 28, 2014
Creator: Jurenas, Remy & Greene, Joel L.
Item Type: Report

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2014 Appropriations

Description: This report discusses the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill that provides funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and more than two dozen independent agencies.
Date: January 7, 2014
Creator: Webel, Baird
Item Type: Report

Federal Health Centers

Description: This report provides an overview of the federal health center program including its statutory authority, program requirements, and appropriation levels. The report then describes health centers in general, where they are located, their patient population, and some outcomes associated with health center use. It also describes some federal programs available to assist health center operations including the FQHC designation for Medicare and Medicaid payments. The report concludes with a brief discussion of issues for Congress such as the potential effect of the ACA on health centers, the health center workforce, and financial considerations for health centers in the context of changing federal and state budgets.
Date: December 24, 2013
Creator: Heisler, Elayne J.
Item Type: Report

Generalized System of Preferences: Agricultural Imports

Description: This report discusses the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which provides duty-free tariff treatment for certain products from designated developing countries. Opinion within the U.S. agriculture industry is mixed, reflecting both support for and opposition to the current program. The 111th Congress did not extend the GSP in 2010, and it was set to expire December 31, 2010, which will likely become a legislative issue in the 112th Congress.
Date: January 10, 2014
Creator: Johnson, Renée
Item Type: Report