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Proposed Keystone XL Pipeline: Legal Issues

Description: This report reviews those legal issues. First, it suggests that legislation related to cross-border facility permitting is unlikely to raise significant constitutional questions, despite the fact that such permits have traditionally been handled by the executive branch alone pursuant to its constitutional "foreign affairs" authority. Next, it observes generally that state oversight of pipeline siting decisions does not appear to violate existing federal law or the Constitution. Finally, the report suggests that State Department's implementation of the existing authority to issue presidential permits appears to allow for judicial review of its National Environmental Policy Act determinations.
Date: January 23, 2012
Creator: Vann, Adam; Alexander, Kristina; Burrows, Vanessa K. & Thomas, Kenneth R.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

U.S. Unmanned Aerial Systems

Description: Unmanned aerial systems comprise a rapidly growing portion of the military budget, and have been a long-term interest of Congress. At times, Congress has encouraged the development of such systems; in other instances, it has attempted to rein in or better organize the Department of Defense's efforts.
Date: January 3, 2012
Creator: Gertler, Jeremiah
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Contemporary Developments in Presidential Elections

Description: This report considers contemporary developments in presidential elections. It emphasizes three topics chosen for their recurring importance and notable recent developments: (1) nominating procedures; (2) campaign finance; and (3) the electoral college. The report highlights significant developments in these areas, particularly for the 2008 and 2012 elections. It also provides background information about the presidential election process in general.
Date: January 9, 2012
Creator: Coleman, Kevin J.; Garrett, R. Sam & Neale, Thomas H.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Federal Aid to Roads and Highways Since the 18th Century: A Legislative History

Description: The federal government has provided aid for roads and highways since the establishment of the United States in 1789. This report comprises a brief history of such aid, detailing some precedent setters and more recent funding through the Highway Trust Fund, which was created in 1956.
Date: January 6, 2012
Creator: Williamson, John
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

The National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012: Detainee Matters

Description: The National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012 (2012 NDAA, P.L. 112-81) contains a subtitle addressing issues related to detainees at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and more broadly, the disposition of persons captured in the course of hostilities against Al Qaeda and associated forces. This report offers a brief background of the salient issues and provides a section-by-section analysis of the detainee provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012.
Date: January 11, 2012
Creator: Elsea, Jennifer K. & Garcia, Michael John
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

In Brief: Assessing DOD's New Strategic Guidance

Description: On January 5, 2012, President Obama announced new defense strategic guidance entitled "Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense." This report highlights and analyzes key strategic-level issues raised by the new guidance.
Date: January 12, 2012
Creator: Dale, Catherine & Towell, Pat
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

U.S. Trade and Investment in the Middle East and North Africa: Overview and Issues for Congress

Description: This report provides background and analysis for policymakers considering re-evaluating U.S. trade and investment in the MENA region in light of recent political developments. In particular, the report examines the economic challenges facing many countries in the region and the area's limited integration in the world economy, including relatively weak economic ties with the United States. It also analyzes various policy options for increasing trade and investment with MENA countries. The report concludes by discussing: 1) the premise of the policy agenda, specifically whether increased trade and investment can support or lead to successful democratic transitions and political stability; and 2) if such a policy agenda is pursued, possible implementation questions that policymakers in Congress and the Administration may face.
Date: January 20, 2012
Creator: Nelson, Rebecca M.; Bolle, Mary Jane & Ilias, Shayerah
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Detention of U.S. Persons as Enemy Belligerents

Description: The detainee provisions passed as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012 affirm that the Authorization for Use of Military Force in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, authorizes the detention of persons captured in connection with hostilities. This report provides a background to the legal issues presented, followed by a brief introduction to the law of war pertinent to the detention of different categories of individuals. An overview of U.S. practice during wartime to detain persons deemed dangerous to the national security is presented.
Date: April 11, 2012
Creator: Elsea, Jennifer K.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Israel: Possible Military Strike Against Iran's Nuclear Facilities

Description: Several published reports indicate that top Israeli decision makers now are seriously considering whether to order a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, and if so, when. This report analyzes key factors that may influence current Israeli political decisions relating to a possible strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. For Congress, the potential impact-short- and long-term-of an Israeli decision regarding Iran and its implementation is a critical issue of concern. By all accounts, such an attack could have considerable regional and global security, political, and economic repercussions, not least for the United States, Israel, and their bilateral relationship. This report has many aspects that are the subject of vigorous debate and remain fully or partially outside public knowledge.
Date: March 27, 2012
Creator: Zanotti, Jim; Katzman, Kenneth; Gertler, Jeremiah & Hildreth, Steven A.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Legislative Options for Financing Water Infrastructure

Description: This report addresses several options being considered by Congress to address the financing needs of local communities for wastewater and drinking water infrastructure projects and to decrease or close the gap between available funds and projected needs. Six options that are reflected in current or recent legislative proposals, including budgetary implications, are discussed.
Date: April 3, 2012
Creator: Copeland, Claudia; Mallett, William J. & Maguire, Steven
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

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: January 6, 2012
Creator: Austin, D. Andrew & Levit, Mindy R.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses

Description: The issue of Iran and its nuclear program has emerged as a top priority for the Obama Administration. The United States also sees a threat to U.S. interests posed by Iran's support for militant groups in the Middle East and in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tensions have been particularly elevated since Iran's late-December 2011 threat to try to choke off much of the world's oil supplies -a reaction to the imposition of significant sanctions against Iran's vital exports of oil. The heightened tensions follow three years in which the Obama Administration has assembled a broad international coalition to pressure Iran through economic sanctions while also offering sustained engagement with Iran if it verifiably assures the international community that its nuclear program is peaceful. The Administration uses indicators such as Iran's economic deterioration and its willingness to engage in new talks as evidence that policy is starting to work and should be given more time before any consideration of U.S. or other country military options. The Administration also perceives that the legitimacy and popularity of Iran's regime is in decline, although not to the point where the regime's grip on power is threatened. Over the past two years, the United States has increased public criticism of Iran's human rights record, an effort broadly supported in the international community.
Date: March 23, 2012
Creator: Katzman, Kenneth
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

U.S. Immigration Policy on Permanent Admissions

Description: Four major principles underlie current U.S. policy on permanent immigration: the reunification of families, the admission of immigrants with needed skills, the protection of refugees, and the diversity of admissions by country of origin. Against competing priorities for increased immigration are those who offer options to scale back immigration levels, with options ranging from limiting family-based legal permanent residents to the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens to confining employment-based legal permanent residents exceptional, extraordinary, or outstanding individuals.
Date: March 13, 2012
Creator: Wasem, Ruth Ellen
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Immigration-Related Detention: Current Legislative Issues

Description: As Congress considers addressing some of the problems in the nation's immigration system, the detention of noncitizens in the United States may be an issue as Congress may choose to reevaluate detention priorities (i.e., who should be detained) and resources. There are many policy issues surrounding detention of aliens. The Illegal Immigrant Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) increased the number of aliens subject to mandatory detention, and raised concerns about the justness of mandatory detention, especially as it is applied to asylum seekers arriving without proper documentation. Additionally, as DHS increases its ability to identify aliens who are subject to removal from local jails in more remote locations, the nationwide allocation of detention space may become an issue.
Date: January 12, 2012
Creator: Siskin, Alison
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

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

Description: This report provides background information and oversight issues for Congress on the Virginia class nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) program. The two Virginia-class boats requested for procurement in FY2013 are the final two in a group of eight covered by a multiyear procurement (MYP) arrangement for the period FY2009-FY2013. Issues for Congress include whether or not to approve the MYP arrangement request, whether to restore procurement of a second Virginia-class boat in FY2014, and the Virginia-class procurement rate in general.
Date: April 2, 2012
Creator: O'Rourke, Ronald
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Congressional Oversight of Intelligence: Current Structure and Alternatives

Description: This report, to be updated as events dictate, describes the current select committees on intelligence; characteristics and a model for a possible joint committee; recent actions by Congress; and obstacles affecting legislative oversight in the field.
Date: March 26, 2012
Creator: Halchin, L. Elaine & Kaiser, Frederick M.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

The Federal Communications Commission: Current Structure and Its Role in the Changing Telecommunications Landscape

Description: The report discusses the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)-Related Congressional Actions in the 112th Congress. The policymakers, including some in Congress, have long called for varying degrees and types of reform to the FCC. Most proposals fall into two categories: (1) procedural changes made within the FCC or through congressional action that would affect the agency's operations or (2) substantive policy changes requiring congressional action that would affect how the agency regulates different services and industry sectors.
Date: January 12, 2012
Creator: Figliola, Patricia Moloney
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress

Description: The planned size of the Navy, the rate of Navy ship procurement, and the prospective affordability of the Navy's shipbuilding plans have been matters of concern for the congressional defense committees for the past several years. The Navy's proposed FY2012 budget requested funding for the procurement of 10 new battle force ships. Issues for Congress include the appropriate future size and structure of the Navy in light of changes in strategic and budget circumstances, the sufficiency of the Navy's FY2012 30-year shipbuilding plan for achieving and maintaining the Navy's 313-ship goal, and the affordability of the FY2012 30-year shipbuilding plan.
Date: January 6, 2012
Creator: O'Rourke, Ronald
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

U.S. National Science Foundation: An Overview

Description: The National Science Foundation (NSF) was created by the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended (P.L.81-507). The NSF has the broad mission of supporting science and engineering in general and funding basic research across many disciplines. The agency provides support for investigator-initiated, merit-reviewed, competitively selected awards, state-of-the-art tools, and instrumentation and facilities. The majority of the research supported by the NSF is conducted at U.S. colleges and universities. The Administration's FY2013 budget request for NSF is $7,373.1 million, 4.8% above the FY2012 estimated level of $7,033.1 million.
Date: March 15, 2012
Creator: Matthews, Christine M.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

The National Institute of Standards and Technology: An Appropriations Overview

Description: This report is a look at the funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a laboratory of the Department of Commerce. NIST is mandated to provide technical services to facilitate the competitiveness of U.S. industry. In 2007, the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) was terminated and replaced by the Technology Innovation Program (TIP). However, no funding was appropriated for TIP in the FY2012 appropriations legislation and NIST is "...currently taking the necessary actions for an orderly shutdown." In April 2009, the current President stated his decision to double the budget of key science agencies, including NIST, over the next 10 years. While additional funding has been forthcoming, it remains to be seen how support for internal R&D at NIST will evolve and how this might affect financing of extramural efforts such as MEP. The dispensation of funding for NIST programs may influence the way by which the federal government supports technology development for commercial application.
Date: March 5, 2012
Creator: Schacht, Wendy H.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Water Infrastructure Financing: History of EPA Appropriations

Description: The principal federal program to aid municipal wastewater treatment plant construction is authorized in the Clean Water Act (CWA). In appropriations legislation, funding for EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) wastewater assistance is contained in the measure providing funds for the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. This report summarizes, in chronological order, congressional activity to fund items in the State and Tribal Assistance Grants (STAG) account since 1987.
Date: January 30, 2012
Creator: Copeland, Claudia
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

The Army Corps of Engineers' Nationwide Permits Program: Issues and Regulatory Developments

Description: Permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authorize various types of development projects in wetlands and other waters of the United States. The Corps' regulatory process involves two types of permits: general permits for actions by private landowners that are similar in nature and will likely have a minor effect on wetlands, and individual permits for more significant actions. The Corps uses general permits to minimize the burden of its regulatory program: they authorize landowners to proceed with a project without the time-consuming need to obtain standard individual permits in advance. About 90% of the Corps' regulatory workload is processed in the form of general permits.
Date: January 30, 2012
Creator: Copeland, Claudia
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department