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Defense Primer: Personnel Tempo (PERSTEMPO)

Defense Primer: RDT&E

Air Force Tanker Strategy Changes

The Child Tax Credit

Agricultural Provisions of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2021 Appropriations

Global Economic Effects of COVID-19

Defense Primer: Naval Forces

USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program: Round One (CFAP-1)

Defense Primer: Senior Reserve Officer Training Corps

NASA Appropriations and Authorizations: A Fact Sheet

The Child Tax Credit: How It Works and Who Receives It

Changes to Behavioral Health Treatment During the COVID-19 Pandemic

IRS Appropriations, FY2021

The Trump Administration’s Prosper Africa Initiative

Lebanon

The Disaster Relief Fund: Overview and Issues

Instructing Senate Conferees

Impact of the Recession on Medicaid

Central Valley Project: Issues and Legislation

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Invasive Species Efforts

Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress

Artificial Intelligence and National Security

Overview of the Federal Tax System in 2020

Foreign Trade Remedy Investigations of U.S. Agricultural Products

Afghanistan: Background and U.S. Policy: In Brief

Emerging Military Technologies: Background and Issues for Congress

The Federal Income Tax: How Do Marginal Income Tax Rates Work in 2020?

Energy and Water Development: FY2021 Appropriations

Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations In Brief

Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations

COVID-19 Pandemic’s Impact on Household Employment and Income

COVID-19: How Quickly Will Unemployment Recover?

SBA EIDL and Emergency EIDL Grants: Data by State

Introduction to U.S. Economy: Unemployment

Hypersonic Weapons: Background and Issues for Congress

U.S. EPA FY2020 Appropriations

Child Soldiers Prevention Act: Security Assistance Restrictions

Resources for Tracking Federal COVID-19 Spending

The “Regular Order”: A Perspective

Defense Primer: Department of the Navy

The Small Business Lending Fund

Department of Defense Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems

China’s Engagement with Latin America and the Caribbean

Defense Primer: Geography, Strategy, and U.S. Force Design

Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress

Homelessness and COVID-19

The Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending Program

Wildfire Statistics

FY2021 Refugee Ceiling and Allocations

Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances

The COVID-19 Health Care Provider Relief Fund

Economic Development Revolving Loan Funds (ED-RLFs)

United Nations Issues: U.S. Funding of U.N. Peacekeeping

Defense Primer: Security Cooperation

Introduction to the U.S. Economy: GDP and Economic Growth

U.S. Farm Programs: Eligibility and Payment Limits

Venezuela: Overview of U.S. Sanctions

U.S. Role in the World: Background and Issues for Congress

Kyrgyz Parliamentary Elections Annulled Amid Protests and Unrest

The Nuclear Ban Treaty: An Overview

Defense Primer: Electronic Warfare

Iran’s Nuclear Program and U.N. Sanctions Reimposition

Public Confidence in Elections

Small Business: Access to Capital and Job Creation

Title X Family Planning Program

Europe, COVID-19, and U.S. Relations

The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act

Cuba: U.S. Policy Overview

Veterans’ Educational Assistance Programs and Benefits: A Primer

Guyana: An Overview

The European Union: Questions and Answers

Heroes Act: Revenue Provisions

Colombia: Background and U.S. Relations

Section 301: Tariff Exclusions on U.S. Imports from China

Temporary Protected Status: Overview and Current Issues

COVID-19: Consumer Loan Forbearance and Other Relief Options

U.S.-Brazil Trade Relations

Georgia: Background and U.S. Policy

Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2)

Federal Workforce Statistics Sources: OPM and OMB

The New START Treaty: Central Limits and Key Provisions

Women in the Middle East and North Africa: Issues for Congress

Unemployment Rates During the COVID-19 Pandemic: In Brief

Status of U.S.-Russian Nuclear Arms Control Talks

The Legal Framework of the National Environmental Policy Act

The Electoral College: A 2020 Presidential Election Timeline

CARES Act Payroll Support to Air Carriers and Contractors

U.S. Challenges to China’s Farm Policies

Bolivia’s October 2020 General Elections

Brunei Darussalam

Small Business Mentor-Protégé Programs

Crisis in Mali

TikTok: Technology Overview and Issues

The TRIO Programs: A Primer

Latin America and the Caribbean: U.S. Policy Overview

Small Business Administration 504/CDC Loan Guaranty Program

A Brief History of U.S. Electricity Portfolio Standard Proposals

The Impact of the Federal Income Tax Code on Poverty

The Tax Treatment and Economics of Net Operating Losses

Adoption Tax Benefits: An Overview

CDBG-CV Formula Allocation Methods

Protection of Federal Government Officials

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Assistance

Housing Issues in the 116th Congress

An Overview of Accreditation of Higher Education in the United States

U.N. Ban on Iran Arms Transfers and Sanctions Snapback

Supreme Court Appointment Process: Senate Debate and Confirmation Vote

Immigration Parole

The Debt Collection Market and Selected Policy Issues

SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness: In Brief

International Discussions Concerning Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems

Heroes Act (H.R. 6800/H.R. 925): Selected Consumer Loan Provisions

Small Business Administration 7(a) Loan Guaranty Program

National Park Service: FY2020 Appropriations

Federal Eviction Moratoriums in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Cost-of-Living Adjustments for Federal Civil Service Annuities

Kuwait: Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy

Policy Options for Multiemployer Defined Benefit Pension Plans

Social Security: Cost-of-Living Adjustments

International Economic Policy Coordination at the G-7 and the G-20

Wild Horse and Burro Management: Overview of Costs

National Emergency Powers

Lame Duck Sessions of Congress, 1935-2018 (74th-115th Congresses)

Immigration Detainers: Background and Recent Legal Developments

Defense Primer: Military Use of the Electromagnetic Spectrum

COVID-19: China Medical Supply Chains and Broader Trade Issues

New U.S. Marine Corps Force Design Initiatives

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Tests

The Army’s Project Convergence

DOD Concerns About the FCC-Approved Ligado Network

Higher Education Tax Benefits: Brief Overview and Budgetary Effects

Latin America and the Caribbean: Impact of COVID-19

Delivery of Economic Impact Payments (EIPs)

National Special Security Events: Fact Sheet

Small Business Administration: A Primer on Programs and Funding

Lebanon’s Economic Crisis

CRS Seminars on Disruptive Technologies: Videos

Uyghurs in China

The Good Neighbor Authority

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): How It Works and Who Receives It

Benefits for Service-Disabled Veterans

Small Businesses and COVID-19: Relief and Assistance Resources

Navy Ship Names: Background for Congress

National Flood Insurance Program Borrowing Authority

A Brief Introduction to the National Flood Insurance Program

Agricultural Research: Background and Issues

What Happens If the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Lapses?

Argentina: An Overview

Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (Legco)

Membership of the 116th Congress: A Profile

State Veterans Homes

Daylight Saving Time (DST)

Iraq and U.S. Policy

SPAC IPO: Background and Policy Issues

Federal Offshore Oil and Gas Revenues During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Community Development Block Grants and the CARES Act

Supreme Court Appointment Process: President’s Selection of a Nominee

Kazakhstan

The Federal Taxing Power: A Primer

Russia’s Nord Stream 2 Pipeline: Running in Place

Competition Among Video Streaming Services

The World Trade Organization

Taiwan: Select Political and Security Issues

Bahrain: Unrest, Security, and U.S. Policy

Japanese Prime Minister Abe’s Resignation and the U.S.-Japan Alliance

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA): An Introduction

Expedited Removal of Aliens: An Introduction

Generalized System of Preferences (GSP)

Water Resources Development Acts: Primer

African American Members of the U.S. Congress: 1870-2020

Uzbekistan

Military Medical Care: Mitigating Impacts From Medical Unit Deployments

Nuclear Cooperation with Other Countries: A Primer

COVID-19 and the U.S. Seafood Sector

The Civil Rights Act of 1964: An Overview

Libya and U.S. Policy

Carbon Storage Requirements in the 45Q Tax Credit

Resurgence of Chemical Weapons Use: Issues for Congress

Nigeria: Current Issues and U.S. Policy

Overview of the Global Humanitarian and Displacement Crisis

SBA Veterans Assistance Programs: An Analysis of Contemporary Issues

Worker Rights Provisions in Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)

The Net Neutrality Debate: Access to Broadband Networks

Recent Developments in Everglades Restoration

Methane and Other Air Pollution Issues in Natural Gas Systems

Marijuana and Restrictions on Immigration

South Africa: Current Issues, Economy, and U.S. Relations

The World Bank

Russian Private Military Companies (PMCs)

Intra-Afghan Talks Commence in Doha, Qatar

Patent Law: A Handbook for Congress

Immigration: Public Charge

Tracking Federal Awards: USAspending.gov and Other Data Sources

Venezuela: Political Crisis and U.S. Policy

Do Veterans Have Choices in How They Access Health Care?

U.S. Trade Policy: Background and Current Issues

Selected Privileges and Courtesies Extended to Former Members of Congress

Unemployment Insurance: Legislative Issues in the 116th Congress

Civilian Nuclear Waste Disposal

Commercial Filming and Photography on Federal Lands

The Schedule I Status of Marijuana

Staff Pay Levels for Selected Positions in House Member Offices, 2001-2019

Israel: Background and U.S. Relations in Brief

Social Security: Minimum Benefits

Trade Remedies: Antidumping

U.S. Government Procurement and International Trade

North Macedonia: In Brief

Russia: Domestic Politics and Economy

Industrial Loan Companies (ILCs): Background and Policy Issues

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

FY2021 Budget Documents: Internet and GPO Availability

The United Arab Emirates (UAE): Issues for U.S. Policy

The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) Program

Protecting Against Rogue Drones

The Venezuela Regional Humanitarian Crisis and COVID-19

Bureau of Land Management: FY2021 Appropriations

Air Force F-15EX Fighter Program

Social Security: Raising or Eliminating the Taxable Earnings Base

Federal Research and Development (R&D) Funding: FY2021

COVID-19: Presidential Order Deferring Individual Payroll Taxes

Kyrgyz Republic

Forest Service: FY2021 Appropriations

The Global Compact on Migration (GCM) and U.S. Policy

Global Refugee Resettlement: Selected Issues and Questions

SBA Small Business Investment Company Program

Section 301 Investigations: Foreign Digital Services Taxes (DSTs)

Qatar: Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy

Vulnerable Youth: Employment and Job Training Programs

Highway Bridge Conditions: Issues for Congress

Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974

The Proposed Alaska Roadless Rule

2020 Wildfire Season: Brief Overview of FEMA Programs and Resources

Use of National Statuary Hall: Assignment and Historic Events

The GSEs’ Adverse Market Refinance Fee

The Future of Space Tourism

Alternative Data in Financial Services

Military Spouse Employment

Venezuela: Background and U.S. Relations

Deep Fakes and National Security

A Brief Overview of FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program

Forest Service: FY2019 and FY2020 Appropriations

Health Care for Federal Prisoners

The U.S. Blood Supply and the COVID-19 Response: In Brief

Defense Primer: U.S. Precision-Guided Munitions

The Individual Mandate for Health Insurance Coverage: In Brief

Boeing-Airbus Subsidy Dispute: Recent Developments

Export Restrictions in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA): A Legal Overview

Section 232 Investigations: Overview and Issues for Congress

Federal Student Loan Debt Relief in the Context of COVID-19

Belarus: An Overview

Small Business Administration HUBZone Program

Turkmenistan

Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act: Overview and Issues

World Trade Organization: Overview and Future Direction

Heritage Areas: Background, Proposals, and Current Issues

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Impact in Africa

Coup-Related Restrictions in U.S. Foreign Aid Appropriations

Using Models in Energy Policymaking

The Armed Forces Retirement Home

Agricultural Conservation: A Guide to Programs

Afghanistan: Issues for Congress and Legislation 2017-2020

Saudi Arabia

The Emoluments Clauses of the U.S. Constitution

Salaries of Members of Congress: Congressional Votes, 1990-2020

Salaries of Members of Congress: Recent Actions and Historical Tables

DOD Domestic School System: Background and Issues

Managed Trade and Quantitative Restrictions: Issues for Congress

Spain and Its Relations with the United States: In Brief

SBA Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program

2020 Census Fieldwork Delayed by COVID-19

Issues in the Reauthorization of Amtrak

An Overview of Small Business Contracting

U.S. Agency for International Development: An Overview

Tajikistan

Members’ Representational Allowance: History and Usage

Miscellaneous Tariff Bills (MTBs)

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

Prospects for Enhanced U.S.-Saudi Nuclear Energy Cooperation

The Great American Outdoors Act, P.L. 116-152: Selected Provisions

Caribbean Basin Security Initiative

Title IX’s Application to Transgender Athletes: Recent Developments

Concurrent Receipt of Military Retirement and VA Disability

Dominican Republic

“Made in China 2025” Industrial Policies: Issues for Congress

Forecasting Tropical Cyclones: Overview and Issues for Congress

PHMSA’s Pipeline Safety Reauthorization: Funding Issues

Long-Term Care Insurance: Overview

U.S.-EU Privacy Shield

Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and U.S. Trade Agreements

United States European Command: Overview and Key Issues

U.S. Military Presence in Poland

Tax Issues Relating to Charitable Contributions and Organizations

Introduction to U.S. Economy: Fiscal Policy

Ethiopia

USDA’s ReConnect Broadband Pilot Program

Landslide Hazards Legislation in the 116th Congress

Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)

COVID-19: Resources for Tracking Federal Spending

Motor Vehicle Safety: Issues for Congress

Introduction to U.S. Economy: The Business Cycle and Growth

Fiscal Policy and Recovery from the COVID-19 Recession

House Conferees: Selection

U.S.-Singapore Relations

Medicaid’s Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP)

Presidential Candidate and Nominating Convention Security

Mexico: Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking Organizations

Confederate Symbols: Relation to Federal Lands and Programs

Algeria

Immigration Legislation and Issues in the 116th Congress

Federal Assistance for Wildfire Response and Recovery

U.S.-Proposed Missile Technology Control Regime Changes

Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)

Bureau of Reclamation: FY2021 Appropriations

Iran Sanctions

International Trade and E-commerce

Federal Civil Aviation Programs: In Brief

Farmer Mac and Its Board Members

The Farm Bill Energy Title: An Overview and Funding History

Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2020

Mexico: Evolution of the Mérida Initiative, 2007-2020

U.S. Trade Debates: Select Disputes and Actions

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant

Russia’s Nuclear Weapons: Doctrine, Forces, and Modernization

Section 307 and Imports Produced by Forced Labor

EU Data Protection Rules and U.S. Implications

Military Pay: Key Questions and Answers

Iraq: Issues in the 116th Congress

Defense Primer: Defense Working Capital Funds

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act: History, Impact, and Issues

Arms Sales: Congressional Review Process

Indigenous Peoples in Latin America: Statistical Information

Nuclear Energy: Overview of Congressional Issues

State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)

Saltonstall-Kennedy Act: Background and Issues

North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons and Missile Programs

Public Trust and Law Enforcement—A Discussion for Policymakers

The Charitable Deduction for Individuals

COVID-19: Measuring Unemployment

The International Emergency Economic Powers Act: Key Facts

VH-92 Presidential Helicopter

Proposed Extension of the Reclamation Water Settlements Fund

Mongolia

Food Safety and COVID-19

Taxation of Carried Interest

Brexit and Outlook for a U.S.-UK Free Trade Agreement

CARES Act Higher Education Provisions

Freshwater Harmful Algal Blooms: An Overview

Proposed Multiemployer Composite Plans: Background and Analysis

Cambodia: Background and U.S. Relations

COVID-19: Restrictions on Travelers at U.S. Land Borders

Brazil: Background and U.S. Relations

Ozone and Particulate Matter Air Standards: EPA Review

El Salvador: Background and U.S. Relations

Trends in Active-Duty Military Deaths Since 2006

U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) Trade Agreement

Hydrogen in Electricity’s Future

Unauthorized Childhood Arrivals, DACA, and Related Legislation

DARPA’s Pandemic-Related Programs

Russian Armed Forces: Capabilities

U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America: An Overview

COVID-19-Related Suspension of Nonimmigrant Entry

District of Columbia Statehood and Voting Representation

Global Human Rights: International Religious Freedom Policy

Visa Waiver Program

Health Insurance Continuation Coverage Under COBRA

Precision-Guided Munitions: Background and Issues for Congress

EU-Japan FTA: Implications for U.S. Trade Policy

Libya: Conflict, Transition, and U.S. Policy

Federal Housing Policy Responses to COVID-19

Congress and Police Reform: Current Law and Recent Proposals

Sri Lanka

WaterSense® Program: Congressional Authorization

COVID-19-Related Suspension of Immigrant Entry

Al Qaeda and Islamic State Affiliates in Afghanistan

Morocco: Background and U.S. Relations

U.S.-South Korea Alliance: Issues for Congress

Debates over Currency Manipulation

Bangladesh

Congress and the War in Yemen: Oversight and Legislation 2015-2020

Diplomacy with North Korea: A Status Report

Jordan: Background and U.S. Relations

The North American Development Bank

Federal Disaster Assistance for Agriculture

Thailand: Background and U.S. Relations

Conflict at the China-India Frontier

Oman: Politics, Security, and U.S. Policy

COVID-19: Effect on Organ Donation and Transplantation

The Bahamas: An Overview

Confederate Names and Military Installations

The European Deterrence Initiative: A Budgetary Overview

The Elder Justice Act: Background and Issues for Congress

Reserve Component Personnel Issues: Questions and Answers

Federal Reserve: Emergency Lending in Response to COVID-19

Argentina’s Economic Crisis and Default

Rules of Origin

Small Business Administration and Job Creation

Social Security: Taxation of Benefits

Social Security Benefit Taxation Highlights

COVID-19: Global Implications and Responses

Legal Issues Related to the COVID-19 Outbreak: An Overview

COVID-19: Potential Impacts on the Electric Power Sector

Army Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFABs)

Congress, Civilian Control of the Military, and Nonpartisanship

Police Accountability Measures

The Philippines

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

State and Local Fiscal Conditions and Economic Shocks

Small Business Administration Microloan Program

Malaysia

U.S.-Vietnam Relations

Medicare Financial Status: In Brief

Strategic Petroleum Reserve: Recent Developments

New Zealand

U.S. Periods of War and Dates of Recent Conflicts

HIPAA, Telehealth, and COVID-19

The Purple Heart: Background and Issues for Congress

COVID-19: U.S. Public Health Data and Reporting

Chile: An Overview

Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962

WIFIA Program: Background and Recent Developments

A-76 Competitions in the Department of Defense

B-52 Re-Engining Program Begins

Medicare: Insolvency Projections

The Vacancies Act: A Legal Overview

U.S.-Kenya FTA Negotiations

Spectrum Interference Issues: Ligado, the L-Band, and GPS

CFIUS: New Foreign Investment Review Regulations

Army Corps of Engineers: FY2021 Appropriations

COVID-19: Federal Travel Restrictions and Quarantine Measures

PJM Minimum Offer Price Rule Impact on Future Renewables

Medicaid Financing for the Territories

U.S.-European Relations in the 116th Congress

Treatment of COVID-19: Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine

Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program

EU Climate Action and Implications for the United States

Burma’s Political Prisoners and U.S. Policy

Time Is Time, but Money Is Money

Panama: An Overview

The Federal Role in Groundwater Supply

Indian Water Rights Settlements

Data on Multiemployer Defined Benefit (DB) Pension Plans

The WTO Withdrawal Resolutions

Medicare Overview

Overview of the 2018 Farm Bill Energy Title Programs

Medicare Primer

The Open Skies Treaty: Background and Issues

Capital Gains Tax Options: Behavioral Responses and Revenues

Compared with most other tax provisions, the potential revenue gain scored for an increase in capital gains taxes is strongly affected by behavioral responses assumed by the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) and the Department of the Treasury. As an illustration, the Obama Administration estimated in February 2010 that allowing the Bush tax cuts for capital gains to expire would have raised $16 billion of revenue in FY2019. Yet, based on Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections in January 2010, the current effective capital gains tax was 13.3% in 2008 and would have increased to 17.9%...

Single-Employer Defined Benefit Pension Plans: Funding Relief and Modifications to Funding Rules

To protect the interests of participants and beneficiaries in pension plans, Congress enacted the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA; P.L. 93-406). ERISA specified funding rules for single-employer defined benefit (DB) pension plans, among other provisions. Single-employer DB pension plans are sponsored by one employer for the benefit of its employees. In DB pension plans, participants typically receive regular monthly benefit payments in retirement (which some refer to as a “traditional” pension). ERISA also authorized the creation of the Pension Benefit Guaranty...

Iran: Internal Politics and U.S. Policy and Options

Individual Tax Provisions (“Tax Extenders”) Expiring in 2020: In Brief

Six temporary individual income tax provisions were extended or reinstated by the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (P.L. 116-94). In the past, Congress has regularly acted to extend expired or expiring temporary tax provisions. These provisions are often referred to as “tax extenders.” Of the six provisions that were extended through 2020, three had expired in 2017 and were extended retroactively. They are the tax exclusion for canceled mortgage debt, the mortgage insurance premium deduction, and the above-the-line deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses. Two of...

COVID-19 and Federal Employment Protections for Work Refusals

U.S. Assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa: An Overview

Overview. Congress authorizes, appropriates, and oversees U.S. assistance to sub-Saharan Africa (“Africa”), which received over a quarter of U.S. aid obligated in FY2018. Annual State Department- and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-administered assistance to Africa increased more than five-fold over the past two decades, primarily due to sizable increases in global health spending and more incremental growth in economic and security assistance. State Department and USAID-administered assistance allocated to African countries from FY2019 appropriations totaled roughly $7.1...

EPA Reconsiders Benefits of Mercury and Air Toxics Limits

Suspension of the Rules: House Practice in the 115th Congress (2017-2018)

Suspension of the rules is the most commonly used procedure to call up measures on the floor of the House of Representatives. As the name suggests, the procedure allows the House to suspend its standing and statutory rules in order to consider broadly supported legislation in an expedited manner. More specifically, the House temporarily sets aside its rules that govern the raising and consideration of measures and assumes a new set of constraints particular to the suspension procedure.

The suspension of the rules procedure has several parliamentary advantages: (1) it allows non-privileged...

COVID-19: Summary of the Direct Payments Proposed in the HEROES Act (H.R. 6800)

The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act; H.R. 6800), as passed by the House on May 15, 2020, proposes new direct payments to individuals, which the bill text refers to as “additional recovery rebates to individuals.” Direct payments were included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act; P.L. 116-136), which was signed into law on March 27, 2020. This Insight provides a brief overview of the additional direct payments included in the HEROES Act. (The HEROES Act would also modify the direct payments in the CARES Act. These...

How Would the HEROES Act (H.R. 6800) Modify the Direct Payments Enacted in the CARES Act (P.L. 116-136)?

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act; P.L. 116-136), signed into law on March 27, 2020, included direct payments to individuals—referred to in the law as “2020 recovery rebates.” The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) refers to the payments issued in 2020 as economic impact payments (EIPs), whereas some media reports call them “stimulus payments.” The recovery rebates are tax credits administered by the IRS. For more information on these payments, see CRS Insight IN11282, COVID-19 and Direct Payments to Individuals: Summary of the 2020 Recovery Rebates/Economic...

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic: CRS Experts

On December 31, 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) was informed of a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China. Illnesses have since been linked to a new strain of coronavirus, designated Coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19. The disease has spread to many other countries, including the United States. The situation is rapidly changing, and both WHO and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) post frequent updates. CRS products on the outbreak are available under the “Coronavirus Resources” banner at https://www.crs.gov/.

Condition of Highway Bridges Continues to Improve

A construction-industry group recently estimated that more than one-third of all U.S. highway bridges need major repairs or replacement, construction work that could cost federal, state, and local governments about $164 billion. When compared to total bridge capital spending of about $17 billion per year, of which roughly $7 billion is federal support, some might consider this bridge investment “backlog” to be a significant budgetary challenge. Others say the situation is probably not as dire as this analysis suggests. The data used in that estimate, published every year by the Federal...

Foreign Officials Publicly Designated by the U.S. Department of State on Corruption or Human Rights Grounds: A Chronology

Congress includes measures in annual appropriations legislation requiring the Secretary of State to bar certain foreign corrupt officials (kleptocrats) and human rights violators and their immediate family members from entry into the United States. Following a brief introduction, this CRS report provides a chronological list of such publicly designated individuals under Section 7031(c) of annual appropriations for the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS). A complete list of public designations pursuant to Section 7031(c) may be relevant as Congress...

Judiciary Appropriations, FY2020

Funds for the judicial branch are included annually in the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill. The bill provides funding for the U.S. Supreme Court; the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit; the U.S. Court of International Trade; U.S. courts of appeals and district courts; the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts; the Federal Judicial Center; the U.S. Sentencing Commission; federal defender organizations that provide legal representation to defendants financially unable to retain counsel in federal criminal proceedings; security and protective...

Child Support Enforcement-Led Employment Services for Noncustodial Parents: In Brief

The Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program is a federal-state partnership that seeks to ensure child support is a regular source of income for families. The program transfers financial support from a noncustodial parent (NCP) to a child’s primary caretaker (usually a custodial parent). Nearly two-thirds of participating custodial families report having incomes below 200% of the federal poverty threshold. The CSE program collects about two-thirds of the current support that is due each year, with the remainder that is unpaid becoming arrears (i.e., past-due support).

Many NCPs who do not...

The 2020 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): COVID-19 Impacts

Ongoing COVID-19 mitigation measures may impact the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)—a mandate requiring U.S. transportation fuel to contain renewable fuel. Since the beginning of the pandemic, transportation fuel demand has dropped significantly, compared to January through early March 2020 and to projections made when the 2020 volume requirements were finalized. Significant changes in fuel demand and other effects of the pandemic could affect both the implementation of the RFS and the impacts of compliance with the 2020 standard, particularly given the present-day uncertainties with...

Bribery, Kickbacks, and Self-Dealing: An Overview of Honest Services Fraud and Issues for Congress

As the trials of state legislators Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos illustrate, corruption among high-profile public officials continues to be a concern in the United States. Likewise, recent examples abound of powerful executives and others in roles of authority abusing positions of trust for personal gain. Faced with this reality, Congress has shown consistent interest in policing public- and private-sector corruption, enacting a number of criminal provisions aimed at holding corrupt officials accountable for their actions under federal law. However, one of federal prosecutors’ most potent...

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations for FY2020: In Brief

The respective House and Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) appropriations subcommittees are charged with providing annual appropriations for the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and certain related agencies. This report describes action on FY2020 annual appropriations for THUD, including detailed tables for each major agency, and including the effect of the CARES supplemental appropriations act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, on DOT and HUD budget authority.

FY2020 Defense Appropriations Act: P.L. 116-93 (H.R. 2968, S. 2474, H.R. 1158)

The FY2020 Defense Appropriations Act, enacted as Division A of H.R. 1158, the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY2020, provides a total of $687.8 billion in discretionary budget authority, all to fund activities of the Department of Defense (DOD), except for $1.1 billion for certain activities of the intelligence community. As enacted, the bill provides 99.6% of the funding requested by President Trump requested for programs falling within the scope of this bill.

FY2020 RequestHouse-passed H.R. 2968Senate Committee-Reported S. 2474Enacted P.L. 116-93 Division A Base Budget$526.6...

Social Security: The Trust Funds

The Social Security program pays monthly cash benefits to retired or disabled workers and their family members and to the family members of deceased workers. Program income and outgo are accounted for in two separate trust funds authorized under Title II of the Social Security Act: the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund and the Federal Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund. Projections show the OASI fund remaining solvent until 2034, whereas the DI fund is projected to remain solvent until 2065, meaning that each trust fund is projected to be able to pay benefits...

COVID-19 Alternate Care Sites (ACSs): Role and Activities of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) provides engineering services and capabilities in support of national interests. As part of its overall mission, USACE prepares for and responds to national emergencies in support of the Department of Defense and other federal agencies and efforts. In response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic emergency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had assigned USACE missions totaling $1.8 billion as of mid-May 2020, which have led to USACE

assessing over 1,000 sites for potential use as alternate care sites (ACSs, also called...

COVID-19: Defense Production Act (DPA) Developments and Issues for Congress

The White House is employing the Defense Production Act of 1950 (DPA) in response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic to facilitate the production and availability of essential goods, supplies, and services. This Insight considers recent DPA actions and associated policy considerations for Congress. It is a companion to CRS Insights IN11337, IN11280, and IN11231. See CRS Report R43767 for a more in-depth discussion of DPA history and authorities.

New DPA Actions in Response to COVID-19

Since April 15, eight DPA actions have been made public:

According to Federal...

WTO: Ministerial Delay, COVID-19, and Ongoing Issues

The Credit Union System: Developments in Lending and Prudential Risk Management

Credit unions make loans to their members, other credit unions, and corporate credit unions that provide financial services to individual credit unions. Historically, credit unions have faced statutory restrictions on their lending activities, including restricting lending activities to their members. Other lending restrictions include a 15% statutory loan interest rate ceiling, with some authority to operate above the cap under certain circumstances; a 15-year maturity limit on most loans (with some exceptions, such as residential mortgages); and an aggregate limit on an individual credit...

Social Security Primer

Social Security provides monthly cash benefits to retired or disabled workers and their family members, and to the family members of deceased workers. Among the beneficiary population, 83.5% are retired or disabled workers; family members of retired, disabled, or deceased workers make up the remainder. In March 2020, approximately 64.5 million beneficiaries received a total of $89.5 billion in benefit payments for the month; the average monthly benefit was $1,387.

Workers become eligible for Social Security benefits for themselves and their family members by working in Social...

Cuba: U.S. Policy in the 116th Congress

Political and economic developments in Cuba, a one-party authoritarian state with a poor human rights record, frequently have been the subject of intense congressional concern since the 1959 Cuban revolution. Current Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel succeeded Raúl Castro in April 2018, but Castro continues to head Cuba’s Communist Party. A new constitution took effect in 2019 that introduced some political and economic reforms but maintained the state sector’s dominance over the economy and the Communist Party’s predominant role. Over the past decade, Cuba has implemented gradual...

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA): Overview of Workers’ Compensation for Certain Private-Sector Maritime Workers

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal workers’ compensation program that covers certain private-sector maritime workers. Firms that employ these workers are required to purchase workers’ compensation or self-insure and are responsible for providing medical and disability benefits to covered workers who are injured or become ill on the job and survivors’ benefits to the families of covered workers who die on the job. The LHWCA is administered by the Department of Labor (DOL), and all benefit costs are paid by employers and their insurance carriers. In 2017,...

Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19): Q&A on Global Implications and Responses

In December 2019, hospitals in the city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei Province began seeing cases of pneumonia of unknown origin. Chinese health authorities ultimately connected the condition, later named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), to a previously unidentified strain of coronavirus. The disease has spread to almost every country in the world, including the United States. WHO declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30, 2020; raised its global risk assessment to “Very High” on February 28; and labeled the outbreak a “pandemic” on March 11....

Congressionally Mandated Reports: Overview and Considerations for Congress

Congress frequently requires the President, departments, agencies, and other entities of the federal government to transmit reports, notifications, studies, and other information on a specified timeline. Reporting requirements may direct agency officials to notify Congress or its committees of forthcoming actions or decisions, describe actions taken on a particular matter, establish a plan to accomplish a specified goal, or study a certain problem or concern.

Reporting requirements may be designed to serve a range of purposes that facilitate congressional oversight of the executive branch...

Office of the Attending Physician, U.S. Congress: Background Information and Response to Public Health Emergencies

Establishment and History

The Office of the Attending Physician (OAP) was established in 1928, after the House agreed to a resolution on December 5, 1928, requesting the Secretary of the Navy detail a medical officer to the House (H.Res. 253, 70th Congress).

On April 7, 1930, the Senate agreed to a concurrent resolution (S.Con.Res. 14, 71st Congress) extending the services of the Attending Physician to both chambers. Although the House never considered the concurrent resolution, the OAP began serving both the House and the Senate at that time.

Since the initial appointment in 1928, the...

Tax Cuts and Economic Stimulus: How Effective Are the Alternatives?

The economic effects of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has led Congress to enact general fiscal stimulus in the form of tax cuts and spending increases. Further stimulus may be considered. This report discusses tax cuts enacted during the Great Recession, as well as those recently enacted and those under consideration.

In response to the Great Recession several types of tax cuts were debated as possible fiscal stimulus—with fiscal stimulus legislation enacted in February 2008 (P.L. 110-185) and a much larger one in February 2009 (P.L. 111-5). Both bills included...

How Social Security Benefits Are Computed: In Brief

Social Security, the largest program in the federal budget (in terms of outlays), provides monthly cash benefits to retired or disabled workers and their family members as well as to the family members of deceased workers. In 2019, benefit outlays were approximately $1,048 billion, with roughly 64 million beneficiaries and 178 million workers in Social Security-covered employment. Under current law, Social Security’s revenues are projected to be insufficient to pay full scheduled benefits after 2035.

Monthly benefit amounts are determined by federal law. Social Security is of ongoing...

Teen Birth Trends: In Brief

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the federal government’s lead public health agency, has identified teen pregnancy as a major public health issue because of its high cost for families of teenage parents and society more broadly. The CDC highlights that the teen pregnancy rate has decreased steadily, dropping below CDC’s target goal of 30.3 per 1,000 females aged 15 to 17 by 2015; however, the CDC also raises the concern that the United States has one of the highest rates of teen births of all industrialized countries.

This report discusses trends in teen birth...

National Park Service Deferred Maintenance: Frequently Asked Questions

This report addresses frequently asked questions about the National Park Service’s (NPS’s) backlog of deferred maintenance—maintenance that was not performed as scheduled or as needed and was put off to a future time. NPS’s deferred maintenance, also known as the maintenance backlog, was estimated for FY2018 (the most recent year available) at $11.920 billion. More than half of the NPS backlog is in transportation-related assets. Other federal land management agencies also have maintenance backlogs, but NPS’s is the largest and has drawn the most congressional attention.

During the past...

Teen Pregnancy: Federal Prevention Programs

Congress has an interest in preventing pregnancy among teenagers because of the long-term consequences for the families of teen parents and society more generally. Since the 1980s, Congress has authorized—and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has administered—programs with a focus on teen pregnancy prevention. This report assists Congress in tracking developments in four teen pregnancy prevention programs that are currently funded.

Multiple HHS offices worked together to establish the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Evidence Review process following enactment of the FY2010...

Australia: Background and U.S. Relations

Domestic Public Health Response to COVID-19: Current Status

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is affecting communities throughout the United States, with total case counts growing daily. More than 1.3 million cases, including more than 82,000 deaths, have been reported in the United States. Containment and mitigation efforts by federal, state, and local governments have been undertaken to “flatten the curve”—that is, to slow widespread transmission that could overwhelm the nation’s health care system. Currently, “social distancing” restrictions that have been in place for almost two months are being eased in some jurisdictions as...

Hazard Pay and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Issues and Options

A number of policymakers have expressed interest in providing essential workers at risk of exposure to COVID-19 with additional compensation, or hazard pay. The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R. 6800), introduced on May 12, 2020, would create a fund for “pandemic premium pay” for essential workers. This Insight highlights some of the policy considerations should a hazard pay policy be pursued, as well as federal government options for supporting hazard pay.

What is Hazard Pay?

Hazard pay is a type of premium pay for individuals performing work...

COVID-19 and China: A Chronology of Events (December 2019-January 2020)

In Congress, multiple bills and resolutions have been introduced related to China’s handling of a novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, that expanded to become the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) global pandemic. This report provides a timeline of key developments in the early weeks of the pandemic, based on available public reporting. It also considers issues raised by the timeline, including the timeliness of China’s information sharing with the World Health Organization (WHO), gaps in early information China shared with the world, and episodes in which Chinese authorities...

The Impact of COVID-19-Related Forbearances on the Federal Mortgage Finance System

One of the major economic impacts of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has been loss of income, which has left many Americans unable to repay their financial obligations—including their mortgage payments. In response, regulators have encouraged financial institutions to work with customers to allow them to defer payments on mortgages through a process known as forbearance. Provisions in the CARES Act (P.L. 116-136) require mortgage servicers to provide several months of forbearance to borrowers (at the borrowers’ requests, after they demonstrate a COVID-19-related financial...

Attempt: An Abbreviated Overview of Federal Criminal Law

Attempt is the incomplete form of some other underlying offense. Unlike state law, federal law does not feature a general attempt statute. Instead, federal law outlaws the attempt to commit a number of federal underlying offenses on an individual basis. Occasionally, federal law treats attempt-like conduct as an underlying offense; outlawing possession of drugs with intent to traffic, for instance. One way or another, it is a federal crime to attempt to commit nearly all of the most frequently occurring federal offenses.

Attempt consists of two elements. One is the intent to commit the...

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve: Background, Authorities, and Considerations

Crude oil price volatility has consequences for the U.S. and global economy. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), the U.S. stockpile of petroleum, has played a role in U.S. energy policy for over 40 years. The need for a stockpile of petroleum to help protect against supply disruptions became apparent after the 1973-1974 Arab oil embargo, during which time the average price of imported crude oil tripled.

The oil embargo also fostered the establishment of the International Energy Agency (IEA), an intergovernmental organization, and the development of coordinated plans and measures among...

Federal Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

COVID-19: U.S. Economic Effects

This Insight discusses the current and projected effects of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on the U.S. economy. For effects on the world economy, see CRS Report R46270, Global Economic Effects of COVID-19, coordinated by James K. Jackson.

The economic impacts of COVID-19 since March 2020 have been large and dramatic, with impact disparities between various sectors and regions. In the United States, fear of infection, social distancing, and various states’ stay-at-home orders prompted business closures and severe declines in U.S. demand for travel, accommodations,...

CDBG-DR Funding and Oversight: Puerto Rico

In March 2020, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a report of findings from its audit of the Puerto Rico Department of Housing’s (PRDOH; also known as Departamento de la Vivienda, or Vivienda) capacity to administer funds under the Community Development Block Grant program for disaster recovery (CDBG-DR). The audit assessed (1) PRDOH’s compliance with HUD regulations and requirements in administering CDBG-DR funds, and (2) the existence of financial and procurement policies and procedures consistent with federal...

COVID-19 and Public Water Service Continuity

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has increased attention to several issues regarding the provision of public water services. These include long-standing water-rate affordability concerns, the importance of clean water to public health, and the financial sustainability of some public water systems (whether publicly or privately owned). The spread of COVID-19 has raised specific concerns regarding the continuity of residential water services needed to support hand-washing and other public health measures—particularly as more customers may become unable to pay water bills...

Attempt: An Overview of Federal Criminal Law

Attempt is the incomplete form of some other underlying offense. Unlike state law, federal law does not feature a general attempt statute. Instead, federal law outlaws the attempt to commit a number of federal underlying offenses on an individual basis. Occasionally, federal law treats attempt-like conduct as an underlying offense; outlawing possession of drugs with intent to traffic, for instance. One way or another, it is a federal crime to attempt to commit nearly all of the most frequently occurring federal offenses.

Attempt consists of two elements. One is the intent to commit the...

U.S. Agent Orange/Dioxin Assistance to Vietnam

U.S. assistance to Vietnam for the environmental and health damage attributed to a dioxin contained in Agent Orange and other herbicides sprayed over much of the southern portion of the country during the Vietnam War remains a significant bilateral issue. Between fiscal years (FY) 2007 and 2020, Congress appropriated nearly $333 million to address these two issues. This includes $45 million in Department of Defense funds transferred to the Secretary of State, for use by the U.S. Agency for International Development, for the dioxin clean-up at the Bien Hoa airbase.

Most of the appropriated...

Mexico: Background and U.S. Relations

Mexico, the 10th most populous country globally, has the 15th largest economy in the world. It is currently the top U.S. trade partner and a major source of energy for the United States, with which it shares a nearly 2,000-mile border and strong economic, cultural, and historical ties.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the populist leader of the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) party, which he created in 2014, took office for a six-year term in December 2018. López Obrador is the first Mexican president in over two decades to enjoy majorities in both chambers of Congress. In addition to...

Emergency Assistance for Agricultural Land Rehabilitation

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers several permanently authorized programs to help producers recover from natural disasters. Most of these programs offer financial assistance to producers for a loss in the production of crops or livestock. In addition to the production assistance programs, USDA also has several permanent disaster assistance programs that help producers restore damaged crop and forest land following natural disasters. These programs offer financial and technical assistance to producers to repair, restore, and mitigate damage on private land. These...

U.S. Postal Service Financial Condition and Title VI of the CARES Act

In its latest response to concerns about the financial condition of the United States Postal Service (USPS), Congress added a provision to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act; P.L. 116-136, Section 6001) expanding USPS’s authority to borrow from the Treasury. This comes at a time when USPS is delivering important information and products in connection with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including economic impact payments, census mailings, mail-in election ballots, and vital medicines.

The CARES Act borrowing authority raises new questions about USPS’s fiscal...

Intellectual Property Rights and International Trade

This report provides background on intellectual property rights (IPR) and discusses the role of U.S. international trade policy in enhancing IPR protection and enforcement abroad. IPR are legal rights granted by governments to encourage innovation and creative output by ensuring that creators reap the benefits of their inventions or works. They may take forms such as patents, trade secrets, copyrights, trademarks, or geographical indications (GIs). Congress has constitutional responsibility for legislating and overseeing IPR and international trade policy. Responsibility for developing IPR...

COVID-19: The Employee Retention Tax Credit

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136) includes an employee retention payroll tax credit intended to help businesses retain employees during the Coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, public health emergency. Employee retention remains a policy concern, as a number of economic sectors have announced layoffs resulting from the COVID-19 induced economic fallout. Unemployment insurance claims have surged following these widespread layoffs. This Insight summarizes the employee retention tax credit in the CARES Act, makes comparisons to previous employee...

The Three Seas Initiative

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Funding: FY1995-FY2021

This report details the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget and appropriations process with a focus on FY2020 and FY2021, and on coronavirus supplemental funding for NIH. The report also provides an overview of funding trends in regular appropriations to the agency from FY1995 to FY2021. Appendix A includes funding tables by account and program-specific funding levels for FY2020 and FY2021.

The NIH is the primary federal agency charged with conducting and supporting medical, health, and behavioral research, and it is made up of 27 Institutes and Centers and the Office of the...

CRS Products and Experts on North Korea

North Korea has posed one of the most persistent U.S. foreign policy challenges of the post-Cold War period. With recent advances in its nuclear and missile capabilities under leader Kim Jong-un, North Korea (officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK) has become a grave security threat to the United States and its allies. U.S.-DPRK relations became particularly tense in 2016 and 2017, when North Korea conducted scores of missile tests and three nuclear weapons tests, prompting the United States to expand unilateral sanctions and to lead the United Nations to expand...

Business Interruption Insurance and COVID-19: Federal Legislative Initiatives

Many businesses across all sectors are experiencing disruption and incurring losses from the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The pandemic has stirred a debate among insurers, policyholders, and other stakeholders about who will be responsible for the losses that companies face from widespread shutdowns. This Insight will focus on efforts at the federal level to address business interruption (BI) insurance coverage for COVID-related shutdown losses. Insurance is primarily regulated at the state level, and there are efforts in a number of states providing for coverage of BI...

COVID-19: Overview of FY2020 LHHS Supplemental Appropriations

The legislative response to the global pandemic of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has included the enactment of laws to provide authorities and supplemental funding to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the pandemic. This report focuses on supplemental FY2020 discretionary appropriations provided to programs and activities traditionally funded by the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) appropriations bill.

As of the date of this report, LHHS supplemental appropriations for COVID-19 response have been provided in four separate...

Funding and Financing Highways and Public Transportation

For many years, federal surface transportation programs were funded almost entirely from taxes on motor fuels deposited in the Highway Trust Fund. The tax rates, which are fixed in terms of cents per gallon, have not been increased at the federal level since 1993. Meanwhile, motor fuel consumption is projected to decline due to improved fuel efficiency, increased use of electric vehicles, and slow growth in vehicle miles traveled. In consequence, revenue flowing into the Highway Trust Fund has been insufficient to support the surface transportation program authorized by Congress since...

Business Interruption Insurance and COVID-19: State Legislative Initiatives

One of the most significant challenges currently facing businesses is the loss of revenue as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and subsequent stay-at-home orders. Businesses across all sectors are incurring losses, and those with business interruption insurance (BI) are submitting claims to their insurers. However, both individual insurance carriers and the industry as a whole have asserted that BI claims related to COVID-19 are not covered, either because there has been no physical damage to the property or because the policy expressly excludes coverage for viruses, or both....

Low Oil Prices May Trigger Certain Tax Benefits, but Not Others

Benchmark crude oil prices—such as U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI)—have steeply declined since January 2020. Oil market oversupply, the result of COVID-19 travel restrictions and increased global supply levels in March and April, has exerted downward pressure on prices. Although the duration of low oil prices is uncertain, price levels for the remainder of 2020 may largely be a function of demand recovery, supply adjustments, and return to a balanced market. Energy Information Administration (EIA) price forecasts, as of April 2020, indicate that WTI spot prices may average just over $29...

Social Security Trust Fund Investment Practices

Community Bank Leverage Ratio (CBLR): Background and Analysis of Bank Data

Capital allows banks to withstand losses (to a point) without failing, and regulators require banks to hold certain minimum amounts. These requirements are generally expressed as ratios between balance sheet items, and banks (particularly small banks) indicate that reporting those ratios can be difficult. Capital ratios fall into one of two main types—simpler leverage ratios and more complex risk-weighted ratios. A leverage ratio treats all assets the same, whereas a risk-weighted ratio assigns assets a risk weight to account for the likelihood of losses.

In response to concerns that small...

COVID-19: Supply Chain Disruptions in the U.S. Fruit and Vegetable Industry: In Brief

In mid-March 2020, the foodservice industry, which accounts for a substantial share of the produce industry’s sales, was largely shut down as most states closed all but essential businesses in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency. This situation resulted in major supply chain disruptions for the U.S. produce industry.

COVID-19, U.S. Agriculture, and USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)

As COVID-19 has spread throughout the United States, it has reduced domestic economic activity and disrupted domestic and international supply chains for goods and services, including food and agricultural products. These disruptions have produced an immediate and very strong demand shock on the U.S. food supply chain that has sent many commodity prices sharply lower.

The food supply chain refers to the path that raw agricultural commodities take from the farm where they are produced, through the food processing and distribution network to the consumer where they are used. Supply chain...

Military Funding for Border Barriers: Catalogue of Interagency Decisionmaking

The Department of Defense (DOD, or the Department) has contributed $6.1 billion to the construction of new and replacement barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border in support of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by invoking a mixture of statutory and nonstatutory authorities. Congressional concerns surrounding the use of these authorities and the further possibility that DOD’s actions may jeopardize legislative control of appropriations has generated interest about the decisionmaking process that drove the Department’s funding decisions.

DOD has not generally made internal and...

U.S.-Iran Conflict and Implications for U.S. Policy

Since May 2019, U.S.-Iran tensions have heightened significantly, and evolved into conflict after U.S. military forces killed Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) and one of Iran’s most important military commanders, in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad on January 3, 2020. The United States and Iran have appeared to be on the brink of additional hostilities since, as attacks by Iran-backed groups on bases in Iraq inhabited by U.S. forces have continued.

The background to the U.S.-Iran tensions are the 2018 Trump Administration...

Medicaid Recession-Related FMAP Increases

Medicaid is jointly financed by the federal government and the states. States incur Medicaid costs by making payments to service providers (e.g., for doctor visits) and performing administrative activities (e.g., making eligibility determinations), and the federal government reimburses states for a share of these costs. The federal government’s share of a state’s expenditures for most Medicaid services is called the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP). The FMAP varies by state and is inversely related to each state’s per capita income. For FY2020, FMAP rates range from 50% (13...

Unauthorized Immigrants’ Eligibility for COVID-19 Relief Benefits: In Brief

This report discusses unauthorized immigrants’ (aliens’) eligibility for federal benefits generally and for COVID-19-related relief programs specifically. After a brief discussion of Title IV of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA, P.L. 104-193), this report explores unauthorized immigrants’ access to selected programs in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA; P.L. 116-127) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act; P.L. 116-136), both passed in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This...

The Mortgage Interest Deduction

Social Security Overview

Mortgage Servicing Rights and Selected Market Developments

After a single-family mortgage has been originated, a mortgage servicer receives a fee to perform various administrative tasks—collecting and remitting the principal and interest payments to the mortgage lender; managing the borrower’s escrow account; processing the loan title once paid in full; and administering loss mitigation (e.g., forbearance plans) or foreclosure resolution on behalf of the lender if the borrower falls behind or fails to make full payment. Just as a mortgage is an asset for a lender, the right to earn income for servicing a mortgage is an asset for the mortgage...

Medicare Part B: Enrollment and Premiums

Medicare is a federal insurance program that pays for covered health care services of most individuals aged 65 and older and certain disabled persons. In calendar year 2020, the program is expected to cover about 63 million persons (54 million aged and 9 million disabled) at a total cost of $862 billion. Most individuals (or their spouses) aged 65 and older who have worked in covered employment and paid Medicare payroll taxes for 40 quarters receive premium-free Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance). Those entitled to Medicare Part A (regardless of whether they are eligible for premium-free...

U.S. Foreign Assistance

Small Business Research Programs: SBIR and STTR

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program was established in 1982 by the Small Business Innovation Development Act (P.L. 97-219) to increase the participation of small innovative companies in federally funded research and development (R&D). The act requires federal agencies with extramural R&D budgets of $100 million or more to set aside a portion of these funds to finance an agency-run SBIR program. As of 2020, 11 federal agencies operate SBIR programs. A complementary program, the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, was created by the Small Business Research...

Transportation Infrastructure Investment as Economic Stimulus: Lessons from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

Congress is considering federal funding for infrastructure to revive an economy damaged by Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Congress previously provided infrastructure funding for economic stimulus in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA; P.L. 111-5). Enacted on February 17, 2009, ARRA was a response to the “Great Recession” that officially ran from December 2007 through June 2009. This report discusses the economic impact of the transportation infrastructure funding in ARRA.

ARRA provided $48.1 billion for programs administered by the U.S. Department of...

U.S. Forest Carbon Data: In Brief

Forests are a significant part of the global carbon cycle, because they contain the largest store of terrestrial (land-based) carbon and continuously transfer carbon between the terrestrial biosphere and the atmosphere. Consequently, forest carbon optimization and management strategies are often included in climate mitigation policy proposals.

The forest carbon cycle starts with the sequestration and accumulation of atmospheric carbon due to tree growth. The accumulated carbon is stored in five different pools in the forest ecosystem: aboveground biomass (e.g., leaves, trunks, limbs),...

North Korea: A Chronology of Events from 2016 to 2020

This report provides a detailed chronology of events relevant to U.S. relations with North Korea from January 2016, when North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test, through the end of March 2020. (For background, the chronology includes a number of milestone events before 2016.) That nuclear test launched a new period of concentrated attention on North Korea (officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK). The Obama and Trump Administrations made denuclearization of North Korea one of their top foreign policy priorities, and Congress has devoted considerable attention to...

Social Security’s Funding Shortfall

Forest Carbon Primer

The global carbon cycle is the process by which the element carbon moves between the air, land, ocean, and Earth’s crust. The movement of increasing amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, particularly as greenhouse gases, is the dominant contributor to the observed warming trend in global temperatures. Forests are a significant part of the global carbon cycle, because they contain the largest store of terrestrial (land-based) carbon and continuously transfer carbon between the terrestrial biosphere and the atmosphere. Consequently, forest carbon optimization and management strategies are...

Kosovo: Background and U.S. Policy

Kosovo, a country in the Western Balkans with a predominantly Albanian-speaking population, declared independence from Serbia in 2008, less than a decade after a brief but lethal war. It has since been recognized by about 100 countries. The United States and most European Union (EU) member states recognize Kosovo. Serbia, Russia, China, and various other countries (including some EU member states) do not.

Key issues for Kosovo include the following:

Resuming talks with Serbia. An EU-facilitated dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, aimed at normalization of relations, stalled in 2018 when...

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA): Resources for Frequently Asked Questions

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148, as amended) had numerous provisions affecting private health insurance and public health coverage programs. This report provides resources to help congressional staff respond to constituents’ frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the ACA. It lists selected resources regarding consumers, employers, and other stakeholders, with a focus on federal sources. It also lists Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports that summarize the ACA’s provisions.

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has raised questions among...

Judiciary Budget Request, FY2021

Transportation Spending Under an Earmark Ban

In the 112th Congress (2011-2012), the House and Senate began observing a moratorium on earmarks. Earmarks—formally known as congressionally directed spending—directed a significant amount of federal transportation spending prior to the ban. This report discusses how federal highway, transit, rail, and aviation funding were distributed before and after the earmark ban, and how Members of Congress might influence the distribution with a ban in place.

House Rule XXI uses the term “congressional earmark” while Senate Rule XLIV uses the term “congressionally directed spending,” but they...

U.S. Foreign Assistance to the Middle East: Historical Background, Recent Trends, and the FY2021 Request

Since 1946, the United States has provided an estimated total of $346 billion (obligations in current dollars) in foreign assistance to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. For FY2021, overall bilateral aid requested for MENA countries amounts to $6.6 billion, or about 15% of the State Department’s International Affairs budget request. The State Department estimates that the Middle East stands to receive 42% of the geographically specific assistance in the budget request, more than any other region. As in previous years, more than 90% would support assistance for Israel, Egypt,...

COVID-19-Related Loan Assistance for Agricultural Enterprises

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act; P.L. 116-136) created the Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) grants to provide short-term, economic relief to certain small businesses and nonprofits. For more information on SBA-related emergency relief provisions, see CRS Report R46284, COVID-19 Relief Assistance to Small Businesses: Issues and Policy Options, by Robert Jay Dilger, Bruce R. Lindsay, and Sean Lowry.

Important note: The SBA started accepting PPP and Emergency EIDL...

COVID-19: Role of the International Financial Institutions

The international financial institutions (IFIs), including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and regional and specialized multilateral development banks, are mobilizing unprecedented levels of financial resources to support countries responding to the health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than half of the IMF’s membership has requested IMF support, and the IMF has announced it is ready to tap its total lending capacity, about $1 trillion, to support governments responding to COVID-19.

The World Bank has committed to mobilizing $160 billion...

Health Insurance Options Following Loss of Employment

Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons

Recent debates about U.S. nuclear weapons have questioned what role weapons with shorter ranges and lower yields can play in addressing emerging threats in Europe and Asia. These weapons, often referred to as nonstrategic nuclear weapons, have not been limited by past U.S.-Russian arms control agreements. Some analysts argue such limits would be of value, particularly in addressing Russia’s greater numbers of these types of weapons. Others have argued that the United States should expand its deployments of these weapons, in both Europe and Asia, to address new risks of war conducted under...

Older Americans Act: Nutrition Services Program

The Prior Practice of Proxy Voting in House Committee

In order to increase physical distancing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the House scheduled consideration of a resolution during the week of April 20, 2020, that would have temporarily authorized the use of “proxy” voting on the chamber floor. Speaker Nancy Pelosi subsequently indicated that consideration of the resolution was postponed pending an examination by a bipartisan task force of options to facilitate remote participation by Representatives in committee and floor business.

The recent focus on proxy voting has led to interest in the history of the practice in the House....

COVID-19 and the Indian Health Service

The Indian Health Service (IHS) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the lead federal agency charged with improving the health of American Indians and Alaska Natives. In FY2019, IHS provided health care to approximately 2.6 million eligible American Indians/Alaska Natives. Its total FY2020 annual appropriation was $6.2 billion. As of April 30, IHS has seen more than 3,000 positive tests for coronavirus among its service population. In particular, the Navajo Nation has experienced one of the largest outbreaks nationally.

IHS Is a Three-Tiered System with Resource...

Federal Response to COVID-19: Department of Veterans Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides a range of benefits to eligible veterans and their dependents. The department carries out its programs nationwide through three administrations and the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA).

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is responsible for health care services and medical and prosthetic research programs.

The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) is responsible for, among other things, providing disability compensation, pensions, and education assistance.

The National Cemetery Administration (NCA) is responsible for maintaining...

Muslim Holidays: Fact Sheet

Islam is one of the three major Abrahamic faiths, alongside Judaism and Christianity. Islam, considered by the Pew Research Center to be the world’s fastest growing religion, has approximately 1.8 billion followers worldwide, of whom some 3.35 million live in the United States. Muslims annually observe two major holidays: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. This fact sheet describes the two holidays’ significance and American Muslims’ observance of them, and addresses the ways the holidays have been recognized by elected officials. The fact sheet also briefly describes two other widely celebrated...

Memorial Day Speech Resources: Fact Sheet

Memorial Day is a day of reflection and remembrance of those who died while serving in the U.S. military. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials and placing flags or wreaths. They may also participate in a Memorial Day parade or hold a family gathering, such as a barbeque. Memorial Day also unofficially marks the beginning of summer.

This guide is designed to assist congressional offices with work related to celebrating Memorial Day.

Oil and Gas Tax Preferences

Noncitizens and Eligibility for the 2020 Recovery Rebates

Some policymakers have expressed concern that certain individuals, including some immigrants (referred to as noncitizens, foreign nationals, or aliens in law and throughout this Insight), are ineligible for direct payments under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act; P.L. 116-136). The statute refers to these payments as 2020 recovery rebates. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) refers to these payments issued in 2020 as Economic Impact Payments. For more detailed information on these payments, see CRS Insight IN11282, COVID-19 and Direct Payments to Individuals:...

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Larger Borrowers: Oversight Efforts and Options for Congress

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act; P.L. 116-136) created PPP loans to provide short-term, economic relief to

businesses eligible to participate in the SBA’s 7(a) loan guarantee program, and

any business (including self-employed individuals or independent contractors), 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, 501(c)(19) veteran’s organization, or tribal business not currently eligible that has not more than 500 employees or, if applicable, the SBA’s size standard for the industry in which it operates.

PPP loans can be used to cover payroll expenses and other...

SBA Disaster Loan Program: Frequently Asked Questions

This report responds to frequently asked questions about the Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Loan Program. The SBA Disaster Loan Program provides direct loans to help businesses, nonprofit organizations, homeowners, and renters repair or replace property damaged or destroyed in a federally declared disaster. The program is also designed to help small agricultural cooperatives recover from economic injury resulting from a disaster. SBA disaster loans include (1) Home and Personal Property Disaster Loans, (2) Business Physical Disaster Loans, and (3) Economic Injury Disaster...

The Selective Service System and Draft Registration: Issues for Congress

The Military Selective Service Act (MSSA), first enacted as the Selective Service Act of 1948, provides the statutory authority for the federal government to maintain a Selective Service System (SSS) as an independent federal agency responsible for delivering appropriately qualified civilian men for induction into the Armed Forces of the United States as authorized by Congress. The annual budget for the agency is about $26 million. One of the SSS’s main functions is to maintain a database of registrants in case of a draft. The agency stores approximately 78 million records in order to...

Transfer of Defense Articles: Sale and Export of U.S.-Made Arms to Foreign Entities

The sale and export of U.S.-origin weapons to foreign countries (“defense articles and defense services,” officially) are governed by an extensive set of laws, regulations, policies, and procedures. Congress has authorized such sales under two laws:

The Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) of 1961, 22 U.S.C. §2151, et seq.

The Arms Export Control Act (AECA) of 1976, 22 U.S.C. §2751, et seq.

The FAA and AECA govern all transfers of U.S.-origin defense articles and services, whether they are commercial sales, government-to-government sales, or security assistance/security cooperation grants (or...

SBA EIDL and Emergency EIDL Grants for COVID-19

Congress increased eligibility for certain businesses and organizations for Small Business Administration (SBA) economic injury disaster loans (EIDL) and established an Emergency EIDL Grant program under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act; P.L. 116-136) to provide short-term, economic relief to certain small businesses and nonprofits affected by COVID-19. This Insight provides a brief overview of EIDL, including eligibility and loan terms. It also provides an overview of Emergency EIDL Grants, and describes how EIDL can be used in conjunction with Paycheck...

Veto Threats and Vetoes in the George W. Bush and Obama Administrations

The Framers checked congressional legislative power by providing the President the power to veto legislation and, in turn, checked the President’s veto power by providing Congress a means to override that veto. Over time, it has become clear that the presidential veto power, even if not formally exercised, provides the President some degree of influence over the legislative process. Most Presidents have exercised their veto power as a means to influence legislative outcomes. Of 45 Presidents, 37 have exercised their veto power.

This report begins with a brief discussion of the ways...

Federal Health Centers and COVID-19

Federal health centers are outpatient health facilities that are required to be located in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) and are required to provide care to all residents of their service area regardless of their ability to pay. The health center program is administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), within the Department of Health and Human Services, and is authorized in Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act. The program helps to support more than 1,400 community-based health centers operating over 12,000 delivery sites across the country....

U.S. Funding to the World Health Organization (WHO)

On April 14, 2020, President Donald Trump announced that the United States would suspend funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), pending a 60- to 90-day review, because of WHO’s “role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.” The United States, the largest government contributor to WHO, is currently assessed 22% of the organization’s core budget (an estimated $122.6 million for FY2020). The United States also provides voluntary funding to WHO, with amounts varying per year depending on U.S. priorities and global health needs. U.S. voluntary...

Temporary Deferment of Import Duty Payments

On April 18, 2020, President Donald J. Trump issued Executive Order 13916 to provide the Secretary of the Treasury temporary emergency authority under Section 318(a) of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1318(a), as amended) to extend deadlines for certain estimated payments of taxes, duties, and fees “for importers suffering significant financial hardship because of COVID-19.” Section 318(a) allows the President to authorize the Secretary of the Treasury to extend payment deadlines during a period of national emergency proclaimed pursuant to the National Emergencies Act.

Following the...

Foreign Assistance: An Introduction to U.S. Programs and Policy

Foreign assistance is the largest component of the international affairs budget and is viewed by many Members of Congress as an essential instrument of U.S. foreign policy. On the basis of national security, commercial, and humanitarian rationales, U.S. assistance flows through many federal agencies and supports myriad objectives. These objectives include promoting economic growth, reducing poverty, improving governance, expanding access to health care and education, promoting stability in conflict regions, countering terrorism, promoting human rights, strengthening allies, and curbing...

The Office of Technology Assessment: History, Authorities, Issues, and Options

Congress established the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) as a legislative branch agency by the Office of Technology Assessment Act of 1972 (P.L. 92-484). OTA was created to provide Congress with early indications of the probable beneficial and adverse impacts of technology applications. OTA’s work was to be used as a factor in Congress’ consideration of legislation, particularly with regard to activities for which the federal government might provide support for, or management or regulation of, technological applications.

The agency operated for more than two decades, producing...

Ukraine: Background, Conflict with Russia, and U.S. Policy

In 2019, Ukraine transitioned to a new government under President Volodymyr Zelensky and his Servant of the People party. During Zelensky’s presidency, Ukraine has enacted difficult economic and governance reforms and renewed talks with Russia on conflict resolution. In March 2020, a reshuffling of a six-month-old cabinet that had gained international confidence but lost domestic popularity raised concerns for some. The emergence in Ukraine of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) created further difficulties but also led the government to advance key reforms necessary to unlock...

Iran’s Foreign and Defense Policies

Iran’s national security policy is arguably the product of many overlapping and sometimes competing factors such as the ideology of Iran’s Islamic revolution, perception of threats to the regime and to the country, and long-standing national interests. Iran’s leadership:

Seeks to deter or thwart U.S. or other efforts to invade or intimidate Iran or to bring about a change of regime.

Takes advantage of regional conflicts to advance a broader goal of overturning a power structure in the Middle East that it asserts favors the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other Sunni Muslim Arab...

COVID-19 Disrupts U.S. Meat Supply; Producer Prices Tumble

U.S. livestock and poultry producers entered 2020 with an optimistic outlook for prices and income. Then in mid-March the food service sector, which accounts for a substantial share of meat consumption, was largely shut down as most states closed all but essential businesses. A temporary surge in retail meat purchases offset some of the reduction in food service demand. However, in early April, the situation worsened for producers as COVID-19 outbreaks began spreading in meatpacking plants around the United States, disrupting meat processing and leading to some shortages of meat products...

U.S.-Japan Relations

U.S.-North Korea Relations

Global Research and Development Expenditures: Fact Sheet

Research and development (R&D) plays a central role in advanced economies in areas such as economic growth and job creation, industrial competitiveness, national security, energy, agriculture, transportation, public health and well-being, environmental protection, and expanding the frontiers of human knowledge understanding.

Global, research, development, expenditures, global research and development expenditures, R&D, science, technology, innovation, competitiveness, United States, China, Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy, South Korea, Russia, Taiwan, Organisation for Economic...

Selected Health Provisions in Title III of the CARES Act (P.L. 116-136)

The global pandemic of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is affecting communities around the world and throughout the United States, with the number of confirmed cases and fatalities growing daily. Containment and mitigation efforts by U.S. federal, state, and local governments have been undertaken to “flatten the curve”—that is, to slow the widespread transmission that could overwhelm the nation’s health care system.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act, P.L. 116-136) was enacted on March 27, 2020. It is the third comprehensive law enacted in 2020 to address...

Army Future Vertical Lift (FVL) Program

The Renewable Electricity Production Tax Credit: In Brief

The renewable electricity production tax credit (PTC) is a per-kilowatt-hour (kWh) tax credit for electricity generated using qualified energy resources. The credit expires at the end of 2020, so that only projects that began construction before the end of 2020 qualify for tax credits. Since the PTC is available for the first 10 years of production at a qualified facility, PTCs will continue to be claimed after the PTC’s stated expiration date. Whether the PTC should be extended, modified, or allowed to expire as scheduled is an issue Congress may choose to consider.

Most recently, the...

President Trump Criticizes VOA Coverage of China’s COVID-19 Response

The President’s Criticism of VOA’s Coverage of China

On April 10, 2020, the White House included in its online “1600 Daily” summary of key news and events a statement entitled “Voice of America Spends Your Money to Speak for Authoritarian Regimes.” The statement referred to a Voice of America (VOA) story and two posts that, it asserted, “amplified Beijing’s propaganda” about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The statement criticized VOA for running an Associated Press article on its website on April 7, 2020, which referred to Wuhan’s lockdown as a “model” for other countries battling...

Prior Converted Cropland Under the Clean Water Act

Fintech: Overview of Innovative Financial Technology and Selected Policy Issues

Advances in technology allow for innovation in the ways businesses and individuals perform financial activities. The development of financial technology—commonly referred to as fintech—is the subject of great interest for the public and policymakers. Fintech innovations could potentially improve the efficiency of the financial system and financial outcomes for businesses and consumers. However, the new technology could pose certain risks, potentially leading to unanticipated financial losses or other harmful outcomes. Policymakers designed many of the financial laws and regulations...

Proposals for a COVID-19 Congressional Advisory Commission: A Comparative Analysis

Throughout U.S. history, Congress has created advisory commissions to assist in the development of public policy. Among other contexts, commissions have been used following crisis situations, including the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the 2008 financial crisis. In such situations, advisory commissions may potentially provide Congress with a high-visibility forum to assemble expertise that might not exist within the legislative environment; allow for the in-depth examination of complex, cross-cutting policy issues; and lend bipartisan credibility to a set of findings and...

Health Care-Related Expiring Provisions of the 116th Congress, Second Session

This report describes selected health care-related provisions that are scheduled to expire during the second session of the 116th Congress (i.e., during calendar year [CY] 2020). For purposes of this report, expiring provisions are defined as portions of law that are time-limited and will lapse once a statutory deadline is reached, absent further legislative action. The expiring provisions included in this report are those related to Medicare, Medicaid, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and private health insurance programs and activities. The report also includes...

The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee: Organization and Duties

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136) created a new federal entity, the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC), to “conduct and support oversight” of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and promote transparency.

This Insight provides an introduction to the organization and duties of the PRAC.

Organization

Section 15010(b) of the CARES Act establishes the PRAC within the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE), the oversight and coordination body for the inspector general community. The...

Fintech: Overview of Financial Regulators and Recent Policy Approaches

New technologies in the financial services sector can create challenges for the various federal agencies responsible for financial regulation in the United States. As these regulators address the potential benefits and risks of innovation, policymakers have demonstrated significant interest in understanding the types of technologies that may benefit consumers and financial markets while identifying the risks that new financial services may present. As Congress considers the potential tradeoffs of financial technology or fintech, it can be useful to understand how the financial system...

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act—Tax Relief for Individuals and Businesses

Congress is considering a number of proposals that seek to mitigate the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. One such proposal, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (S. 3548), was introduced in the Senate on March 19, 2020. On March 22, 2020, an updated version of the CARES Act was circulated, as a proposed amendment to H.R. 748. A cloture vote on a motion to proceed, which was designed to allow consideration of the CARES Act, was rejected on March 22. A third version of the CARES Act was released on March 25, 2020. On March 25, the Senate voted 96-0 to pass...

The Federal Contraceptive Coverage Requirement: Past and Pending Legal Challenges

When Congress enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, it required employment-based health plans and health insurance issuers to cover certain preventive health services without cost sharing. Those services, because of agency guidelines and rules, would soon include contraception for women. The “contraceptive coverage requirement,” or “contraceptive mandate” as it came to be known, was heavily litigated in the years to follow, and exemptions from the requirement are currently the subject of a pending Supreme Court case.

The various legal challenges to the...

Transatlantic Relations: U.S. Interests and Key Issues

For the past 70 years, the United States has been instrumental in leading and promoting a strong U.S.-European partnership. Often termed the transatlantic relationship, this partnership has been grounded in the U.S.-led post-World War II order based on alliances with like-minded democratic countries and a shared U.S.-European commitment to free markets and an open international trading system. Transatlantic relations encompass the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union (EU), close U.S. bilateral ties with most countries in Western and Central Europe, and a massive,...

Federal Capital Punishment: Recent Developments

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Lending Set Asides for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs)

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act; P.L. 116-136) created the Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). On April 16, 2020, the SBA reported that it had exhausted all funding provided by the CARES Act for the PPP.

On April 24, 2020, President Trump signed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (P.L. 116-139), which contains lending set asides for smaller lenders. These set asides appear to be motivated by media coverage claiming that some big banks benefited from issuing large volumes of PPP loans and...

U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces: Background, Developments, and Issues

Even though the United States has reduced the number of warheads deployed on its long-range missiles and bombers, consistent with the terms of the 2010 New START Treaty, it is also developing new delivery systems for deployment over the next 10-30 years. The 116th Congress will continue to review these programs, and the funding requested for them, during the annual authorization and appropriations process.

During the Cold War, the U.S. nuclear arsenal contained many types of delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons. The longer-range systems, which included long-range missiles based on U.S....

Congressional Oversight Provisions in the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act

President Donald Trump signed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (P.L. 116-139) on April 24, 2020. The act provides supplemental appropriations for the Paycheck Protection Program, the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund to support health care providers and expand testing for COVID-19, and Small Business Administration disaster loans and grants.

This legislation is the fourth relief act addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. As was the case for the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (P.L. 116-123), the Families First...

Forest Service Announces Timber Sale Contract Relief

On April 15, 2020, the Forest Service (FS) announced options for timber purchasers to extend the terms of their contract to harvest timber from the National Forest System (NFS). (Read the announcement here.) The FS, within the Department of Agriculture (USDA), sells timber to willing buyers in the private sector (timber purchasers) pursuant to specified contract terms. Although timber sales generally must be completed in a set amount of time, the FS may extend that time if it finds a “substantial overriding public interest” (referred to as a SOPI finding) in doing so. The SOPI finding...

African Elections in 2020

Flood Risk Reduction from Natural and Nature-Based Features: Army Corps of Engineers Authorities

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is the primary federal agency involved in federal construction to help reduce community flood risk. Congressional direction on USACE flood risk reduction activities has evolved from primarily supporting levees, dams, and engineered dunes and beaches. Since 1974, Congress has required that USACE evaluate nonstructural alternatives, such as elevation of structures and acquisition of floodplain lands, during its planning of projects. Since the mid-2010s, Congress also has directed the consideration of natural and nature-based features (NNBFs). Examples...

Honduras: Background and U.S. Relations

Honduras, a Central American nation of 9.3 million people, has had close ties with the United States for many years. The country served as a base for U.S. operations designed to counter Soviet influence in Central America during the 1980s, and it continues to host a U.S. military presence and cooperate on various security concerns today. Trade and investment linkages are also long-standing and have grown stronger since the implementation of the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) in 2006. Instability in Honduras—including a 2009 coup and...

Fourth COVID-19 Relief Package (P.L. 116-139): In Brief

On April 23, 2020, Congress passed its fourth measure including supplemental appropriations to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (the act; P.L. 116-139) includes enhancements for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), and Emergency EIDL grants, and emergency supplemental appropriations for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Small Business Administration (SBA). The President signed the bill into law on April 24, 2020.

The Congressional...

The Internet of Things: CRS Experts

“Internet of Things” (IoT) refers to networks of objects that communicate with other objects and with computers through the Internet. “Things” may include virtually any object for which remote communication, data collection, or control might be useful, such as meters, vehicles, appliances, medical devices, electric grids, transportation infrastructure, manufacturing equipment, or building systems. Although the full extent and nature of the IoT’s impacts remain uncertain, economic analyses predict that it will contribute trillions of dollars to economic growth over the next decade. Sectors...

Apportionment and Redistricting Following the 2020 Census

The census, apportionment, and congressional redistricting are interrelated processes that occur every decade. The U.S. Constitution provides that a decennial census determines the distribution of U.S. House seats across states, though the federal government today also uses census data for other purposes, such as distributing funding to states and localities. The process of dividing House seats to states is known as apportionment (or reapportionment). Each state must receive at least one House seat, and additional seats are distributed proportionally based on state population size. States...

COVID-19: Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Supplemental Appropriations in the CARES Act

On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law (P.L. 116-136). The CARES Act includes $3.5 billion in supplemental appropriations for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). These funds are to be used to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.”

The CCDBG Act (42 U.S.C. §§9858 et seq.) is the main federal law supporting child care programs for low-income working families. The CCDBG is administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS allocates CCDBG funds to states, territories, and...

The Child Support Federal Tax Offset of CARES Act Economic Impact Payments

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act; P.L. 116-136, enacted March 27, 2020) includes direct payments to individuals in 2020—referred to by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as “economic impact payments” ($1,200 per adult/$2,400 per couple filing a joint return; $500 for dependent children). These payments are structured as tax credits automatically advanced to households that meet certain criteria. Receiving a recovery rebate in 2020 will not affect a taxpayer’s 2020 income tax liability or tax refund, and taxpayers will generally not need to repay the rebate....

Yemen: Civil War and Regional Intervention

This report provides information on the ongoing crisis in Yemen. In 2014, the northern Yemeni-based Ansar Allah/Houthi movement (referred to in this report as “the Houthis”) took over the capital, Sanaa (also commonly spelled Sana’a), and in early 2015, advanced southward from the capital to Aden on the Arabian Sea. In March 2015, after Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who had fled to Saudi Arabia, appealed for international intervention, Saudi Arabia and a hastily assembled international coalition (referred to in this report as “the Saudi-led coalition”) launched a military...

Older Children, Adult Dependents, and Eligibility for the 2020 Recovery Rebates

Some policymakers have expressed concern that certain individuals including older children and adult dependents are not eligible for direct payments enacted as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act; P.L. 116-136). The statute refers to these payments as 2020 recovery rebates. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) refers to these payments issued in 2020 as economic impact payments. Receiving a recovery rebate in 2020 will not affect a taxpayer’s 2020 income tax liability or tax refund, and taxpayers will generally not need to repay the rebate.

There are...

Federal Prisoners and COVID-19: Background and Authorities to Grant Release

There is concern that coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) could quickly spread among federal prisoners and prison staff because of the nature of the prison environment. Prisons are places where hundreds of prisoners and staff are living and working in close proximity to each other and where they are forced to have regular contact. Prisons are generally not conducive to social distancing. Also, prison infirmaries typically do not have the resources available to most hospitals, such as isolation beds, that would help prevent the spread of the disease. There are also concerns that if prison...

Issues in International Corporate Taxation: The 2017 Revision (P.L. 115-97)

One of the major motivations for the 2017 tax revision (P.L. 115-97) was concern about the international tax system. Issues associated with these rules involved the allocation of investment between the United States and other countries, the loss of revenue due to the artificial shifting of profit out of the United States by multinational firms (both U.S. and foreign), the penalties for repatriating income earned by foreign subsidiaries that led to the accumulation of deferred earnings abroad, and inversions (U.S. firms shifting their headquarters to other countries for tax reasons). In...

COVID-19: Financial Relief and Assistance Resources for Consumers

This CRS Insight presents links to websites of selected federal agencies and other organizations potentially relevant to consumers affected by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. These links provide information on mortgage and other consumer payment relief, credit score protection, and consumer-targeted frauds and scams.

For analysis of consumer-related financial concerns about COVID-19, see CRS Insight IN11244, COVID-19: The Financial Industry and Consumers Struggling to Pay Bills, by Cheryl R. Cooper. For a list of all CRS products related to COVID-19, see the CRS COVID-19...

COVID-19 Testing: Key Issues

Mail Voting and COVID-19: Developments and Potential Challenges

Most voters reported voting in person in 2018, but the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated in-person voting for certain subsequent elections in 2020. Health risks associated with close contact have prompted concerns about some of the standard interactions involved in preparing for and conducting in-person voting.

States have taken various steps to address such concerns for some of their 2020 elections, including postponing election dates, offering curbside voting, and relocating polling places. One common response has been to expand mail voting, in which voters receive ballots...

Agricultural Disaster Assistance

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers several programs to help farmers recover financially from natural disasters, including drought and floods. All the programs have permanent authorization, and one requires a federal disaster designation (the emergency loan program). Most programs receive mandatory funding amounts that are “such sums as necessary” and are not subject to annual discretionary appropriations.

The federal crop insurance program offers subsidized policies designed to protect crop producers from risks associated with adverse weather, as well as weather-related plant...

Interaction of International Tax Provisions with Business Provisions in the CARES Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136) included two general tax benefits for business: net operating losses (NOLs) and interest deductions, which reduce taxable income and tax liability. These provisions may interact with existing international tax provisions enacted in the 2017 tax revision, popularly known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or TCJA (P.L. 115-97). The TCJA also decreased tax rates, including reducing the corporate rate from 35% to 21%.

International Provisions in the TCJA

In transitioning from the prior international tax regime that...

Marine Debris: NOAA’s Role

COVID-19 and State and Local Fiscal Conditions: Select Resources on Current Status, Impacts, and Federal Relief

The coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused a sudden decline in economic output and surge in unemployment, and it has significantly altered the fiscal outlook for state and local governments. State and local governments use taxes and receipts, debt issuances, and intergovernmental transfers to support spending programs. And, unlike the federal government, states and local governments are generally required to balance their operating budgets every one or two years. Even before the pandemic, a 2019 Government Accountability Office report on state and local governments’ fiscal outlook suggested...

Graduation: Fact Sheet

Graduation and commencement ceremonies at U.S. academic institutions are often held in the months of May and June. This guide is designed to assist congressional offices with work related to graduation celebrations. It contains a brief history of the ceremonial tradition and the attire worn, sample speeches by government officials, presidential commencement addresses, and statistical resources on educational attainment and graduation rates from authoritative government sources.

Stafford Act Declarations for COVID-19 FAQ

On March 13, 2020, President Donald J. Trump declared an emergency under Section 501(b) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act; 42 U.S.C. §§5121 et seq.) in response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The declaration authorized assistance to all U.S. states, territories, tribes, and the District of Columbia. Specifically, the Stafford Act emergency declaration authorized one form of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance: Public Assistance emergency protective measures (as authorized under Stafford Act Section 502)....

Crude Oil Futures Prices Turn Negative

What Happened?

On April 20, 2020, the futures contract price for the immediate month (May) of West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the U.S. benchmark crude, went negative (see Figure 1). The May futures contract price fell $55.90 during the day, to close at negative $37.62 per barrel. The futures price is a contract, usually monthly, for delivery of a certain amount of crude oil, on a specified date in the future, and at a particular location (Cushing, OK for WTI). WTI crude oil futures contracts are traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). According to data from the U.S. Energy...

South Korea: Background and U.S. Relations

Older Americans Act: Overview and Funding

The Older Americans Act (OAA) is the major federal vehicle for the delivery of social and nutrition services for older persons. These include supportive services, congregate nutrition services (meals served at group sites such as senior centers, schools, churches, or senior housing complexes), home-delivered nutrition services, family caregiver support, community service employment, the long-term care ombudsman program, and services to prevent the abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older persons. The OAA also supports grants to older Native Americans as well as research, training, and...

Reauthorization of Federal Highway Programs

Federal highway construction and safety programs are currently authorized through September 30, 2020, under the five-year Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act; P.L. 114-94). For the 1,027,849-mile system of federal-aid highways, the FAST Act provided an average of $45 billion annually. Although there are exceptions, federally funded projects are generally limited to this system that includes roughly 25% of all U.S. public road mileage. Of these funds, nearly 93% are distributed to the states via formula. The states have nearly complete control over the use of these funds,...

Air Force KC-46A Pegasus Tanker Aircraft Program

On February 24, 2011, the Department of Defense (DOD) announced the Boeing Company as the winner of a competition to build 179 new KC-46A aerial refueling tankers for the Air Force, a contract valued at roughly $35 billion. Prior to the announcement, the program had been known as KC-X. The first four KC-46s were delivered in January 2019.

The KC-46A acquisition program is a subject of congressional interest because of the dollar value of the contract, the number of jobs it would create, the importance of tanker aircraft to U.S. military operations, and because previous attempts to acquire...

The CARES Act and Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs): Options for Certain Individuals

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act; P.L. 116-136) includes a provision that suspends Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from certain retirement accounts for 2020. Some individuals may have already taken this distribution prior to the enactment of the CARES Act; this Insight discusses an option that might be available to them.

Required Minimum Distributions

RMDs are annual withdrawals that individuals with certain retirement accounts may be required to make under specified conditions, such as after (1) reaching a certain age or (2) inheriting a retirement...

The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act: Background and Issues

Under federal law, state and local governments receive payments through various programs due to the presence of federally owned land within their jurisdictions. Some of these payment programs are based on the revenue generated from specific land uses and activities. For example, Congress has authorized payments to the counties containing national forests—managed by the Forest Service—based on the revenue generated from those lands. In addition, Congress has authorized the 18 counties in western Oregon containing the Oregon and California (O&C) lands and Coos Bay Wagon Road (CBWR)...

CARES Act Assistance for Employers and Employees—The Paycheck Protection Program, Employee Retention Tax Credit, and Unemployment Insurance Benefits: Assessment of Alternatives (Part 2)

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136) includes numerous provisions to assist employers and employees during the COVID-19 economic downturn. This Insight compares (1) the Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP); (2) the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC); and (3) Unemployment Insurance (UI). Firms that receive a PPP loan cannot also claim the ERTC. Additionally, when employees are retained due to a firm’s receiving a PPP loan or claiming an ERTC, employees are generally ineligible for UI during the period of...

Status of Latin America’s Anti-corruption Fight amid Health and Political Challenges

Background

After sweeping across the region, anti-corruption activism in Latin America appears to have stalled. Populist leaders in Brazil and Mexico campaigned on fighting public corruption during their 2018 elections. However, after more than a year in office, both presidents have demonstrated little progress on significant corruption prosecutions or substantial governmental reform. Elsewhere, in 2019 and early 2020, governments in Central America shut down notable anti-corruption institutions that were approved by wide majorities of their citizens and long supported by U.S. policy and...

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Annual Appropriations Process and Issues for Congress

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is an agency within the Department of Defense with both military and civil works responsibilities. The agency’s civil works activities consist largely of the planning, construction, and operation of water resource projects to maintain navigable channels, reduce the risk of flood and storm damage, and restore aquatic ecosystems. Congress directs USACE’s civil works activities through authorization legislation, annual and supplemental appropriations, and oversight.

Unlike federal funding for highways and municipal water infrastructure, the majority...

CARES Act Assistance for Employers and Employees—The Paycheck Protection Program, Employee Retention Tax Credit, and Unemployment Insurance Benefits: Overview (Part 1)

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136) includes numerous provisions to assist employers and employees during the COVID-19 economic downturn. This Insight compares (1) SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program; (2) the employee retention tax credit; and (3) Unemployment Insurance. A companion Insight, CRS Insight IN11329, CARES Act Assistance for Employers and Employees—The Paycheck Protection Program, Employee Retention Tax Credit, and Unemployment Insurance Benefits: Assessment of Alternatives (Part 2), coordinated by Molly F. Sherlock, highlights factors...

Presidential Appointments to Full-Time Positions on Regulatory and Other Collegial Boards and Commissions, 115th Congress

The President makes appointments to certain positions within the federal government, either using authorities granted to the President alone or with the advice and consent of the Senate. There are some 151 full-time leadership positions on 34 federal regulatory and other collegial boards and commissions for which the Senate provides advice and consent. This report identifies all nominations submitted to the Senate for full-time positions on these 34 boards and commissions during the 115th Congress.

Information for each board and commission is presented in profiles and tables. The profiles...

U.S. Trade: Recent Trends and Developments

The United Nations Human Rights Council: Background and Policy Issues

Over the years, many Members of Congress have demonstrated an ongoing interest in the role and effectiveness of the United Nations (U.N.) Human Rights Council (the Council). The Council is the primary intergovernmental body mandated with addressing human rights on a global level. The United States was a member of the Council for two three-year terms during the Obama Administration, and a third term during the first part of the Trump Administration. In June 2018, the Trump Administration withdrew from the Council, noting concerns with the Council’s focus on Israel, overall ineffectiveness...

Considering Legislation on the House Floor: Common Practices in Brief

This brief overview explains the most common ways legislation is considered on the House floor, and it describes the types of questions most likely to be voted on and the opportunities for legislative debate that are most frequently used by Members.

The most common method used to consider bills and resolutions in the House is suspension of the rules. This method has evolved as a way for measures that enjoy widespread support to be quickly processed by the House. A motion to suspend the rules and pass a bill is debatable for 40 minutes. The Member making the motion controls 20 minutes of...

Bank and Credit Union Regulators’ Response to COVID-19

Once it became clear that the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak would have serious financial ramifications, the federal agencies that regulate banks and credit unions—the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) (collectively referred to as the bank regulators), and the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA)—responded using existing authorities in two broad ways:

taking measures to encourage banks to work with customers affected by COVID-19; and

making...

Federal Jury Trials and COVID-19

This Insight provides information and analysis related to federal jury trials and how such trials have been impacted by Coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19. Given the rapidly changing situation surrounding COVID-19, the information provided in this Insight may be superseded by new information that differs from what is described in the text below. If there are any questions regarding whether such changes have occurred, congressional staff may contact the author of this Insight.

Background

The Jury Selection and Service Act of 1968 specifies the qualifications a person must meet in order...

Private Flood Insurance and the National Flood Insurance Program

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is the main source of primary flood insurance coverage in the United States, collecting approximately $4.6 billion in premiums, fees, and surcharges for over five million flood insurance policies. This is in contrast to the majority of other property and casualty risks, such as damage from fire or accidents, which are covered by a broad array of private insurance companies. One of the primary reasons behind the creation of the NFIP in 1968 was the withdrawal by private insurers from providing flood insurance coverage, leaving flood victims...

The Hatch Act: A Primer

Health Insurance Premium Tax Credits and Cost-Sharing Subsidies

Certain individuals without access to subsidized health insurance coverage may be eligible for premium tax credits, as established under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148, as amended). The dollar amount of the premium credit varies from individual to individual, based on a formula specified in statute. Individuals who are eligible for the premium credit, however, generally are still required to contribute some amount toward the purchase of health insurance.

In order to be eligible to receive premium tax credits, individuals must have annual household income...

Bank Exposure to COVID-19 Risks: Business Loans

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has caused financial hardship across the country. If COVID-19 causes borrowers to miss loan payments, it could have negative consequences for banks. This Insight examines the exposure banks have to business loan repayments, such as commercial and industrial (C&I) loans and commercial real estate (CRE) loans. For exposure to household debt, such as mortgages and consumer loans, see CRS Insight IN11336, Bank Exposure to COVID-19 Risks: Mortgages and Consumer Loans, by David W. Perkins and Raj Gnanarajah.

The main business of a bank is to make loans and buy...

Vehicle Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Standards

COVID-19 and Direct Payments to Individuals: Summary of the 2020 Recovery Rebates/Economic Impact Payments in the CARES Act (P.L. 116-136)

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act; P.L. 116-136), which was signed into law by President Trump on March 27, 2020, includes direct payments to individuals—referred to in the law as “2020 recovery rebates.” The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) refers to the payments issued in 2020 as economic impact payments, whereas some media reports call them “stimulus payments.” This Insight provides a brief overview of these direct payments.

The 2020 recovery rebates equal $1,200 per eligible individual ($2,400 for married taxpayers filing a joint tax return) and $500 per...

FCC Draft Rule Seeks to Limit Space Debris

On April 2, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published notice of a proposed rule intended to reduce the risk that active satellites will be damaged by space debris. The proposed rule, which is scheduled for an FCC vote on April 23, has been sharply criticized by some aerospace and telecommunications groups, and leaders of a House committee have asked that it be delayed.

The FCC licenses U.S. commercial communications satellites and the radio frequencies needed to control them. In 2004, it issued an order directing satellite operators applying for FCC licenses to submit plans...

The Federal Judiciary and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”)

On March 27, 2020, the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act or “the Act”) to address the nationwide impact of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The portions of the CARES Act directed at the federal courts seek to support the federal judiciary in two key ways. First, the Act expands courts’ ability to conduct criminal proceedings by video or audio conference. Second, the Act provides funding for the federal judiciary to respond to the pandemic.

Video and Audio Conferencing

Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 53 (“Rule 53”) constrains federal...

Low Oil Prices: Prospects for Global Oil Market Balance

Reduced travel, slowing economic activity, and petroleum-product demand suppression related to the COVID-19 outbreak, combined with announced plans to increase crude oil supplies, created expectations of an imbalanced and significantly oversupplied near-term petroleum market. Oversupply expectations have contributed to oil prices declining nearly 60% since January. Some regional oil prices have been less than $10 per barrel. While low oil prices are generally positive for consumers, current price levels are causing financial stress for the U.S. oil sector and several policy options could...

COVID-19 and Short-Run Federal Deficits

The COVID-19 outbreak and ensuing economic shock may have major effects on future federal budget deficits (the amounts by which annual outlays exceed annual revenues). The latest federal budget baselines from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) use economic forecasts produced before the COVID-19 outbreak; baselines with updated forecasts would typically not be expected for several months, though agencies could decide to provide updates sooner. This Insight briefly discusses the effects that recent economic and legislative developments may have on...

Health Care Provisions in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, P.L. 116-127

The global pandemic of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is affecting communities around the world and throughout the United States, with case counts growing daily. Containment and mitigation efforts by federal, state, and local governments have been undertaken to “flatten the curve”—that is, to slow widespread transmission that could overwhelm the nation’s health care system.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA, P.L. 116-127) was enacted on March 18, 2020. It is the second of three comprehensive laws enacted in March specifically to support the response to the pandemic....

Department of Health and Human Services: FY2021 Budget Request

This report provides information about the FY2021 budget request for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Historically, HHS has been one of the larger federal departments in terms of budgetary resources. Estimates by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) indicate that HHS has accounted for at least 20% of all federal outlays in each year since FY1995. Most recently, HHS is estimated to have accounted for 27% of all federal outlays in FY2019. (FY2019 funding levels are generally considered final, whereas some FY2020 funding levels remain estimates.)

The FY2021...

Congressional Oversight Provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136)

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136) includes a variety of oversight provisions designed to increase the information available to Congress regarding the federal government’s implementation of the CARES Act and response to the COVID-19 pandemic more generally. Specifically, the CARES Act: establishes a Congressional Oversight Commission, establishes a Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery, establishes a Pandemic Response Accountability Committee made up of certain agencies’ inspectors general, provides additional financial resources for...

Defense Primer: A Guide for New Members

CRS has developed a series of short primers to give Members of Congress an overview of key aspects of the Department of Defense and how Congress exercises authority over it. A consolidated list of these primers is contained in this report, along with links to each document

Defense primer defense primer Defense primer defense primer defense primer defense primer Defense primer defense primer Defense primer defense primer defense primer defense primer Defense primer defense primer Defense primer defense primer defense primer defense primer Defense primer defense primer Defense primer defense...

Federal Data on Hate Crimes in the United States

A relatively recent series of high-profile crimes where the offenders’ actions appeared to be motivated by their bias or animosity towards a particular race, ethnicity, or religion might contribute to a perception that hate crimes are on the rise in the United States. These incidents might also generate interest among policymakers about how the federal government collects data on hate crimes committed in the United States.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) started its Hate Crime Statistics program pursuant to the requirement in the Hate Crime Statistics Act (HSCA, P.L. 101-275)...

COVID-19: Selected Capital Markets Segments Supported by Federal Government Liquidity Interventions

The spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) induced heavy capital markets selloffs in March 2020. In response, the Federal Reserve (Fed)—sometimes with support from the Treasury Department—has established several emergency lending facilities to provide liquidity to key capital markets segments. As of the publication of this Insight, some markets that have announced Fed liquidity support appear to have begun to stabilize. This Insight discusses the changing capital markets conditions (Figure 1) using as examples, corporate bonds, money market mutual funds (MMFs), and municipal bonds....

U.S. Military Electronic Warfare Program Funding: Background and Issues for Congress

Congress, in the FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act, and the Department of Defense (DOD) has identified electronic warfare (EW) as a critical capability supporting military operations to fulfil the current National Defense Strategy. Collectively, DOD considers procurement appropriations and research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) appropriations as part of its investment accounts. Using programs identified by the EW Executive Commission (EW EXCOM), this report traces funding for three of the military services (Air Force, Army, and Navy) along with several defense agencies...

SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans and Self-Employed Individuals

To provide short-term, economic relief to certain small businesses and nonprofits, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act; P.L. 116-136) created the Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

On April 14, 2020, SBA issued an Interim Final Rule (IFR) detailing how the PPP will be applied in the case of self-employed individuals (e.g., sole proprietors and partnerships, with and without employees, and independent contractors). The IFR supplements SBA’s previously issued PPP rules and guidance that have been coordinated with the...

The Unemployment Trust Fund (UTF): State Insolvency and Federal Loans to States

Although states have a great deal of autonomy in how they establish and run their unemployment insurance programs, federal law requires states to pay Unemployment Compensation (UC) benefits promptly as provided under state law. During some recessions, current taxes and reserve balances may be insufficient to cover state obligations for UC benefits. States may borrow funds from the federal loan account within the Unemployment Trust Fund (UTF) to meet UC benefit obligations.

This report summarizes how insolvent states may borrow funds from the UTF loan account to meet their UC benefit...

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Actions to Mitigate the Impact of COVID-19

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has broad regulatory authority over significant parts of the securities industry, including stock exchanges, mutual funds, investment advisers, bonds, publicly traded companies, and brokerage firms. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected various areas within the SEC’s regulatory ambit. This Insight highlights selected tools that the agency has used to help mitigate those impacts.

Disclosure Relief

A foundational goal of federal securities laws is protecting investors, an objective significantly addressed through required periodic...

House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress: Structure and Procedures

On January 4, 2019, the House established the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress by adopting Title II of H.Res. 6, the House rules package for the 116th Congress (2019-2020), on a 418-12 vote. The purpose of the select committee as stated in its authorizing resolution is “to investigate, study, make findings, hold public hearings, and develop recommendations on modernizing Congress.”

Twelve Members, six from each party, have been selected by their leadership to serve on the select committee during its year-long investigation. The committee’s authorizing resolution requires...

Infertility in the Military

The Defense Production Act (DPA) and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Recent Developments and Policy Considerations

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Administration invoked the Defense Production Act of 1950 (DPA) on multiple occasions to facilitate the manufacture and distribution of medical equipment and supplies. The full extent of DPA implementation is unclear—to date, there have been six public announcements describing official DPA implementation actions.

This Insight describes recent DPA actions and reported implementation with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, and discusses policy considerations for Congress. It is intended as a companion to CRS Insights IN11280 and IN11231. See CRS Report...

The National Cemetery Administration and Department of Defense Response to COVID-19 Regarding Funerals and Military Honors

Overview

The National Cemetery Administration (NCA), part of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), is responsible for providing interment benefits to eligible veterans and dependents and for administering America’s national veterans’ cemeteries. Veteran benefits for interment in a national cemetery include the gravesite and grave liner, opening and closing of the grave, government headstone or marker, U.S. burial flag, Presidential Memorial Certificate, and the perpetual care of the gravesite. These benefits are provided at no cost to the family.

NCA operates 142 national cemeteries...

The Palestinians: Overview and Key Issues for U.S. Policy

COVID-19’s Effect on Interior Immigration Enforcement and Detention

In response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, immigration authorities have altered interior immigration enforcement activities including arrests, detention, and immigration court proceedings. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) claims these efforts “have facilitated a speedy, whole-of-government response in confronting COVID-19, keeping Americans safe, and helping detect and slow the spread of the virus.” This Insight considers how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted interior immigration enforcement.

Background

DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and...

U.S. Health Care Coverage and Spending

Mortgage Provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

The COVID-19 pandemic has had wide-ranging impacts. With many households experiencing income disruptions, some may have difficulty making their mortgage or rent payments on their homes. An inability of tenants to pay rent can, in turn, impact the ability of landlords to remain current on any mortgage on the rental property.

On March 27, 2020, the President signed the CARES Act (P.L. 116-136) into law. Among many other provisions, it includes some intended to provide temporary relief for certain affected mortgage borrowers:

Section 4022 provides for forbearance and a foreclosure moratorium...

Bank Exposure to COVID-19 Risks: Mortgages and Consumer Loans

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has caused financial hardship across the country. If COVID-19 causes borrowers to miss payments, it could have negative consequences for banks. This Insight examines the exposure banks have to household repayments, such as mortgages, credit cards, auto loans, and other consumer debt.

The main business of a bank is to make loans and buy securities using funding it raises by taking deposits. A bank earns money largely through borrowers making payment on those loans and securities issuers making payment on securities, along with charging fees for certain...

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): An Overview

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requires U.S. transportation fuel to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuel. The RFS—established by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58; EPAct05) and expanded in 2007 by the Energy Independence and Security Act (P.L. 110-140; EISA)—began with 4 billion gallons of renewable fuel in 2006 and is scheduled to ascend to 36 billion gallons in 2022. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has statutory authority to determine the volume amounts after 2022.

The total renewable fuel statutory target consists of both conventional biofuel and advanced...

Nuclear Waste Storage Sites in the United States

The European Parliament and U.S. Interests

COVID-19: Commercial Paper Market Strains and Federal Government Support

What Is Commercial Paper and Why Is It Important?

As COVID-19 spread rapidly in the United States, fears of its economic effects led to strains in the commercial paper (CP) market, one of the main funding sources for many firms and for providers of credit to individuals. Commercial paper is short-term debt issued primarily by corporations and generally is unsecured. The CP market is an important source of short-term credit for a range of financial and nonfinancial businesses, who may rely on it as an alternative to bank loans—for example, in making payroll or for other short-term funding...

Federal Reserve: Monetary Policy Actions in Response to COVID-19

The Federal Reserve (Fed) has taken a number of steps to promote economic and financial stability in response to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). This Insight covers actions related to monetary policy—actions intended to lower interest rates or increase overall liquidity. Due to the severity of economic disruption, actions that increase overall liquidity have not been sufficient to maintain financial stability, and the Fed has also directly lent to firms and purchased private securities. Direct Fed lending and other financial assistance in response to COVID-19 is covered in CRS Insight...

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Funding in the CARES Act (P.L. 116-136)

Enacted March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136) provides supplemental appropriations for the Department of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, which includes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Title VII in Division B provides a total of $7.23 million within four of EPA’s 10 appropriations accounts to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally.” The appropriation supplements EPA’s total FY2020 enacted appropriations of $9.36 billion included in the Further Consolidated...

Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery: Responsibilities, Authority, and Appointment

The Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was enacted on March 27, 2020 (P.L. 116-136). The CARES Act provides over $2 trillion in relief to individuals; businesses; state, local, and tribal government; federal agencies; and industry sectors impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to these relief programs, Congress included a variety of provisions to facilitate transparency and oversight in the implementation of the CARES Act. Among these actions was the creation of a Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (SIGPR). The SIGPR is similar in purpose and...

COVID-19 and U.S. Iran Policy

Overview

The spread in Iran of COVID-19 (the disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2) has raised questions about the possible effects of U.S. policy on the capacity of Iran to cope with the outbreak. Since May 2018, when the Trump Administration withdrew the United States from the 2015 multilateral Iran nuclear agreement (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA), the Administration has reimposed all U.S. sanctions that were in place prior to that agreement and added further sanctions. The U.S. sanctions target virtually every economic sector in Iran, but at least technically exempt...

Domestic Violence in the Context of COVID-19

Domestic violence (DV), also referred to as intimate partner violence, affects approximately one-third of women and men over their lifetimes in the United States. Empirical research and anecdotal information from organizations that serve DV victims indicate that disasters and emergencies can heighten the frequency and severity of abuse. This Insight provides background about DV in the context of COVID-19 and the current federal response to supporting victims, primarily through the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and Victims of Crime...

Pandemic Weakening Milk Prices; Industry Calls for Policy Action

Milk price prospects for U.S. dairy producers in 2020 have weakened as the U.S. economy deteriorates under the expanding Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The year began with a positive outlook for the dairy industry that included higher milk prices and increased income for dairy producers in 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The dairy industry has gone through several years of relatively low milk prices, leading some dairy farms to exit the industry and two large dairy processors to file for bankruptcy. In 2019, according to USDA, the number of licensed...

Effects of COVID-19 on the Federal Research and Development Enterprise

The federal research and development (R&D) enterprise is a large and complex system that includes government facilities and employees as well as federally funded work in industry, academia, and the nonprofit sector. The nation’s response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is affecting the federal R&D enterprise, and the federal government and others are trying to address those effects. A number of congressional and other policy issues may arise as the situation develops.

Implementation of social distancing guidelines had led many laboratories and R&D projects to close....

Federal Telework During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Cybersecurity Issues in Brief

The novel coronavirus outbreak and subsequent pandemic has led government and industry to take significant actions in order to protect their workers and the population. One of those actions is encouraging the use of social distancing to stymie infections (e.g., being six feet apart from another person). One way individuals are accomplishing that order is through working outside the office. [To Suppress] Search Terms: Telework Remote work Cybersecurity Federal Information Security Modernization Act FISMA Virtual Private Network VPN SPAM Phishing Malware Cybersecurity and Infrastructure...

Timber Harvesting on Federal Lands

Congress has granted some federal land management agencies the authority to sell timber from federal lands. Two agencies, the Forest Service (FS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), conduct timber sales as an authorized use. Together, the FS and the BLM manage 76% of federal forest area. FS manages 144.9 million acres, while BLM manages 37.6 million acres. The other major federal land management agencies, the National Park Service (NPS) and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), rarely conduct timber sales.

Lands managed by the FS, the National Forest System (NFS), are managed under a...

Treasury’s Exchange Stabilization Fund and COVID-19

U.S. Travel and Tourism and COVID-19

With the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, many flights have been canceled, widespread travel bans have been put in place, and more quarantine and stay-at-home orders are in effect. This has sharply reduced domestic and international travel, prompting businesses across the U.S. travel sectors to ask the U.S. government for financial assistance. For Congress, this raises questions about the likely economic effects of COVID-19 on travel and tourism and the level of support warranted for some industry segments that may quickly recover once the pandemic subsides and...

Federal Communications Commission: Progress Protecting Consumers from Illegal Robocalls

The number of robocalls continues to grow in the United States, and the figures tend to fluctuate based on the introduction of new government and industry attempts to stop them and robocallers’ changing tactics to thwart those attempts (see Figure). In 2019, U.S. consumers received 58.5 billion robocalls, an increase of 22% from the 47.8 billion received in 2018, according to the YouMail Robocall Index. In 2016, the full first year the Robocall Index was tabulated, that figure was 29.1 billion calls—half the number of calls in 2019. Further, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)...

Funding U.S.-Mexico Border Barrier Construction: Current Issues

The construction of barriers on the U.S.-Mexico border to control unauthorized crossings has been a matter of significant debate since President Donald Trump made construction of a border wall a key element of his campaign. This Insight provides a brief overview of the funding history for these barriers and how the current administration is redirecting federal funds to support construction.

Border Barriers Under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama

In the decade prior to President Trump’s election, Congress had appropriated almost $2.5 billion to U.S. Customs and Border Protection...

Turkey-U.S. Relations: Timeline and Brief Historical Context

COVID-19: The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Regulatory Role

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused strain on many health care and medical facilities around the country, and some doctors and pharmacists have altered conventional practice to accommodate the needs of patients during this public health emergency. Changed practices include maintaining increased supplies of Schedule II controlled substances needed for intubation at hospitals and increasing the use of telemedicine as an alternative to in-person patient visits with a provider. Such changes require the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to make exceptions to...

Cryptocurrency: The Economics of Money and Selected Policy Issues

Cryptocurrencies are digital money in electronic payment systems that generally do not require government backing or the involvement of an intermediary, such as a bank. Instead, users of the system validate payments using certain protocols. Since the 2008 invention of the first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies have proliferated. In recent years, they experienced a rapid increase and subsequent decrease in value. One estimate found that, as of March 2020, there were more than 5,100 different cryptocurrencies worth about $231 billion. Given this rapid growth and volatility,...

Unemployment Insurance Provisions in the CARES Act

Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2020 Budget and Appropriations

Each year, Congress considers 12 distinct appropriations measures, including one for the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS), which includes funding for U.S. diplomatic activities, cultural exchanges, development and security assistance, and U.S. participation in multilateral organizations, among other international activities. On March 11, 2019, the Trump Administration submitted to Congress its SFOPS budget proposal for FY2020, which totaled $42.72 billion in discretionary funds ($42.88 billion when $158.9 million in mandatory retirement funds are...

CARES Act Eviction Moratorium

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted business operations nationwide, leading to dramatic job losses that threaten the ability of many to meet their financial obligations, including housing rental payments. To aid individuals and businesses harmed by the pandemic, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136).

Section 4024 of the CARES Act provides a temporary moratorium on eviction filings as well as other protections for tenants in certain rental properties with federal assistance or federally related financing. These protections are designed...

Fishery Disaster Assistance

The Secretary of Commerce is authorized to provide disaster assistance to the fishing industry when fish populations decline or other disruptions cause economic losses. The criteria for determining whether a commercial fishery failure or fishery resource disaster has occurred are provided in Section 308(b) and Section 308(d) of the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act (IFA; 16 U.S.C. §4107), and in Sections 312(a) and 315 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA; 16 U.S.C §1861(a) and §1864).

The governor of a state, the Secretary of Commerce, or a representative...

Bureau of Reclamation Rural Water Projects

Congress has authorized projects and programs through various federal agencies to address water supply needs. Since 1980, Congress has authorized the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), among other agencies, to develop municipal and industrial (M&I) water supply projects in rural areas and on tribal lands. Congress has authorized these projects, known as rural water supply projects, for several locations throughout the West.

From 1980 through 2009, Congress authorized Reclamation to undertake the design and construction, and sometimes the operations and maintenance (O&M), of specific...

COVID-19: Support for Mortgage Lenders and Servicers

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected the economy in numerous ways. Many states have issued some variation of a lockdown, restricting when citizens can leave their home and limiting business operations to critical services, such as groceries or pharmacies. Many businesses have closed operations, while others have reduced their workforce considerably. As a result, jobless claims have increased since the outbreak, leaving many consumers struggling to meet their financial obligations. One of the most significant financial obligations consumers are struggling to meet is their...

Funding for HUD in the CARES Act

Division B of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act; P.L. 116-136) provided $12.4 billion in additional FY2020 funding for several Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs and activities. The funds are generally for one of three broad purposes: to provide additional resources to meet emerging needs, to support existing rental assistance programs, or to provide additional administrative capacity and oversight. Three-quarters of the funding can be considered new resources to meet emerging needs, with most of the remaining funding supporting...

The Federal Role in Historic Preservation: An Overview

During the 20th century, Congress passed several laws that established a framework for federal historic preservation activities. The most comprehensive of these statutes is the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA; P.L. 89-665). NHPA created a grant program for state historic preservation, established the federal National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and the procedures by which historic properties are placed on the Register, funded the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP), established the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), and designated a...

Business Deductions for Entertainment and Meals

Congress has passed several laws in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including, most recently, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136), which—among its many purposes—provides tax relief to individuals and businesses. Several of the CARES Act’s business tax relief provisions were accomplished by temporarily rolling back restrictions on net operating losses and interest deductions that were enacted as part of P.L. 115-97 (sometimes referred to as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act or TCJA). As Congress continues to assess the need for further responses, it may...

Federal Prize Competitions

Prize competitions are a tool for incentivizing the achievement of scientific and technological innovation by offering monetary and nonmonetary benefits (e.g., recognition) to competition participants. Prize competitions have a long history of use in both the public and private sectors, but have gained popularity in recent years. Experts view federal prize competitions as an alternative policy instrument for spurring innovation, not a substitute for more traditional methods of federal support for research and innovation such as competitive research grants and procurement contracts.

The use...

Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) Increase Available for Title IV-E Foster Care and Permanency Payments

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (P.L. 116-127) authorizes increased federal funding to states through a 6.2 percentage point increase in the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP), also known as the Medicaid matching rate. This expanded federal support is available to states that meet specific Medicaid program requirements and is made effective retroactive to January 1, 2020, the first day of the calendar year quarter in which the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency. The increase is to remain in place until the last day of the...

State Broadband Initiatives: Selected State and Local Approaches as Potential Models for Federal Initiatives to Address the Digital Divide

Access to high-speed internet, known as broadband, is becoming increasingly essential to daily life as more applications and activities move online. This has become particularly apparent during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as employers in some sectors transitioned their workers from on-site work to telework and schools migrated their students from classrooms to distance learning. These shifts may seem clear-cut, but many areas of the United States—particularly rural areas—have either limited or no access to broadband infrastructure. Additionally there are citizens in areas with...

Human Rights in China

Are Start-ups Eligible for the SBA’s New Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans?

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act; P.L. 116-136), among other provisions, created the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Under the PPP, a lender may provide “covered loans” to assist small businesses (defined as either businesses that have 500 or fewer employees or that meet the general size standards under the Small Business Act), small 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, and small 501(c)(19) veterans organizations that have been adversely affected by COVID-19. These covered loans—also known as PPP loans—have

a 100% Small Business Administration (SBA) loan...

GSA’s Federal Supply Schedule: Programs for State and Local Governments

Under certain circumstances, state and local governments may use the Federal Supply Schedule (FSS), established and maintained by the General Services Administration (GSA), to purchase goods or services. One such circumstance is the declaration of a public health emergency by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, which occurred on January 31, 2020, regarding COVID-19. The four supply-schedule-related purchasing programs available to state and local governments are the Cooperative Purchasing Program, the Disaster Purchasing Program, the Public Health Emergencies Program, and the 1122...

Federal Traffic Safety Programs: In Brief

In 2018 over 36,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes, and over 3 million were injured. The estimated cost of motor vehicle crashes is over $800 billion annually. The number of deaths and the fatality rate declined from 2007-2014, but have risen since then. The federal government promotes highway safety in several ways. Opportunities exist for federal initiatives that would improve highway safety.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, FMCSA, NHTSA, motorcoach, highway safety, traffic safety, seat belts, motorcycles, helmets, vehicle...

Bureau of Reclamation: History, Authorities, and Issues for Congress

The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), an agency within the Department of the Interior (DOI), is responsible for the management and development of many of the large federal dams and water diversion structures in the 17 conterminous states west of the Mississippi River. Reclamation is the country’s largest wholesaler of water and the country’s second-largest producer of hydropower (behind the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers). Reclamation facilities store up to 140 million acre-feet of water, which serves more than 10 million acres of farmland and 31 million municipal and industrial...

COVID-19 and Stock Market Stress

Induced by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the longest U.S. stock market bull run of 11 years ended in mid-March, the quickest drawdown on record (Figure 1). The market subsequently rebounded, responding to the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package (P.L. 116-136). The swing of stock prices has created unprecedented volatility, a risk metric that measures the degree of price dispersion. This Insight explains the function of the U.S. stock market, the different ways to view stock pricing, and how certain pandemic-induced conditions could affect policymaking. The Securities...

The United Kingdom: Background, Brexit, and Relations with the United States

Many U.S. officials and Members of Congress view the United Kingdom (UK) as the United States’ closest and most reliable ally. This perception stems from a combination of factors, including a sense of shared history, values, and culture; a large and mutually beneficial economic relationship; and extensive cooperation on foreign policy and security issues. The UK’s January 2020 withdrawal from the European Union (EU) is likely to change its international role and outlook in ways that affect U.S.-UK relations.

Conservative Party Wins December 2019 Election

The government of the UK is led by...

Multiemployer Defined Benefit (DB) Pension Plans: A Primer

Multiemployer defined benefit (DB) pension plans are private-sector pensions sponsored by more than one employer and maintained as part of a collective bargaining agreement. In 2017, about 3% of all DB pension plans, covering 29% of all DB pension plan participants, were multiemployer plans. Nearly all of the remaining DB pension plans were maintained by a single employer. A few DB pension plans were maintained by more than one employer but were not maintained under a collective bargaining agreement. In DB pension plans, participants receive a monthly benefit in retirement that is based on...

Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs): Background and Issues for Congress

The federal government supports research and development (R&D) that is conducted by a wide variety of performers, including federally owned and operated laboratories, universities, private companies, and other research institutions. A special class of research institutions referred to as federally funded research and development centers, or FFRDCs, are owned by the federal government, but operated by contractors, including universities, other non-profit organizations, and industrial firms. FFRDCs are intended to provide federal agencies with R&D capabilities that cannot be effectively met...

Direct Federal Support of Individuals Pursuing Training and Education in Non-degree Programs

Recent Administrations and Congress have demonstrated bipartisan support for increasing federal assistance to individuals pursuing training and education in postsecondary non-degree programs, sometimes referred to as short-term programs. Non-degree programs are postsecondary training and education programs that are most often shorter in duration than a bachelor’s or associate’s degree program. They generally provide work-based learning or educational instruction to individuals who are beyond the typical age for secondary education to prepare them for a particular occupation. Examples of...

COVID-19: The Basics of Domestic Defense Response

As the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded, Congress has considered how the Department of Defense (DOD) might support the U.S. government’s domestic response. Below are the funding, authorities, and descriptions of potential ways DOD might further contribute. Links in this product connect to more detailed information on the highlighted subjects.

President Donald J. Trump declared a U.S. national emergency on March 13, 2020. On Friday, March 20, the Federal Emergency Management Agency assumed the lead agency role in the Coronavirus Task Force under the National Response Framework (NRF) for...

The National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers: COVID-19 Assistance

On January 31, 2020, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) a Public Health Emergency (PHE). During this public health emergency, the Secretary of HHS has taken action to encourage the use of telehealth. Telehealth generally refers to a health care provider’s use of information and communication technology in the delivery of clinical and nonclinical health care services. The use of telehealth during public health emergencies can assist health care professionals with, for example, reserving in-person care for patients...

Federal Conspiracy Law: A Brief Overview

Zacarias Moussaoui, members of the Colombian drug cartels, members of organized crime, and some of the former Enron executives have at least one thing in common: they all have federal conspiracy convictions. The essence of conspiracy is an agreement of two or more persons to engage in some form of prohibited conduct. The crime is complete upon agreement, although some statutes require prosecutors to show that at least one of the conspirators has taken some concrete step or committed some overt act in furtherance of the scheme. There are dozens of federal conspiracy statutes. One, 18 U.S.C....

Federal Conspiracy Law: An Abbreviated Overview

Zacarias Moussaoui, members of the Colombian drug cartels, members of organized crime, and some of the former Enron executives have at least one thing in common: they all have federal conspiracy convictions. The essence of conspiracy is an agreement of two or more persons to engage in some form of prohibited conduct. The crime is complete upon agreement, although some statutes require prosecutors to show that at least one of the conspirators has taken some concrete step or committed some overt act in furtherance of the scheme. There are dozens of federal conspiracy statutes. One, 18 U.S.C....

U.S. Gasoline Prices: No Driving, No Benefits to Consumers

Prices Plummet

The collapse of crude oil prices is having consequences throughout the U.S. and global economies. For consumers, the effects of the price decline are felt nowhere more than in the price of gasoline. Gasoline is made from crude oil through the refining process, and the current decline in crude oil prices are a significant factor to the decrease in gasoline prices (Figure 1). There are four main components to retail gasoline prices according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA): 51% comes from crude oil prices, 20% from taxes, 18% from marketing and distribution...

COVID-19: Defense Support of Civil Authorities

The U.S. military has a long history of providing support to civil authorities, particularly in response to disasters or emergencies (examples include responding to yellow fever epidemics in 1873 and 1878). The Department of Defense (DOD) defines defense support of civil authorities as “Support provided by U.S. Federal military forces, DOD civilians, DOD contract personnel, DOD Component assets, and National Guard forces (when the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Governors of the affected States, elects and requests to use those forces in Title 32, U.S.C., status) in response...

Title IV Provisions of the CARES Act (P.L. 116-136)

Economic conditions have deteriorated rapidly in the past few weeks, as the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused many businesses and public institutions to limit or close their operations, increasing financial hardship for many Americans due to layoffs or time off of work due to illness. COVID-19’s effect on the airline industry has been one of many areas of interest for Congress.

On March 27, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law as P.L. 116-136. The act contains a number of provisions aimed broadly at stabilizing the economy...

The Crime Victims Fund: Federal Support for Victims of Crime

In 1984, the Crime Victims Fund (CVF, or the Fund) was established by the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA, P.L. 98-473) to provide funding for state victim compensation and assistance programs. Since 1984, VOCA has been amended several times to support additional victim-related activities including (1) discretionary grants for private organizations, (2) the Federal Victim Notification System, (3) funding for victim assistance staff within the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys, (4) funding for the Children’s Justice Act Program, (5) assistance and...

U.S. Indictment of Top Venezuelan Officials

On March 26, 2020, Attorney General William Barr announced the indictment of Venezuela’s leader, Nicolás Maduro (whom the United States does not recognize as Venezuela’s legitimate president), and other current and former high-ranking Venezuelan officials. As charged, Maduro allegedly participated in the Cartel of the Suns drug trafficking organization in conspiracy with the Colombian terrorist organization, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), to produce and traffic illicit drugs to the United States.

Maduro’s indictment marks an escalation in U.S. efforts since January...

COVID-19 Congressional Oversight Commission (COC)

On March 27, 2020, President Donald Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) into law (P.L. 116-136). Section 4020 of Title IV, Subtitle A, the Coronavirus Economic Stabilization Act of 2020, established a five-member Congressional Oversight Commission (COC) as one of several oversight mechanisms. The COC is to “conduct oversight of the implementation of this subtitle by the Department of the Treasury and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System,” report to Congress on the Treasury Secretary’s and the Federal Reserve Board of Governors’...

The CARES Act (P.L. 116-136) Section 4008: FDIC Bank Debt Guarantee Authority

Section 4008 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES; P.L. 116-136) authorizes the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to guarantee certain deposits that are not eligible for regular FDIC deposit insurance due to the existing $250,000 per account insurance limit. This broadens FDIC authority from Section 1105 of P.L. 111-203 (Dodd-Frank Act) to establish a program that would guarantee bank debt in the event of a financial liquidity crisis. Section 4008 also preemptively grants the requisite congressional approval for any such program needed to respond to...

Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Programs

Congress has enacted a series of legislative provisions since 2006 to enable certain Iraqi and Afghan nationals to become U.S. lawful permanent residents (LPRs). These provisions make certain Iraqis and Afghans who worked as translators or interpreters, or who were employed by, or on behalf of, the U.S. government in Iraq or Afghanistan, eligible for special immigrant visas (SIVs). Special immigrants comprise a category of permanent employment-based admissions under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). While the special immigrant category is unique, it does bear some similarities to...

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Budget: Fact Sheet

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the safety of foods (including dietary supplements), cosmetics, and radiation-emitting products; the safety and effectiveness of drugs, biologics (e.g., vaccines), and medical devices; and public health aspects of tobacco products. FDA is organized into various offices and centers that carry out the agency’s regulatory responsibilities. The Office of the Commissioner and four other program area offices oversee the core functions of the agency: the Office of Medical Products and Tobacco, the Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine, the Office...

The Economic Development Administration and the CARES Act (P.L. 116-136)

States and communities will be able to apply for funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) to plan and implement economic recovery strategies in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act; P.L. 116-136) includes $1.5 billion for EDA to administer grants through its established Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) program. For years the EAA has been used to address ongoing economic restructuring needs. In FY2018 and FY2019, Congress used the EAA to fund economic recovery and resiliency...

American Battlefield Protection Program

COVID-19: The Potential Role of TANF in Addressing the Economic Effects

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant provides grants to the 50 states, District of Columbia, American Indian tribes, and certain territories with the broad purpose of ameliorating and addressing root causes of childhood economic disadvantage. Some of the flexibility the block grant affords to states has been used, and augmented by federal legislation, to address the fallout from Hurricane Katrina and the deep economic recession of 2007-2009.

Overview of TANF

TANF was created by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA,...

Support for Homeless Youth in the Context of COVID-19: A Brief Overview

The federal government provides targeted support for homeless teens and young adults primarily through the Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) program, administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). As part of the federal response to COVID-19, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act, P.L. 116-136) includes provisions relevant to the RHY program. The CARES Act also includes provisions for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) Youth Homelessness Demonstration Grant and for Department of Education (ED) supports for...

“Technical Corrections” to Tax Reform

For some in Congress, “technical corrections” to the 2017 tax revision (commonly known as the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” or TCJA; P.L. 115-97) have been a legislative priority. It is not always clear, however, what is strictly a “technical correction.” This Insight highlights provisions that have been widely discussed as “technical corrections” to the 2017 tax revision, starting with provisions in former Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady’s 2019 “technical corrections” discussion draft. It then highlights other “fixes” to the 2017 tax revision that might be considered, even if...

Adding Countries to the Visa Waiver Program: Effects on National Security and Tourism

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which allows citizens of certain countries to visit the United States for up to three months without a visa, has two explicit missions: to enhance national security and to boost the U.S. travel and tourism sectors. On November 8, 2019, the United States designated Poland into the VWP, bringing the number of participating countries to 39. A concern for Congress is whether the VWP exposes the United States to security threats, despite implementation of strict security requirements over recent years. At the same time, because of longstanding congressional...

DHS Budget Request Analysis: FY2021

On February 10, 2020, the Donald J. Trump Administration released their budget request for FY2021, including a $75.84 billion budget request for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

DHS is the third largest agency in the federal government in terms of personnel. The appropriations bill that funds it—providing $70 billion in FY2020—is the seventh largest of the twelve annual funding measures developed by the appropriations committees, and is the only appropriations bill that funds a single agency in its entirety and nothing else.

This report provides an overview of the FY2021 budget...

Low Oil Prices and U.S. Oil Producers: Policy Considerations

Global oil prices have declined nearly 60% since January 2020 (see Figure 1). Following a brief period of geopolitically-driven upward price pressure resulting from events in Iraq and Libya, world oil supply/demand balances were projected to be oversupplied by the second quarter of 2020. Reduced travel and other economic impacts related to the evolving COVID-19 outbreak are suppressing near-term oil demand. Oversupply expectations were amplified when the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and a group of non-OPEC countries (OPEC+), including Russia, failed to agree on...

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act: CRS Experts

The following two tables provide points of contact for CRS’s congressional clients with specific questions regarding the particular authorities and appropriations in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act; P.L. 116-136). This report is intended as a companion to other CRS products on the COVID-19 response efforts, many of which can be found on the CRS Coronavirus Disease 2019 resource page.

Separate tables are provided for each division of the CARES Act: Division A, which includes significant expansions in small business lending, unemployment insurance, tax...

SBA Assistance to Small Business Startups: Client Experiences and Program Impact

The Small Business Administration (SBA) administers several programs to support small businesses, including loan guaranty and venture capital programs to enhance small business access to capital; contracting programs to increase small business opportunities in federal contracting; direct loan programs for businesses, homeowners, and renters to assist their recovery from natural disasters; and small business management and technical assistance training programs to assist business formation and expansion.

Congressional interest in these programs, and the SBA’s assistance provided to small...

NATO: Key Issues Following the 2019 Leaders’ Meeting

Heads of state and government from NATO’s 30 member states met in London, United Kingdom (UK), on December 3-4, 2019. Two key goals for the meeting were to commemorate the alliance’s past achievements—2019 marks NATO’s 70th anniversary—and to advance efforts to address new and emerging security challenges, including Russian aggression, terrorism and instability in the Middle East and North Africa, and cyber and hybrid threats. The meeting also exposed heightened political tension within the alliance and divergent views on a range of issues, including U.S. policy toward NATO and Europe,...

Senior Nutrition Programs’ Response to COVID-19

Many older adults rely on federally funded programs that provide nutrition and other supportive services in order to live independently in their communities. Amidst the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, older adults as well as those with certain chronic conditions are at higher risk for severe illness if infected with the virus. Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that older adults stay home, among other precautions. Some state and local officials have issued more stringent guidance that older adults self-isolate at home or...

Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) Reductions

USDA Domestic Food Assistance Programs’ Response to COVID-19: P.L. 116-127, P.L. 116-136, and Related Efforts

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) programs are often part of emergency response efforts, providing program flexibilities, foods for distribution, and benefits for redemption. Emergencies generate different FNS responses, which can vary with states’ requests. During the COVID-19 pandemic, access to food—particularly in light of school closures—has been a concern for many. Some also view the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as a force for economic stimulus. This Insight discusses related provisions of the second and third COVID-19...

COVID-19: The Financial Industry and Consumers Struggling to Pay Bills

A growing number of cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) have been identified in the United States, significantly impacting many communities. For background on the coronavirus, see CRS In Focus IF11421, COVID-19: Global Implications and Responses, by Sara M. Tharakan et al. While this situation is evolving rapidly, the economic impact may be large due to illnesses, quarantines, and other business disruptions.

Consequently, many Americans may lose income and face financial hardship due to the coronavirus outbreak. This Insight focuses on regulatory and policy responses relating to...

Business Interruption Insurance and COVID-19

The economic disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic has led businesses and policymakers to ask whether insurance should cover associated losses. The loss of income from mandatory or voluntary closures, supply chain disruptions, and reduced demand due to social distancing measures may induce businesses of all sizes to seek compensation from insurers.

Commercial Property Insurance

Most businesses carry commercial property insurance, including coverage for damage to their building and contents due to a covered cause, such as a fire or windstorm. Such insurance may also cover loss of income...

Federal Reserve: Recent Actions in Response to COVID-19

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has created significant economic disruption. In response, the Federal Reserve (Fed) has taken a number of steps to promote economic and financial stability involving the Fed’s monetary policy and “lender of last resort” roles. Some of these actions are intended to stimulate economic activity by reducing interest rates and others are intended to provide liquidity to financial markets so that firms have access to needed funding.

Actions to Lower Interest Rates

Federal Funds Rate

Traditionally, the Fed conducts monetary policy by changing the federal funds rate, the...

COVID-19 and the Defense Industrial Base: DOD Response and Legislative Considerations

The Department of Defense (DOD) relies on a defense industrial base (DIB) for the products and services that enable DOD’s warfighting capabilities. The DIB includes private-sector commercial companies ranging in size from small businesses to some of the world’s largest enterprises—all of which have been impacted by the economic pressures associated with the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. For additional related resources, see the CRS COVID-19 homepage.

Critical Infrastructure and the DIB

The DIB is considered essential to U.S. national security, and to be part of U.S....

Public Transportation and Amtrak Funding in the CARES Act (P.L. 116-136)

On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136) was signed into law. Included in the act is a $25 billion appropriation from the general fund of the U.S. Treasury for public transportation agencies and another $1 billion for Amtrak. This emergency funding would support agencies in the midst of an unprecedented decline in ridership due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority has reported that in late March 2020 its rail ridership is down about 90% on a daily basis compared with equivalent...

The Courts and COVID-19

Nepal

Federal Reserve: Emergency Lending

The 2007-2009 financial crisis led the Federal Reserve (Fed) to revive an obscure provision found in Section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act (12 U.S.C. 344) to extend credit to nonbank financial firms for the first time since the 1930s. Section 13(3) provides the Fed with greater flexibility than its normal lending authority. Using this authority, the Fed created six broadly based facilities (of which only five were used) to provide liquidity to “primary dealers” (certain large investment firms) and to revive demand for commercial paper and asset-backed securities. More controversially,...

COVID-19: Response of the Oil and Gas Pipelines Sector

Earth Day: Fact Sheet

Earth Day is an annual event to raise awareness about environmental issues. It was first held on April 22, 1970, and marks its 50th anniversary in 2020. This fact sheet assists congressional offices with work related to Earth Day. It contains historical information, links to legislation, sample speeches and remarks from the Congressional Record, presidential proclamations and statements, and web resources.

Fostering Behavior Change During Disease Outbreaks: Insights from Ebola Response in Africa

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted governments worldwide to seek to change behaviors on a mass scale to stem new infections. (Click here for CRS resources on COVID-19.) The challenges and successes of analogous efforts during the two largest Ebola outbreaks to date—in West Africa (2014-2016), and in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), starting in 2018 and now seemingly waning—may offer lessons for current efforts to contain COVID-19, even though the two viruses differ in significant ways.

Dubbed by some a “disease of social intimacy,” Ebola is transmitted through direct contact...

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Processing Changes Due to COVID-19: In Brief

As federal agencies adjust their operations in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, activities related to the processing and release of government information are also changing. Agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation within the Department of Justice, the U.S. Postal Service, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention within the Department of Health and Human Services, among others, have announced changes to their processing of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests due to the pandemic.

Government information requests through FOIA may be impacted by COVID-19 in two...

Disrupted Federal Elections: Policy Issues for Congress

Demographic and Social Characteristics of Persons in Poverty: 2018

This report provides a snapshot of the characteristics of the poor in the United States in 2018. It shows that people from families whose income falls below the federal poverty thresholds represent a diverse subset of the overall population.

There were 38.1 million people living below the federal poverty level in 2018, representing 11.8% of the total population.

Nearly half (45.3%) of all people in poverty lived in deep poverty (with income below 50% of the poverty threshold).

The largest share of people in poverty were non-Hispanic white (41.2%) but the majority were not. Almost all...

COVID-19 and Regulation of Public Drinking Water

During infectious disease outbreaks, questions regarding public water supplies may emerge, as a safe and adequate water supply is a key component to protecting public health. As the United States and other countries respond to the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), questions may arise regarding the potential for the COVID-19 virus to be present in public water supplies.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that “Americans can...

Voting and Quorum Procedures in the House of Representatives

The Constitution requires that a quorum, defined as a majority of the House, be present on the floor when the House transacts business. The House, however, always presumes that a quorum is present unless and until its absence is demonstrated conclusively. The rules of the House strictly limit the occasions on which a Representative may make a point of order that a quorum is not present. In current practice, Members usually make such a point of order only when a vote is taking place. If a majority of the Members fails to respond to a quorum call or participate in an electronically recorded...

COVID-19: State and Local Shut-Down Orders and Exemptions for Critical Infrastructure

Since the onset of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in the United States, public officials have issued numerous emergency directives closing non-essential businesses and facilities and instructing non-essential workers to stay home. However, these directives have generally included exemptions for essential businesses and other facilities if they are part of a critical infrastructure sector or provide essential services.

Some business leaders have invoked federal authorities and guidelines when contesting state or local orders that would affect their operations....

Voting and Quorum Procedures in the Senate

The Constitution states that “a Majority of each [House] shall constitute a quorum to do business.” The Senate presumes that it is complying with this requirement and that a quorum is always present unless and until the absence of a quorum is suggested or demonstrated. This presumption allows the Senate to conduct its business on the floor with fewer than 51 Senators present until a Senator “suggests the absence of a quorum.”

Except when the Senate has invoked cloture, the presiding officer may not count to determine if a quorum is present. When the absence of a quorum is suggested,...

Forest Service Assistance Programs

Congress has established several forestry assistance programs within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support the management of state and private forests. These programs are under the jurisdiction of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, which often examine them in the periodic legislation to reauthorize agricultural programs, commonly known as farm bills. For example, in the 2018 farm bill (Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018; P.L. 115-334), Congress reauthorized and modified existing programs and established some new forestry assistance programs.

Forestry assistance...

COVID-19 and Direct Payments to Individuals: Estimated Impact of Recovery Rebates in H.R. 748 on Family Incomes

H.R. 748 (CARES Act), as passed by the Senate on March 25, 2020, includes many provisions designed to provide emergency relief to the economy in response to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. One such provision of H.R. 748 is the “2020 recovery rebate,” a direct payment made to individuals. Similar “recovery rebates” were sent to individuals in response to the 2001 and 2008 recessions. Several Members of Congress have recently proposed varying forms of direct payment, and two earlier versions of the CARES Act (S. 3548 and a draft circulated on March 22, 2020) also included a direct...

Arms Control and Nonproliferation: A Catalog of Treaties and Agreements

Arms control and nonproliferation efforts are two of the tools that the United States has occasionally used to implement its national security strategy. Although some believe these tools do little to restrain the behavior of U.S. adversaries, while doing too much to restrain U.S. military forces and operations, many others see them as an effective means to promote transparency, ease military planning, limit forces, and protect against uncertainty and surprise. Arms control and nonproliferation efforts have produced formal treaties and agreements, informal arrangements, and cooperative...

African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)

The Employment-Based Immigration Backlog

Currently in the United States, almost 1 million lawfully present foreign workers and their family members have been approved for, and are waiting to receive, lawful permanent resident (LPR) status (a green card). This employment-based backlog is projected to double by FY2030. It exists because the number of foreign workers whom U.S. employers sponsor for green cards each year exceeds the annual statutory green card allocation. In addition to this numerical limit, a statutory 7% per-country ceiling prevents the monopolization of employment-based green cards by a few countries.

For...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2020 Appropriations

The Agriculture appropriations bill funds the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) except for the U.S. Forest Service. It also funds the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and—in even-numbered fiscal years—the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

Agriculture appropriations include both mandatory and discretionary spending. Discretionary amounts, though, are the primary focus during the bill’s development. The largest discretionary spending items are the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); agricultural research; rural development; FDA;...

Data Flows, Online Privacy, and Trade Policy

“Cross-border data flows” refers to the movement or transfer of information between computer servers across national borders. Such data flows enable people to transmit information for online communication, track global supply chains, share research, provide cross-border services, and support technological innovation.

Ensuring open cross-border data flows has been an objective of Congress in recent trade agreements and in broader U.S. international trade policy. The free flow of personal data, however, has raised security and privacy concerns. U.S. trade policy has traditionally sought to...

COVID-19: Industrial Mobilization and Defense Production Act (DPA) Implementation

On March 18, President Trump issued Executive Order 13909, Prioritizing and Allocating Health and Medical Resources to Respond to the Spread of COVID–19, which announced the President’s invocation of the Defense Production Act of 1950 (DPA) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The administration has yet to publicly provide direction to the private sector under this authority.

This Insight considers possible future DPA implementation processes, industrial mobilization, and congressional considerations concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, and is a companion to CRS Insight IN11231. See CRS...

Concurrent Receipt of Military Retired Pay and Veteran Disability: Background and Issues for Congress

Concurrent receipt in the military context typically means simultaneously receiving two types of federal monetary benefits: military retired pay from the Department of Defense (DOD) and disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Prior to 2004, existing laws and regulations dictated that a military retiree could not receive two payments from federal agencies for the same purpose; military retired pay and VA disability compensation were considered to fall under that restriction. As a result, military retirees with physical disabilities recognized by the VA had...

Cloud Computing: Background, Status of Adoption by Federal Agencies, and Congressional Action

Cloud computing is a new name for an old concept: the delivery of computing services from a remote location, analogous to the way electricity, water, and other utilities are provided to most customers. Cloud computing services are delivered through a network, usually the internet. Utilities are also delivered through networks, whether the electric grid, water delivery systems, or other distribution infrastructure. In some ways, cloud computing is reminiscent of computing before the advent of the personal computer, where users shared the power of a central mainframe computer through video...

Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 (P.L. 116-123): First Coronavirus Supplemental

In the early months of 2020, the federal government began to express concern over the global outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). COVID-19 is a viral respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus. By late January, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had invoked certain authorities to direct existing funds to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. The HHS Secretary declared COVID-19 to be a Public Health Emergency, effective January 27, 2020.

On February 24, 2020, the Trump Administration submitted an initial emergency supplemental...

COVID-19 and Corporate Debt Market Stress

U.S. companies are carrying record levels of debt to finance their operations and growth (Figure 1). Corporate debt largely consists of bonds and, to a lesser extent, leveraged loans, bank loans, and other liabilities. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is the primary regulator overseeing the debt capital markets. In recent years, financial authorities have become increasingly vocal about the buildup of the higher-risk portions of the corporate debt market. This Insight explains the market’s composition and risks in the context of the current coronavirus (COVID-19)-induced...

Comparison of the FY2020 and FY2021 Precision-Guided Munitions Procurement Requests

Precision-guided munitions (PGMs) have become an important capability for the Department of Defense (DOD). Recent operations, including counter-insurgency and counterterrorism missions, have demonstrated a high demand for all types of PGMs, which DOD defines as a “guided weapon intended to destroy a point target and minimize collateral damage.” Some analysts argue a high-intensity conflict would require large stockpiles of such weapons, in addition to the demand from operations in the Middle East. Then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis stated that PGMs are required to help rebuild...

The Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act: Division T—Revenue Provisions

A number of recently introduced legislative proposals seek to alleviate the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. One such proposal, the Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act (H.R. 6379), was introduced in the House on March 23, 2020. The proposal includes a number of provisions that would make changes to the tax system, including modifications that would

provide a one-time payment to households;

temporarily expand the earned income tax credit, child tax credit, and dependent care tax credit;

provide employer payroll tax credits for certain hospital expenses and...

Department of Veterans Affairs: Caregiver Support

The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have presented a new challenge for the United States as servicemembers returned from combat with serious injuries that may have been fatal in previous conflicts. These servicemembers require ongoing personal care services, which are often provided by family members and loved ones. In recognition of this significant challenge, Congress enacted the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-163), which required the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish specific supports for caregivers of veterans.

The Veterans...

Congressional Oversight Provisions in P.L. 116-127, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

President Donald Trump signed P.L. 116-127 (H.R. 6201), the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, on March 18, 2020. The act provides supplemental appropriations for nutrition assistance programs and public health services and authorizes the Internal Revenue Service to implement tax credits for paid emergency sick leave and expanded family medical leave that the act requires certain employers to provide. In addition, the law adjusts the unemployment insurance program to waive temporarily certain eligibility requirements and provide more federal financial support to the states.

P.L....

Money Market Mutual Funds: A Financial Stability Case Study

Required Minimum Distributions from Retirement Accounts Under the Economic Stimulus Proposals Related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

On March 22, 2020, the Senate released an updated version of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act containing a provision for suspending the penalty for failure to make the required minimum distribution (RMD) from retirement accounts for 2020. A similar provision was included in a proposal in the House released on March 23, the Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act.

What Are Required Minimum Distributions?

Under current law, required minimum distributions must be withdrawn from individual retirement plans to avoid a 50% penalty on the required minimum...

FY2020 Defense Reprogrammings for Wall Funding: Backgrounder

On February 13, 2020, the Department of Defense (DOD) transferred $3.8 billion from defense procurement programs to the Army Operation and Maintenance account for use by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for the construction of 31 additional barrier projects along the southern border of the United States. Table 1. Summary of FY2020 DOD Reprogramming Action to Support the Border Wall ($ in thousands) Base or OCO / Appropriation Amount Percentage

Base $2,202,000 57.48%

 Aircraft Procurement, Air Force
 $532,000
 24.16%

 Aircraft Procurement, Navy
 $558,000
...

Responding to the COVID-19 Outbreak with Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Authorities

In response to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, some in Congress have suggested using the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program as a vehicle for providing financial relief to states and communities. Congress has regularly instituted a special variant of CDBG for long-term disaster recovery, known as CDBG-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR). This Insight considers the potential role of CDBG and CDBG-DR as economic development countermeasures to the coronavirus outbreak. For more information on the health and epidemiological aspects of COVID-19, see CRS products R46219 and...

COVID-19 and Direct Payments to Individuals: Summary of the 2020 Economic Assistance Payments in H.R. 6379, the Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act

The Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act (H.R. 6379), introduced in the House on Monday, March 23, 2020, proposes direct payments to individuals and families—referred to as “2020 economic assistance payments to individuals.” This Insight provides a brief overview of these proposed payments.

Generally, for individuals and families that filed an income tax return, the economic assistance payment would be an advanced refundable tax credit that they would automatically receive in 2020 as a direct deposit or check by mail. Most recipients of Social Security or Supplemental Security...

Emergency Funding for Public Transportation Agencies Due to COVID-19

Public Transportation Agency Budgets

The COVID-19 pandemic has reportedly resulted in a swift and large loss of public transportation ridership and fare revenue. Examples in the early days of the crisis include an 88% loss of ridership for New Jersey Transit, a 60% loss of subway ridership for New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, a 60% loss for Denver’s Regional Transportation District, and a 90% loss for Bay Area Rapid Transit in San Francisco. Many transit agencies, including the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, have responded by cutting service, encouraging...

The Kingdom of Bhutan

Judges Urge Congress to Revise What Can Be Patented

COVID-19 and Funding for Civil Aviation

The COVID-19 pandemic has created headwinds for the airline industry. Out of health concerns, customers were canceling international air travel to China and other affected countries in Asia as early as January 2020. Since then, travel restrictions imposed by governments around the world as well as suspension of nonessential travel by businesses and organizations have led to a sharp drop in air travel. These developments could also have significant implications for civil aviation programs.

The International Air Transport Association, an airline industry group, projected on March 17 that the...

U.S. Sanctions on Russia: An Overview

COVID-19 and Direct Payments to Individuals: Summary of the 2020 Recovery Rebates in the CARES Act, as Circulated March 22

Legislative text of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, circulated on Sunday, March 22, 2020, proposes direct payments to individuals and families—“2020 recovery rebates.” This Insight provides a brief overview of the proposed 2020 recovery rebates included in the text circulated on March 22, which differ from those included in the legislation introduced on March 19.

The proposed 2020 recovery rebates equal $1,200 per person ($2,400 for married taxpayers filing a joint tax return) and $500 per child. These amounts would phase down for higher-income taxpayers....

Targeted Tax Relief for Industries Impacted by the Coronavirus: Selected Policy Issues

One of the policy options being considered to minimize the damage to the U.S. economy from the domestic spread of the coronavirus is tax relief targeted at industries that have experienced substantial drops in revenue. To date, growing numbers of cruise lines, airlines, hotels, restaurants, retailers, and energy producers seem to have been hit the hardest by the economic impact of the virus. Depending on what happens to the spread of the coronavirus within the United States in coming weeks, other industries could be similarly affected. The prospect of a prolonged domestic coronavirus...

COVID-19 and Stimulus Payments to Individuals: Potential Impacts of Direct Payments on Family Incomes

Several Members of Congress and the Trump Administration have proposed direct cash payments as part of a fiscal response to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Direct cash payments have previously been part of the federal government’s response to economic downturns, most recently in 2001 and 2008. In general, the purpose of direct payments is twofold: (1) they allow families to spend more, and through a multiplier effect help to stimulate the economy; and (2) they provide resources to help meet basic needs for those whose income has decreased due to COVID-19 infection or...

Department of Veterans Affairs’ Potential Role in Addressing the COVID-19 Outbreak

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides a range of benefits to eligible veterans and their dependents. The department carries out its programs nationwide through three administrations and the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA). The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is responsible for health care services and medical and prosthetic research programs. The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) is responsible for, among other things, providing disability compensation, pensions, and education assistance. The National Cemetery Administration (NCA) is responsible for maintaining...

Who Pays for Long-Term Services and Supports?

COVID-19 and Stimulus Payments to Individuals: Summary of the 2020 Recovery Rebates in the CARES Act (S. 3548)

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (S. 3548) proposes direct payments of up to $1,200 per person ($2,400 for married taxpayers filing a joint tax return) and $500 per child—“2020 recovery rebates.” Similar to the 2008 recovery rebates, these payments are structured as tax credits advanced to households that file an income tax return. Taxpayers that filed a 2018 income tax return would have this credit advanced to them in 2020, generally in the form of a direct deposit or check by mail. Thus, these taxpayers do not need to wait until 2020 tax returns are filed in...

Federal Research and Development (R&D) Funding: FY2020

President Trump’s budget request for FY2020 included approximately $134.1 billion for research and development (R&D). Several FY2019 appropriations bills had not been enacted at the time the President’s FY2020 budget was prepared; therefore, the President’s budget included the FY2018 actual funding levels, 2019 annualized continuing resolution (CR) levels, and the FY2020 request levels. On February 15, 2019, Congress enacted the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019 (P.L. 116-6). This act included each of the remaining appropriations acts, completing the FY2019 appropriations process. The...

H.R. 6201: Paid Leave and Unemployment Insurance Responses to COVID-19

This Insight provides summary information on the paid leave and unemployment insurance (UI) provisions in the House-passed version of H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, including the technical corrections made by H.Res. 904. For a general discussion of current workplace leave policies and UI programs and benefits, including considerations related to COVID-19, see CRS Insight IN11233, Workplace Leave and Unemployment Insurance for Individuals Affected by COVID-19. For additional legislation introduced related to UI and COVID-19, see CRS Report R45478, Unemployment...

COVID-19 and Passenger Airline Travel

The COVID-19 global pandemic presents particular risks and challenges to commercial passenger airline travel. Taking a passenger flight involves numerous interpersonal interactions, transiting through often crowded airport terminals, and sitting in close proximity to others for extended periods, both onboard aircraft and at airport gates. These activities may increase the probability of exposure to infectious disease.

Curtailing infectious disease spread through airline travel is challenging, in part because the passenger airline system in the United States is highly concentrated around 30...

COVID-19 Economic Stimulus: Business Payroll Tax Cuts

The economic fallout from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has accelerated rapidly. Policymakers continue to evaluate tax policy economic relief options. Payroll tax cuts for businesses are one option that would provide economic assistance to business activities.

Business Payroll Taxes

Payroll taxes are collected to finance certain entitlement programs, including Social Security, parts of Medicare, and Unemployment Compensation (UC). Social Security’s old age, survivors, and disability insurance (OASDI) payroll tax is paid by both employers and employees, and it finances the Social Security...

Policy Topics and Background Related to Mining on Federal Lands

The 116th Congress is considering multiple proposed changes to U.S. mineral policy. Currently certain types of mineral production on federal lands provide the federal government and some states and industries with sources of revenue, while other production does not generate similar revenue. Proposed changes to federal mineral policy could impact these revenue streams, industries, and states in a variety of ways.

The processes and requirements to mine on federal lands vary by mineral category, surface/subsurface management agencies, and estate ownership. Three main statutes create the three...

Federal Assistance to Troubled Industries: Selected Examples

Serious disruptions for certain industries caused by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic have led to calls for federal government assistance to affected industries. Direct federal financial assistance to the private sector on a large scale is unusual, except for geographically narrow assistance following natural disasters. Nonetheless, assistance to business sectors affected by COVID-19 would not be the first occasion on which the federal government has aided troubled or financially distressed industries. Historically, aid—sometimes popularly referred to as “government bailouts”—has taken...

Presidential Declarations of Emergency for COVID-19: NEA and Stafford Act

This Insight provides an overview of the presidential declarations of emergency made under the National Emergencies Act (NEA; 50 U.S.C. §§1601 et seq.) and the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act; 42 U.S.C. §§5121 et seq.) in response to the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). Table 1 describes select differences between these types of declarations and their authorities. This Insight does not discuss other actions mentioned by the President, or federal agencies (other than the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)) that have been, or may be,...

COVID-19: Cybercrime Opportunities and Law Enforcement Response

Opportunistic criminals and other malicious actors exploit the internet and rapidly evolving technology to their advantage. Criminals can compromise financial assets; hacktivists can flood websites with traffic, effectively shutting them down; and spies can steal intellectual property and government secrets. And, they capitalize on ever changing world events. Federal officials have cautioned about scams relating to the outbreak of disease caused by a previously unidentified strain of coronavirus, designated Coronavirus Disease 2019, or COVID-19. They have noted that “[c]yber actors may...

Military Child Development Program: Background and Issues

The Department of Defense (DOD) operates the largest employer-sponsored child care program in the United States, serving approximately 200,000 children of uniformed servicemembers and DOD civilians, and employing over 23,000 child care workers, at an annual cost of over $1 billion. DOD’s child development program (CDP) includes accredited, installation-based, government-run, full-time pre-school and school-aged care in its Child Development Centers (CDCs), and subsidized care in Family Care Centers (FCCs). DOD also subsidizes care in private child care centers outside of military...

COVID-19 and Direct Payments to Individuals: Historical Precedents

Members of Congress and the Trump Administration have signaled their support for making direct payments to individuals to address the economic fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak. In current discussions, these payments are sometimes framed in terms of “universal basic income” or UBI proposals. In the past when these proposals were made—and sometimes enacted—they were framed in terms of providing economic stimulus.

Historical Precedents

There are historical precedents for such payments; most of these were done through the federal income tax code. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sent...

COVID-19 and Direct Payments to Individuals: How Did the 2008 Recovery Rebates Work?

In response to concerns about an economic slowdown stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, policymakers have been considering a broad array of policy options. Some are targeted directly toward individuals and industries that may be most affected. Others would more broadly seek to stimulate the economy. Among this latter category of policies, some have proposed direct cash payments sent to virtually all U.S. households.

In 2008 Congress enacted direct cash payments—the 2008 recovery rebates—that were tax credits advanced to households that had filed an income tax return. A portion of these...

COVID-19 and Stimulus Payments to Individuals: How the 2009 Economic Recovery Payment Worked

In response to concerns about an economic slowdown due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, some lawmakers have expressed interest in providing direct cash payments to Americans. One option to provide such payments would be to establish a new advanced refundable tax credit, as was done in 2008 with “recovery rebates.” Although this option would disburse payments to the vast majority of Americans relatively quickly, it would not directly help those who do not file a federal income tax return. A 2017 study found that “nonfilers” were more likely to be seniors or recipients of...

Supreme Court Grants Stay in MPP Case

U.S. Restrictions on Relations with Burma

Major changes in Burma’s political situation since 2016 have raised questions among some Members of Congress concerning the appropriateness of U.S. policy toward Burma (Myanmar) in general, and the current restrictions on relations with Burma in particular. During the time Burma was under military rule (1962–2011), restrictions were placed on bilateral relations in an attempt to encourage the Burmese military, or Tatmadaw, to permit the restoration of democracy.

In November 2015, Burma held nationwide parliamentary elections from which Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy...

Overview of Initial Responses to COVID-19 by the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts and by Select Courts Within the Federal Judiciary

This CRS Insight provides information related to initial responses to Coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, by the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts and select courts within the federal judiciary. Consequently, this Insight is not intended to provide a comprehensive overview of the policies and practices adopted by each federal court or judicial entity. Additionally, given the rapidly changing situation surrounding COVID-19, the information provided in this Insight may be superseded by new information from that which is described in the text below. If there are any questions regarding...

The Defense Production Act (DPA) and COVID-19: Key Authorities and Policy Considerations

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic evolves, the United States faces drug and medical supply scarcities due to disrupted supply chains and increased demand. In response, the President may exercise emergency authorities under the Defense Production Act of 1950 (DPA; 50 U.S.C. §§4501 et seq.) to address supply shortages and economic development impacts. During a press conference on March 18, 2020, the President indicated that he would invoke the DPA to address domestic essential goods and materials shortages caused by the pandemic. This Insight considers the various DPA authorities that...

The Palestinians and Amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Act: U.S. Aid and Personal Jurisdiction

Two recent amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2331 et seq.) have significant implications for U.S. aid to the Palestinians and U.S. courts’ ability to exercise jurisdiction over Palestinian entities. They are the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act of 2018 (ATCA, P.L. 115-253) and the Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act of 2019 (PSJVTA, § 903 of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, P.L. 116-94).

Congress passed ATCA after a U.S. federal lawsuit (known in various incarnations as Waldman v. PLO and Sokolow v. PLO) against the...

The Hours of Service (HOS) Rule for Commercial Truck Drivers and the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, on March 13, 2020, the Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a national emergency declaration to exempt from the Hours of Service (HOS) rule through April 12, 2020, commercial drivers providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to the virus. This includes transport of certain supplies and equipment, as well as personnel. Drivers are still required to have at least 10 consecutive hours off duty (eight hours if transporting passengers) before returning to duty.

It has been estimated that up to 20% of bus and large truck crashes...

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans for COVID-19

The current COVID-19 pandemic may have significant economic implications for businesses and nonprofit organizations, including negative impacts on imports, global supply chains, and tourism. Furthermore, if COVID-19 becomes increasingly widespread or prolonged it may slow global growth, and some businesses may be forced to furlough or lay off workers. One potential form of assistance to small businesses is Small Business Administration (SBA) economic injury disaster loans (EIDLs).

EIDL Overview

EIDLs provide eligible small businesses and nonprofit organizations up to $2 million to help...

What If the Philippines Ends the Visiting Forces Agreement?

On February 10, 2020, the Government of the Philippines submitted to the U.S. Embassy in Manila a “notice of termination” of the Philippines-U.S. Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). The VFA governs the legal status of U.S. military forces operating in the Philippines and establishes rules by which U.S. troops, vessels and aircraft may enter the country. The notification started a 180-day review period; the agreement itself will expire at the end of that time. The VFA has been in effect since 1999, eight years after the Philippines rejected a treaty that would have extended the U.S. lease of...

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency: Overview and Issues for Congress

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), established in 1958, is an agency within the Department of Defense (DOD) responsible for catalyzing the development of technologies that maintain and advance the capabilities and technical superiority of the U.S. military.

DARPA-funded research has made important science and technology contributions that have led to the development of both military and commercial technologies, such as precision guided missiles, stealth, the internet, and personal electronics. DARPA has a culture of risk-taking and tolerance for failure that has led...

Tax Credit for Paid Sick and Family Leave in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) (Updated)

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) includes an employer tax credit for the paid sick and family leave required as part of this legislation. This tax credit is intended to cover the cost to businesses of providing paid leave to address the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. This Insight provides an overview of the tax credits, including the corrections included in H.Res. 904, as passed by the House on March 16, 2020.

Tax Credits for Paid Leave

The employer payroll tax credit is for wages paid to fulfill the new leave requirements. The Emergency Paid Sick Leave...

COVID-19 and Direct Payments to Individuals: Considerations on Using Advanced Refundable Credits as Economic Stimulus

In response to concerns about an economic slowdown stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, policymakers have been considering a broad array of policy options. Some are targeted directly toward the individuals and industries that may be most affected. Others would more broadly seek to stimulate the economy. Among this latter category of policies, some have suggested a payroll tax cut, while others have proposed direct cash payments—“recovery rebates”—to virtually all households. One mechanism to provide cash payments relatively quickly is to create a new refundable tax credit and then advance...

The Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Program: An Overview

The Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT; 31 U.S.C. §§6901-6907) program provides compensation for certain tax-exempt federal lands, known as entitlement lands. PILT payments are made annually to units of general local government—typically counties—that contain entitlement lands. PILT was first enacted in 1976 () and later recodified in 1982 (P.L. 97-258). PILT is administered by the Office of the Secretary in the Department of the Interior (DOI), which is responsible for the calculation and disbursement of payments. PILT has most commonly been funded through annual discretionary...

Farm Credit Administration and Its Board Members

COVID-19: Potential Role of Net Operating Loss (NOL) Carrybacks in Addressing the Economic Effects

A number of industries may suffer losses in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. The travel and tourism industry, and restaurant industry, appear particularly susceptible at the moment due to an uptick in canceled reservations and a reduction in bookings. Other industries are likely to be impacted as well by a drop-off in consumer spending and a resulting reduction in profits, with the impacts likely increasing if COVID-19 continues to spread.

Before 2018, businesses with losses could “carry back” net operating losses (NOL) and use them to receive a refund...

Department of Education Support for School Safety Initiatives

Workplace Leave and Unemployment Insurance for Individuals Affected by COVID-19

This Insight provides a brief overview of the current availability of job-connected assistance to individuals, which may be relevant to the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Specifically, this product discusses workplace leave, paid and unpaid, that may be available to workers affected by the virus, as well as unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. It also discusses policy options to amend or expand existing UI programs to be more responsive to the effects of COVID-19.

Workplace Leave

Workers affected by COVID-19 may seek to use paid or unpaid workplace leave for their own...

Consideration of Privileged Nominations in the Senate

Privileged nominations are a subset of presidentially appointed and Senate-confirmed positions that are eligible for consideration under procedures established by S.Res. 116 (112th Congress, 2011-2012). The vast majority of the 285 nominations designated as privileged are part-time positions to various boards and commissions, though some full-time positions are privileged as well (e.g., chief financial officers and certain assistant secretaries in Cabinet-level agencies). The procedures for privileged nominations may reduce the workload of committees of jurisdiction in processing these...

COVID-19 and the Cruise Ship Industry

The cruise ship industry has been heavily impacted by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Major cruise lines have canceled trips from U.S. ports over the next month. In recent weeks, several cruise ships have been quarantined offshore and U.S government health officials have advised against cruise ship travel for the time being. These events have raised questions about government oversight over the cruise industry, the potential economic harm the coronavirus could have on the industry, and whether the industry is largely America- or foreign-based.

Employment in the Cruise Ship...

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

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent federal agency established by the Communications Act of 1934 (1934 Act, or “Communications Act”). The agency is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. The mission of the FCC is to make available for all people of the United States, “without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex, a rapid, efficient, Nationwide, and worldwide wire and radio communication service with adequate facilities at reasonable charges.”

The...

Tunisia: In Brief

As of March 15, 2020, Tunisia had initiated travel restrictions and other emergency measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, having reported at least 20 confirmed domestic cases.

Tunisia remains the sole country to have made a durable transition to democracy as a result of the 2011 “Arab Spring.” An elected assembly adopted a new constitution in 2014 and Tunisians have since held two competitive national elections—most recently in late 2019—resulting in peaceful transfers of power. Tunisia has also taken steps toward empowering local-level government, with landmark local elections...

Power Generation and Electric Reliability in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Two and a half years after Hurricanes Irma and Maria damaged 80% to 90% of the power transmission and distribution systems across the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), financial and infrastructure issues continue to challenge the U.S. Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA). A combination of infrastructure needs and cash flow challenges has impacted electricity rates. As of February 1, 2020, electricity rates were approximately $0.40 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for residential customers (for the first 250 kWh) and approximately $0.47/kWh for commercial customers. In 2017, prior to the...

Sunshine Week: Selected Issues for Congress

Coinciding with former President James Madison’s birthday, Sunshine Week recognizes the importance of transparency in government operations, and the work of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA; 5 U.S.C. §552) professionals across the federal government. Considered a defender of open government, Madison wrote, “A popular Government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; And the people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power, which knowledge...

COVID-19 and Broadband: Potential Implications for the Digital Divide

According to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 2019 Broadband Deployment Report, approximately 21.3 million Americans lack a broadband connection speed of at least 25 megabits per second (Mbps) download/3 Mbps upload, which is the FCC’s benchmark for high-speed broadband. In the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, federal, local, and state governments, in addition to large and small businesses, are considering remote working or distance learning options to help abate the spread of the virus. As these decisions are made, some portion of the population will likely have...

Business Tax Provisions Expiring in 2020, 2021, and 2022 (“Tax Extenders”)

Thirteen temporary business tax provisions are scheduled to expire at the end of 2020. Four other temporary business tax provisions are scheduled to expire in 2021 or 2022. In the past, Congress has regularly acted to extend expired or expiring temporary tax provisions. Collectively, these temporary tax provisions are often referred to as “tax extenders.”

This report briefly summarizes and discusses the economic impact of the 17 business-related tax provisions that are scheduled to expire in 2020, 2021, or 2022. The provisions discussed in this report are listed below, grouped by type and...

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Poses Challenges for the U.S. Blood Supply

The current Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak may pose significant challenges for the United States’ blood supply. Mitigation strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as closures of schools and workplaces, have led to blood drive cancellations, resulting in a critical blood supply shortage in the Pacific Northwest (specifically, western Washington and Oregon). School closures, event cancellations, and other mitigation strategies in other areas of the country may provide challenges for maintaining a sufficient blood supply. The management and distribution of the U.S....

The Stafford Act Emergency Declaration for COVID-19

This Insight provides an overview of emergency declarations under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (hereinafter the Stafford Act, P.L. 93-288, as amended; 42 U.S.C. §§5121 et seq.). It describes the forms of assistance authorized pursuant to President Donald J. Trump’s March 13, 2020 emergency declaration under the Stafford Act in all U.S. states and territories in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Stafford Act Emergency Declaration for COVID-19

The President’s emergency declaration, pursuant to Stafford Act Section 501(b),...

Trade-Related Agencies: FY2020 Appropriations, Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS)

This report provides an overview of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget request and appropriations for the International Trade Administration (ITA), the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), and the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). These three trade-related agencies are funded through the annual Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations. This report also provides a review of these trade agencies' programs.

The Administration's FY2020 Budget Request

The President submitted his budget request to Congress on March 11, 2019. For FY2020,...

SBA Office of Advocacy: Overview, History, and Current Issues

The Office of Advocacy (Advocacy) is an “independent” office within the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) that advances “the views and concerns of small businesses before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, the federal courts, and state and local policymakers as appropriate.” The Chief Counsel for Advocacy (Chief Counsel) directs the office and is appointed by the President from civilian life with the advice and consent of the Senate.

Advocacy is a relatively small office with a relatively large mandate—to represent the interests of small business in the regulatory...

The Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund: Reauthorization Issues in the 116th Congress

Coal mining and production in the United States during the 20th century contributed to the nation meeting its energy requirements and left a legacy of unreclaimed lands. Title IV of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA, P.L. 95-87) established the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund. The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) administers grants from the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund to eligible states and tribes to reclaim affected lands and waters resulting from coal mining sites abandoned or otherwise left unreclaimed prior to the enactment of...

Oversight Provisions in H.R. 6074, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act

President Donald Trump signed H.R. 6074, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, on March 6, 2020. It provides a total of $8.3 billion in supplemental funding to support the response of the United States to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Prior to the passage of H.R. 6074, Congress had already begun to oversee the federal government’s response to COVID-19 with committee hearings in both the House and the Senate. Other committees are planning additional hearings in the coming weeks, and the Trump Administration has also been providing regular...

Telehealth and Telemedicine: Frequently Asked Questions

The use of information and communication technology (ICT) in the health care industry is an emergent issue for Congress. The health care industry is using telehealth and telemedicine in two major ways: (1) to supplement in-person care for underserved populations who experience barriers to in-person care and (2) to supplant in-person care for patients who like the convenience of using technology to access their health care services.

This report provides responses to frequently asked questions about telehealth and telemedicine. This report serves as a quick reference to provide easy access...

Election Security: Federal Funding for Securing Election Systems

Congressional Staff: CRS Products on Size, Pay, Job Tenure, and Duties

The manner in which staff are integrated and utilized within an organization may reflect the missions and priorities of that organization. In Congress, staff work for Members of Congress in personal, committee, and leadership offices, and are involved with every facet of congressional activity. Activities might include supporting a Member’s representational, legislative, leadership, or administrative responsibilities as they arise in those settings.

House and Senate staff activities may be of particular interest as one Congress comes to a close, and another Congress integrates new Members...

Tax Cuts as Fiscal Stimulus: Comparing a Payroll Tax Cut to a One-Time Tax Rebate

The Trump Administration and certain Members of Congress have expressed interest in a temporary payroll tax reduction as a fiscal stimulus response to economic concerns resulting from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Other lawmakers have emphasized that, with respect to tax-relief proposals, “everything’s on the table.” This sentiment reflects potential uncertainty in both the current economic outlook and what tax policy options might be most effective as the coronavirus outbreak evolves. An alternative to a temporary payroll tax reduction that might be considered, and has been...

Advance Appropriations for the Indian Health Service: Issues and Options for Congress

The Indian Health Service (IHS) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the lead federal agency charged with improving the health of American Indians and Alaska Natives. In FY2019, IHS provided health care to approximately 2.6 million eligible American Indians/Alaska Natives through a system of programs and facilities located on or near Indian reservations, and through contractors in certain urban areas.

Current IHS Funding: Continuing Resolutions and Shutdowns

IHS is the only major federal provider of health care that is solely funded through regular appropriations on...

COVID-19: Potential Economic Effects

This Insight discusses the potential economic effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the U.S. economy. For background on the coronavirus, see CRS In Focus IF11421, COVID-19: Global Implications and Responses, by Sara M. Tharakan et al.

Channels Through Which the Virus Could Affect the Economy

Although the COVID-19 outbreak presently is most widespread abroad, it will directly affect foreign demand for U.S. exports of goods and services. As discussed in this CRS In Focus, the coronavirus could also disrupt U.S. companies’ international supply chains. If COVID-19 becomes widespread in the...

FY2019 State Grants Under Title I-A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), most recently comprehensively amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA; P.L. 114-95), is the primary source of federal aid to K-12 education. The Title I-A program is the largest grant program authorized under the ESEA and was funded at $15.9 billion for FY2019. It is designed to provide supplementary educational and related services to low-achieving and other students attending elementary and secondary schools with relatively high concentrations of students from low-income families.

Under current law, the U.S. Department of...

U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF): Background and Issues for Congress

Special Operations Forces (SOF) play a significant role in U.S. military operations and, in recent years, have been given greater responsibility for planning and conducting worldwide counterterrorism operations. U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has about 70,000 Active Duty, National Guard, and reserve personnel from all four services and Department of Defense (DOD) civilians assigned to its headquarters, its four service component commands, and eight sub-unified commands.

In 2013, based on a request from USSOCOM (with the concurrence of Geographic and Functional Combatant...

Congressional Staff: Duties, Qualifications, and Skills Identified by Members of Congress for Selected Positions

The roles, duties, and activities of congressional staff are matters of ongoing interest to Members of Congress, congressional staff, and observers of Congress. Members of the House and Senate establish their own employment policies and practices for their personal offices. It is arguably the case that within Member offices, a common group of activities is executed for which staff are necessary. Accordingly, a group of job advertisements for those positions from a number of different offices can shed light on the expectations Members have for position duties, as well as staff skills,...

United Nations Issues: U.S. Funding to the U.N. System

Who Regulates Whom? An Overview of the U.S. Financial Regulatory Framework

The financial regulatory system has been described as fragmented, with multiple overlapping regulators and a dual state-federal regulatory system. The system evolved piecemeal, punctuated by major changes in response to various historical financial crises. The most recent financial crisis also resulted in changes to the regulatory system through the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010 (Dodd-Frank Act; P.L. 111-203) and the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA; P.L. 110-289). To address the fragmented nature of the system, the Dodd-Frank Act created...

Red Army Equifax Hackers Indicted

House Committee Funding Requests and Authorizations, 104th-116th Congresses

Pursuant to House Rule X, clause 6, the Committee on House Administration reports an omnibus, biennial “primary expense resolution” to cover the expenses of each standing and select committee, except the Appropriations Committee. The resolution is based, in part, on committee requests for funds to cover their necessary expenses for the two years of a Congress.

This report provides committee funding requests and authorizations as adopted pursuant to primary expense authorizations for House committees in the 104th through 116th Congresses. For further information on the committee funding...

Senate Committee Funding Requests and Authorizations, 106th-116th Congresses

In the Senate a biennial funding process applies to all Senate committees except Appropriations and Ethics, which have permanent authorizations for their staff and operating expenses. The Senate Committee on Rules and Administration has jurisdiction over committee funding resolutions and issues regulations governing committee funding and staff.

On February 27, 2019, the Senate adopted by unanimous consent S.Res. 70, authorizing expenditures by Senate committees for the period March 1, 2019, through September 30, 2019, the period October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020, and for the...

Title X Family Planning Program: 2019 Final Rule

Development and Regulation of Domestic Diagnostic Testing for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Frequently Asked Questions

On December 31, 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) was informed of a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. Illnesses have since been linked to a disease caused by a previously unidentified strain of coronavirus, designated Coronavirus Disease 2019, or COVID-19. Despite containment efforts in China, the United States, and elsewhere, by late February there were indications that the COVID-19 outbreak may have entered a new phase, with community spread occurring or suspected in several countries other than China, including in the United States.

Diagnostic...

North Korea: Legislative Basis for U.S. Economic Sanctions

U.S. economic sanctions imposed on North Korea are instigated by that country’s activities related to weapons proliferation, especially its tests since 2006 of nuclear weapons and missile technology; regional disruptions; terrorism; narcotics trafficking; undemocratic governance; and illicit activities in international markets, including money laundering, counterfeiting of goods and currency, and bulk cash smuggling. The sanctions have the following consequences for U.S.-North Korea relations:

Trade is limited to food, medicine, and other humanitarian-related goods, all of which require a...

Northern Ireland: The Peace Process, Ongoing Challenges, and U.S. Interests

Between 1969 and 1999, almost 3,500 people died as a result of political violence in Northern Ireland, which is one of four component “nations” of the United Kingdom (UK). The conflict, often referred to as “the Troubles,” has its origins in the 1921 division of Ireland and has reflected a struggle between different national, cultural, and religious identities. Protestants in Northern Ireland (48% of the population) largely define themselves as British and support remaining part of the UK (unionists). Most Catholics in Northern Ireland (45% of the population) consider themselves Irish, and...

Moldova: An Overview

The SALT Cap: Overview and Analysis

Taxpayers who elect to itemize their deductions may reduce their federal income tax liability by claiming a deduction for certain state and local taxes paid, often called the “SALT deduction.” The 2017 tax revision (commonly referred to as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, TCJA; P.L. 115-97) made a number of changes to the SALT deduction. Most notably, the TCJA established a limit, or “SALT cap,” on the amounts claimed as SALT deductions for tax years 2018 through 2025. The SALT cap is $10,000 for single taxpayers and married couples filing jointly and $5,000 for married taxpayers filing...

Payroll Tax Cuts as an Economic Stimulus Response to Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

The current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak has increased concerns that the U.S. economy could be affected as part of a global economic downturn. A range of fiscal and monetary policy tools have been used to address prior times of economic weakness. One option for fiscal stimulus is a temporary payroll tax cut for employees. This option was used to address economic weakness in 2011 and 2012. On March 2, 2020, President Trump and others expressed interest in a one-year payroll tax cut to help bolster the economy.

What Are Payroll Taxes?

Payroll taxes are collected to finance certain...

Haiti’s Political and Economic Conditions

Since the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986, Haiti has struggled to overcome its centuries-long legacy of authoritarianism, disrespect for human rights, underdevelopment, and extreme poverty. Widespread corruption remains an impediment to changing that legacy. Haiti made significant progress in improving governance prior to the 2010 earthquake, but recovery since then has been slow. Democratic institutions remain weak and stability fragile. Poverty remains massive and deep, and economic disparity is wide. Due to its proximity to the United States and its chronically unstable...

Defense Primer: The Military Departments

Senate Floor Privileges: History and Current Practice

Senate Standing Rule XXIII, Privilege of the Floor, designates those afforded access to the Senate floor while the Senate is in session. In addition to sitting Senators, the rule lists several eligible positions, including certain current and former congressional, executive, and judicial officials; state and territorial governors; the mayor of the District of Columbia; members of foreign national legislatures; the nation’s highest ranking military leaders; and, under specified circumstances, congressional staff members assisting Senators on the floor.

Over its history, the Senate has...

Pakistan’s Domestic Political Setting

Health Care for Veterans: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), operates one of the nation’s largest integrated health care delivery systems. The VHA estimates that in FY2020 it would provide care to about 6.33 million unique veteran patients. In the same year, VHA estimates that it would employ a staff of about 347,000 full-time equivalent employees at approximately, 1,456 VA sites of care, with an appropriation of approximately $80.6 billion. VA health care is a discretionary program; therefore, the provision of health care is dependent on available appropriations....

Social Security Dual Entitlement

Suspension of the Rules in the House: Principal Features

Suspension of the rules is a procedure that the House of Representatives often uses on the floor to act expeditiously on legislation. This procedure is governed primarily by clause 1 of House Rule XV. When a bill or some other matter is considered “under suspension,” floor debate is limited, all floor amendments are prohibited, and a two-thirds vote is required for final passage.

Committee Jurisdiction and Referral in the House

When legislation is introduced in the House or received from the Senate, it is referred to one or more committees primarily on the basis of the jurisdictional statements contained in clause 1 of House Rule X. These statements define the policy subjects on which each standing committee may exercise jurisdiction on behalf of the chamber. The statements themselves tend to address broad policy areas rather than specific departments, agencies, or programs of the federal government. Because committee jurisdiction often is expressed in general policy terms, it is possible for more than one...

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA): Maternal Health Programs

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is one of the federal agencies charged with addressing U.S. maternal health outcomes. HRSA’s Improving Maternal Health in America initiative aims to address U.S. maternal health issues by, among other approaches, improving maternal health data, increasing maternal health research, and prioritizing quality improvement in maternal health care services.

The FY2019 appropriations report language for the Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education...

International Food Assistance: FY2020 Appropriations

U.S. international food assistance programs provide food, or the means to purchase food, to people around the world at risk of hunger. Congress funds these programs through two appropriations bills: the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act—also known as the Agriculture appropriations bill—and the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) Appropriations Act. The Agriculture appropriations bill funds the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) except for the Forest Service. The SFOPS appropriations...

Defense Authorization and Appropriations Bills: FY1961-FY2020

The passage of the Department of Defense (DOD) authorization and appropriations bills through Congress often does not follow the course laid out in textbooks on legislative procedure. Tracking DOD authorization or appropriation bills can be confusing and time-consuming. This has been particularly true in recent years, when continuing resolutions (CRs) and consolidated appropriations bills containing the DOD and other appropriations bills have been enacted in lieu of the 12 regular appropriations bills for the entire U.S. government.

This report is a research aid that lists the DOD...

Mauritania

Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP): History and Overview

Congress established the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) through the National Science and Technology Policy, Organization, and Priorities Act of 1976 (P.L. 94-282). The act states, “The primary function of the OSTP Director is to provide, within the Executive Office of the President [EOP], advice on the scientific, engineering, and technological aspects of issues that require attention at the highest level of Government.” Further, “The Office shall serve as a source of scientific and technological analysis and judgment for the President with respect to major policies, plans,...

International Trade: Rules of Origin

Rules of origin (ROO) are laws, regulations, and procedures used to determine the country of origin of an imported product. They are a significant part of international trade policy because ROO are needed to properly assess tariffs, enforce trade remedies (such as antidumping and countervailing duties) or quantitative restrictions (tariff quotas), and statistical purposes. Other commercial trade policies are also linked with country of origin determinations, such as labeling and government procurement regulations. Given Congress’ authority to regulate foreign commerce, it may consider how...

U.S. Farm Income Outlook: February 2020 Forecast

This report uses the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) farm income projections (as of February 5, 2020) to describe the U.S. farm economic outlook for 2020. Two major indicators of U.S. farm well-being are net farm income and net cash income. Net farm income represents an accrual of the value of all goods and serviced produced on the farm during the year—similar in concept to gross domestic product. In contrast, net cash income uses a cash flow concept to measure farm well-being: Only cash transactions for the year are included. Thus, crop production is recorded as net farm income...

Appropriations: CRS Experts

Because the Constitution gives Congress the power over spending of federal tax dollars, nearly every federal agency is influenced by the House and Senate appropriations committees. The congressional budget process is a complex series of legislative activities that includes budget resolutions, reconciliation to set tax levels and mandatory spending, and the annual approval of the 12 appropriations bills. In addition to these annual bills, appropriations committees regularly consider supplemental and emergency spending packages, as well as continuing resolutions (CRs) when final approval of...

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): Frequently Asked Questions About Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs)

In the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58; EPAct05), Congress required the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)—a mandate that requires U.S. transportation fuel to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuel. Since expansion of the RFS in 2007 under the Energy Independence and Security Act (P.L. 110-140; EISA), Congress has had interest in the RFS for various reasons (e.g., limited cellulosic biofuel production, EPA’s use of programmatic waiver authority, and RFS compliance costs). Over the last several months, Congress has expressed...

The Defense Production Act of 1950: History, Authorities, and Considerations for Congress

The Defense Production Act (DPA) of 1950 (P.L. 81-774, 50 U.S.C. §§4501 et seq.), as amended, confers upon the President a broad set of authorities to influence domestic industry in the interest of national defense. The authorities can be used across the federal government to shape the domestic industrial base so that, when called upon, it is capable of providing essential materials and goods needed for the national defense.

Though initially passed in response to the Korean War, the DPA is historically based on the War Powers Acts of World War II. Gradually, Congress has expanded the term...

Labor Enforcement Issues in U.S. FTAs

Overview of U.S. Domestic Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

This report discusses selected actions taken by the federal government to quell the introduction and spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the United States. COVID-19 is causing the third serious outbreak of novel coronavirus in modern times, following severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012. The global health community is closely monitoring COVID-19 because of the severity of symptoms (including death) among those infected, and the speed of its spread worldwide. At this time, U.S health officials say the general...

COVID-19: U.S.-China Economic Considerations

Federal Land Management Agencies and Programs: CRS Experts

Congress faces multiple issues regarding the ownership and management of federal lands and related resources. The following table provides access to names and contact information of CRS experts on general policy issues related to federal land management, as well as the CRS experts on the specific agencies charged with management of those lands. These agencies include the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service in the Department of the Interior, and the U.S. Forest Service in the Department of Agriculture. For an overview of these issues, see...

Stafford Act Assistance for Public Health Incidents

This Insight provides a brief overview of presidential declarations under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (hereinafter the Stafford Act—42 U.S.C. §5121 et seq.) that could be authorized in response to public health incidents. It also provides examples of Stafford Act declarations that have been previously issued to address public health hazards, including infectious disease incidents, which may be relevant to the current outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Overview

The Stafford Act authorizes the President to issue two types of...

COVID-19: Federal Economic Development Tools and Potential Responses

The current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak has led to tens of thousands of cases and thousands of deaths worldwide. In addition to the disease’s mortality and public health effects, it may have potentially significant economic implications, including productivity losses, supply chain disruptions, labor dislocation, and potential financial pressure on businesses and households. Relatively few federal programs are available to provide timely economic relief to affected businesses. This Insight considers the outbreak’s economic development implications and policy considerations for...

New U.S. Antipersonnel Landmine Use Policy

The H-2B Visa and the Statutory Cap

U.S.-EU Trade Agreement Negotiations: Trade in Food and Agricultural Products

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) officially notified the Congress of the Trump Administration’s plans to enter into formal trade negotiations with the European Union (EU) in October 2018. In January 2019, USTR announced its negotiating objectives for a U.S.-EU trade agreement, which included agricultural policies—both market access and non-tariff measures. However, the EU’s negotiating mandate, released in April 2019, stated that the trade talks would exclude agricultural products.

U.S.-EU27 Agricultural Trade, 1990-2019/

Source: CRS from USDA data for “Total...

Army Corps of Engineers: Environmental Infrastructure Assistance

Major Agricultural Trade Issues in 2020

Sales of U.S. agricultural products to foreign markets absorb about one-fifth of U.S. agricultural production, thus contributing significantly to the health of the farm economy. Farm product exports, which totaled $136 billion in FY2019 (see chart), make up about 8% of total U.S. exports and contribute positively to the U.S. balance of trade. The economic benefits of agricultural exports also extend across rural communities, while overseas farm sales help to buoy a wide array of industries linked to agriculture, including transportation, processing, and farm input suppliers.

U.S....

ESEA: Title I-A Standards, Assessments, Accountability, Report Cards, and Frequently Asked Questions

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA; P.L. 114-95), provides federal aid for elementary and secondary education. The largest ESEA program is Title I-A, Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged. As a condition of receiving Title I-A funds, states and local educational agencies (LEAs) must meet requirements related to academic standards, assessments, accountability, and reporting.

Academic Standards

Each state must adopt (1) challenging academic content standards in reading/language arts (RLA), mathematics, and...

Commemorative Coins: An Overview

Commemorative Coins: Background, Legislative Process, and Issues for Congress

Commemorative coins are produced by the U.S. Mint pursuant to an act of Congress and are often proposed by Members of Congress as part of their representational duties. These coins are legal tender that celebrate and honor American people, places, events, and institutions. Overall, 155 commemorative coins have been authorized since 1892. Since 1982, when Congress reinstituted the commemorative program, 94 commemorative coins have been authorized. Since 1998, only two coins may be authorized for any given year. To date, Congress has authorized commemorative coins to be issued through...

Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR): An Overview

U.S. Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) Program

Introduction to the Federal Budget Process

Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress exercises the “power of the purse.” This power is expressed through the application of several provisions. The power to lay and collect taxes and the power to borrow are among the enumerated powers of Congress under Article I, Section 8. Furthermore, Section 9 of Article I states that funds may be drawn from the Treasury only pursuant to appropriations made by law. The Constitution, however, does not prescribe how these legislative powers are to be exercised, nor does it expressly provide a specific role for the President with regard to budgetary...

Is There Liability for Cross-Border Shooting?

Regulating Drinking Water Contaminants: EPA PFAS Actions

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS)

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is an interagency body comprised of nine Cabinet members, two ex officio members, and other members as appointed by the President, that assists the President in reviewing the national security aspects of foreign direct investment in the U.S. economy. While the group often operated in relative obscurity, the perceived change in the nation’s national security and economic concerns following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the proposed acquisition of commercial operations at six U.S. ports by Dubai Ports World in...

European Energy Security: Options for EU Natural Gas Diversification

As a major energy consuming region, Europe faces a number of challenges in addressing its future energy needs. For member states of the European Union (EU), challenges include rapidly rising global demand and competition for energy resources from countries such as China and India, tensions with Russia, efforts to integrate the EU’s internal energy market, and a growing need to shift fuels in keeping with the EU’s climate change policy goals. As a result, energy supply security has become a key concern for the EU. European energy security is also of significant interest to the United...

Federal Freight Policy: In Brief

This report provides an overview of federal planning and funding for freight transportation infrastructure, namely for trucks, railroads, and vessels. The report also discusses the relative performance of these modes in carrying the freight burden and examines the decline in the waterborne share. Congestion is a concern to different degrees for the three modes. freight, cargo, truck, rail, maritime, barge, shipping, port, congestion, infrastructure, RRIF, train, locks, inland waterways, army corps, dredging, harbor, surface transportation board, STB, jones act, cabotage, railroad, highway,...

Medicaid Coverage for Former Foster Youth Up to Age 26

The National Institute of Standards and Technology: An Appropriations Overview

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a laboratory of the Department of Commerce, is mandated to provide technical services to facilitate the competitiveness of U.S. industry. NIST is directed to offer support to the private sector for the development of precompetitive generic technologies and the diffusion of government-developed innovation to users in all segments of the American economy. Laboratory research is to provide measurement, calibration, and quality assurance techniques that underpin U.S. commerce, technological progress, improved product reliability,...

Clean Air Act: A Summary of the Act and Its Major Requirements

This report summarizes the Clean Air Act and its major regulatory requirements. The principal statute addressing air quality concerns, the Clean Air Act was first enacted in 1955, with major revisions in 1970, 1977, and 1990. The act: requires EPA to set health-based standards for ambient air quality; sets deadlines for the achievement of those standards by state and local governments; requires EPA to set national emission standards for large or ubiquitous sources of air pollution, including motor vehicles, power plants, and other industrial sources; mandates emission controls for...

Section 199A Deduction for Pass-through Business Income: An Overview

Women’s History Month Speech Resources: Fact Sheet

Women’s History Month commemorates the contributions of American women. March was first designated as Women’s History Month on March 12, 1987, by P.L. 100-9. Since then, Presidents have issued annual proclamations promoting this observance.

This guide is designed to assist congressional offices with work related to Women’s History Month. It provides links to sample congressional speeches and recognitions, presidential proclamations, statistical data, and selected historical resources.

FY2020 LHHS Appropriations: Status

On December 20, 2019, the President signed into law the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (P.L. 116-94). This law contains full-year FY2020 appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) in Division A. The FY2020 LHHS annual appropriations total more than $1 trillion, when accounting for both mandatory and discretionary funding. Previously, FY2020 LHHS funding had been provided on a temporary basis by two continuing resolutions (P.L. 116-59, P.L. 116-69).

Scope of the Bill

The LHHS bill provides the annually...

U.S. Trade Deficit and the Impact of Changing Oil Prices

Exports and imports of petroleum products and changes in their prices have long had a large impact on the U.S. balance of payments, often serving as a major component in the U.S. trade deficit. Over the past decade, however, this has changed. Currently, petroleum prices are having less of an impact on the U.S. balance of payments primarily due to the growth in U.S. exports of petroleum products; in the last four months of 2019, U.S. exports of petroleum products exceeded imports. While this represents a major step in achieving energy independence, the United States remains a major net...

Federal Land Ownership: Overview and Data

The federal government owns roughly 640 million acres, about 28% of the 2.27 billion acres of land in the United States. Four major federal land management agencies administer 606.5 million acres of this land (as of September 30, 2018). They are the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and National Park Service (NPS) in the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Forest Service (FS) in the Department of Agriculture. A fifth agency, the Department of Defense (excluding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers), administers 8.8 million acres in the United States (as of...

Carbon Sequestration Legislation in the 116th Congress

Selected Agency Budget Justifications for FY2021

This report provides a convenient listing of online FY2021 agency budget justification submissions for all 15 executive branch departments and 9 selected independent agencies. In most cases, budget justifications contain more detailed descriptions of the proposals and programs that are provided in the President’s budget submissions. This report is updated each year after the agencies release their budget justifications to accompany the President’s budget submission.

Block Grants: Perspectives and Controversies

Block grants provide state and local governments funding to assist them in addressing broad purposes, such as community development, social services, public health, or law enforcement, and generally provide them more control over the use of the funds than categorical grants.

Block grant advocates argue that block grants increase government efficiency and program effectiveness by redistributing power and accountability through decentralization and partial devolution of decisionmaking authority from the federal government to state and local governments. Advocates also view them as a means...

The 2020 Census: Frequently Asked Questions

April 1, 2020, will mark the official date of the 24th U.S. decennial census. Mandated by the Constitution and federal law, the census is considered a cornerstone of the nation’s representative democracy. Nevertheless, an enumeration that is complete and accurate is difficult to achieve. Among other challenges, the census is often misunderstood, mischaracterized, feared, or avoided. This report addresses common questions concerning the 2020 census. The report is intended to provide information about the census, including clarifying various aspects of the census process. Among the topics...

Foreign Assistance for International Conservation

The United States provides foreign assistance to support myriad global objectives, including the conservation of wildlife and ecosystems. The United States provides foreign assistance in the form of financial, programmatic, and technical support to address international conservation activities. International conservation activities include those relating to species protection, habitat restoration, and forest recovery, among other priorities. Several federal agencies administer these programs, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Department...

Deadlines, Programs, and Regulations Mandated by FIRRMA

CFIUS Reform Under FIRRMA

Rural Development Provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill (P.L. 115-334)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development agency (RD) administers programs to support rural infrastructure and economic development. This includes programs focused on rural housing, rural business development, rural water and energy infrastructure, and, more recently, rural broadband deployment. Congress considers reauthorizing these programs in periodic omnibus farm bills. In December 2018, President Trump signed the 2018 farm bill (Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, P.L. 115-334) into law. This legislation reauthorizes and amends RD programs, establishes new rural...

The National Trails System: A Brief Overview

The National Trails System was created in 1968 by the National Trails System Act (16 U.S.C. §§1241-1251). The system includes four types of trails: (1) national scenic trails (NSTs), which display significant physical characteristics of U.S. regions; (2) national historic trails (NHTs), which follow travel routes of national historical significance; (3) national recreation trails (NRTs), which provide outdoor recreation accessible to urban areas; and (4) connecting or side trails, which provide access to the other types of trails. As defined in the act, NSTs and NHTs are long-distance...

FY2021 Defense Budget Request: An Overview

The FY2021 President’s budget request includes $753.5 billion in budget authority for national defense. National defense is one of 20 major functions used by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to aggregate budget dataand the largest in terms of discretionary spending. The national defense budget function (identified by the numerical notation 050) comprises three subfunctions: Department of Defense (DOD)–Military (051); atomic energy defense activities primarily of the Department of Energy (053); and other defense-related activities (054), such as FBI counterintelligence...

The International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and Tariffs: Historical Background and Key Issues

On May 30, 2019, President Donald J. Trump announced his intention to use the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) (50 U.S.C. §§1701 et seq.) to impose a 5% tariff on all goods imported from Mexico effective June 10, 2019. The tariff, he said, would gradually increase until “the illegal migration crisis is alleviated through effective actions taken by Mexico.” On June 7, 2019, the President stated that the tariffs were “indefinitely suspended” because Mexico had “agreed to take strong measures to ... stem the tide of migration.”

Presidents may invoke IEEPA in response to an...

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Paid Family and Medical Leave in the United States

Paid family and medical leave (PFML) refers to partially or fully compensated time away from work for specific and generally significant family caregiving needs, such as the arrival of a new child or serious illness of a close family member, or an employee’s own serious medical needs. In general, day-to-day needs for leave to attend to family matters (e.g., a school conference or lapse in child care coverage), a minor illness, and preventive care are not included among family and medical leave categories.

Although the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA; P.L. 103-3) provides...

Mexico’s Immigration Control Efforts

Immigration

Workers’ Compensation: Overview and Issues

U.S.-EU Trade and Investment Ties: Magnitude and Scope

Saudi Arabia: Background and U.S. Relations

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia, ruled by the Al Saud family since its founding in 1932, wields significant global influence through its administration of the birthplace of the Islamic faith and by virtue of its large oil reserves. Close U.S.-Saudi official relations have survived a series of challenges since the 1940s. In recent years, shared concerns over Sunni Islamist extremist terrorism and Iranian government policies have provided some renewed logic for continued strategic cooperation. Political upheaval and conflict in the Middle East and North Africa have created new challenges, and...

FERC Directs PJM to Expand Minimum Offer Price Rule

On December 18, 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an order directing the PJM regional transmission organization (RTO) to expand its Minimum Offer Price Rule (MOPR) as a move to address subsidies to electric power generation resources by states, with certain exemptions. FERC stated that it acted “to protect the competitive capacity market administered by PJM” by requiring PJM to expand its MOPR to apply to any new or existing power generation resource that receives, or is entitled to receive, a state subsidy, unless a FERC-determined exemption applies. FERC...

Defense Primer: Commanding U.S. Military Operations

UPDATED: Recent U.S. Airstrikes: Legal Authorities and Questions

Dynamic Scoring in the Congressional Budget Process

When Congress considers legislation, it takes into account the proposal’s potential budgetary effects. Although this information may come from numerous sources, Congress generally relies on estimates provided by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) when determining whether legislation complies with congressional budgetary rules.

Generally, CBO and JCT estimates include projections of the budgetary effects that would result from proposed policy changes, and incorporate anticipated individual behavioral responses to the policy. The estimates,...

Workers’ Compensation: Overview and Issues

Workers’ compensation provides cash and medical benefits to workers who are injured or become ill in the course of their employment and provides cash benefits to the survivors of workers killed on the job. Benefits are provided without regard to fault and are the exclusive remedy for workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths. Nearly all workers in the United States are covered by workers’ compensation. With the exception of federal employees and some small groups of private-sector employees covered by federal law, workers compensation is provided by a network of state programs. In general,...

The Dollar and the U.S. Trade Deficit

Social Security: The Government Pension Offset (GPO)

Social Security spousal benefits were established in the 1930s to help support wives who are financially dependent on their husbands. It has since become more common for both spouses in a couple to work, leading to more cases in which both members of a couple are entitled to Social Security or other government pensions based on their own work records. Social Security does not provide both a full retired-worker and a full spousal benefit to the same individual.

Two provisions are designed to reduce the Social Security spousal benefits of individuals who are not financially dependent on...

Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards

Liberia: Background and U.S. Relations

Introduction. Congress has shown enduring interest in Liberia, a small coastal West African country of about 4.8 million people. The United States played a key role in the country’s founding, and bilateral ties generally have remained close despite significant strains during Liberia’s two civil wars (1989-1997 and 1999-2003). Congress has appropriated considerable foreign assistance for Liberia, and has held hearings on the country’s postwar trajectory and development. In recent years, congressional interest partly has centered on the immigration status of over 80,000 Liberian nationals...

U.S.-India Trade Relations

Conventional Prompt Global Strike and Long-Range Ballistic Missiles: Background and Issues

Members of Congress and Pentagon officials have placed a growing emphasis on U.S. programs to develop hypersonic weapons as a part of an effort to acquire the capability for the United States to launch attacks against targets around the world in under an hour. Conventional prompt global strike (CPGS) weapons may bolster U.S. efforts to deter and defeat adversaries by allowing the United States to attack high-value targets or “fleeting targets” at the start of or during a conflict. Congress has generally supported the PGS mission, but restricted funding for several years. Recently, efforts...

Highway and Public Transit Funding Issues

Defense Primer: DOD Transfer and Reprogramming Authorities

Accomplices, Aiding and Abetting, and the Like: An Abbreviated Overview of 18 U.S.C. § 2

Virtually every federal criminal statute has a hidden feature; primary offenders and even their most casual accomplices face equal punishment. This is the work of 18 U.S.C. § 2, which visits the same consequences on anyone who orders or intentionally assists in the commission of a federal crime.

Aiding and abetting means assisting in the commission of someone else’s crime. Section 2(a) demands that the defendant embrace the crime of another and consciously do something to contribute to its success. An accomplice must know the offense is afoot if he is to intentionally contribute to its...

Electric Vehicles: A Primer on Technology and Selected Policy Issues

The market for electrified light-duty vehicles (also called passenger vehicles; including passenger cars, pickup trucks, SUVs, and minivans) has grown since the 1990s. During this decade, the first contemporary hybrid-electric vehicle debuted on the global market, followed by the introduction of other types of electric vehicles (EVs). By 2018, electric vehicles made up 4.2% of the 16.9 million new light-duty vehicles sold in the United States that year. Meanwhile, charging infrastructure grew in response to rising electric vehicle ownership, increasing from 3,394 charging stations in 2011...

Accomplices, Aiding and Abetting, and the Like: An Overview of 18 U.S.C. § 2

Virtually every federal criminal statute has a hidden feature; primary offenders and even their most casual accomplices face equal punishment. This is the work of 18 U.S.C. § 2, which visits the same consequences on anyone who orders or intentionally assists in the commission of a federal crime.

Aiding and abetting means assisting in the commission of someone else’s crime. Section 2(a) demands that the defendant embrace the crime of another and consciously do something to contribute to its success. An accomplice must know the offense is afoot if he is to intentionally contribute to its...

Railroad Retirement Board: Retirement, Survivor, Disability, Unemployment, and Sickness Benefits

The Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), an independent federal agency, administers retirement, survivor, disability, unemployment, and sickness insurance for railroad workers and their families. During FY2018, the RRB paid nearly $12.7 billion in retirement, disability, and survivor benefits to approximately 540,000 beneficiaries and paid $92.6 million in unemployment and sickness benefits to approximately 25,000 claimants. Of the total $12.7 billion benefit payments in the same fiscal year, 61.0% was paid to retired workers, 7.4% to disabled workers, 14.4% to spouses, and 16.7% to...

Management of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) in the Military

On January 7, 2020, the Department of Defense (DOD) reported that the Islamic Republic of Iran launched a number of ballistic missiles at certain Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. and coalition military forces. These forces utilize Iraqi military bases to support counter-terrorism operations within the region, including military actions against the Islamic State under Operation Inherent Resolve. DOD initially reported no U.S. or coalition casualties, then later stated that 34 U.S. servicemembers assigned to these locations were subsequently diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI)...

United States Central Command

What Is An Autodialer? A Lingering Robocall Enforcement Question

Currency Manipulation and Countervailing Duties

On February 4, 2020, the Commerce Department issued a final rule that paves the way for imposing tariffs on imports from countries determined by the U.S. government to be undervaluing their currency relative to the U.S. dollar. Various Members of Congress have debated such a policy for years, including in 2013 and 2015, but Congress has refrained from legislating it due to a variety of concerns.

Currency Manipulation

For more than a decade, some policymakers and analysts have expressed concerns that U.S. exports and jobs have been harmed by unfair exchange rate policies of other countries...

Reauthorizing Highway and Transit Funding Programs

School Meals and Other Child Nutrition Programs: Background and Funding

The federal government has a long history of investing in programs for feeding children, starting with federal aid for school lunch programs in the 1930s. Today, federal child nutrition programs support food served to children in schools and a variety of other institutional settings. Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), child nutrition programs include the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), Fresh Fruit and Vegetable...

Recent Developments in the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

On January 31, 2020, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv. The meeting occurred during the Senate’s presidential impeachment trial and almost two months after the relaunch of international talks on resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Pompeo expressed the United States’ commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and stated that the United States would continue to provide security assistance to Ukraine.

Pompeo also acknowledged Zelensky’s efforts to invigorate a relatively dormant conflict-resolution process...

Brexit: Status and Outlook

The United Kingdom (UK) formally withdrew from membership in the European Union (EU) on January 31, 2020. Under the withdrawal agreement negotiated by the two sides, the UK is to continue applying EU rules during a transition period scheduled to run through the end of 2020. During the transition period, the UK and the EU are expected to begin negotiating the terms of their future relationship, including trade and economic relations as well as cooperation on foreign policy, security, and a range of other issues.

Overview of Developments

After the 2016 referendum in which 52% of voters in...

U.S.-Vietnam Economic and Trade Relations: Issues in 2020

Economic and Fiscal Conditions in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Fiscal and economic challenges facing the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) government raise several issues for Congress. Congress may choose to maintain oversight of federal policies that could affect the USVI’s long-term fiscal stability. Congress also may consider further legislation that would extend or restructure long-range disaster assistance programs to mitigate those challenges and promote greater resiliency of infrastructure and public programs. Federal responses to the USVI’s fiscal distress could conceivably affect municipal debt markets more broadly. Greater certainty in federal...

Legislative Branch: FY2020 Appropriations

The legislative branch appropriations bill provides funding for the Senate; House of Representatives; Joint Items; Capitol Police; Office of Congressional Workplace Rights (formerly Office of Compliance); Congressional Budget Office (CBO); Architect of the Capitol (AOC); Library of Congress (LOC), including the Congressional Research Service (CRS); Government Publishing Office (GPO); Government Accountability Office (GAO); Open World Leadership Center; and the John C. Stennis Center.

The legislative branch budget request was submitted on March 11, 2019. Following hearings in the House and...

The Internet of Things (IoT): An Overview

Multilateral Development Banks: Overview and Issues for Congress

Multilateral development banks (MDBs) provide financial assistance to developing countries in order to promote economic and social development. The United States is a member, and donor, to five major MDBs: the World Bank and four regional development banks, including the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Inter-American Development Bank.

The MDBs primarily fund large infrastructure and other development projects and provide loans tied to policy reforms by the government. The MDBs provide non-concessional...

Drug Pricing and Pharmaceutical Patenting Practices

Intellectual property (IP) rights in pharmaceuticals are typically justified as necessary to allow manufacturers to recoup their substantial investments in research, development, and regulatory approval. IP law provides exclusive rights in a particular invention or product for a certain time period, potentially enabling the rights holder (e.g., a brand-name drug manufacturer) to charge higher-than-competitive prices. If rights holders are able to charge such prices, they have an incentive to lengthen the period of exclusive rights as much as possible. Indeed, some commentators allege that...

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): FY2021 Budget Request Fact Sheet

Overview of FY2021 President’s Budget request for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Tax Policy and Disaster Recovery

The Internal Revenue Code (IRC) contains a number of provisions intended to provide disaster relief. Following certain disasters, Congress has passed legislation with temporary and targeted tax relief policies. At other times, Congress has passed legislation providing tax relief to those affected by all federally declared major disasters (disasters with Stafford Act declarations) occurring during a set time period. In addition, several disaster tax relief provisions are permanent features of the IRC.

This report discusses the following permanent provisions:

disaster casualty loss...

Issues in Autonomous Vehicle Testing and Deployment

Autonomous vehicles have the potential to bring major improvements in highway safety. Motor vehicle crashes caused an estimated 36,560 fatalities in 2018; a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has shown that 94% of crashes are due to human errors. For this and other reasons, federal oversight of the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles has been of considerable interest to Congress. In the 115th Congress, autonomous vehicle legislation passed the House as H.R. 3388, the SELF DRIVE Act, and a separate bill, S. 1885, the AV START Act, was reported from...

Federal-Aid Highway Program (FAHP): In Brief

The Federal-Aid Highway Program (FAHP) is an umbrella term for the separate highway programs administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). These programs are almost entirely focused on highway construction, and generally do not support operations (such as state DOT salaries or fuel costs) or routine maintenance (such as mowing roadway fringes or filling potholes). Federal-aid highways Highway construction Highway finance Alternative finance Highway Trust Fund Highway use tax Gasoline tax User charges Surface transportation reauthorization FAST Act Highway...

FDA Regulation of Cannabidiol (CBD) Consumer Products

Legislative Branch Appropriations: Frequently Asked Questions

This report responds to frequently asked questions about legislative branch appropriations. Frequently asked questions include the items that are funded within this bill; development, presentation, and consideration of the legislative branch budget requests; the legislative branch budget in historical perspective; and recent actions.

The House and Senate considered FY2020 legislative branch funding during 2019:

The FY2020 legislative branch budget request of $5.288 billion (+9.3%) was submitted on March 11, 2019.

The House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee held hearings in...

Congress May Consider Options to Extend Expiring Funds for Primary Care

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), enacted in March 2010, appropriated mandatory funds to support three programs focused on expanding access to primary care services for populations that are typically underserved. These three programs are the Health Centers program, the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), and payments to support medical residents training at teaching health centers—outpatient health facilities that primarily provide care to underserved populations.

The mandatory ACA funds for these programs were initially provided for five years. Funding for each of these three programs had...

Social Security: The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)

Social Security is a work-based, federal insurance program that provides income support to workers and their eligible family members in the event of the worker’s retirement, disability, or death. A worker’s employment or self-employment is considered covered by Social Security if the services performed in that job result in earnings that are taxable and creditable for program purposes. Although participation in Social Security is compulsory for most workers, about 6% of all workers in paid employment or self-employment are not covered by Social Security in 2019.

The windfall elimination...

Court Tosses Convictions for Killing ICE Agent Abroad

FDA Regulation of Tobacco Products

Cigarette use remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, claiming an estimated 480,000 lives or more each year. Although cigarette use in the United States continues to decline, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 34.2 million American adults smoked cigarettes every day or some days in 2018, and nearly 1.2 million American middle and high school students smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days in 2019.

In recent years, electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) have become increasingly popular. ENDS is an umbrella term for various...

Illicit Drug Smuggling Between Ports of Entry and Border Barriers

Policy discussions around border security often involve questions about how illicit drugs flow into the United States. These include questions about the smugglers, types and quantities of illicit drugs crossing U.S. borders, primary entry points, and methods by which drugs are smuggled. Further, these discussions often center on the shared U.S.-Mexico border, as it is a major conduit through which illicit drugs flow.

There are no comprehensive data on the total quantity of foreign-produced illicit drugs smuggled into the United States at or between official ports of entry (POEs) because...

The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard: Overview and Select Considerations

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In July 2016, Congress enacted P.L. 114-216 (2016 Act), comprehensive legislation to govern the labeling of bioengineered foods. The 2016 Act required the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (the Standard). The Standard regulates labeling of bioengineered foods, a term defined in the 2016 Act. The act does not address or define other terms that some members of the public might associate with bioengineered foods, such as genetically engineered (GE), genetically modified, and genetically modified organism (GMO). The...

Railroad Retirement Board: Trust Fund Investment Practices

The Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), an independent federal agency, administers retirement, survivor, disability, unemployment, and sickness insurance for railroad workers and their families. Railroad retirement payroll taxes include two tiers—Tier I and Tier II taxes. The Tier I tax finances the Tier I railroad retirement benefit that is equivalent to Social Security benefits and the Tier II tax finances the Tier II benefit, Tier I benefits in excess of Social Security benefits, and supplemental annuities.

Since 2002, Tier II tax revenues in excess of obligatory RRB benefits and...

Defense Primer: Procurement

The Army’s Modernization Strategy: Congressional Oversight Considerations

In October 2019, the Army published a new modernization strategy aimed at transforming the Army in order to conduct Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) which are intended to address the current and future actions of near-peer competitors Russia and China. The Army’s Modernization Strategy is part of a hierarchy of strategies designed, among other things, to inform the Service’s respective modernization plans. These strategies include the National Security Strategy (NSS), the National Defense Strategy (NDS), the National Military Strategy (NMS), and the Army Strategy.

The Army’s Modernization...

U.S.-China Phase I Deal: Agriculture

Monetary Policy and the Federal Reserve: Current Policy and Conditions

Congress has delegated responsibility for monetary policy to the Federal Reserve (the Fed), the nation’s central bank, but retains oversight responsibilities for ensuring that the Fed is adhering to its statutory mandate of “maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.” To meet its price stability mandate, the Fed has set a longer-run goal of 2% inflation.

The Fed’s control over monetary policy stems from its exclusive ability to alter the money supply and credit conditions more broadly. Normally, the Fed conducts monetary policy by setting a target for the...

Defense Primer: U.S. Defense Industrial Base

Funding for ACA-Established Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund (PCORTF) Extended Through FY2029

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA, P.L. 111-148, as amended) authorized the establishment of a private, nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation called the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) at Social Security Act (SSA) Section 1181. This built on provisions in prior law that expanded the federal government’s role in comparative effectiveness research (CER). The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA, P.L. 111-5) provided a total of $1.1 billion for CER and required an Institute of Medicine report with recommendations on national CER...

U.S. Bilateral International Family Planning and Reproductive Health Programs: Background and Selected Issues

U.S. international family planning activities stem from a provision of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (Section 104, P.L. 87-195; as amended), which authorized research on family planning issues, among many other things. In 1965, Congress authorized the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to create contraceptive distribution programs. Originally, international family planning programs focused on distributing contraceptives and related commodities. Over time, such programs evolved to also address reproductive health issues, such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and...

The Internal Revenue Service’s Private Tax Debt Collection Program

Oil Market Effects from U.S. Economic Sanctions: Iran, Russia, Venezuela

Economic sanctions imposed by the United States—through enacted legislation and executive action—on Iran, Russia, and Venezuela aim to pressure the ruling governments to change their behavior and policies. Currently, these sanctions aim to either eliminate (Iran) or restrict (Venezuela) crude oil trade of as much as 3.3 million to 4.0 million barrels per day (bpd), roughly 3%-4% of global petroleum supply. Estimated oil production volumes affected to date have been approximately 1.7 million bpd from Iran. Venezuela oil production has also likely been affected, although accurately...

TurkStream: Russia’s Newest Gas Pipeline to Europe

Federal Securities Laws: An Overview

Wage Inequality and the Stagnation of Earnings of Low-Wage Workers: Contributing Factors and Policy Options

Over the 1979-2018 period, real wages at the 10th percentile of the hourly wage distribution grew by 1.6%, whereas wages at the 50th percentile grew by 6.1% and wages at the 90th percentile grew by 37.6%. These patterns varied by sex, race, and ethnicity. Most of the increase in wage inequality at the bottom of the distribution occurred by 1990 and leveled off by 2000, whereas inequality continued to grow at the top of the distribution after 2000. Lower wages are associated with less education, and the college wage premium (the ratio of earnings of those with a college degree over those...

Federal Spending on Benefits and Services for People with Low Income: FY2008-FY2018 Update

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) regularly receives requests about federal benefits and services targeted to low-income populations. This report is the latest update in a series of CRS reports that attempt to identify and provide information about federal spending targeted to this population. The report series does not discuss social insurance programs such as Social Security, Medicare, or Unemployment Insurance, but includes only programs with an explicit focus on low-income people or communities. Tax provisions, other than the refundable portion of two tax credits, are excluded....

Buying American: The Berry and Kissell Amendments

Medicare Trigger

The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA; P.L. 108-173) requires the Medicare Board of Trustees to provide in its annual reports, starting with the 2005 report, an expanded analysis of Medicare expenditures and revenues (MMA §801). If the Medicare trustees determine that general revenue funding for Medicare is expected to exceed 45% of Medicare outlays for the current fiscal year or any of the next six fiscal years, a determination of excess general revenue Medicare funding is made. If the determination is issued for two consecutive years, a funding...

Defense Primer: Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering

Federal Public Transportation Program: In Brief

Federal assistance to public transportation is provided primarily through the public transportation program administered by the Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The federal public transportation program was authorized from FY2016 through FY2020 as part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (P.L. 114-94). This report provides an introduction to the program as authorized by the FAST Act.

Major federal involvement in public transportation dates to the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 (P.L. 88-365). Prior to the mid-1960s there was...

Egypt: Death of American Citizen and Congressional Response

Overview

On January 13, 2020, Mustafa Kassem, a dual U.S.-Egyptian citizen who had been detained in Egypt since 2013, died of heart failure in an Egyptian prison after a two-year hunger strike. The Egyptian government has defended its treatment of Kassem, claiming that he received adequate medical care and legal rights. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo called Kassem’s death “pointless and tragic.”

Some Members of Congress had long been concerned for Kassem, arguing that Egyptian authorities unlawfully detained and wrongfully convicted him. Kassem’s death has upset some in Congress,...

The 10-20-30 Provision: Defining Persistent Poverty Counties

Antipoverty interventions that provide resources to local communities, based on the characteristics of those communities, have been of interest to Congress. One such policy, dubbed the “10-20-30 provision,” was implemented in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, P.L. 111-5). Title I, Section 105 of ARRA required the Secretary of Agriculture to allocate at least 10% of funds from three rural development program accounts to persistent poverty counties; that is, to counties that have had poverty rates of 20% or more for the past 30 years, as measured by the 1980, 1990,...

The U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex: Overview of Department of Energy Sites

Responsibility for U.S. nuclear weapons resides in both the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Energy (DOE). DOD develops, deploys, and operates the missiles and aircraft that deliver nuclear warheads. It also generates the military requirements for the warheads carried on those platforms. DOE, and its semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), oversee the research, development, testing, and acquisition programs that produce, maintain, and sustain the nuclear warheads.

To achieve these objectives, the facilities that constitute the nuclear weapons...

Child Welfare: Purposes, Federal Programs, and Funding

IAEA Budget and U.S. Contributions: In Brief

The United States, along with European Union and the P5+1 partners and Iran, agreed on July 14, 2015 to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that is intended to end decades of economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program. The accord designates the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to monitor and verify Iranian compliance with the JCPOA and report on these activities regularly. With this in mind, the second session of the 116h Congress may be interested in the funding of the IAEA.

The IAEA is an autonomous intergovernmental...

Bureau of Reclamation: FY2020 Appropriations

The Current State of Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform and Management

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has reported that the federal government budgets more than $90 billion each year on information technology (IT) investments. Historically, the projects supported by these investments have often incurred “multi-million dollar cost overruns and years-long schedule delays.” In addition, GAO has reported that these projects may contribute little to mission-related outcomes and, in some cases, may fail altogether. These undesirable results, according to GAO, “can be traced to a lack of disciplined and effective management and inadequate executive-level...

National Security Space Launch

The United States is making significant efforts to pursue a strategy that ensures continued access to space for national security missions. The current strategy is embodied in the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) program. The NSSL supersedes the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program, which started in 1995 to ensure that National Security Space (NSS) launches were affordable and reliable. For the same reasons, policymakers provide oversight for the current NSSL program and encourage competition, as there was only one provider for launch services from 2006 to 2013. Moreover,...

Introduction to Financial Services: Corporate Governance

Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA): Background, Status, and Issues

Almost all U.S. offshore oil and gas production occurs in the Gulf of Mexico. Federal oil and gas leasing in the Gulf is governed primarily by two laws—the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA; 43 U.S.C. §§1331-1356b), which broadly controls oil and gas leasing throughout the U.S. outer continental shelf (OCS); and the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006 (GOMESA; 43 U.S.C. §1331 note), whose provisions relate specifically to leasing in the Gulf region. GOMESA imposes an oil and gas leasing moratorium through June 30, 2022, in most of the Eastern Gulf (off the Florida coast) and...

The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA): Compensation Related to Exposure to Radiation from Atomic Weapons Testing and Uranium Mining

The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) provides one-time benefit payments to persons who may have developed cancer or other specified diseases after being exposed to radiation from atomic weapons testing or uranium mining, milling, or transporting. Administered by the Department of Justice (DOJ), RECA has awarded over $2.3 billion in benefits to more than 36,000 claimants since its inception in 1990. The RECA program is scheduled to sunset in 2022.

RECA benefits are available to the following groups:

onsite participants—$75,000 to persons who participated onsite in the atmospheric...

Defense Primer: Department of Defense Contractors

Lebanon Forms New Government Amid Economic Crisis, Ongoing Protests

On January 21, Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced the formation of a new Lebanese government, 85 days after nationwide protests triggered the resignation of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri. The new cabinet is comprised entirely of parties allied with the March 8 political bloc—headed by the Christian Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), Hezbollah, and the Amal Movement—leading some to describe it as one-sided. The new government faces significant challenges, including ongoing protests and an escalating economic crisis. However, the political composition of the new government—and the...

Section 232 Auto Investigation

FY2020 Disaster Supplemental and Tax Legislation: CRS Experts

The House Appropriations Committee has introduced H.R. 5687, legislation that includes supplemental appropriations and tax provisions responding to a series of natural disasters. Table 1 lists CRS materials and points of contact for congressional clients seeking background on the contents of the legislation.

For those seeking context for this measure by comparing it to previous disaster supplemental appropriations measures, please see CRS Report R45844, FY2019 Disaster Supplemental Appropriations: Overview; and CRS Report R45084, 2017 Disaster Supplemental Appropriations: Overview.

Defense Primer: Lowest Price Technically Acceptable Contracts

Defense Primer: The National Technology and Industrial Base

National African American History Month Speech Resources: Fact Sheet

This fact sheet links to authoritative information resources related to National African American History Month, which is also referred to as African American History Month and Black History Month. It is designed to assist congressional offices with work related to National African American History Month by providing links to legislation, CRS reports, sample speeches and remarks from the Congressional Record, and presidential proclamations and remarks. It also links to additional government web resources and selected advocacy, educational, cultural, and military, organizations.

Advance Refunding Bonds and P.L. 115-97

On January 29, 2020, the chairs of the House Transportation and Infrastructure, Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means Committees released the Moving Forward Framework, which would invest roughly $760 billion in infrastructure projects over a five-year period. Among other things, the draft would reinstate the ability to issue federally tax-exempt advance refunding bonds, whose issuance authority was repealed by the 2017 tax revision (P.L. 115-97; sometimes referred to as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or TCJA). This Insight briefly describes advance refunding bonds, summarizes recently...

Competition on the Edge of the Internet

Edge providers are individuals and entities that provide content, applications, services, and devices accessed over the internet. An edge provider can be a personal blog created by an individual or a website created by a billion-dollar company. Some edge providers sell products or subscriptions, while others sell consumer data or use it for digital advertising. Edge provider activities, conducted on the “edge” of the internet—hence the name—are not regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Edge providers rely on internet service providers (ISPs) and mobile carriers to...

Defense Primer: Acquiring Specialty Metals and Sensitive Materials

Digital Assets and SEC Regulation

In recent years, financial innovation in capital markets has fostered a new asset class—digital assets—and introduced new forms of fundraising and trading. Digital assets, which include crypto-assets, cryptocurrencies, or digital tokens, among others, are digital representations of value made possible by cryptography and distributed ledger technology. Regardless of the terms used to describe these assets, depending on their characteristics, some digital assets are subject to securities laws and regulations.

Securities regulation generally applies to all securities, whether they are...

Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Program

Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI): The SEC’s Rule for Broker-Dealers

On June 5, 2019, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted to adopt Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI) under the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 (P.L. 73-291). Reg BI reforms requirements for broker-dealers when they make investment recommendations to retail customers. According to the SEC, Reg BI is meant to “enhance the broker-dealer standard of conduct beyond existing ... obligations [by] requiring broker-dealers ... to: (1) act in the best interest of the retail customer at the time the recommendation is made, without placing the financial or other interest of the...

Indo-Pacific Strategies of U.S. Allies and Partners: Issues for Congress

China’s growing confidence in asserting itself regionally and internationally, combined with longstanding concerns about whether the United States has the capacity or commitment to remain the region’s dominant actor, is leading U.S. allies and partners to adjust their strategic posture. This report seeks to outline some of these changes and to outline the perspectives of Indo-Pacific nations seeking to navigate a changing geopolitical environment, including by recasting their conception of the region to draw in new potential counterweights to China such as India, prioritizing new defense...

USMCA: Amendment and Key Changes

Israel and the Palestinians: U.S. Peace Plan and Possible Israeli Annexation

President Trump released a long-promised “Peace to Prosperity” plan for Israel and the Palestinians on January 28, 2020, after obtaining support from Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Netanyahu’s main political rival Benny Gantz. The release and Netanyahu’s announced intention to annex parts of the Israeli military-controlled West Bank might affect a closely-contested Israeli election scheduled for March 2—the third in the past year pitting Netanyahu (who has been indicted on corruption charges) and Gantz against one another. Members of Congress have had mixed reactions to the...

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program

Another Coronavirus Emerges: U.S. Domestic Response to 2019-nCoV

The Emergence of 2019-nCoV

On December 31, 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) was informed of a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China. Illnesses have since been linked to a previously unidentified strain of coronavirus, designated 2019 novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV. To date, thousands have been infected, mostly in China, and over 100 have died. The disease has spread to several other countries, including the United States. As the scope of the epidemic widened in China, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated on January 27, 2020, that “the immediate...

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement: A Summary

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has been the principle forum for cooperation among nations on greenhouse gas (GHG)-induced climate change since its adoption in 1992. Its objective is “to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system, in a time frame which allows ecosystems to adapt naturally and enables sustainable development.”

Stabilizing GHG concentrations in the atmosphere requires that the balance of “gross” emissions of GHG minus the removals of GHG from...

U.S.-China Trade and Economic Relations: Overview

History, Evolution, and Practices of the President’s State of the Union Address: Frequently Asked Questions

The State of the Union address is a communication from the President to Congress in which the chief executive reports on the current condition of the United States and provides policy proposals for the upcoming legislative year. The address originates in the Constitution (Article II, Section 3, clause 1), which requires that the President “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”

Over time, the State of the Union address has evolved considerably. The...

Defense Primer: Navigating the NDAA

Escalating U.S. Tariffs: Timeline

The trade practices of U.S. trading partners and the U.S. trade deficit are a focus of the Trump Administration. Citing these and other concerns, the President has imposed tariff increases under three U.S. laws:

(1) Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974 (Table 1) on U.S. imports of washing machines and solar products due to concerns over their injurious effects on domestic U.S. industry;

(2) Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 (Table 2) on U.S. imports of steel and aluminum, and potentially motor vehicles/parts and titanium sponge due to concerns that imports threaten to impair...

Defense Primer: Intelligence Support to Military Operations

Defense Primer: Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP)

DHS Border Barrier Funding

The purpose of barriers on the U.S.-Mexico border has evolved over time. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, fencing at the border was more for demarcation, or discouraging livestock from wandering over the border, rather than deterring smugglers or illegal migration.

Physical barriers to deter migrants are a relatively new part of the border landscape, first being built in the 1990s in conjunction with counterdrug efforts. This phase of construction, extending into the 2000s, was largely driven by legislative initiatives. Specific authorization for border barriers was provided in...

Overview of FY2020 Appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS)

This report describes actions taken by the Trump Administration and Congress to provide FY2020 appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) accounts. The annual CJS appropriations act provides funding for the Department of Commerce, which includes bureaus and offices such as the Census Bureau, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); the Department of Justice (DOJ), which includes agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation...

Energy and Water Development: FY2020 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE); the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and Central Utah Project (CUP); the Department of Energy (DOE); the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC); the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC); and several other independent agencies. DOE typically accounts for about 80% of the bill’s funding.

Overall Funding Totals

President Trump submitted his FY2020 detailed budget proposal to Congress on March 18, 2019...

Escalating U.S. Tariffs: Affected Trade

The trade practices of U.S. trading partners and the U.S. trade deficit are a focus of the Trump Administration. Citing these and other concerns, the President has imposed tariff increases under three U.S. laws:

(1) Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974 on U.S. imports of washing machines and solar products, due to concerns over their injurious effects on domestic U.S. industry;

(2) Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 on U.S. imports of steel and aluminum, and potentially motor vehicles and titanium sponge, due to concerns that imports threaten to impair the national security;...

Defense Primer: The Berry and Kissell Amendments

Immigration: DHS Final Rule on Public Charge

On January 27, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) lifted two nationwide preliminary injunctions that blocked the implementation of the public charge final rule. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published this rule on August 14, 2019, and it was set to take effect on October 15, 2019. Multiple lawsuits and preliminary injunctions had halted the rule; the SCOTUS’ ruling now permits its implementation while litigation on the merits continues. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it will begin enforcing the new regulations on February 24, 2020,...

Defense Primer: Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security

The Washington Post’s “Afghanistan Papers” and U.S. Policy: Main Points and Possible Questions for Congress

On December 9, 2019, the Washington Post published a series of documents termed “the Afghanistan Papers.” The Papers comprise two sets of documents: about 1,900 pages of notes and transcripts of interviews with more than 400 U.S. and other policymakers that were carried out between 2014 and 2018 by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), and approximately 190 short memos (referred to as “snowflakes”) from former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, dating from 2001 to 2004. The documents, and the Washington Post stories that accompany them, suggest that U.S....

The Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC): In Brief

The Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) subsidizes most of the cost of qualified health insurance for eligible taxpayers and their family members. Potential eligibility for the HCTC is limited to two groups of taxpayers. One group is comprised of individuals eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) allowances because they experienced qualifying job losses. The other group consists of individuals whose defined-benefit pension plans were taken over by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) because of financial difficulties. HCTC-eligible individuals are allowed to receive the...

Recent Slower Economic Growth in the United States: Policy Implications

The current economic expansion is the longest in recorded U.S. history, but it has not been characterized by rapid economic growth. From the beginning of the current economic expansion in the third quarter of 2009 to the second quarter of 2017, this expansion had the lowest economic growth rate of any expansion since World War II, averaging 2.2%. For the next five quarters, growth accelerated to 3.1%. However, growth has slowed since, averaging 2.1% over the next four quarters beginning in the fourth quarter of 2018. The slower growth rate has been widespread, but has been particularly...

Defense Primer: Future Years Defense Program (FYDP)

The U.S. Export Control System and the Export Control Reform Initiative

Difficulty with striking an appropriate balance between national security and export competitiveness has made the subject of export controls controversial for decades. Through the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), the Export Controls Act of 2018 (ECA), and other authorities, the United States restricts the export of defense articles; dual-use goods and technology; certain nuclear materials and technology; and items that would assist in the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons or the missile technology used to...

Internet Regimes and WTO E-Commerce Negotiations

From retail to agriculture or healthcare, digitization has affected all sectors and allowed more industries to engage with customers and partners around the globe. Many U.S. companies thrived in the initial online environment, which lacked clear rules and guidelines, quickly expanding their offerings and entering foreign markets. As the internet has evolved, however, governments have begun to impose national laws and regulations to pursue data protection, data security, privacy, and other policy objectives. The lack of global rules and norms for data and digital trade is leading to...

Government Expenditures on Defense Research and Development by the United States and Other OECD Countries: Fact Sheet

Research and development (R&D) has played a central role in the national security of the United States and its allies. R&D creates the foundation for new and improved technologies that underpin a wide range of applications.

Research, development, RDT&E, R&D, GBARD, government budget allocations for research and development, GDP, Defense, United States, OECD, research, development, RDT&E, R&D, GBARD, government budget allocations for research and development, GDP, Defense, United States, OECD, research, development, RDT&E, R&D, GBARD, government budget allocations for research and...

Solar Energy: Frequently Asked Questions

Use of solar energy for electricity generation is growing in the United States and globally. In the United States, solar energy overall accounted for 2.2% of total electricity generation in 2018, up from 0.7% in 2014.

This report addresses a dozen frequently asked questions that may be of interest to lawmakers as the growing use of solar energy potentially affects a variety of areas of congressional interest. The first set of questions looks at different technologies that use solar energy to generate electricity and their costs and prevalence over time. Costs for all components of solar...

Burma Ordered to Prevent Genocide Against Rohingya

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on January 23, 2020, ordered Burma to undertake four “provisional measures” to prevent genocidal acts against the Rohingya and “prevent the destruction and ensure the preservation of evidence related to allegations of [genocidal] acts.”

The ICJ order comes two days after Burma’s Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICOE) submitted its final report to Burma’s President Win Myint, indicating that while it had obtained evidence that “war crimes and serious human rights violations” may have occurred during the 2017 “clearance operations” in Rakhine...

Challenges to the United States in Space

The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) in Social Security: Comparing Current Law with Proposed Proportional Formulas

Social Security is a work-based federal insurance program that provides income support to workers and their eligible family members in the event of a worker’s retirement, disability, or death. About 6% of workers in paid employment or self-employment in 2019 were not covered by Social Security. A quarter of state and local government employees and most permanent civilian federal employees hired before January 1, 1984, were not covered, and these groups constituted the majority of noncovered workers.

For workers whose entire careers are covered by Social Security, the Social Security...

Defense Primer: The Department of Defense

U.S. Research and Development Funding and Performance: Fact Sheet

Research and development (R&D) in the United States is funded and performed by a number of sectors—including the federal government, state governments, businesses, academia, and nonprofit organizations—for a variety of purposes.

Research and development. Expenditures. Basic research. Applied research. Development. United States. Federal government. State governments. Business. Industry. College. Universities. Nonprofit organizations. Research and development. Basic research. Applied research. Development. United States. Federal government. State governments. Business. College....

U.S. Relations with Burma: Key Issues in 2020

The Texas Border Barrier Litigation: Implications for Appropriations Law

Defense Primer: Budgeting for National and Defense Intelligence

Federal Income Tax Treatment of the Family Under the 2017 Tax Revisions

The federal income tax treatment of the family is affected by several major structural elements applicable to all taxpayers: amounts deductible from taxable income through standard deductions, personal exemptions, and itemized deductions; the rate structure (which varies across taxpayer types); the earned income credit and the child credit; and the alternative minimum tax. Some of these provisions only affect high-income families and some only low-income families, but they are the tax code’s fundamental structural features. They lead to varying tax burdens on families depending on whether...

Injection and Geologic Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide: Federal Role and Issues for Congress

For several decades the federal government has funded efforts to explore the feasibility of mitigating the release of greenhouse gases (GHGs) while burning fossil fuels as a source of energy. Carbon capture and storage (CCS)—the process of capturing manmade carbon dioxide (CO2) at its source, such as a coal-fired power plant, and storing it before its release into the atmosphere—has been proposed as a technological solution for mitigating emissions into the atmosphere while continuing to use fossil energy. Underground carbon storage, known as geologic sequestration, is the long-term...

Defense Primer: National and Defense Intelligence

Corruption in Honduras: End of the Mission to Support the Fight Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH)

On January 19, 2020, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández allowed the mandate of the Organization of American States (OAS)-backed Mission to Support the Fight Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH) to expire. The U.S. Congress had provided significant financial and political support for the MACCIH throughout its four-year mandate as the mission helped Honduran institutions deter and investigate high-level corruption. A bipartisan group of Members had also repeatedly called on President Hernández to extend the mission’s mandate. The MACCIH’s closure could negatively...

Petitions for Rulemaking: An Overview

The Administrative Procedure Act (APA), enacted in 1946, is known primarily for its procedural requirements for notice-and-comment rulemaking. Those requirements state that when issuing regulations, agencies must generally give public notice (i.e., issue a proposed rule), hold a public comment period, and publish a final rule.

A lesser known provision in the APA is a petition mechanism through which any interested party can request an agency to issue, amend, or repeal a rule (Section 553(e)). Such petitions are sometimes referred to as 553(e) petitions, petitions for rulemaking, petitions...

PFAS and Drinking Water: Selected EPA and Congressional Actions

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are fluorinated chemicals that have been used in an array of commercial, industrial, and U.S. military applications for decades. Some of the more common applications include nonstick coatings, food wrappers, waterproof materials, and fire suppressants. Detections of some PFAS in drinking water supplies and uncertainty about potential health effects associated with exposure to particular PFAS above certain concentrations have increased calls for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address these substances in public water supplies. For...

Multilateral Development Banks: U.S. Contributions FY2000-FY2020

This report shows in tabular form how much the Administration requested and how much Congress appropriated for U.S. payments to the multilateral development banks since 2000.

Multilateral development banks provide financial assistance to developing countries in order to promote economic and social development. The United States belongs to several multilateral development banks, including the World Bank and four regional development banks (the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and...

Design of United States Paper Currency

Reauthorization of the Federal Public Transportation Program

The federal public transportation program is currently authorized through FY2020 as part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (P.L. 114-94). This report highlights several major issues that may arise as Congress considers program reauthorization.

Public transportation includes local buses, subways, commuter rail, light rail, paratransit (often service for the elderly and disabled using small buses and vans), and ferryboat, but excludes Amtrak, intercity buses, and school buses. The FAST Act authorized $61.1 billion for five fiscal years beginning in FY2016, an average...

U.S. Trade in Services: Trends and Policy Issues

Trade in “services” refers to a wide and growing range of economic activities. These activities include transport, tourism, financial services, use of intellectual property, telecommunications and information services, government services, maintenance, and other professional services from accounting to legal services. Compared to goods, the types and volume of services that can be traded are limited by factors such as the requirement for direct buyer-provider contact, and other unique characteristics such as the reusability of services (e.g., professional consulting) for which traditional...

Juvenile Justice Funding Trends

Although juvenile justice has always been administered by the states, the federal government has played a role in this area through the administration of grant programs. Congress has influenced juvenile justice by authorizing and funding grant programs administered by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP).

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA; P.L. 93-415), enacted in 1974, was the first comprehensive juvenile justice legislation passed by Congress. The JJDPA authorized a series of grant programs designed to...

Defense Primer: United States Airpower

Immigration-Related Criminal Offenses

Veterans’ Benefits and Bankruptcy

Department of Homeland Security Appropriations: FY2020

This report provides an overview and analysis of FY2020 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The primary focus of this report is on the funding provided to DHS through the appropriations process. It includes an Appendix with definitions of key budget terms used throughout the suite of Congressional Research Service reports on DHS appropriations. It also directs the reader to other reports providing context for specific component appropriations.

As part of an overall DHS budget that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) estimated to be $92.08 billion, the Trump...

FY2020 Appropriations for Agricultural Conservation

The Agriculture appropriations bill funds the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) except for the Forest Service. The FY2020 Further Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 116-94, Division B) includes funding for conservation programs and activities at USDA, among other departments.

Agricultural conservation programs include both mandatory and discretionary spending. Most conservation program funding is mandatory and is authorized in omnibus farm bills. Other conservation programs—mostly technical assistance—are discretionary spending funded through annual appropriations. The FY2020...

Defense Primer: The United States Air Force

The Impeachment Process in the Senate

After the House impeaches a federal officer, the Senate conducts a trial to determine if the individual should be removed from office. The Senate has a set of rules specific to the conduct of an impeachment trial, most of which originated in the early 19th century.

The impeachment rules lay out specific steps that the Senate takes to organize for a trial. House managers (Members of the House who present the case against the impeached officer in the Senate) read the articles of impeachment on the Senate floor. The Presiding Officer and Senators take an oath to do impartial justice, and the...

FDA Regulation of Cannabidiol (CBD) Consumer Products: Overview and Considerations for Congress

Cannabidiol (CBD), a compound in the Cannabis sativa plant, has been promoted as a treatment for a range of conditions, including epileptic seizures, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, inflammation, and sleeplessness. However, limited scientific evidence is available to substantiate or disprove the efficacy of CBD in treating these conditions. In the United States, CBD is marketed in food and beverages, dietary supplements, cosmetics, and tobacco products such as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS)—products that are primarily regulated by the Food and Drug Administration...

Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month Speech Resources: Fact Sheet

May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. It is designed to be a time to recognize the contributions and achievements of Americans of Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Island descent.

This guide is designed to assist congressional offices with work related to Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month celebrations. It contains links to census and demographic information, CRS reports, and presidential proclamations, as well as additional web resources commemorating Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. The guide also provides a list of educational, cultural, and advocacy organizations...

Somalia

The Gray Wolf Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA): A Case Study in Listing and Delisting Challenges

Under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA or the Act; 16 U.S.C. §§ 1531-1544), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) (together, the Services) determine which species to “list” as “endangered species” or “threatened species,” terms defined in the Act. Species, subspecies, and distinct population segments (DPSs) may all be listed as “species” under the Act. Listing a species invokes certain protections under the Act and a requirement that the Services develop a recovery plan to conserve the species. Listed species may be reclassified by...

U.S. Signs Phase One Trade Deal with China

President Trump on January 15, 2020, signed a phase one trade agreement with the Chinese government that is intended to resolve some of the trade and investment issues the Administration raised in March 2018, pursuant to Section 301 of the U.S. Trade Act of 1974. Including appendices, the agreement is 96 pages and covers some aspects of intellectual property (IP) (Chapter 1), technology transfer (Chapter 2), agriculture (Chapter 3), financial services (Chapter 4), macroeconomic policies and exchange rates (Chapter 5), trade purchases (Chapter 6), and dispute resolution (Chapter 7)....

Birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington: Fact Sheet

Washington’s Birthday, often informally called Presidents’ Day, is a federal holiday celebrating the birth of President George Washington on the third Monday in February. In some regions of the United States, the birth of President Abraham Lincoln is also unofficially celebrated on this holiday. The official designation for this holiday is “Washington’s Birthday.” Although other institutions such as state and local governments and private businesses may use other names, it is federal policy to always refer to holidays by the names designated in the law.

This guide assists congressional...

China’s Corporate Social Credit System

U.S. Sanctions on Russia

Sanctions are a central element of U.S. policy to counter and deter malign Russian behavior. The United States has imposed sanctions on Russia mainly in response to Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine, to reverse and deter further Russian aggression in Ukraine, and to deter Russian aggression against other countries. The United States also has imposed sanctions on Russia in response to (and to deter) election interference and other malicious cyber-enabled activities, human rights abuses, the use of a chemical weapon, weapons proliferation, illicit trade with North Korea, and support to Syria...

International Trade and Finance: Overview and Issues for the 116th Congress

The U.S. Constitution grants authority to Congress to lay and collect duties and regulate foreign commerce. Congress exercises this authority in numerous ways, including through oversight of trade policy and consideration of legislation to implement trade agreements and authorize trade programs. Policy issues cover areas such as U.S. trade negotiations, U.S. trade and economic relations with specific regions and countries, international institutions focused on trade, tariff and nontariff barriers, worker dislocation due to trade liberalization, enforcement of trade laws and trade agreement...

U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement Negotiations

Defense Primer: Active Duty Enlisted Retention

Possible Use of FY2020 Defense Funds for Border Barrier Construction: Context and Questions

On January 13, 2020, the Washington Post reported that the Trump Administration plans to reallocate $7.2 billion in Department of Defense (DOD) appropriations to construct barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. Of this amount, $3.7 billion would reportedly come from deferring congressionally approved military construction (MILCON) projects. An additional $3.5 billion would be redirected through DOD’s Drug Interdiction and Counter-Drug Activities account (hereinafter counter-drug transfer account). If the Administration were to carry out the actions as described by the Washington Post, DOD...

Defense Primer: Active Duty Enlisted Recruiting

Department of Defense Global Health Engagement

Special Diabetes Programs Expire in FY2020: Policy Considerations and Extension Proposals

Under the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (P.L. 105-33), Congress amended the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) to create two special diabetes programs. The first—the Special Diabetes Program for Type I Diabetes (PHSA §330B; U.S.C. 42 §254c-2)—provides funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to award grants to study type I diabetes. The second—the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (PHSA §330C; U.S.C. 42 §254c-3)—provides funding to the Indian Health Service (IHS) to award grants for activities related to preventing and treating diabetes for American Indians and Alaska Natives at...

The Effectiveness of the Community Reinvestment Act

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA; P.L. 95-128, 12 U.S.C. §§2901-2908) addresses how banking institutions meet the credit needs of the areas they serve, particularly in low- and moderate-income (LMI) neighborhoods. The federal banking regulatory agencies—the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)—currently implement the CRA. The regulators issue CRA credits, or points, where banks engage in qualifying activities—such as mortgage, consumer, and business lending; community...

Al Shabaab

Social Security and Vulnerable Groups—Policy Options to Aid Widows

As Congress actively considers Social Security reform options, one area of interest is Social Security policy levers to aid vulnerable groups—widows, low earners, caregivers, older beneficiaries, spouses, and never-married individuals. In the context of widows, researchers and policymakers have raised concerns about both benefit adequacy and benefit equity. In 2017, about 18% of all individuals aged 60 or older were widows; however, nearly 26% of individuals aged 60 or older living in poverty were widows.

Benefit adequacy concerns stem from the facts that the widow has outlived the spouse,...

Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital Payments

The Medicaid statute requires states to make disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments to hospitals treating large numbers of low-income patients. This provision is intended to recognize the disadvantaged financial situation of those hospitals because low-income patients are more likely to be uninsured or Medicaid enrollees. Hospitals often do not receive payment for services rendered to uninsured patients, and Medicaid provider payment rates are generally lower than the rates paid by Medicare and private insurance.

As with most Medicaid expenditures, the federal government reimburses...

Employer Tax Credit for Paid Family and Medical Leave

Kenya

Congressional Oversight Manual

Today’s lawmakers and congressional aides, as well as commentators and scholars, recognize that Congress’s lawmaking role does not end when it passes legislation. Oversight is considered fundamental to making sure that laws work and are being administered in an effective, efficient, and economical manner. This function is seen as one of Congress’s principal roles as it grapples with the complexities of American government.

A fundamental objective of the Congressional Oversight Manual is to assist Members, committees, and legislative staff in carrying out this vital legislative function. It...

Trying to Kill An FBI Agent: Sentence Too Low

Military Survivor Benefit Plan: Background and Issues for Congress

The Department of Defense’s Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), enacted in 1972, provides cash benefits in the form of a lifetime annuity to a surviving spouse or other eligible recipient(s) of a retiree or deceased member of the uniformed services. The original intent of the SBP (and its antecedents) was to “ensure that the surviving dependents of military personnel who die in retirement or after becoming eligible for retirement will continue to have a reasonable level of income.” Coverage was later expanded to those who die while on active service. Under the SBP, a military retiree can elect to...

An Introduction to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit

The low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) program is the federal government’s primary policy tool for encouraging the development and rehabilitation of affordable rental housing. The program awards developers federal tax credits to offset construction costs in exchange for agreeing to reserve a certain fraction of units that are rent-restricted and for lower-income households. The credits are claimed over a 10-year period. Developers need upfront financing to complete construction so they will usually sell their tax credits to outside investors (e.g., corporations, financial institutions)...

Federal Crop Insurance: Record Prevent Plant (PPL) Acres and Payments in 2019

U.S. agricultural production got off to a late start in 2019 due to prolonged cool, wet springtime conditions throughout the major growing regions, particularly in states across the northern plains and eastern Corn Belt. Saturated soils prevented many farmers from planting their intended crops—such acres are referred to as “prevent plant (PPL)” acres. As of November 1, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that farmers were unable to plant a record 19.6 million acres in 2019—including 11.4 million acres of corn and 4.5 million acres of soybeans. The previous record for...

Bureau of Land Management: FY2020 Appropriations

The Kiddie Tax and Military Survivors’ Benefits

Some military families discovered that they owed higher taxes for 2018 and 2019 on distributions from their military survivors’ benefits than they had in previous years. This change in tax treatment was related to temporary changes to the “kiddie tax” in the 2017 tax revision (P.L. 115-97). However, Congress enacted language in the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (P.L. 116-94) that repealed those temporary changes to the kiddie tax beginning in 2020. In addition, P.L. 116-94 enables taxpayers to retroactively elect to be taxed as if the kiddie tax changes in P.L. 115-97 did...

Reforms in Uzbekistan

U.S.-Turkey Trade Relations

Women in Congress: Statistics and Brief Overview

A record 131 women currently serve in the 116th Congress. There are 105 women serving in the House (including Delegates and the Resident Commissioner), 90 Democrats and 15 Republicans. There are 26 women in the Senate, 17 Democrats and 9 Republicans.

These 131 women surpass the previous record of 115 women at the close of the 115th Congress. The numbers of women serving fluctuated during the 115th Congress; there were 109 women initially sworn in, 5 women subsequently elected to the House, 2 appointed to the Senate, and 1 woman in the House who died in office.

The very first woman...

SBA Surety Bond Guarantee Program

The Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) Surety Bond Guarantee Program is designed to increase small businesses’ access to federal, state, and local government contracting, as well as private-sector contracts, by guaranteeing bid, performance, and payment bonds for small businesses that cannot obtain surety bonds through regular commercial channels. The program guarantees individual contracts of up to $6.5 million, and up to $10 million for federal contracts if a federal contracting officer certifies that such a guarantee is necessary. The SBA’s guarantee currently ranges from 80% to...

Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank)

Internal Revenue Service Appropriations, FY2020

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

On May 8, 2018, President Donald Trump signed National Security Presidential Memorandum 11, “ceasing U.S. participation in the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] and taking additional action to counter Iran’s malign influence and deny Iran all paths to a nuclear weapon.” The action set in motion a reestablishment of U.S. unilateral economic sanctions that affect U.S. businesses and include secondary sanctions that target the commerce originating in other countries that engage in trade with and investment in Iran.

U.S.-Iran bilateral relations continued to deteriorate from this...

Defense Primer: Information Operations

Defense Primer: Cyberspace Operations

Presidential Pardons: Overview and Selected Legal Issues

Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution authorizes the President “to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” The power has its roots in the king’s prerogative to grant mercy under early English law, which later traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to the American colonies. The Supreme Court has recognized that the authority vested by the Constitution in the President is quite broad, describing it as “plenary,” discretionary, and largely not subject to legislative modification. Nonetheless, there are two textual limitations...

The Congressional Review Act (CRA): Frequently Asked Questions

The Congressional Review Act (CRA) is an oversight tool that Congress may use to overturn rules issued by federal agencies. The CRA was included as part of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA), which was signed into law on March 29, 1996. The CRA requires agencies to report on their rulemaking activities to Congress and provides Congress with a special set of procedures under which to consider legislation to overturn those rules.

Under the CRA, before a rule can take effect, an agency must submit a report to each house of Congress and the comptroller general...

U.S. Killing of Qasem Soleimani: Frequently Asked Questions

The January 2, 2020, U.S. killing in Iraq of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) Commander Qasem Soleimani, generally regarded as one of the most powerful and important officials in Iran, has potentially dramatic implications for the United States. For Congress, it raises possible questions about U.S. policy in the Middle East, broader U.S. global strategy, U.S. relations with partners and allies, the authorization and legality of U.S. military action abroad, U.S. measures to protect its servicemembers and diplomatic personnel, and congressional oversight of these and...

Copyright Act and Communications Act Changes in 2019 Related to Television

On December 20, 2019, President Donald J. Trump signed the Satellite Television Community Protection and Promotion Act of 2019, and the Television Viewer Protection Act of 2019 (Titles XI and X of Division P, respectively, of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, P.L. 116-94). The act permanently extends some legal provisions governing the retransmission of distant network broadcast signals, while repealing others. In addition, the act permanently extends and changes rules for retransmission consent negotiations between television station owners and operators of satellite and...

Kashmir: Background, Recent Developments, and U.S. Policy

In early August 2019, the Indian government announced that it would make major changes to the legal status of its Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) state, specifically by repealing Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and Section 35A of its Annex, which provided the state “special” autonomous status, and by bifurcating the state into two successor “Union Territories” with more limited indigenous administrative powers. The changes were implemented on November 1, 2019. The former princely region’s sovereignty has been unsettled since 1947 and its territory is divided by a military...

Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs Funding for FY2020

Defense Primer: Command and Control of Nuclear Forces

Federal Employees’ Retirement System: Summary of Recent Trends

This report describes recent trends in the characteristics of annuitants and current employees covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS) as well as the financial status of the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund (CSRDF).

In FY2018, 96% of current civilian federal employees were enrolled in FERS, which covers employees hired since 1984. Four percent were enrolled in CSRS, which covers only employees hired before 1984.

In FY2018, more than 2.6 million people received civil service annuity payments, including 2,132,713...

USMCA: Labor Provisions

Defense Primer: Strategic Nuclear Forces

Iran’s Ballistic Missile and Space Launch Programs

The 2019-2020 Iran Crisis and U.S. Military Deployments

Army Corps of Engineers: Continuing Authorities Programs

U.S. Armed Forces Abroad: Selected Congressional Votes Since 1982

This report summarizes selected congressional roll call votes related to instances in which U.S. Armed Forces have been sent abroad in potentially hostile situations. These votes reflect the type of congressional actions that observers maintain bear directly on issues affecting policy and the funding of troops abroad, often in the context of the War Powers Resolution, continued presence or withdrawal of troops, and the “use of force.” The cases of Lebanon (1982-1983), Grenada (1983), Panama (1989), the Persian Gulf War (1990-1991), Somalia (1992-1995), Haiti (1993-1996), Bosnia...

Potential Effect of FCC Rules on State and Local Video Franchising Authorities

Local and state governments have traditionally played an important role in regulating cable television operators, within limits established by federal law. In a series of rulings since 2007, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has further limited the ability of local governments (known as local franchise authorities) to regulate and collect fees from cable television companies and traditional telephone companies (known as telcos) offering video services.

In August 2019, in response to a ruling by a federal court of appeals, the FCC tightened restrictions on municipalities’ and—for...

Defense Primer: The NDAA Process

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Speech Resources: Fact Sheet

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a federal holiday observed annually on the third Monday in January. It celebrates the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. in honor of his birthday and achievements. The day is also referred to as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday; MLK Day; Martin Luther King Day; the King Holiday; and the King Day of Service. In 2020, this holiday is celebrated on January 20.

This guide assists congressional offices with work related to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It contains links to legislation, CRS reports, sample speeches and remarks from the...

USMCA: Investment Provisions

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP): Background and Funding

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a federal food distribution program that supports food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens, and other emergency feeding organizations serving low-income Americans. Federal assistance takes the form of federally purchased commodities—including fruits, vegetables, meats, and grains—and funding for administrative costs. Food aid and funds are distributed to states using a statutory formula that takes into account poverty and unemployment rates. TEFAP is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service...

Defense Primer: Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC)

H.R. 4674, the College Affordability Act: Proposed Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, Summary of Major Provisions

The Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA; P.L. 89-329, as amended) authorizes programs and activities to provide support to individuals who are pursuing a postsecondary education and to institutions of higher education (IHEs). During the 116th Congress, the House Committee on Education and Labor marked up and ordered to be reported the College Affordability Act (H.R. 4674), which would provide for the comprehensive reauthorization of most HEA programs.

This report organizes the changes proposed by H.R. 4674 into seven themes:

Expanding the availability of financial aid to postsecondary...

Small Satellite Boom Poses Challenges for Regulators

Space Weather: An Overview of Policy and Select U.S. Government Roles and Responsibilities

Space weather refers to conditions on the sun, in the solar wind, and within the extreme reaches of Earth’s upper atmosphere. In certain circumstances, space weather may pose hazards to space-borne and ground-based critical infrastructure systems and assets that are vulnerable to geomagnetically induced current, electromagnetic interference, or radiation exposure. Hazardous space weather events are rare, but may affect broad areas of the globe. Effects may include physical damage to satellites or orbital degradation, accelerated corrosion of gas pipelines, disruption of radio...

FDIC Proposes Changes to Brokered Deposit Regulation

On December 12, 2019, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) proposed changes to current rules that restrict banks that are not well capitalized from accepting brokered deposits, a perennial point of contention between banks and regulators. Recently, banks and financial technology companies have developed or begun using new arrangements that may qualify as brokered deposits. This development has refocused attention on the issue.

Background

Core deposits are the funds individuals or companies directly place in checking and savings accounts, primarily to utilize the safekeeping,...

U.S.-Taiwan Trade Relations

Defense Primer: Reserve Forces

Hong Kong: Recent Developments and U.S. Relations

USMCA: Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Introduction to Financial Services: The Federal Reserve

Defense Primer: Military Pay Raise

Overview of FY2020 Appropriations for the Census Bureau

Defense Primer: Legal Authorities for the Use of Military Forces

The Cable Franchising Authority of State and Local Governments and the Communications Act

Companies that provide cable television service (cable operators) are subject to regulation at the federal, state, and local levels. Under the Communications Act of 1934, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) exercises regulatory authority over various operational aspects of cable service. At the same time, a cable operator must obtain a franchise from the state or local franchising authority for the area in which it wishes to provide cable service. The franchising authority often negotiates various obligations as a condition of granting the franchise.

Under the Cable...

Comparing DHS Component Funding, FY2020: In Brief

(TO BE SUPPRESSED)

Generally, the homeland security appropriations bill includes all annual appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), providing resources to every departmental component. The Tables and Figure show DHS’s new discretionary budget authority enacted for FY2019 and requested by the Administration for FY2020, as well as proposed by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees in their reported legislation for FY2020, and ultimately enacted in P.L. 116-93, Division D. Analysis is of various funding streams at the component level.

Department of Homeland...

Campaign and Election Security Policy: Overview and Recent Developments for Congress

In the United States, state, territorial, and local governments are responsible for most aspects of selecting and securing election systems and equipment. Foreign interference during the 2016 election cycle—and widely reported to be an ongoing threat—has renewed congressional attention to campaign and election security and raised new questions about the nature and extent of the federal government’s role in this policy area.

This report provides congressional readers with a resource for understanding campaign and election security policy. This includes discussion of the federal...

Nature-Based Infrastructure: NOAA’s Role

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) currently supports natural, nature-based, or green infrastructure and other related types of features (hereinafter referred to as nature-based infrastructure) as part of its statutory mandates to support, research, restore, and conserve natural resources. NOAA’s nature-based activities primarily fall under three line offices: the National Marine Fisheries Service, National Ocean Service, and Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.

NOAA uses the term nature-based infrastructure and other related terms interchangeably to describe...

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania: Background and U.S.-Baltic Relations

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, often referred to as the Baltic states, are close U.S. allies and considered among the most pro-U.S. countries in Europe. Strong U.S. relations with these three states are rooted in history. The United States never recognized the Soviet Union’s forcible incorporation of the Baltic states in 1940, and it applauded the restoration of their independence in 1991. These policies were backed by Congress on a bipartisan basis. The United States supported the Baltic states’ accession to NATO and the European Union (EU) in 2004.

Especially since Russia’s 2014...

Defense Primer: Department of the Army and Army Command Structure

Defense Primer: Organization of U.S. Ground Forces

U.S. Withdrawal from the INF Treaty: What’s Next?

Defense Primer: Special Operations Forces

FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act: P.L. 116-92 (H.R. 2500, S. 1790)

The Administration’s FY2020 NDAA request would have authorized $568.1 billion designated as base budget funds to cover the routine, recurring costs to man, train, and operate U.S. forces. The request would have authorized an additional $173.8 billion designated as Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds, of which $97.9 billion was requested for base programs. As enacted, the FY2020 NDAA authorizes a total of $729.9 billion for national defense-related activities, which is $12.0 billion (1.6%) less than the Administration requested.

Administration’s FY2020 National Defense Authorization...

Defense Primer: Military Retirement

Legal Authority to Repurpose Funds for Border Barrier Construction

President Trump has prioritized the construction of border barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. Over the course of negotiations for FY2019 appropriations, the Administration asked Congress to appropriate $5.7 billion to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for that purpose. When Congress appropriated $1.375 billion to DHS for border fencing, the President announced that his Administration would fund the construction of border barriers by repurposing funds appropriated to the Department of Defense (DOD) and transferring funds from the Department of the Treasury. The Administration...

The Office of Federal Student Aid as a Performance-Based Organization

The Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA), within the U.S. Department of Education (ED), is established as a performance-based organization (PBO) pursuant to Section 141 of the Higher Education Act (HEA). FSA is a discrete management unit “responsible for managing the administrative and oversight functions supporting” the HEA Title IV federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant and the Direct Loan programs. As such, it is the largest provider of postsecondary student financial aid in the nation. In FY2019, FSA oversaw the provision of approximately $130.4 billion in Title IV aid...

Congressional Salaries and Allowances: In Brief

This report provides basic information on congressional salaries and allowances.

First, the report briefly summarizes the current salary of Members of Congress; limits or prohibitions on their outside earned income, honoraria, and tax deductions; options for life and health insurance; and retirement benefits.

Second, the report provides information on allowances available to Representatives and Senators to support them in their official and representational duties. These allowances cover official office expenses, including staff, mail, travel between a Member’s district or state and...

Overview of Long-Term Services and Supports

The Power of Congress and the Executive to Exclude Aliens: Constitutional Principles

Supreme Court precedent establishes that inherent principles of sovereignty give Congress “plenary power” to regulate immigration. The core of this power—the part that has proven most impervious to judicial review—is the authority to determine which non-U.S. nationals (aliens) may enter the United States and under what conditions. The Court has also established that the executive branch, when enforcing the laws concerning alien entry, has broad authority to do so mostly free from judicial oversight.

Two principles frame the scope of the political branches’ power to exclude aliens. First,...

Terrorism Risk Insurance: Overview and Issue Analysis for the 116th Congress

Prior to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, coverage for losses from such attacks was normally included in general insurance policies without additional cost to the policyholders. Following the attacks, such coverage became expensive, if offered at all. Some observers feared the absence of insurance against terrorism loss would have a wider economic impact, because insurance is required to consummate a variety of transactions (e.g., real estate). For example, if real estate deals were not completed due to lack of insurance, this could have ripple effects—such as job loss—on related...

Defense Primer: Military Officers

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): Funding Trends Since FY2002

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers a number of programs and activities that are primarily designed to address housing problems faced by households with very low incomes or other special housing needs. Most of the funding for HUD’s programs and activities comes from discretionary appropriations provided each year in the Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies annual appropriations acts.

HUD’s annual budget, as considered by congressional appropriators, is generally comprised of several components, including regular annual appropriations, which fund HUD’s...

Defense Primer: Regular Military Compensation

Defense Primer: Military Enlisted Personnel

Defense Primer: Defense Appropriations Process

The National Flood Insurance Program: Selected Issues and Legislation in the 116th Congress

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was established by the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 (NFIA; 42 U.S.C. §4001 et seq.), and was most recently reauthorized until September 30, 2020 (P.L. 116-93). The general purpose of the NFIP is both to offer primary flood insurance to properties with significant flood risk, and to reduce flood risk through the adoption of floodplain management standards. A longer-term objective of the NFIP is to reduce federal expenditure on disaster assistance after floods. The NFIP also engages in many “non-insurance” activities in the public interest:...

Introduction to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was established by the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 (NFIA; 42 U.S.C. §4001 et seq.) and was most recently reauthorized to September 30, 2020, through a series of short-term reauthorizations. The general purpose of the NFIP is both to offer primary flood insurance to properties with significant flood risk, and to reduce flood risk through the adoption of floodplain management standards. Communities volunteer to participate in the NFIP in order to have access to federal flood insurance, and in return are required to adopt minimum...

Army Corps of Engineers: FY2020 Appropriations

The Proposed Equal Rights Amendment: Contemporary Ratification Issues

The proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (ERA) declares that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex....” The ERA was approved by Congress for ratification by the states in 1972; the amendment included a customary, but not constitutionally mandated, seven-year deadline for ratification. Between 1972 and 1977, 35 state legislatures, of the 38 required by the Constitution, voted to ratify the ERA. Despite a congressional extension of the deadline from 1979 to 1982, no additional states approved...

Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)

“Stage One” U.S.-Japan Trade Agreements

On October 7, 2019, after six months of formal negotiations, the United States and Japan signed two agreements intended to liberalize bilateral trade. One, the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement (USJTA), provides for limited tariff reductions and quota expansions to improve market access. The other, the U.S.-Japan Digital Trade Agreement, includes commitments pertaining to digital aspects of international commerce, such as cross-border data flows. These agreements constitute what the Trump and Abe Administrations envision as “stage one” of a broader trade liberalization negotiation, which the two...

Iran’s Nuclear Program: Status

Iran’s nuclear program began during the 1950s. The United States has expressed concern since the mid-1970s that Tehran might develop nuclear weapons. Iran’s construction of gas centrifuge uranium enrichment facilities is currently the main source of proliferation concern. Gas centrifuges can produce both low-enriched uranium (LEU), which can be used in nuclear power reactors, and weapons-grade highly enriched uranium (HEU), which is one of the two types of fissile material used in nuclear weapons.

Is Iran Capable of Building Nuclear Weapons?

The United States has assessed that Tehran...

Presidential Funerals and Burials: Selected Resources

This fact sheet is a brief resource guide for congressional staff on funerals and burials for Presidents of the United States. It contains an overview of past practices for presidential funerals and selected online information resources related to official and ceremonial protocols, past presidential funerals, congressional documents, and other documents and books.

Defense Primer: Emerging Technologies

U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones: Background and Issues for Congress

U.S. foreign-trade zones (FTZs) are geographic areas declared to be outside the normal customs territory of the United States. This means that, for foreign merchandise entering FTZs and re-exported as different products, customs procedures are streamlined and tariffs do not apply. For products intended for U.S. consumption, full customs procedures are applied and duties are payable when they exit the FTZ.

In 1934, in the midst of the Great Depression, Congress passed the U.S. Foreign Trade Zones Act. It was designed to expedite and encourage international trade while promoting domestic...

Foreign Interference in NIH Research: Policy Implications

Recent congressional hearings and media reports have raised the issue of foreign interference in research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the primary federal agency for biomedical research and development (R&D). An NIH investigation, conducted in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), uncovered numerous potential violations of laws and policies (some confirmed, others subject to ongoing investigation), including

scientists involved in the NIH peer review process sharing details of research proposals with foreign entities;

failure of scientists to...

USMCA: Motor Vehicle Provisions and Issues

Defense Primer: U.S. Policy on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems

Changes to India’s Citizenship Laws

Congressional Nominations to U.S. Service Academies: An Overview and Resources for Outreach and Management

Members of Congress are authorized by law to nominate candidates for appointment to four U.S. service academies. These schools are the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. The fifth service academy, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, does not require a congressional nomination for appointment. These institutions prepare college-age Americans to be officers of the U.S. uniformed services. Upon graduation, service academy graduates are commissioned as officers in the active or reserve components of the military or...

Medicare and Budget Sequestration

Sequestration is the automatic reduction (i.e., cancellation) of certain federal spending, generally by a uniform percentage. The sequester is a budget enforcement tool that was established by Congress in the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 (BBEDCA, also known as the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act; P.L. 99-177, as amended) and was intended to encourage compromise and action, rather than actually being implemented (also known as triggered). Generally, this budget enforcement tool has been incorporated into laws to either discourage or encourage certain budget objectives...

Defense Primer: Military Health System

Hong Kong’s Protests of 2019

U.S. Farm Income Outlook: November 2019 Forecast

This report uses the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) farm income projections (as of November 27, 2019) and agricultural trade outlook update (as of November 25, 2019) to describe the U.S. farm economic outlook for 2019. According to USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), national net farm income—a key indicator of U.S. farm well-being—is forecast at $92.5 billion in 2019, up $8.5 billion (+10.2%) from last year. The forecast rise in 2019 net farm income is largely the result of a 64.0% increase in government payments to the agricultural sector, with a projected total value of...

Smart Cars and Trucks: Spectrum Use for Vehicle Safety

Flood Resilience and Risk Reduction: Federal Assistance and Programs

Recent flood disasters have raised congressional and public interest in reducing flood risks and improving flood resilience, which is the ability to adapt to, withstand, and rapidly recover from floods. Federal programs that assist communities in reducing their flood risk and improving their flood resilience include programs funding infrastructure projects (e.g., levees, shore protection) and other flood mitigation activities (e.g., nature-based flood risk reduction) and mitigation incentives for communities that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Assistance...

Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background and Issues for Congress

The Navy began procuring a small surface combatant called the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) in FY2005, and a total of 35 LCSs have been procured through FY2019, including three in FY2019. The total of 35 LCSs is three more than the 32 the Navy says are required under its 355-ship force-level goal. The Navy wants FY2019 to be the final year of LCS procurement, and it has not requested the procurement of any additional LCSs in its FY2020 budget submission.

The Navy wants to shift procurement of small surface combatants in FY2020 to a new frigate called the FFG(X). The Navy’s proposed FY2020...

Navy Irregular Warfare and Counterterrorism Operations: Background and Issues for Congress

In the years following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Navy has carried out a variety of irregular warfare (IW) and counterterrorism (CT) activities. Among the most readily visible of these were operations carried out by Navy sailors serving ashore in the Middle East and Afghanistan, as well as the May 1-2, 2011, U.S. military operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed Osama bin Laden.

During these years, the Navy took certain actions intended to improve its IW capabilities. For example, the Navy established the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) informally in...

The Presidential Records Act: An Overview

Presidential records provide Congress, members of the public, and researchers with documentation, context, and explanations for presidential actions. The Presidential Records Act (PRA; 44 U.S.C. §§2201-2207) set forth requirements regarding the maintenance, access, and preservation of presidential and vice presidential information during and after a presidency.

This report describes the institutions involved in presidential recordkeeping, explains what is and is not considered a presidential record, and identifies recordkeeping responsibilities and access policies during and after a...

Christian Holidays: Fact Sheet

Christianity is one of the three major Abrahamic faiths, alongside Islam and Judaism. According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 70% of Americans self-identify as Christian. There are a large number of Christian traditions, with great variation in which holidays are celebrated and how.

This fact sheet highlights two holidays—Easter and Christmas—observed by a significant portion of Christian American denominations and addresses the ways these holidays are currently recognized in the United States.

This fact sheet is designed to assist congressional offices with work related to...

The U.S. Trade Deficit: An Overview

Dairy Provisions in USMCA

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States

Federal Employees’ Retirement System: Budget and Trust Fund Issues

Most of the civilian federal workforce is covered by one of two retirement systems: (1) the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) for individuals hired before 1984 or (2) the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS) for individuals hired in 1984 or later. FERS annuities are fully funded by the sum of employee and employer contributions and interest earned by the Treasury bonds held by the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund (CSRDF). The federal government makes supplemental payments into the CSRDF on behalf of employees covered by the CSRS because employee and agency...

Laos

Surprise Billing in Private Health Insurance: Overview and Federal Policy Considerations

In response to individuals receiving large, unexpected medical bills for out-of-network care, Congress has recently been considering legislation to address surprise billing. As the term is currently being discussed, surprise billing typically refers to situations where consumers are unknowingly, and potentially unavoidably, treated by providers outside of the consumers’ health insurance plan networks and, as a result, unexpectedly receive larger bills than they would have received if the providers had been in the plan networks. In the 116th Congress, federal proposals have sought to...

TEACH Grants: A Primer

The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant program is intended to encourage individuals to enter the teaching profession by providing recipients with grants of up to $4,000 annually to pursue coursework that leads to a certification in teaching. Congress authorized the TEACH Grant program in the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-84) to address concerns about growing demand for high-quality teachers, especially in low-income schools.

To be eligible for a TEACH Grant, among other requirements, a postsecondary student has to meet...

The Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance and the Crisis in Venezuela

On September 11, 2019, the United States and 11 other Western Hemisphere countries invoked the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (Rio Treaty) to facilitate a regional response to the crisis in Venezuela. As a first step, on September 23, 2019, the countries that have ratified the treaty (states parties) agreed to identify, prosecute, and freeze the assets of certain individuals and entities associated with the government of Nicolás Maduro. On December 3, 2019, the states parties approved an initial list of 29 individuals alleged to have engaged in corruption and/or human...

Defining Active Ingredient: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Legal Interpretation of Regulatory Exclusivities

Whether many provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) apply to a particular drug product turns in part on the novelty of the “active ingredient” of the drug in question. In particular, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must assess the novelty of the active ingredient in a new drug, comparing it to a previously approved drug’s active ingredient to determine whether the new drug qualifies for the five-year “new chemical entity” (NCE) exclusivity. FDA generally cannot accept new drug applications that refer to a drug with NCE exclusivity (i.e., rely on its...

Medicaid Eligibility: Older Adults and Individuals with Disabilities

Medicaid is a joint federal-state program that finances the delivery of primary and acute medical services, as well as long-term services and supports (LTSS), to a diverse low-income population. In general, individuals qualify for Medicaid coverage by meeting the requirements of a specific eligibility pathway. An eligibility pathway is the federal statutory reference that extends Medicaid coverage to certain groups of individuals.

Each eligibility pathway specifies the group of individuals covered by the pathway (i.e., the categorical criteria). It also specifies the financial...

Demand for Broadband in Rural Areas: Implications for Universal Access

As of 2019, over 20 million Americans—predominantly those living in rural areas—lacked access to high speed broadband service according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Federal subsidies underwritten by taxpayer funds and long-distance telephone subscriber fees have injected billions of dollars into rural broadband markets over the past decade—mostly on the supply side in the form of grants, loans, and direct support to broadband providers.

Yet, adoption rates have leveled off after more than a decade of rapid growth, even as broadband providers have extended service to...

Agency-Related Nonprofit Research Foundations and Corporations

Federal research and development (R&D) has played a significant role in strengthening the innovative capacity of the United States to achieve goals such as economic competitiveness, national security, improved healthcare, and protection of the environment. The results of federal R&D have led to scientific breakthroughs and new technologies with broad social and economic impacts, including artificial intelligence, the internet, and magnetic resonance imaging. The global landscape for innovation is rapidly evolving—the pace of innovation has increased and the composition of R&D funding has...

Uruguay’s 2019 Elections

On November 24, 2019, Uruguayans narrowly elected Luis Lacalle Pou of the center-right National Party in a presidential runoff election. Lacalle Pou’s inauguration, scheduled for March 1, 2020, will end the center-left Broad Front coalition’s 15-year hold on power and could usher in several changes to Uruguay’s economic and security policies. The new government is also likely to align more closely with the United States on some foreign policy issues, such as efforts, supported by Congress, to facilitate the restoration of democracy in Venezuela.

Domestic Context

As much of the Latin...

Dam Safety: Federal Programs and Authorities

Repurchase Agreements (Repos): A Primer

Activities-Based Regulation and Systemic Risk

Past financial crises have shown that systemic risk can emanate from financial firms or activities. It can be caused by the failure of a large firm (hence, the moniker “too big to fail”) or it can be caused by correlated losses among many small market participants. Although historical financial crises have centered on banks, nonbank financial firms were also a source of instability in the 2007-2009 crisis.

The 2010 Dodd-Frank Act (P.L. 111-203) enhanced the regulation of certain financial firms and activities to reduce systemic risk, particularly prudential regulation administered by the...

Dispute Settlement in the WTO and U.S. Trade Agreements

Jewish Holidays: Fact Sheet

Judaism is one of the three major Abrahamic faiths, alongside Islam and Christianity. Many traditions and variations of Judaism are practiced in the United States, including cultural and religious variations. According to the Pew Research Center, about 2.2% of Americans (6.7 million people) self-identify as religiously or culturally Jewish. Roughly 22% of American Jews describe themselves as culturally, but not religiously, Jewish.

This fact sheet highlights four major cultural and religious holidays observed by a significant portion of Jewish American populations (Passover, Rosh Hashanah,...

Trends in the Timing and Size of DHS Appropriations: In Brief

(TO BE SUPPRESSED) Department of Homeland Security DHS budget Appropriations FY2020, FY2019, FY2018, FY2017. FY2016, FY2015, FY2014, FY2013 funding analysis

Misuse of Government Purchase Cards: Background, Legislation, and Analysis

Following their introduction in the mid-1990s, the usage of government purchase cards expanded at a rapid rate. Spurred by legislative and regulatory reforms designed to increase the use of purchase cards for small acquisitions, the dollar volume of government purchase card transactions grew from $527 million in FY1993 to $19.5 billion in FY2011. While the use of purchase cards was credited with reducing administrative costs during that time, audits of agency purchase card programs found varying degrees of waste, fraud, and abuse. One of the most common risk factors cited by auditors was a...

Wilderness: Issues and Legislation

The Wilderness Act of 1964 established the National Wilderness Preservation System and, in it, Congress reserved for itself the authority to designate federal lands as part of the system. The act initially designated 54 wilderness areas containing 9.1 million acres of national forest lands. Since then, more than 120 laws designating wilderness areas have been enacted. As of July 15, 2019, the system consisted of over 111 million acres in 803 units, managed by four land management agencies: the Forest Service (FS), in the Department of Agriculture; the National Park Service (NPS); Fish and...

Designating Mexican Drug Cartels as Foreign Terrorists: Policy Implications

In a November 26 interview, President Donald Trump revealed his intention to designate Mexico’s drug trafficking organizations (DTOs, commonly referred to as “cartels”) as foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs). His comments follow recent incidents that exemplify how Mexican DTOs use violence to control their criminal domains. Earlier in November, after members of an extended family of U.S.-Mexican citizens were killed in Sonora, President Trump tweeted: “This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels....” In October, Mexican security...

Head Start: Overview and Current Issues

Supreme Court Criminal Law Decisions: 2019

In 2019, the Supreme Court issued a sizeable number of criminal law decisions, which addressed several topics, including sentencing, pretrial, statutory construction, and ineffective assistance of counsel. This report discusses the following Supreme Court holdings in greater detail:

Racially Discriminatory Jury Selection: “[T]he trial court at Flowers’ sixth trial committed clear error in concluding that the State’s peremptory strike of [a] black prospective juror ... was not motivated in substantial part by discriminatory intent.” Flowers v. Mississippi, 139 S. Ct. 2228 (2019).

Execution...

Social Services Block Grant

Military Service Records, Awards, and Unit Histories: A Guide to Locating Sources

This guide provides information on locating military unit histories and individual service records of discharged, retired, and deceased military personnel. It also provides information on locating and replacing military awards and medals. Included is contact information for military history centers, websites for additional sources of research, and a bibliography of other publications, including related CRS reports.

FEMA Individual Assistance Programs: An Overview

Following a presidential declaration of emergency or major disaster, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may provide three primary forms of assistance: Individual Assistance (IA), Public Assistance (PA), and Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA). IA, which is the focus of this report, provides aid to affected individuals and households. PA provides grants to local, state, territorial, and Indian tribal governments, as well as certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures, debris removal operations, and repair or replacement of damaged public...

Farm Policy: USDA’s 2018 Trade Aid Package

In early 2018, the Trump Administration—citing concerns over national security and unfair trade practices—imposed increased tariffs on certain imported products in general and on U.S. imports from China in particular. Several of the affected foreign trading partners (including China) responded to the U.S. tariffs with their own retaliatory tariffs targeting various U.S. products, especially agricultural commodities. On July 24, 2018, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would be taking several temporary actions to assist farmers in...

Women in National Governments Around the Globe: Fact Sheet

Summary to be suppressed Women Elections Legislatures Legislative representation Executive representation Voting rights Gender quotas

Trade Remedies: Antidumping and Countervailing Duties

Military Families and Intimate Partner Violence: Background and Issues for Congress

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a national public health issue. IPV is also a crime characterized by recidivism and escalation, meaning offenders are likely to be repeat abusers, and the intensity of the abuse or violence is likely to grow over time. Like the broader phenomenon of domestic violence and abuse, a subset of which includes IPV, associated physical and mental trauma for those who are victims of abuse, as well as for those minor children who witness the abuse, can have both immediate and long-term health effects and significant costs to society. When military servicemembers...

Leveraged Lending and Collateralized Loan Obligations: Frequently Asked Questions

Leveraged lending generally refers to loans made to businesses that are highly indebted or have a low credit rating. Most leveraged loans are syndicated, meaning a group of bank or nonbank lenders collectively funds a leveraged loan made to a single borrower, in contrast to a traditional loan held by a single bank. In some cases, investors hold leveraged loans directly. However, more than 60% of leveraged loans are securitized into collateralized loan obligations (CLOs)—securities backed by cash flow from pools of leveraged loans. These securities are then sold to investors. The largest...

National Park Service Affiliated Areas: An Overview

National Statuary Hall Collection: Background and Legislative Options

The National Statuary Hall Collection, located in the U.S. Capitol, comprises 100 statues provided by individual states to honor persons notable for their historic renown or for distinguished services. The collection was authorized in 1864, at the same time that Congress redesignated the hall where the House of Representatives formerly met as National Statuary Hall. The first statue, depicting Nathanael Greene, was provided in 1870 by Rhode Island. The collection has consisted of 100 statues—two statues per state—since 2005, when New Mexico sent a statue of Po’pay. At various times,...

Iraq: Protests, Transition, and the Future of U.S. Partnership

Mass protests and state violence against some protestors have shaken Iraq since October 2019, with at least 400 Iraqis reported dead and thousands more injured in Baghdad and several southern Iraqi cities. After security forces and unidentified gunmen killed 45 protestors on November 27 and 28, Prime Minister Adel Abd Al Mahdi publicly stated his intent to resign, which protestors and some prominent political figures had been demanding for months. Iraqi legislators in the Council of Representatives (COR) acknowledged the prime minister’s offer, but he remains in office until a replacement...

Israel and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement

Israeli officials seek to prevent a boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel from gaining strength. The BDS movement is a loose grouping of actors from various countries that advocate or engage in economic measures against Israel or Israel-related individuals or organizations. Defining precisely who may or may not constitute the BDS movement, or what may or may not constitute BDS activity, is subject to debate.

Congress and the executive branch have taken actions to counter BDS measures, and Members of Congress debate how best to do so in light of various...

Amazon Protest of the Department of Defense's JEDI Cloud Contract Award to Microsoft

In September 2017, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a memorandum calling for the adoption of a Department of Defense (DOD) enterprise-wide cloud services solution. As part of its ongoing technology modernization efforts, DOD sought to acquire a commercial cloud services solution known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) Cloud.

In April 2019, DOD selected Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (henceforth Amazon) to contend for the contract award from qualified proposals submitted by IBM, Amazon, Microsoft, and Oracle. In October 2019, DOD announced it had awarded the...

State Innovation Waivers: Frequently Asked Questions

Section 1332 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148, as amended) provides states with the option to waive specified requirements of the ACA. In the absence of these requirements, a state is to implement its own plan to provide health insurance coverage to state residents that meets the ACA’s terms.

Under a state innovation waiver, a state can apply to waive ACA requirements related to qualified health plans, health insurance exchanges, premium tax credits, cost-sharing subsidies, the individual mandate, and the employer mandate. The state can apply to waive...

Remittances: Background and Issues for Congress

This report focuses on remittances, the transfers of money and capital sent by migrants and foreign immigrant communities to their home countries. At over $700 billion, remittances sent home by international migrants to developing countries are larger than official development assistance (ODA) and more stable than private capital flows to these countries.

The United States is the destination for the most international migrants and is by far the largest source of global remittances. The World Bank estimates there were $56.3 billion in official remittance outflows from the United States in...

Native American Heritage Month: Fact Sheet

Native American Heritage Month (also known as National American Indian Heritage Month) celebrates the contributions and achievements of Native Americans.

November was first designated as National American Indian Heritage Month on August 3, 1990, by P.L. 101-343, To authorize and request the President to proclaim the month of November 1990, and thereafter as “Native American Indian Heritage Month.” Since then, Presidents have issued annual proclamations promoting this observance.

On June 26, 2009, P.L. 111-33, Native American Heritage Day Act of 2009, designated the Friday after...

Zimbabwe: A Continuing Crisis

Voluntary Testimony by Executive Branch Officials: An Introduction

Executive branch officials testify regularly before congressional committees on both legislative and oversight matters. Most committee requests for testimony are accepted, and the officials appear voluntarily without the need to issue subpoenas or use the other tools available to Congress to compel appearance.

Congress’s authority under the Constitution to legislate and investigate, along with its practices in exercising these powers, provide strong incentives for the executive branch to work voluntarily with Congress. Congress’s control over appropriations and the organization and...

Department of Defense First Agency-wide Financial Audit (FY2018): Background and Issues for Congress

The Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 (CFO Act, P.L. 101-576) requires annual financial audits of federal agencies’ financial statements to “assure the issuance of reliable financial information ... deter fraud, waste and abuse of Government resources ... [and assist] the executive branch ... and Congress in the financing, management, and evaluation of Federal programs.” Agency inspectors general (IGs) are responsible for the audits and may contract with one or more external auditors. Congressional interest in the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) audits is especially acute because DOD’s...

Selected Homeland Security Issues in the 116th Congress

In 2001, in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, “homeland security” went from being a concept discussed among a relatively small cadre of policymakers and strategic thinkers to one broadly discussed among policymakers, including a broad swath of those in Congress. Debates over how to implement coordinated homeland security policy led to the passage of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-296), the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and extensive legislative activity in the ensuing years.

Initially, homeland security was largely seen as...

Military Construction: Authorities, Process, and Frequently Asked Questions

Congress appropriates several billion dollars annually to support the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) worldwide military installations portfolio. Authorization for specific military construction (MILCON) projects provided through the annual National Defense Authorization Actenables the Secretary of Defense and the Secretaries of the Army, Air Force, and Navy to plan, program, design, and build the runways, piers, warehouses, barracks, schools, hospitals, child development centers, and other facilities needed to support U.S. military forces at home and abroad. The end-to-end MILCON process...

Hindu Holidays: Fact Sheet

Hinduism (or Sanatana Dharma) is the third-largest religion in the world behind Christianity and Islam, with nearly 1 billion adherents. According to the Pew Research Center, about 0.7% of Americans self-identify themselves as Hindu. Originating on the Indian subcontinent, it is often described as a combination of many religious beliefs and philosophical schools.

This fact sheet is designed to assist congressional offices with work related to Hindu holidays. It contains sample speeches and remarks from the Congressional Record, presidential proclamations and remarks, and selected...

Farm Policy: USDA’s 2019 Trade Aid Package

On May 23, 2019, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would undertake a second trade aid package in 2019 valued at up to $16 billion—similar to a trade aid package initiated in 2018 valued at $12 billion—to assist farmers in response to trade damage from continued tariff retaliation and trade disruptions.

Under the 2019 trade aid package, USDA will use its authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act to fund three separate programs to assist agricultural producers in 2019 while the Administration works to...

Closing the Flood Insurance Gap

There is a large flood insurance gap in the United States, where many people that are exposed to flood risk are not covered by flood insurance. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is the primary source of residential flood insurance. More than 22,000 communities participate in the NFIP, with more than 5 million policies providing more than $1.3 trillion in coverage.

The NFIP identifies areas at high risk of flooding as Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs). Property owners are required to purchase flood insurance only if (1) their properties are in SFHAs, (2) their communities...

Thanksgiving: Fact Sheet

Thanksgiving is a federal holiday observed on the fourth Thursday in November. It began in 1621 as a harvest celebration between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians and has become a time for families and friends to gather to reflect and express gratitude.

In 1789, President George Washington declared November 26 a national day of Thanksgiving. Subsequent Presidents issued Thanksgiving proclamations, but the dates of the commemoration changed. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation establishing the last Thursday of November as Thanksgiving.

In October 1941, Congress...

Management of the Colorado River: Water Allocations, Drought, and the Federal Role

The Colorado River Basin covers more than 246,000 square miles in seven U.S. states (Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California) and Mexico. Pursuant to federal law, the Bureau of Reclamation (part of the Department of the Interior) manages much of the basin’s water supplies. Colorado River water is used primarily for agricultural irrigation and municipal and industrial (M&I) uses, but it also is important for power production, fish and wildlife, and recreational uses.

In recent years, consumptive uses of Colorado River water have exceeded natural flows, causing...

Defense Primer: Military Installations Management

Congressional Commissions: Overview and Considerations for Congress

Congressional advisory commissions are formal groups established to provide independent advice; to make recommendations for changes in public policy; to study or investigate a particular problem, issue, or event; or to commemorate an individual, group, or event. While no legal definition exists for what constitutes a congressional commission, in this report a congressional commission is defined as a multimember independent entity that (1) is established by Congress, (2) exists temporarily, (3) serves in an advisory capacity, (4) is appointed in part or whole by Members of Congress, and (5)...

Firearms-Related Appropriations Riders

Green Climate Fund: Resource Mobilization, Recent Projects

Prescription Drug Importation

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: Overview of FY2020 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill contains funding for more than 30 agencies and entities. They include most of the Department of the Interior (DOI) as well as agencies within other departments, such as the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service within the Department of Health and Human Services. The bill also provides funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), arts and cultural agencies, and other organizations and entities. Issues for Congress include determining the amount, terms, and conditions of...

Shipping Under the Jones Act: Legislative and Regulatory Background

The Jones Act, which refers to Section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (P.L. 66-261), requires that vessels transporting cargo from one U.S. point to another U.S. point be U.S.-built, and owned and crewed by U.S. citizens. The act provides a significant degree of protection for U.S. shipyards, domestic carriers, and American merchant sailors. It is a subject of debate because some experts argue that it leads to high domestic ocean shipping costs and constrains the availability of ships for domestic use. The Jones Act has come into prominence amid debates over Puerto Rico’s economic...

Impeachment and the Constitution

The Constitution grants Congress authority to impeach and remove the President, Vice President, and other federal “civil officers” for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Impeachment is one of the various checks and balances created by the Constitution, a crucial tool for holding government officers accountable for violations of the law and abuse of power.

Responsibility and authority to determine whether to impeach an individual rests in the hands of the House of Representatives. Should a simple majority of the House approve articles of impeachment, the matter is...

Resolutions to Censure the President: Procedure and History

Censure is a reprimand adopted by one or both chambers of Congress against a Member of Congress, President, federal judge, or other government official. While Member censure is a disciplinary measure that is sanctioned by the Constitution (Article 1, Section 5), non-Member censure is not. Rather, it is a formal expression or “sense of” one or both houses of Congress.

Censure resolutions targeting non-Members have utilized a range of statements to highlight conduct deemed by the resolutions’ sponsors to be inappropriate or unauthorized. Before the Nixon Administration, such resolutions...

The POWER Initiative: Energy Transition as Economic Development

With the decline of the U.S. coal industry, managing the economic effects of energy transition has become a priority for the federal government. The Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative, and the broader POWER Plus Plan of which it was a part, represent the U.S. government’s efforts to ease the economic effects of energy transition in coal industry-dependent communities in the United States, and especially in Appalachia. Launched in 2015 by the Obama Administration as a multi-agency effort utilizing various existing programs, the POWER...

The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA): A Legal Overview

A plaintiff injured by a defendant’s wrongful act may file a tort lawsuit to recover money from that defendant. To name a particularly familiar example, a person who negligently causes a vehicular collision may be liable to the victim of that crash. By forcing people who wrongfully injure others to pay money to their victims, the tort system serves at least two functions: (1) deterring people from injuring others and (2) compensating those who are injured.

Employees and officers of the federal government occasionally commit torts just like other members of the general public. For a...

Air Force OA-X Light Attack Aircraft Program

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership: Status and Recent Developments

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a prospective trade agreement between the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and five of their major FTA partners—Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea. On November 4, 2019, a Joint Leaders Statement was issued following the conclusion of the 3rd RCEP Summit, held on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Thailand. According to the statement, 15 of the original 16 Asian countries participating in RCEP have concluded “text-based negotiations for all 20 chapters” and “essentially all”...

Immigration: Recent Apprehension Trends at the U.S. Southwest Border

Unauthorized migration across the U.S. Southwest border poses considerable challenges to federal agencies that apprehend and process unauthorized migrants (aliens) due to changing characteristics and motivations of migrants in the past few years. Unauthorized migration flows are reflected by the number of migrants apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) Customs and Border Protection (CBP). In FY2000, total annual apprehensions at the border were at an all-time high of 1.64 million, before gradually declining to 303,916 in FY2017, a 45-year low. Apprehensions then...

Homeland Security Research and Development: Homeland Security Issues in the 116th Congress

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Overview

In the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Directorate of Science and Technology (S&T) has primary responsibility for establishing, administering, and coordinating research and development (R&D) activities. The Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office (CWMDO) is responsible for R&D relating to detection of nuclear and radiological threats. Several other DHS components, such as the Coast Guard, also fund R&D and R&D-related activities associated with their missions. The Common Appropriations Structure that DHS introduced in its FY2017 budget includes an account...

Liquefied Natural Gas by Rail: Policy Issues

On October 24, 2019, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), published a proposed rule to authorize the transportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in rail tank cars. This publication was the latest federal action intended to provide “greater flexibility in the modes of transportation” of LNG to serve domestic and export markets. The proposed rule could conflict with legislation approved by the House of Representatives earlier this year.

Natural gas cooled below -260° F at normal atmospheric...

Big Data in Financial Services: Privacy and Security Regulation

Congress has shown interest in data privacy and security issues in the financial services industry, including an upcoming House Financial Services task force hearing. Recent data breaches at large financial institutions and credit reporting agencies have increased concern about the privacy and security of the large amounts of consumer financial information (known increasingly as big data) that companies gather, use, and store. Some of this information is public, whereas other information is considered personal and nonpublic. No single law provides a framework for regulating data privacy in...

Social Security: The Lump-Sum Death Benefit

When a Social Security-insured worker dies, the surviving spouse who was living with the deceased is entitled to a one-time lump-sum death benefit of $255. If they were living apart, the surviving spouse can still receive the lump sum under certain conditions. If there is no such spouse, the payment can be made to a child who meets certain requirements. In the majority of deaths, however, no payment is made.

The lump-sum death benefit was once an important part of Social Security benefits to survivors. Between 1937 and 1939, the lump sum was the only benefit available to survivors of...

Introduction to the U.S. Economy: Business Investment

Introduction to U.S. Economy: Personal Income

Kinship Care

The Impeachment Process in the House of Representatives

Under the U.S. Constitution, the House of Representatives has the power to formally charge a federal officer with wrongdoing, a process known as impeachment. The House impeaches an individual when a majority agrees to a House resolution containing explanations of the charges. The explanations in the resolution are referred to as “articles of impeachment.” After the House agrees to impeach an officer, the role of the Senate is to conduct a trial to determine whether the charged individual should be removed from office. Removal requires a two-thirds vote in the Senate.

The House impeachment...

Net Metering: In Brief

Net metering is a policy that allows electricity customers with their own generation capacity to be financially compensated for the energy they produce. Net metering is widely regarded as having an important role in deployment of distributed generation (DG), especially solar energy. State and local governments have authority to establish net metering policies, and some have done so for many years. Congress took action to encourage net metering in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT05), and the policy now exists, in some form, in 45 states. Recent state net metering policy modifications,...

Air Force B-21 Raider Long-Range Strike Bomber

The Department of Defense is developing a new long-range bomber aircraft, the B-21 Raider (previously known as LRS-B), and proposes to acquire at least 100 of them. B-21s would initially replace the fleets of B-1 and B-2 bombers, and could possibly replace B-52s in the future.

B-21 development was highly classified until the summer of 2015, when the Air Force revealed initial details of the aircraft and the program. Although technical specifications and other data remain out of public view, many details of the budget, acquisition strategy, procurement quantities, and other aspects of the...

DOD’s Cloud Strategy and the JEDI Cloud Procurement

The Equal Rights Amendment: Close to Adoption?

Presidential Directives: An Introduction

Federal Employees’ Retirement System: Benefits and Financing

Most civilian federal employees who were hired before 1984 are covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Federal employees hired in 1984 or later are covered by the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS). Both CSRS and FERS require participants to contribute toward the cost of their pensions through a payroll tax to the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund (CSRDF).

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) estimates CSRS to cost an amount equal to 36.6% of employee pay. Of this amount, the federal government pays 29.6% and employees pay 7.0%. CSRS employees do not...

Poland Designated into Visa Waiver Program

On November 6, 2019, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan announced the designation of Poland into the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The VWP allows citizens of designated countries to visit the United States without obtaining visas. Poland—one of five EU countries that until now had not been designated into the VWP—had been working with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for over a decade to meet the program’s criteria (see list of criteria below). In FY2019, Poland met the requirement of having a nonimmigrant visa refusal rate below 3%. On October 4, 2019,...

SBA New Markets Venture Capital Program

Authorized by P.L. 106-554, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2001 (Appendix H: the New Markets Venture Capital Program Act of 2000), the New Markets Venture Capital (NMVC) program, which is no longer active, is designed to promote economic development and the creation of wealth and job opportunities in low-income geographic areas by addressing the unmet equity investments needs of small businesses located in those areas. Modeled on the Small Business Association’s (SBA’s) Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program, SBA-selected, privately owned and managed NMVC companies provide...

Applicability of Federal Requirements to Selected Health Coverage Arrangements

Federal health insurance requirements generally apply to health plans sold in the private health insurance market in the United States (i.e., individual coverage, small- and large-group coverage, and self-insured plans). However, not all private health coverage arrangements comply with these requirements. This includes exempted health coverage arrangements and noncompliant health coverage arrangements, as termed for purposes of this report. This report identifies and describes arrangements in these two categories. It is intended to help congressional policymakers better understand the...

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) FY2020 President’s Budget Request and Agency Funding History: In Brief

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provides health care to individuals who are geographically isolated and/or economically or medically vulnerable. The agency’s programs target specific populations, including pregnant women and their children and individuals with HIV/AIDs.

HRSA is organized into five bureaus: (1) Primary Care; (2) Health Workforce; (3) Maternal and Child Health; (4) HIV/AIDS; and (5) Healthcare Systems. In addition to these bureaus, HRSA has 11 offices. Some offices focus on specific populations...

Introduction to U.S. Economy: Productivity

U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America: Policy Issues for Congress

Central America has received renewed attention from U.S. policymakers over the past few years as the region has remained a major transit corridor for illicit drugs and has surpassed Mexico as the largest source of irregular migration to the United States. These narcotics and migrant flows are the latest symptoms of deep-rooted challenges in several countries in the region, including widespread insecurity, fragile political and judicial systems, and high levels of poverty and unemployment. The U.S. government has worked more closely with partners in Central America to address those...

Congressional Participation in Litigation: Article III and Legislative Standing

Houses, committees, and Members of Congress periodically seek to initiate or participate in litigation for various purposes, such as advancing their legislative objectives, challenging alleged transgressions of their legislative prerogatives, or defending core institutional interests. However, the constitutionally based doctrine of “standing” may prevent legislators from pursuing litigation in federal court. The standing doctrine requires a litigant seeking federal judicial relief to demonstrate (1) a concrete and particularized and actual or imminent injury-in-fact (2) that is traceable...

Poverty in the United States in 2018: In Brief

In 2018, approximately 38.1 million people, or 11.8% of the population, had incomes below the official definition of poverty in the United States. Poverty statistics provide a measure of economic hardship. The official definition of poverty for the United States uses dollar amounts called poverty thresholds that vary by family size and the members’ ages. Families with incomes below their respective thresholds are considered to be in poverty. The poverty rate (the percentage that was in poverty) fell from 12.3% in 2017. This was the fourth consecutive year since the most recent recession...

Contaminants of Emerging Concern under the Clean Water Act

Recent decades have seen increased national attention to the presence of “emerging contaminants” or “contaminants of emerging concern” (CECs) in surface water and groundwater. Although there is no federal statutory or regulatory definition of CECs, generally, the term refers to unregulated substances detected in the environment that may present a risk to human health, aquatic life, or the environment and for which the scientific understanding of potential risks is evolving. CECs can include many different types of manufactured chemicals and substances—such as those in pharmaceuticals,...

Introduction to U.S. Economy: Inflation

National Flood Insurance Program: The Current Rating Structure and Risk Rating 2.0

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is the primary source of flood insurance coverage for residential properties in the United States, with more than five million policies in over 22,000 communities in 56 states and jurisdictions. FEMA is planning to introduce the biggest change to the way the NFIP calculates flood insurance premiums, known as Risk Rating 2.0, since the inception of the NFIP in 1968. The new premium rates are scheduled to go into effect on October 1, 2021, for all NFIP policies across the country.

Risk Rating 2.0 will continue the overall policy of phasing out NFIP...

Generalized System of Preferences (GSP): Overview and Issues for Congress

The U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program provides nonreciprocal, duty-free tariff treatment to certain products imported from designated beneficiary developing countries (BDCs). The United States, the European Union, and other developed countries have implemented similar programs since the 1970s. Congress first authorized the U.S. program in Title V of the Trade Act of 1974, and most recently extended the GSP program in Division M, Title V of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (P.L. 115-141). This act extended the GSP program until December 31, 2020, as well as...

FY2020 Refugee Ceiling and Allocations

On November 1, 2019, President Donald Trump issued a Presidential Determination setting the FY2020 refugee ceiling at 18,000. The refugee ceiling is the maximum number of refugees that can be admitted to the United States in a fiscal year. From the start of FY2020 until the signing of the Presidential Determination, no refugees could be admitted to the United States.

The FY2020 refugee ceiling of 18,000 is the lowest in the history of the U.S. refugee admissions program. The Trump Administration has reduced the refugee ceiling each year, setting it at 45,000 for FY2018 and 30,000 for...

Harbor Dredging: Issues and Historical Funding

Congress is debating whether to support increased funding for dredging to better maintain harbor channel depths and widths. A bill passed by the House (H.R. 2440) seeks to boost dredging activity by utilizing more of the collections from a port tax levied to fund harbor maintenance. However, it is not clear whether the additional funding would increase the volume of material dredged from U.S. harbors, as a variety of factors affect the cost and performance of harbor dredging. In contrast to the House bill, in S. 2470 the Senate Committee on Appropriations recommends a Gulf Coast...

Federal Regional Commissions and Authorities: Structural Features and Function

This report describes the structure, activities, legislative history, and funding history of seven federal regional commissions and authorities: the Appalachian Regional Commission; the Delta Regional Authority; the Denali Commission; the Northern Border Regional Commission; the Northern Great Plains Regional Authority; the Southeast Crescent Regional Commission; and the Southwest Border Regional Commission.

All seven regional commissions and authorities are broadly modeled after the Appalachian Regional Commission structure, which is composed of a federal co-chair appointed by the...

Canada’s October 2019 Elections

On October 21, 2019, Canadians went to the polls to elect 338 Members of Parliament. Although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party secured the most seats in the House of Commons, they lost the majority they had won in 2015. Trudeau’s new minority government will have to seek support from other parties to pass its agenda. This altered balance of power could have implications for U.S.-Canadian relations, including commercial, defense, and energy ties.

2019 Campaign

Prime Minister Trudeau and the Liberals won power in 2015 on a platform pledging to improve economic security for...

Bolivia: An Overview

Intelligence Community Spending: Trends and Issues

Total intelligence spending is usually understood as the combination of the National Intelligence Program (NIP), which supports strategic planning and policymaking, and the Military Intelligence Program (MIP), which supports military operational and tactical levels of planning and operations. There are 4 defense NIP programs, 8 nondefense NIP programs, and 10 MIP programs. Six U.S. intelligence community (IC) components have both MIP and NIP funding sources.

The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence (USD(I)), respectively, manage the NIP...

The Emoluments Clauses and the Presidency: Background and Recent Developments

Recent litigation involving the President has raised legal issues concerning formerly obscure constitutional provisions that prohibit the acceptance or receipt of “emoluments” in certain circumstances. First, the Foreign Emoluments Clause (Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the Constitution) prohibits any person “holding any Office of Profit or Trust under” the United States from accepting “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever” from a foreign government unless Congress consents. Second, the Domestic Emoluments Clause (Article II, Section 1, Clause 7) prohibits the...

Federal Land Management Agencies’ Mandatory Appropriations Accounts

Management of lands and resources is a principal mission for four federal agencies—the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Forest Service (FS), and National Park Service (NPS). Most of the appropriations for these agencies come from discretionary appropriations enacted by Congress through annual appropriations laws. However, each of the agencies also receives mandatory appropriations under provisions of authorizing statutes enacted by Congress. Under these laws, the agencies spend money without further action by Congress.

A number of issues arise for Congress...

Legalization Framework Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)

The population of unlawfully present aliens in the United States numbers between ten million and twelve million, according to recent estimates. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) takes three primary approaches to regulating this population: removal, deterrence, and—to a lesser extent—legalization. Legalization, as used here, means the granting of a lawful immigration status to an unlawfully present alien so that he or she is no longer subject to removal under the INA. Put differently, an unlawfully present alien “legalizes” by obtaining lawful permanent resident status (LPR or...

Veterans Day Speech Resources: Fact Sheet

This fact sheet is designed to assist congressional offices with work related to celebrating Veterans Day. It contains a brief history, CRS reports, sample speeches and recognitions, presidential proclamations, and statistics. It also contains links to additional web resources from authoritative sources.

Social Security: Demographic Trends and the Funding Shortfall

The Social Security program pays monthly benefits to retired or disabled workers and their families and to the family members of deceased workers. Social Security, or Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI), is intended to operate primarily as a pay-as-you-go system, where program revenues cover program costs. The OASDI program’s revenues and costs are largely determined by economic and demographic factors. The Social Security program is experiencing rising costs and relatively stable income, a trend that is projected to continue for several decades. Although economic and...

Unemployment Compensation (UC): Issues Related to Drug Testing

Recent interest in Unemployment Compensation (UC) drug testing has grown at both the federal and state levels. The policy interest in mandatory drug testing of individuals who are applying for or receiving UC benefits parallels two larger policy trends. First, some state legislatures have considered drug testing individuals receiving public assistance benefits. While UC is generally considered social insurance (rather than public assistance), the concept of drug testing UC recipients (who are receiving state-financed benefits from a program authorized under state laws) could be interpreted...

Quantum Information Science: Applications, Global Research and Development, and Policy Considerations

Quantum information science (QIS) combines elements of mathematics, computer science, engineering, and physical sciences, and has the potential to provide capabilities far beyond what is possible with the most advanced technologies available today. Although much of the press coverage of QIS has been devoted to quantum computing, there is more to QIS. Many experts divide QIS technologies into three application areas: Sensing and metrology, Communications, and Computing and simulation. The government’s interest in QIS dates back at least to the mid-1990s, when the National Institute of...

$7.569 Billion Highway Rescission Approaches

Current funding for the Federal-Aid Highway Program is authorized through September 30, 2020, by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act; P.L. 114-94). However, Section 1438 of the act directs that on July 1, 2020, $7.569 billion of the unobligated balances of highway formula funds apportioned to the states under the law be permanently rescinded.

Rescissions are provisions in law that cancel the availability of previously enacted budget authority before the budget authority would otherwise expire.

Why the Rescission Was Included in the FAST Act

The Highway Trust Fund...

State Minimum Wages: An Overview

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), enacted in 1938, is the federal law that establishes the general minimum wage that must be paid to all covered workers. While the FLSA mandates broad minimum wage coverage, states have the option of establishing minimum wage rates that are different from those set in it. Under the provisions of the FLSA, an individual is generally covered by the higher of the state or federal minimum wage.

As of 2020, minimum wage rates are above the federal rate of $7.25 per hour in 29 states and the District of Columbia, ranging from $1.31 to $7.75 above the federal...

Charitable Conservation Contributions: Potential for Abuse?

Taxpayers may be able to claim a charitable deduction for the value of qualified conservation contributions, which include conservation easements. In recent years, deductions for conservation contributions have increased. There are concerns that some of this increase has been driven by syndicated conservation easements, where a pass-through business entity acquires real property on behalf of investors, makes a conservation contribution to a qualified organization, and then allocates the tax benefits among the investors. Conservation contributions made through syndicated conservation...

2019 California Wildfires: Brief Overview of FEMA Programs and Resources

Introduction

This Insight provides a brief overview of current Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) declarations and federal assistance programs that may be available.

The National Weather Service (NWS) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides fire weather outlooks intended to delineate areas of the continental United States where “pre-existing fuel conditions, combined with forecast weather conditions during the next eight days, will result in a significant threat for the ignitions and/or spread of wildfires.” These conditions involve combinations of...

Argentina’s 2019 Elections

Argentina’s Peronist party (officially known as the Partido Justicialista) returned to power in October 27, 2019, presidential elections. Alberto Fernández of the center-left Peronist Frente de Todos (Front for All) coalition defeated current President Mauricio Macri of the center-right Juntos por el Cambio (Together for Change) coalition by a vote of 48.1% to 40.4% in a six-candidate race. Argentina’s economic crisis—marked by recession, high inflation, and increasing poverty—appeared to be the most important factor in the race. Although Macri’s defeat was not unexpected, most polls had...

Negotiation of Drug Prices in Medicare Part D

The State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report: Scope, Aid Restrictions, and Methodology

The State Department’s annual release of the Trafficking in Persons report (commonly referred to as the TIP Report) has been closely monitored by Congress, foreign governments, the media, advocacy groups, and other foreign policy observers. The 109th Congress first mandated the report’s publication in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA; Div. A of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, P.L. 106-386).

The number of countries covered by the TIP Report has grown over time. In the 2019 TIP Report, released on June 20, 2019, the State Department...

U.S. Natural Gas: Becoming Dominant

In the beginning of the 21st century, natural gas prices were increasing and the United States was viewed as a growing natural gas importer. Multiple liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminals were built while existing ones were recommissioned and expanded. However, the market conditions also drove domestic producers to innovate. As average U.S. prices peaked in 2008, domestic shale gas production was brought to market. Improvements in technologies such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling made the development of unconventional natural gas resources such as shale and other...

Social Security Survivors Benefits

Social Security is formally known as the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program. This report focuses on the Survivors Insurance component of Social Security. When a worker dies, his or her spouse, former spouse(s), and/or dependents may qualify for Social Security survivors benefits. This report describes how a worker becomes covered by Survivors Insurance and outlines the types and amounts of benefits available to survivors and eligibility for those benefits. This report also provides current data on survivor beneficiaries and benefits.

California Wildfires and Bulk Electric System Reliability

Introduction

Many regions of the United States are susceptible to wildfires during droughts, with lightning being a frequent cause. California has been particularly affected in recent years. Since 2000, California has experienced 15 of the 20 most destructive wildfires in the state’s history. However, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, electric utilities in California were responsible for several of these wildfires. In 2007, San Diego Gas and Electric was blamed for several wildfires in San Diego County, and in 2017, Southern California Edison was...

MHS Genesis: Background and Issues for Congress

Since 1968, the Department of Defense (DOD) has developed, procured, and sustained a variety of electronic systems to document the health care services delivered to servicemembers, military retirees, and their family members. DOD currently operates a number of legacy electronic health record (EHR) systems. Each system has separate capabilities and functions as a result of new or changing requirements over the past five decades. The primary legacy systems include the Composite Health Care System (CHCS), Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application (AHLTA), Essentris, and the...

The National Popular Vote (NPV) Initiative: Direct Election of the President by Interstate Compact

The National Popular Vote (NPV) initiative proposes an agreement among the states, an interstate compact that would effectively achieve direct popular election of the President and Vice President without a constitutional amendment. It relies on the Constitution’s grant of authority to the states in Article II, Section 1 to appoint presidential electors “in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.... ” Any state that joins the NPV compact pledges that if the compact comes into effect, its legislature will award all the state’s electoral votes to the presidential ticket that wins...

“Things of Value” and the Foreign Contribution Ban

Wildfires: CRS Experts

The following table provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to wildfires. Policy areas identified include federal wildfire policy; federal forest management; federal firefighting assistance; federal emergency management policy; federal preparedness system and response plan; hazard mitigation; armed forces and national guard assistance; supplemental disaster funding; and disaster insurance.

The following table provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to wildfires. Policy areas identified...

Video Broadcasting from the Federal Courts: Issues for Congress

Members of Congress, along with the legal community, journalists, and the public, have long considered the potential merits and drawbacks of using video cameras to record and/or broadcast courtroom proceedings. The first bill to propose video camera use in the federal courts was introduced in the House of Representatives in 1937, and since the mid-1990s, Members of Congress in both chambers have regularly introduced bills to expand the use of cameras in the federal courts and have sometimes held hearings on the subject.

Video cameras are commonly used in state and local courtrooms...

South Sudan

2018 Farm Bill (P.L. 115-334) Primer Series: A Guide to Omnibus Farm and Food Legislation

This report summarizes a series of In Focus products prepared by CRS on the enacted Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 farm bill; P.L. 115-334). The President signed the 2018 farm bill into law in December 2018. To a large extent, the 2018 farm bill continues the general thrust of prior farm and food policy by reauthorizing many of the existing programs through 2023. In some cases, Congress modified existing programs, while also creating new programs and allowing certain other programs to expire.

Australia

Broadband Internet Access and the Digital Divide: Federal Assistance Programs

The “digital divide” is a term that has been used to characterize a gap between those Americans who have access to telecommunications and information technologies and those who do not. One important subset of the digital divide debate concerns access to high-speed internet, also known as broadband. Broadband is provided by a series of technologies (e.g., cable, telephone wire, fiber, satellite, and mobile and fixed wireless) that give users the ability to send and receive data at volumes and speeds that support a number of applications including voice communications, entertainment,...

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): Categorical Eligibility

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides benefits to low-income, eligible households on an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card; benefits can then be exchanged for foods at authorized retailers. SNAP reaches a large share of low-income households. In FY2018, a monthly average of 40.3 million persons in 20.1 million households participated in SNAP.

Federal SNAP law provides two basic pathways for financial eligibility to the program: (1) meeting program-specific federal eligibility requirements; or (2) being automatically or “categorically” eligible for SNAP based on...

Congressional Access to Information in an Impeachment Investigation

Committee investigations in the House of Representatives can serve several objectives. Most often, an investigation seeks to gather information either to review past legislation or develop future legislation, or to enable a committee to conduct oversight of another branch of government. These inquiries may be called legislative investigations because their legal authority derives implicitly from the House’s general legislative power. Much more rarely, a House committee may carry out an investigation to determine whether there are grounds to impeach a federal official—a form of inquiry...

Dam Safety Overview and the Federal Role

Dams provide various services, including flood control, hydroelectric power, recreation, navigation, and water supply, but they require maintenance, and sometimes rehabilitation and repair, to ensure public and economic safety. Dam failure or incidents can endanger lives and property, as well as result in loss of services provided by the dam. Federal government agencies reported owning 3% of the more than 90,000 dams listed in the National Inventory of Dams (NID), including some of the largest dams in the United States. The majority of NID-listed dams are owned by private entities,...

Overview of Continuing Appropriations for FY2020 (P.L. 116-59)

This report provides an analysis of the continuing appropriations provisions for FY2020 included in Division A (Continuing Appropriations Act, 2020) of H.R. 4378. The legislation also included a separate Division B (Health and Human Services Extenders and Other Matters), which extended multiple federal health care programs that were otherwise set to expire September 30, 2019, and provided for some adjustments to additional health programs. This report examines only Division A, the continuing resolution (CR) portion of the legislation. On September 27, 2019, the President signed H.R. 4378...

Uruguay: An Overview

Financial Inclusion and Credit Access Policy Issues

Access to basic financial products and services is generally considered foundational for households to manage their financial affairs, improve their financial well-being, and graduate to wealth building activities in the future. Financial inclusion in three domains can be particularly important for households: access to bank and other payment accounts; access to the credit reporting system; and access to affordable short-term small-dollar credit. In the United States, robust consumer credit markets allow most consumers to access financial services and credit products to meet their needs...

Introduction to Veterans Health Care

Burkina Faso

Turkey Sanctions in Pending Legislation: Issues for Congress

Congress is actively considering a variety of bills that could impose sanctions on Turkey. The pending legislation is largely in response to a Turkish-led incursion into Syria (which Turkey calls Operation Peace Spring, or OPS) that began in early October after the Trump Administration announced that the United States was relocating some U.S. Special Forces away from the Syria-Turkey border area. Sanctions imposed via legislation would add to sanctions that the Administration imposed on Turkey in response to OPS, and many would stand until Turkey withdraws from areas it has already...

Unemployment Insurance: Consequences of Changes in State Unemployment Compensation Laws

This report analyzes recent changes to state Unemployment Compensation (UC) programs. Two categories of UC state law issues are considered: (1) changes in the duration of state UC unemployment benefits, and (2) changes in the UC weekly benefit amount.

In recent years, some states have enacted legislation to decrease the maximum number of weeks of regular state UC benefits. Until 2011, all states paid at least up to 26 weeks of UC benefits to eligible, unemployed individuals. In 2011, however, six states passed legislation to decrease their maximum UC benefit durations: Arkansas, Florida,...

Federal Role in Responding to Potential Risks of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of fluorinated compounds that have been used for various purposes, including numerous commercial, industrial, and U.S. military applications. Some common uses include food packaging, nonstick coatings, and stain-resistance fabrics, and as an ingredient in fire suppressants in Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) used at U.S. military installations, at civilian airports, and by state and local fire departments, and elsewhere. PFAS persist in the environment and in humans, and studies on several PFAS indicate that exposures above certain...

U.S. Women’s Soccer Team and Equal Pay

U.S. Women’s National Team’s (USWNT) efforts to obtain pay equal to the pay provided to the U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) by the U.S. Soccer Federation rose to prominence during the team’s successful quest for the Women’s World Cup 2019, the team’s fourth such title since 1991. The members of the USWNT and USMNT share the same employer, U.S. Soccer, with whom each team has a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The USWNT efforts have led to discussions over whether U.S. Soccer has complied with key anti-discrimination laws regarding pay equity.

Recent Developments

On March 30, 2016,...

Hong Kong’s Proposed Extradition Law Amendments

The Outdoor Recreation Economy

Congress plays an overarching role in shaping outdoor recreation throughout the nation through legislation and oversight. As Congress continues to debate outdoor recreation issues—including provision of federal resources, planning efforts, and funding—data on the size, distribution, and relative importance of the outdoor recreation economy may inform these debates. Both historical and recent legislative and executive efforts centered on outdoor recreation have identified the economic importance of outdoor recreation. In 2016, Congress passed the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact...

Deficit Financing, the Debt, and “Modern Monetary Theory”

Explaining persistently low interest rates despite large deficits and rising debt has been one of the central challenges of macroeconomists since the end of the Great Recession. This dynamic has led to increasing attention to Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), presented as an alternative to the mainstream macroeconomic way of thinking, in some fiscal policy discussions. Such discussions are at times restricted by a difficulty, expressed by policymakers and economists alike, in understanding MMT’s core principles and how they inform MMT’s views on fiscal policy. MMT suggests that deficit...

The District of Columbia Tuition Assistance Grant (DCTAG) Program

To address concerns about the public postsecondary education offerings available to District of Columbia residents, the District of Columbia College Access Act of 1999 (P.L. 106-98) established the District of Columbia Tuition Assistance Grant (DCTAG) program. The program is meant to provide college-bound DC residents with a greater array of choices among institutions of higher education by providing grants for undergraduate education. Grants for study at public institutions of higher education (IHEs) nationwide offset the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition and fees, up...

House and Senate Restaurants: Current Operations and Issues for Congress

Dining facilities in the Capitol and in House and Senate office buildings provide an essential convenience for Members of Congress and congressional staff, enabling them to easily obtain meals, beverages, and snacks, and quickly return to work. By providing an efficient way to meet congressional dining needs during unpredictable workdays, the restaurant systems help facilitate the legislative and representational work of Congress. These restaurants also provide spaces for constituents and other visitors to meet with staff and Members of Congress, or to purchase refreshments. House and...

Libra: A Facebook-led Cryptocurrency Initiative

On June 18, 2019, Facebook announced that, with 28 other members, it had founded the Libra Association, which planned to launch a new cryptocurrency, called Libra. The association released a white paper that outlined the characteristics of Libra and described its goal of creating a cryptocurrency that would overcome some of the challenges faced by other cryptocurrencies and deliver the possible benefits of the technology on a large scale.

President Trump and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin raised concerns about the Libra project, as did several Members of Congress during Senate Banking...

Unemployment Insurance: Programs and Benefits

Certain benefits may be available to unemployed workers to provide them with income support during a spell of unemployment. The cornerstone of this income support is the joint federal-state Unemployment Compensation (UC) program, which may provide income support through the payment of UC benefits for up to a maximum of 26 weeks in most states. Other programs that may provide workers with income support are more specialized. They may target special groups of workers, be automatically triggered by certain economic conditions, be temporarily created by Congress with a set expiration date, or...

National Park Service: Government Shutdown Issues

Global Vaccination: Trends and U.S. Role

For more than 50 years, the United States has taken an interest in the eradication of vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs) in children worldwide, as well as vaccine research and development, particularly since playing a vital role in the global campaign to eradicate smallpox in the 1960s. Since then, vaccinating children against VPDs has been a major U.S. foreign policy effort.

Vaccinations are one of the most cost-effective ways to prevent infectious disease and associated morbidity and mortality. According to UNICEF, immunizations save around 3 million lives per year. As of 2019, VPDs...

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) provides cash benefits to certain persons whose health may have been affected by exposure to debris or toxic substances in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and the terrorist-related aircraft crash at Shanksville, PA. Congress created the original VCF shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks to provide compensation to persons injured and the families of persons killed in the attacks and their immediate aftermath. The original VCF closed in 2003.

In 2011, Congress reopened the...

Limits on TRICARE for Reservists: Frequently Asked Questions

Between 2001 and 2007, more than 575,000 members of the reserve components were ordered to active duty in support of ongoing military operations, including major combat operations in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom), Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom). While on active duty, reservists and their family members have access to a wide range of health care services administered by the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Military Health System (MHS). However, prior to 2005, chapter 55 of Title 10, U.S. Code, authorized little to no DOD health care services to nonactivated reservists or their...

Drug Testing Unemployment Compensation Applicants & the Fourth Amendment

Resources for Grantseekers

This report describes key sources of information on government and private funding, and outlines eligibility for federal grants. Federal grants are intended to accomplish public purposes through projects benefiting states and communities. Individuals may be eligible for other kinds of benefits or assistance, and small businesses or students may be eligible for loans.

Free information is readily available to grantseekers, who generally best know the details of their projects. The Assistance Listings database at beta.SAM.gov describes more than 2,200 federal programs, more than half of them...

Gun Control: National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Operations and Related Legislation

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) administers a computer system of systems that is used to query federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial criminal history record information (CHRI) and other records to determine an individual’s firearms transfer/receipt and possession eligibility. This FBI-administered system is the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). NICS, or parallel state systems, must be checked and the pending transfer approved by the FBI or state point of contact before a federally licensed gun dealer may transfer a firearm to any customer who is...

Defense Primer: Military Commissaries and Exchanges

DNS over HTTPS—What Is It and Why Do People Care?

Internet pioneer David Clark said: “It’s not that we didn’t think about security. We knew that there were untrustworthy people out there, and we thought we could exclude them.” Those who created the internet were focused on enabling the utility of the network, and a repercussion of their design decisions is that internet security is not inherent but must be retrofitted. Efforts to change one of the internet’s hardwired insecurities—the Domain Name System (DNS)—are ongoing but will be disruptive.

How We Get to Websites Today

When someone wants to visit a website, they type the web address...

Expired and Expiring Tax Provisions (“Tax Extenders”): CRS Resources

Some Members of Congress have expressed interest in extending temporary tax provisions that expired at the end of 2017 and 2018, and possibly extending provisions scheduled to expire at the end of 2019. Collectively, temporary tax provisions that are regularly extended as a group by Congress, rather than being allowed to expire as scheduled, are often referred to as “tax extenders.”

Temporary tax provisions were most recently extended in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA18; P.L. 115-123). BBA18 extended nearly all of the provisions that had expired at the end of 2016, with most...

Parliamentary Rights of the Delegates and Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico

As officers who represent territories and properties possessed or administered by the United States but not admitted to statehood, the five House delegates and the resident commissioner from Puerto Rico do not enjoy all the same parliamentary rights as Members of the House. They may vote and otherwise act similarly to Members in legislative committee. They may not vote on the House floor but may participate in debate and make most motions there. Under the rules of the 116th Congress (2017-2018), the delegates and resident commissioner may preside over the Committee of the Whole and may...

Broadband Data and Mapping: Background and Issues for the 116th Congress

Access to high-speed internet, also known as broadband, is increasingly important in the 21st century, as more and more aspects of everyday life, such as job applications and homework assignments, become digital. Some areas of the United States—particularly rural areas—have limited or no access to broadband due to market, geographic, or demographic factors. The gap between those who have access to broadband and those who do not is referred to as the digital divide.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and Rural...

Public Transit Ridership Continues to Decline

Despite suggestions that ridership on the nation’s public transportation systems is beginning to grow again, available evidence suggests this optimism is premature. According to data from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), 2018 marked the fourth straight year of declining ridership, falling by about 2.5% from the year before. Total ridership on transit buses and rail systems, including commuter rail services, and ferries in 2018 was below 10 billion for the first time since 2005. More recent quarterly data from APTA show that second-quarter ridership in 2019 was higher...

“Sense of” Resolutions and Provisions

One or both houses of Congress may formally express opinions about subjects of current national interest through freestanding simple or concurrent resolutions (called generically “sense of the House,” “sense of the Senate,” or “sense of the Congress” resolutions). These opinions expressing the views of one or both chambers may be included in other legislation upon introduction or subsequently added by amendment. This report identifies the various forms these expressions may take and the procedures governing such actions.

Kosovo’s Election: Early Results May Signal Major Changes

On October 6, 2019, Kosovo held its fourth parliamentary election since declaring independence from Serbia in 2008 (Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence). Opposition parties’ strong performance may result in the most consequential government turnover since independence, with implications for the future direction of the European Union (EU)-facilitated dialogue to normalize relations between Kosovo and Serbia. The United States has long supported Kosovo’s political and economic development, and U.S. officials and many Members of Congress support and have closely followed the...

How Measures Are Brought to the Senate Floor: A Brief Introduction

Two basic methods are used by the Senate to bring legislation to the floor for consideration: (1) The Senate, at the majority leader’s request, grants unanimous consent to take up a matter or (2) it agrees to his motion to proceed to consider it. Because the motion to proceed is subject to debate in most circumstances, it is less frequently used. Both methods are derived from the basic premise that the Senate as a body may decide what matters it considers. The Senate may also use the same two methods to bring up executive business (nominations and treaties).

This report will be updated to...

Senate Rule XIV Procedure for Placing Measures Directly on the Senate Calendar

When a Senator introduces a bill or joint resolution, or a House-passed bill or joint resolution is received in the Senate from the House, the measure is often referred to committee pursuant to provisions of Senate Rules XIV, XVII, and XXV. The Senate may, however, use provisions of Senate Rule XIV to bypass referral of a bill or joint resolution to a Senate committee and have the measure placed directly on the Senate Calendar of Business.

Although placing a bill or joint resolution directly on the calendar does not guarantee that the full Senate will ever consider it, the measure is...

Congressional Budget Office: Appointment and Tenure of the Director and Deputy Director

The requirements regarding the appointment and tenure of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) director are set forth in Section 201(a) of the 1974 Congressional Budget Act, as amended, and codified at 2 U.S.C. 601(a). The Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate jointly appoint the director after considering recommendations received from the House and Senate Budget Committees. The Budget Committee chairs inform the congressional leaders of their recommendations by letter. The appointment is usually announced in the Congressional Record.

Section...

Restitution in Federal Criminal Cases: A Sketch

Restitution endeavors to restore victims to the place where they stood when they became victims of crime. It seeks to make them whole and no more. In the case of a corporate or affluent defendant, victim restitution can be substantial; in some cases its value may be largely symbolic; in yet other cases it is irrelevant. Federal prosecutors collect roughly $1 billion a year for the victims of federal crimes. Yet prosecutors will likely never secure more than $1 out every $10 owed, and federal courts rarely, if ever, order restitution from the defendants convicted of the most commonly...

Reissued Labor Department Rule Tests Congressional Review Act Ban on Promulgating “Substantially the Same” Rules

On October 4, 2019, the Department of Labor (DOL) published a final rule in the Federal Register on the states’ ability to drug test certain unemployment compensation (UC) applicants. The UC drug testing rule is a reissued version of an Obama Administration rule that was disapproved in the 115th Congress under the Congressional Review Act (CRA; P.L. 115-17). DOL had previously published a proposed version of the rule on November 5, 2018. The rule is set to take effect on November 4, 2019.

Notably, this is the first time an agency has reissued a rule after the original version was...

Restitution in Federal Criminal Cases

Restitution endeavors to restore victims to the place where they stood when they became victims of crime. It seeks to make them whole and no more. In the case of a corporate or affluent defendant, victim restitution can be substantial; in some cases its value may be largely symbolic; in yet other cases it is irrelevant. Federal prosecutors collect roughly $1 billion a year for the victims of federal crimes. Yet prosecutors will likely never secure more than $1 out every $10 owed, and federal courts rarely, if ever, order restitution from the defendants convicted of the most commonly...

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program

The purpose of the diversity immigrant visa program (DV program, sometimes called “the green card lottery” or “the visa lottery”) is, as the name suggests, to foster legal immigration from countries other than the major sending countries of current immigrants to the United States. Current law weights the allocation of immigrant visas primarily toward individuals with close family in the United States and, to a lesser extent, toward those who meet particular employment needs. The diversity immigrant category was added to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by the Immigration Act of...

The Congressional Arts Caucus and the Congressional Art Competition: History and Current Practice

Sponsored by the Congressional Arts Caucus, and known in recent years as “An Artistic Discovery,” the Congressional Art Competition is open to high school students nationwide. Begun in 1982, the competition, based in congressional districts, provides the opportunity for Members of Congress to encourage and recognize the artistic talents of their young constituents. Since its inception, more than 650,000 high school students nationwide have been involved in the program.

Each year, the art of one student per participating congressional district is selected to represent the district. The...

Overtime Exemptions in the Fair Labor Standards Act for White-Collar Employees: Frequently Asked Questions

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), enacted in 1938, is the main federal law that establishes general wage and hour standards for most, but not all, private and public sector employees. Among other protections, the FLSA establishes that covered nonexempt employees must be compensated at one-and-a-half times their regular rate of pay for each hour worked over 40 hours in a workweek.

The FLSA also establishes certain exemptions from its general labor market standards. One of the major exemptions to the overtime provisions in the FLSA is for bona fide “executive, administrative, and...

Capital Markets: Asset Management and Related Policy Issues

The asset management industry is large and complex. Asset management companies—also known as investment management companies, or asset managers—are companies that manage money for a fee with the goal of growing it for those who invest with them. The most well-known product these companies create are investment funds. Many types of investment funds exist, including mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), hedge funds, private equity, and venture capital. Their business practices and the types of regulatory requirements to which they are subject are far from standardized. Investment funds...

Turkish Incursion into Syria: U.S. Policy Implications

On October 9, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the start of “Operation Peace Spring,” which he stated would target both Kurdish and Islamic State (IS, aka ISIL/ISIS) fighters in northern Syria. Turkey then launched an air and ground assault against Kurdish forces. Turkey’s foreign minister has stated that Turkish forces plan to go 18 miles into Syrian territory, and eventually to occupy a corridor along the border. The commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had stated that the SDF would resist, and fighting has escalated.

The launch of the operation...

CFPB Proposes New Debt Collection Regulation

On May 21, 2019, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to implement the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA; 15 U.S.C. §1692). Congress passed the FDCPA in 1977 to “eliminate abusive debt collection practices by debt collectors.” The CFPB’s proposal would clarify how certain debt collectors may communicate with consumers and what information they must disclose.

This Insight begins with an overview of the debt collection market and its regulation. It then analyzes major parts of the CFPB’s proposed rule and reactions to the proposal...

U.S. Offshore Aquaculture Regulation and Development

Regulatory uncertainty has been identified as one of the main barriers to offshore aquaculture development in the United States. Many industry observers have emphasized that congressional action may be necessary to provide statutory authority to develop aquaculture in offshore areas. Offshore aquaculture is generally defined as the rearing of marine organisms in ocean waters beyond significant coastal influence, primarily in the federal waters of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Establishing an offshore aquaculture operation is contingent on obtaining several federal permits and...

Global Trends in HIV/AIDS

Apportionment and Redistricting Process for the U.S. House of Representatives

The census, apportionment, and redistricting are interrelated activities that affect representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressional apportionment (or reapportionment) is the process of dividing seats for the House among the 50 states following the decennial census. Redistricting refers to the process that follows, in which states create new congressional districts or redraw existing district boundaries to adjust for population changes and/or changes in the number of House seats for the state. At times, Congress has passed or considered legislation addressing...

U.S.-China Tariff Actions by the Numbers

Since early 2018, the United States and China have imposed a series of tariffs against one another’s products. These tariffs now affect the majority of trade between the two countries. U.S. tariffs imposed under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 (which followed an investigation on China’s intellectual property rights practices) and China’s retaliatory tariffs affect the largest share of U.S.-China trade. Earlier U.S. tariffs (and Chinese retaliation) on steel and aluminum (Section 232) and solar panels and washing machines (Section 201) also affect U.S.-China trade. The Trump...

Electricity Storage: Applications, Issues, and Technologies

Electricity, as it is currently produced, is largely a commodity resource that is interchangeable with electricity from any other source. Since opportunities for the large-scale storage of electricity are few, it is essentially a just-in-time resource, produced as needed to meet the demand of electricity-consuming customers. Climate change mitigation has increased the focus on the use of renewable electricity. While energy storage is seen as an enabling technology with the potential to reduce the intermittency and variability of wind and solar resources, energy storage resources would have...

The Controlled Substances Act (CSA): A Legal Overview for the 116th Congress

The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) imposes a unified legal framework to regulate certain drugs—whether medical or recreational, legally or illicitly distributed—that are deemed to pose a risk of abuse and dependence. The CSA does not apply to all drugs. Rather, it applies to specific substances and categories of substances that have been designated for control by Congress or through administrative proceedings. The statute also applies to controlled substance analogues that are intended to mimic the effects of controlled substances and certain precursor chemicals commonly used in the...

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Block Grant: Legislative Issues in the 116th Congress

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant was created by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA; P.L. 104-193). That law culminated four decades of debate about how to revise or replace the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. Most AFDC assistance was provided to families headed by single mothers who reported no work in the labor market, and the debates focused on whether such aid led to dependency on assistance by discouraging work and the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.

TANF provides a...

Defense Primer: Ballistic Missile Defense

Federal Reserve: Recent Repo Market Intervention

This Insight examines the Federal Reserve’s (Fed’s) recent intervention in the repo (repurchase agreement) market in response to a sudden and brief spike in repo rates to almost 10% (see Figure 1). Figure 1. Repo Rates 2018-2019 / Source: St. Louis Fed, FRED. Note: As measured by the Secured Overnight Financing Rate. After a short blip, the Fed stabilized financial conditions by offering up to $250 billion in repo markets. This was the first time it has lent in repo markets—although it has regularly borrowed in repo markets—since the financial crisis (see Figure 2). Background In a repo,...

Executive Privilege and Individuals outside the Executive Branch

White House assertions of executive privilege for presidential communications have historically been confined to individuals who were executive branch employees when those communications occurred. While the idea that executive privilege could extend to individuals outside the executive branch predates the Trump Administration, it appears that recent testimony by Kris Kobach, former Kansas Secretary of State, and Corey Lewandowski, former manager of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, are likely the first times the executive branch has actually made such an assertion to Congress.

Use...

Unaccompanied Alien Children: An Overview

The number of unaccompanied alien children (UAC, unaccompanied children) apprehended at the Southwest border between U.S. ports of entry while attempting to enter the United States without authorization has increased substantially in recent years: from 16,067 in FY2011 to 24,481 in FY2012 to 38,759 in FY2013. In FY2014, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) apprehended 68,541 UAC, a record at that time. Since FY2014, UAC apprehensions have fluctuated considerably, declining to 39,970 in FY2015, increasing to 59,692 in FY2016, declining to 41,435 in...

Human Rights in China and U.S. Policy: Issues for the 116th Congress

This report examines selected human rights issues in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and policy options for Congress. U.S. concern over human rights in China has been a central issue in U.S.-China relations, particularly since the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989. In recent years, human rights conditions in China have deteriorated, while bilateral tensions related to trade and security have increased, possibly creating both constraints and opportunities for U.S. policy on human rights.

After consolidating power in 2013, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary and State President Xi...

Expedited Removal of Aliens: Legal Framework

The federal government has broad authority over the admission of non-U.S. nationals (aliens) seeking to enter the United States. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the government may exclude such aliens without affording them the due process protections that traditionally apply to persons physically present in the United States. Instead, aliens seeking entry are entitled only to those procedural protections that Congress has expressly authorized. Consistent with this broad authority, Congress established an expedited removal process for certain aliens who have arrived in the United...

Obstruction of Justice As a Sidecar

Executive Branch Service and the “Revolving Door” in Cabinet Departments: Background and Issues for Congress

Individuals may be subject to certain restrictions when leaving the government for private employment or joining the government from the private sector. These restrictions were enacted in response to what is often referred to as the revolving door. Generally, the revolving door is described as the movement of individuals between the public and private sector. Individuals may move because they possess policy and procedural knowledge and have relationships with former colleagues that are useful to prospective employers.

Laws attempting to restrict the movement of individuals between the...

Patriot Day: Fact Sheet

In 2001, P.L. 107-89 designated September 11 as Patriot Day to honor the individuals who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001. The law asks the President to issue a Proclamation for Patriot Day each year that directs the U.S. flag be flown at half-staff and a moment of silence be observed.

The terrorist attacks, which claimed nearly 3,000 lives, involved four civilian airplanes hijacked by 19 members of the Al Qaeda terrorist network. The first two airplanes were crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New...

Frequently Asked Questions About Flag Law

The “flag code” is the federal law that sets forth guidelines for the appearance and display of the U.S. flag (“flag”) by private citizens. These guidelines specify times and conditions for display of the flag, manners and methods of display, and buildings where such display should occur. The guidelines for flag display vary based on the context and occasion, and there are detailed specifications for displaying flags at “half-staff.” The flag code also specifies how to deliver the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag and appropriate conduct while watching a performance of the National Anthem....

Sponsorship and Cosponsorship of House Bills

A Representative who introduces a bill or resolution in the House is called its sponsor. Several Members together may submit a bill, but only the Member whose name appears first is considered its sponsor; the others are cosponsors. A bill can have only one sponsor, but there is no limit on the number of cosponsors it may have.

Representatives introduce bills in the House by placing them in the wooden box, or “hopper,” located at the bill clerk’s desk on the chamber floor when the House is in session. The original signature of the sponsor must appear on the measure when it is introduced....

The Annual Sequester of Mandatory Spending through FY2029

The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA; P.L. 112-25) included two parts: discretionary spending caps, plus a “Joint Committee process” to achieve an additional $1.2 trillion in budgetary savings over FY2013-FY2021.

For the initial tranche of savings, the BCA placed statutory limits on discretionary spending for each fiscal year from FY2012 through FY2021. At the time of enactment, the BCA discretionary spending caps were projected to save $917 billion.

For the second, and larger, tranche of savings, the BCA established a bipartisan, bicameral Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction...

U.S. Farm Support: Compliance with WTO Commitments

As a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements, the United States has committed to abide by WTO rules and disciplines, inclu