American Law

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House Committee Chairs: Considerations, Decisions, and Actions as One Congress Ends and a New Congress Begins

A committee chair serves as the leader of a committee, with responsibility for setting the course and direction of the panel for committee members and the House and for managing a large professional and paraprofessional staff. The senior committee staff should ensure the chair’s goals are carried out effectively.

Once a committee chair is selected during the postelection transition period, he or she, often in consultation with others, makes a series of decisions and takes a series of actions. Some actions complete a committee’s duties in the Congress just ending. Other actions are taken in...

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act: History, Impact, and Issues

The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) culminated years of effort by state and local government officials and business interests to control, if not eliminate, the imposition of unfunded intergovernmental and private-sector federal mandates. Advocates argued the statute was needed to forestall federal legislation and regulations that imposed obligations on state and local governments or businesses that resulted in higher costs and inefficiencies. Opponents argued that federal mandates may be necessary to achieve national objectives in areas where voluntary action by state and local...

Small Business Administration and Job Creation

The Small Business Administration (SBA) administers several programs to support small businesses, including loan guaranty programs, disaster loan programs, management and technical assistance training programs, and federal contracting programs. Congressional interest in these programs has increased in recent years, primarily because they are viewed as a means to stimulate economic activity and create jobs.

This report examines the economic research on net job creation to identify the types of businesses that appear to create the most jobs. That research suggests that business startups play...

A Survey of House and Senate Committee Rules on Subpoenas

House Rule XI, clause 2(m)(1) and (3) authorizes House committees and subcommittees to issue subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents. Senate Rule XXVI, paragraph 1 authorizes Senate committees and subcommittees to subpoena witnesses and documents. In turn, most House and Senate committees have adopted in their own rules subpoena provisions containing procedures for exercising this grant of power from their parent chamber.

Committee rules may cover authorization, issuance, and service of subpoenas; may cover just one or two of these actions; or may be...

The Small Business Lending Fund

Congressional interest in small business access to capital has increased in recent years because of concerns that small businesses might be prevented from accessing sufficient capital to enable them to start, continue, or expand operations and create jobs. Some have argued that the federal government should provide additional resources to assist small businesses. Others worry about the long-term adverse economic effects of spending programs that increase the federal deficit. They advocate business tax reduction, reform of financial credit market regulation, and federal fiscal restraint as...

Small Business Administration HUBZone Program

The Historically Underutilized Business Zone Empowerment Contracting (HUBZone) program provides participating small businesses located in areas with low income, high poverty, or high unemployment with contracting opportunities in the form of set-asides, sole-source awards, and price-evaluation preferences. Its primary objectives are job creation and increased capital investment in distressed communities. Firms must be certified by the SBA to participate in the program. As of January 26, 2017, the SBA’s Dynamic Small Business Search database included 6,026 firms with active HUBZone...

Federal Role in Voter Registration: The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and Subsequent Developments

Historically, most aspects of election administration have been left to state and local governments, resulting in a variety of practices across jurisdictions with respect to voter registration. States can vary on a number of elements of the voter registration process, including whether or not to require voter registration; where or when voter registration occurs; and how voters may be removed from registration lists. The right of citizens to vote, however, is presented in the U.S. Constitution in the 15th, 19th, and 26th Amendments. Beginning with the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in 1965,...

SBA Office of the National Ombudsman: Overview, History, and Current Issues

The Office of the National Ombudsman was created in 1996 as part of P.L. 104-121, the Contract with America Advancement Act of 1996 (Title II, the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 [SBREFA]). Housed within the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the office’s primary purpose is to provide small businesses, small government entities (those serving populations of less than 50,000), and small nonprofit organizations that believe they have experienced unfair or excessive regulatory compliance or enforcement actions (such as repetitive audits or investigations,...

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...

Federal Workforce Statistics Sources: OPM and OMB

This report describes online tools, reports, and data compilations created by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that contain statistics about federal employees and the federal workforce.

The report also describes key characteristics of each resource and briefly discusses selected methodological differences, with the intention of facilitating the selection of appropriate data for specific purposes. This report is not intended to be a definitive list of all information on the federal workforce. It describes significant and recurring...

Small Business Administration Microloan Program

The Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) Microloan program provides direct loans to qualified nonprofit intermediary lenders who, in turn, provide “microloans” of up to $50,000 to small businesses and nonprofit child care centers. It also provides marketing, management, and technical assistance to microloan borrowers and potential borrowers. Authorized in 1991 as a five-year demonstration project, it became operational in 1992, and was made permanent, subject to reauthorization, in 1997.

The Microloan program is designed to assist women, low-income, veteran, and minority entrepreneurs...

U.S. Senate Vacancies: Contemporary Developments and Perspectives

United States Senators serve a term of six years. Vacancies occur when an incumbent Senator leaves office prematurely for any reason; they may be caused by death or resignation of the incumbent, by expulsion or declination (refusal to serve), or by refusal of the Senate to seat a Senator-elect or -designate.

Aside from the death or resignation of individual Senators, Senate vacancies often occur in connection with a change in presidential administrations, if an incumbent Senator is elected to executive office, or if a newly elected or reelected President nominates an incumbent Senator or...

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing of Federal Drug Offenses in Short

As a general rule, federal judges must impose a minimum term of imprisonment upon defendants convicted of various controlled substance (drug) offenses and drug-related offenses. The severity of those sentences depends primarily upon the nature and amount of the drugs involved, the defendant’s prior criminal record, any resulting injuries or death, and in the case of the related firearms offenses, the manner in which the firearm was used.

The drug offenses reside principally in the Controlled Substances Act or the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act. The drug-related firearms...

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing of Federal Drug Offenses

As a general rule, federal judges must impose a minimum term of imprisonment upon defendants convicted of various controlled substance (drug) offenses and drug-related offenses. The severity of those sentences depends primarily upon the nature and amount of the drugs involved, the defendant’s prior criminal record, any resulting injuries or death, and in the case of the related firearms offenses, the manner in which the firearm was used.

The drug offenses reside principally in the Controlled Substances Act or the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act. The drug-related firearms...

Small Business Administration 7(a) Loan Guaranty Program

The Small Business Administration (SBA) administers several programs to support small businesses, including loan guaranty programs designed to encourage lenders to provide loans to small businesses “that might not otherwise obtain financing on reasonable terms and conditions.” The SBA’s 7(a) loan guaranty program is considered the agency’s flagship loan program. Its name is derived from Section 7(a) of the Small Business Act of 1953 (P.L. 83-163, as amended), which authorizes the SBA to provide business loans and loan guaranties to American small businesses.

In FY2017, the SBA approved...

SBA Veterans Assistance Programs: An Analysis of Contemporary Issues

Several federal agencies, including the Small Business Administration (SBA), provide training and other assistance to veterans seeking civilian employment. For example, the Department of Defense (DOD), in cooperation with the SBA, Department of Labor, Department of Veterans Affairs, and several other federal agencies, operates the Transition Goals Plans Success program (Transition GPS), which provides employment information and entrepreneurship training to exiting military servicemembers to assist them in transitioning from the military to the civilian labor force.

In recent years, the...

Salaries of Members of Congress: Recent Actions and Historical Tables

Congress is required by Article I, Section 6, of the Constitution to determine its own pay. In the past, Congress periodically enacted specific legislation to alter its pay; the last time this occurred affected pay in 1991. More recently, pay has been determined pursuant to laws establishing formulas for automatic adjustments.

The Ethics Reform Act of 1989 established the current automatic annual adjustment formula, which is based on changes in private sector wages as measured by the Employment Cost Index (ECI). The adjustment is automatic unless denied statutorily, although the percentage...

SBA Small Business Investment Company Program

The Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program is designed to enhance small business access to venture capital by stimulating and supplementing “the flow of private equity capital and long-term loan funds which small-business concerns need for the sound financing of their business operations and for their growth, expansion, and modernization, and which are not available in adequate supply.” Facilitating the flow of capital to small businesses to stimulate the national economy was, and remains, the SBIC program’s primary objective.

As of...

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 simply to purchase refreshments. House...

Senate Committee Hearings: Arranging Witnesses

Selecting witnesses is one of the most important aspects of planning a Senate hearing. Committees and subcommittees pay careful attention to which viewpoints will be represented, who should testify, and the order and format for presenting witnesses. A witness must be invited by a committee in order to testify. Standing committees and their subcommittees may also subpoena reluctant witnesses.

Senate Committee Hearings: Scheduling and Notification

Senate standing committees have authority to hold hearings whether the Senate is in session, has recessed, or has adjourned (Rule XXVI, paragraph 1). Regardless of the type of hearing or whether a hearing is held in or outside of Washington, hearings share common aspects of planning and preparation.

Senate Committee Hearings: Witness Testimony

Generally, witnesses before Senate committees (except Appropriations) must provide a committee with a copy of their written testimony at least one day prior to their oral testimony (Rule XXVI, paragraph 4(b)). It is common practice to ask a witness to limit his or her oral remarks to a brief summary of the written testimony. A question-and-answer period usually follows a witness’s oral testimony. Senate rules require committees to make publicly available a transcript or recording of any public meeting.

Small Business Administration 504/CDC Loan Guaranty Program

The Small Business Administration (SBA) administers programs to support small businesses, including several loan guaranty programs designed to encourage lenders to provide loans to small businesses “that might not otherwise obtain financing on reasonable terms and conditions.” The SBA’s 504 Certified Development Company (504/CDC) loan guaranty program is administered through nonprofit Certified Development Companies (CDC). It provides long-term fixed rate financing for major fixed assets, such as land, buildings, equipment, and machinery. Of the total project costs, a third-party lender...

Senate Committee Hearings: Preparation

Committee hearings allow Senators an opportunity to gather information on—and draw attention to—legislation and issues within a committee’s purview, conduct oversight of programs or agencies, and investigate allegations of wrongdoing.

This checklist identifies, primarily for staff, many of the tasks that need to be performed by a full committee and, in most cases, subcommittees in advance of a hearing. Some of the tasks are required by Senate or committee rules; others are common committee practice. Some tasks are usually the responsibility of the committee’s majority staff, some are...

The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA): A Legal Overview

In the wake of the 2016 election, concerns have been raised with respect to the legal regime governing foreign influence in domestic politics. The central law concerning the activities of the agents of foreign entities acting in the United States is the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA or Act). Enacted in 1938 to promote transparency with respect to foreign influence in the political process, FARA generally requires “agents of foreign principals” undertaking certain activities on behalf of foreign interests to register with and file regular reports with the U.S. Department of Justice...

Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes, and Effects

When federal agencies and programs lack funding after the expiration of full-year or interim appropriations, the agencies and programs experience a funding gap. If funding does not resume in time to continue government operations, then, under the Antideficiency Act, an agency must cease operations, except in certain situations when law authorizes continued activity. The criteria that flow from the Antideficiency Act for determining which activities are affected are complex.

Failure of the President and Congress to reach agreement on full-year or interim funding measures occasionally has...

Money Laundering: An Overview of 18 U.S.C. § 1956 and Related Federal Criminal Law

This report provides an overview of the elements of federal criminal money laundering statutes and the sanctions imposed for their violation. The most prominent is 18 U.S.C. § 1956. Section 1956 outlaws four kinds of money laundering—promotional, concealment, structuring, and tax evasion laundering of the proceeds generated by designated federal, state, and foreign underlying crimes (predicate offenses)—committed or attempted under one or more of three jurisdictional conditions (i.e., laundering involving certain financial transactions, laundering involving international transfers, and...

Money Laundering: An Abridged Overview of 18 U.S.C. § 1956 and Related Federal Criminal Law

This report provides an overview of the elements of federal criminal money laundering statutes and the sanctions imposed for their violation. The most prominent is 18 U.S.C. § 1956. Section 1956 outlaws four kinds of money laundering—promotional, concealment, structuring, and tax evasion laundering of the proceeds generated by designated federal, state, and foreign underlying crimes (predicate offenses)—committed or attempted under one or more of three jurisdictional conditions (i.e., laundering involving certain financial transactions, laundering involving international transfers, and...

The Trump Administration and the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions

Donald J. Trump promised that if he were elected President, he would instruct federal agencies to reduce their regulations significantly. As of late 2017, this deregulation was underway in agencies across the federal government.

One way for Congress and the public to be informed about this deregulatory activity is to consult the “Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions.” The Unified Agenda is a government-wide publication of rulemaking actions agencies expect to take in the coming months, and it contains both regulatory actions (i.e., new regulations) and deregulatory...

Funding Gaps and Government Shutdowns: CRS Experts

Contacting CRS Subject Matter Experts

In the event of a funding gap, the potential impacts of a government shutdown would depend on a program’s or agency’s specific circumstances and, furthermore, how relevant law is interpreted. Table 1 provides names and contact information for CRS subject matter experts on policy concerns and legal issues relating to funding gaps and the processes and effects that may be associated with a government shutdown. Policy areas that are identified in Table 1 include

agencies and programs funded by specific regular appropriations bills;

cross-cutting shutdown...

Cuba: U.S. Policy in the 115th Congress

Cuba remains a one-party authoritarian state with a poor record on human rights. Current President Raúl Castro succeeded his long-ruling brother Fidel Castro in 2006, and he is expected to step down in February 2018. Most observers see First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel as the “heir apparent” as president, although Raúl likely will continue in his position as first secretary of Cuba’s Communist Party. Under Raúl, Cuba has implemented gradual market-oriented economic policy changes over the past decade, but critics maintain that the government has not taken enough action to foster...

Congressional Commissions: Overview, Structure, and Legislative Considerations

Congressional advisory commissions are formal groups established to provide independent advice; make recommendations for changes in public policy; study or investigate a particular problem, issue, or event; or perform a duty. While no legal definition exists for what constitutes a “congressional commission,” in this report a congressional commission is defined as a multi-member 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) reports to Congress. These five...

The Article V Convention to Propose Constitutional Amendments: Current Developments

Article V of the U.S. Constitution provides two procedures for amending the nation’s fundamental charter: proposal of amendments by Congress, by a vote of two-thirds of the Members of both houses, and proposal by a convention, generally referred to as an “Article V Convention,” called on the application of the legislatures of two-thirds (34) of the states. Amendments proposed by either method must be ratified by three-fourths (38) of the states in order to become part of the Constitution. This report provides information for Members of Congress and congressional staff on current...

Statute of Limitation in Federal Criminal Cases: A Sketch

A statute of limitations dictates the time period within which a legal proceeding must begin. The purpose of a statute of limitations in a criminal case is to ensure the prompt prosecution of criminal charges and thereby spare the accused of the burden of having to defend against stale charges after memories may have faded or evidence is lost.

There is no statute of limitations for federal crimes punishable by death, nor for certain federal crimes of terrorism, nor for certain federal sex offenses. Prosecution for most other federal crimes must begin within five years of the commitment of...

Statute of Limitation in Federal Criminal Cases: An Overview

A statute of limitations dictates the time period within which a legal proceeding must begin. The purpose of a statute of limitations in a criminal case is to ensure the prompt prosecution of criminal charges and thereby spare the accused of the burden of having to defend against stale charges after memories may have faded or evidence is lost.

There is no statute of limitations for federal crimes punishable by death, nor for certain federal crimes of terrorism, nor for certain federal sex offenses. Prosecution for most other federal crimes must begin within five years of the commitment of...

Government Printing, Publications, and Digital Information Management: Issues and Challenges

In the past half-century, in government and beyond, information creation, distribution, retention, and preservation activities have transitioned from a tangible, paper-based process to digital processes managed through computerized information technologies. Information is created as a digital object which then may be rendered as a text, image, or video file. Those files are then distributed through a myriad of outlets ranging from particular software applications and websites to social media platforms. The material may be produced in tangible, printed form, but typically remains in digital...

The Federal Assets Sale and Transfer Act of 2016: Background and Key Provisions

Real property disposal is the process by which federal agencies identify and then transfer, donate, or sell real property they no longer need. Disposition is an important asset management function because the costs of maintaining unneeded properties can be substantial. Moreover, properties the government no longer needs may be used by state or local governments, nonprofits, or businesses to provide benefits to the public. Finally, the government loses potential revenue when it holds onto certain unneeded properties that might be sold for a profit.

Despite these drawbacks, federal agencies...

The Vacancies Act: A Legal Overview

The Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 (Vacancies Act) generally provides the exclusive means by which a government employee may temporarily perform the nondelegable functions and duties of a vacant advice and consent position in an executive agency. Unless an acting officer is serving in compliance with the requirements of the Vacancies Act, any attempt to perform the functions and duties of that office will have no force or effect.

The Vacancies Act limits a government employee’s ability to serve as an acting officer in two primary ways. First, the Vacancies Act provides that only...

SBA’s Office of Inspector General: Overview, Impact, and Relationship with Congress

Congress created offices of inspector general (OIGs) to assist in its oversight of the executive branch. OIGs provide independent, nonpartisan analysis, conducted in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards, to identify and recommend ways to limit waste, fraud, and abuse in federal programs and enhance program and operational efficiency and effectiveness. OIGs’ activities supplement and complement those of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which serves a similar, though not identical, role in assisting congressional oversight of the executive branch....

State Small Business Credit Initiative: Implementation and Funding Issues

Congressional interest in small business access to capital has increased in recent years because of concerns that small businesses might be prevented from accessing sufficient capital to enable them to start, continue, or expand operations and create jobs. Some have argued that the federal government should provide additional resources to assist small businesses. Others worry about the long-term adverse economic effects of spending programs that increase the federal deficit. They advocate business tax reduction, reform of financial credit market regulation, and federal fiscal restraint as...

Electoral College Reform: Contemporary Issues for Congress

The electoral college method of electing the President and Vice President was established in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution and revised by the Twelfth Amendment. It provides for election of the President and Vice President by electors, commonly referred to as the electoral college. A majority of 270 of the 538 electoral votes is necessary to win. For further information on the modern-day operation of the college system, see CRS Report RL32611, The Electoral College: How It Works in Contemporary Presidential Elections, by Thomas H. Neale.

The electoral college has been the...

Overview of Continuing Appropriations for FY2018 (P.L. 115-56)

This report provides an analysis of the continuing appropriations provisions for FY2018 in Division D of H.R. 601. The measure also included separate divisions that establish a program to provide foreign assistance concerning basic education (Division A—Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development Act), supplemental appropriations for disaster relief requirements for FY2017 (Division B), and a temporary suspension of the public debt limit (Division C). On September 8, 2017, the President signed H.R. 601 into law (P.L. 115-56).

Division D of H.R. 601 was termed a “continuing...

Preliminary Damage Assessments for Major Disasters: Overview, Analysis, and Policy Observations

When a major disaster overwhelms a state or tribal nation’s response capacity, the state’s governor or tribal nation’s chief executive may request a major disaster declaration from the federal government. The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act authorizes the President to issue major disaster declarations in response to such requests.

To evaluate a state or tribal nation’s need for federal assistance, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) uses a Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) as a mechanism to determine the impact and magnitude of damage caused by...

Department of Homeland Security Appropriations: FY2017

This report discusses the FY2017 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Its primary focus is on funding approved by Congress through the appropriations process. It includes an Appendix with definitions of key budget terms used throughout the suite of Congressional Research Service reports on homeland security appropriations. It also directs the reader to other reports providing context for and additional details regarding specific component appropriations and issues engaged through the FY2016 appropriations process.

The Obama Administration requested $40.62 billion...

The Blue Slip Process for U.S. Circuit and District Court Nominations: Frequently Asked Questions

The blue slip process used by the Senate Judiciary Committee (the committee) for U.S. circuit and district court nominations has received renewed interest from Senators. The committee’s use of the blue slip has been, since at least 1917, a feature of its consideration of U.S. circuit and district court nominations. After a President selects a nominee for a U.S. circuit or district court judgeship, the chairman sends a blue-colored form to the Senators representing the home state of the nominee. The form seeks the home state Senators’ assessment of the nominee. If a home state Senator has...

DHS Appropriations FY2017: Protection, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery

This report is part of a suite of reports that address appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for FY2017. It specifically discusses appropriations for the components of DHS included in the third title of the homeland security appropriations bill—the National Protection and Programs Directorate, the Office of Health Affairs, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Collectively, Congress has labeled these components in recent years as “Protection, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery.”

The report provides an overview of the Obama Administration’s FY2017 request for...

FY2017 Appropriations for the Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis

This report discusses FY2017 appropriations (discretionary budget authority) for the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and Bureau of the Census (Census Bureau), which make up the Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) in the U.S. Department of Commerce. The report will not be updated.

The Administration’s FY2017 budget request for ESA (except the Census Bureau, whose budget justification is published separately from ESA’s) was $114.6 million, $5.6 million (5.2%) above the $109.0 million FY2016-enacted funding level. Of the $114.6 million, the $110.7 million requested for BEA...

Small Business Size Standards: A Historical Analysis of Contemporary Issues

Small business size standards are of congressional interest because the standards determine eligibility for receiving Small Business Administration (SBA) assistance as well as federal contracting and tax preferences. Although there is bipartisan agreement that the nation’s small businesses play an important role in the American economy, there are differences of opinion concerning how to define them. The Small Business Act of 1953 (P.L. 83-163, as amended) authorized the SBA to establish size standards for determining eligibility for federal small business assistance. The SBA currently uses...

Puerto Rico: CRS Experts

SUPPRESS Puerto Rico is in the midst of a fiscal crisis resulting from economic contraction, public sector debt, outmigration, and other factors. To address the crisis, Congress passed the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA; P.L. 114-187), which was enacted on June 30, 2016. PROMESA established the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico (Oversight Board), created processes for adjusting the island’s public debts, among other provisions. PROMESA allocated no federal funds to Puerto Rico.

The Puerto Rican Governor was charged with...

Small Business Management and Technical Assistance Training Programs

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has provided technical and managerial assistance to small businesses since it began operations in 1953. Initially, the SBA provided its own small business management and technical assistance training programs. Over time, the SBA has relied increasingly on third parties to provide that training.

Congressional interest in the SBA’s management and technical assistance training programs has increased in recent years, primarily because these programs are viewed as a means to assist small businesses in creating and retaining jobs. The SBA spent about...

Department of Veterans Affairs FY2017 Appropriations

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides a range of benefits and services to veterans and eligible dependents who meet certain criteria as authorized by law. These benefits include medical care, disability compensation and pensions, education, vocational rehabilitation and employment services, assistance to homeless veterans, home loan guarantees, administration of life insurance as well as traumatic injury protection insurance for servicemembers, and death benefits that cover burial expenses.

The President’s FY2017 budget request for the VA was submitted to Congress on February 9,...

Field Hearings: Fact Sheet on Purposes, Rules, Regulations, and Guidelines

Field hearings are congressional hearings held outside Washington, DC. They date at least to the Civil War, when committees sometimes traveled to the front lines to observe conditions and war preparedness.

Small Business Administration (SBA) Funding: Overview and Recent Trends

This report examines the Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) appropriations (new budget authority, minus rescissions and sequestration) over time, focusing on developments and trends since FY2000. It also provides total available funding (which includes carryover from the prior fiscal year, carryover into the next fiscal year, account transfers, rescissions, and sequestration) and, for entrepreneurial development noncredit programs, actual expenditures for comparative purposes.

SBA appropriations, as a whole, have varied significantly from year to year since FY2000 and across all...

Federal Employees: Human Resources Management Flexibilities for Emergency Situations

Federal executive branch departments and agencies have available to them various human resources management flexibilities for emergency situations involving severe weather, natural disaster, and other circumstances. At various times, the Office of Personnel Management issued guidance on these flexibilities, which supplements the basic policies governing staffing, compensation, leave sharing, and telework in Title 5 of the United States Code and Title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Some examples of when issuances have occurred include following the September 11, 2001, terrorist...

Small Business Administration: A Primer on Programs and Funding

The Small Business Administration (SBA) administers several types of 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 the SBA’s loan, venture capital, training, and...

Chemical, Hazardous Substances, and Petroleum Spills: CRS Experts

Hurricane Harvey Irma Jose Katia Katrina flooding storm surge water tropical storms weather climate change sewage treatment overflow tropical storm cyclone A recent spill from a storage tank of 4-methyl cyclohexane methanol from Freedom Industries into the Elk River near Charleston, West Virginia in early January 2014 has raised questions about the adequacy of spill response and chemical safety. Thousands of oil and chemical spills of varying size occur in the United States each year. State and local officials located in proximity to these incidents generally are the first responders and...

Congressional Primer on Responding to Major Disasters and Emergencies

The principles of disaster management assume a leadership role by the local, state, and tribal governments affected by the incident. The federal government provides coordinated supplemental resources and assistance, only if requested and approved. The immediate response to a disaster is guided by the National Response Framework (NRF), which details roles and responsibilities at various levels of government, along with cooperation from the private and nonprofit sectors, for differing incidents and support functions. A possible declaration of a major disaster or emergency under the authority...

Recess Appointments Made by President Barack Obama

Under the Constitution, the President and the Senate share the power to make appointments to high-level politically appointed positions in the federal government. The Constitution also empowers the President unilaterally to make a temporary appointment to such a position if it is vacant and the Senate is in recess. Such an appointment, termed a recess appointment, expires at the end of the following session of the Senate. This report identifies recess appointments by President Barack Obama. The report discusses these appointments in the context of recess appointment authorities and...

Small Business: Access to Capital and Job Creation

The U.S. 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 has increased in recent years, primarily...

Title X (Public Health Service Act) Family Planning Program

The federal government provides grants for family planning services through the Family Planning Program, Title X of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. §§300 to 300a-6). Enacted in 1970, it is the only domestic federal program devoted solely to family planning and related preventive health services. In 2015, Title X-funded clinics served 4.0 million clients.

Title X is administered through the Office of Population Affairs (OPA) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Although the authorization of appropriations for Title X ended with FY1985, funding for the program has...

Fire Management Assistance Grants: Frequently Asked Questions

Section 420 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (P.L. 93-288, hereinafter the Stafford Act) authorizes the President to “declare” a Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG). In the interest of saving time, the authority to make the declaration has been delegated to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Regional Administrators. Once issued, the FMAG declaration authorizes various forms of federal fire suppression assistance such as the provision of equipment, personnel, and grants to state, local, and tribal governments for the control,...

Stafford Act Declarations 1953-2016: Trends, Analyses, and Implications for Congress

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act authorizes the President to issue declarations that provide states, tribes, and localities with a range of federal assistance in response to natural and man-made incidents. Since 1953 the frequency of declarations has increased. For example, the average number of major disaster declarations issued from 1960 to 1969 was roughly 18.6 per year. In contrast, the average number of major disaster declarations issued from 2000 to 2009 was 57.1 per year. The highest number was declared in 2011, with 97 major disaster...

DHS Appropriations FY2017: Departmental Management and Operations

This report is part of a suite of reports that discuss appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for FY2017. It specifically discusses appropriations for the components of DHS included in the first title of the homeland security appropriations bill—the Office of the Secretary and Executive Management, the Office of the Under Secretary for Management, the DHS headquarters consolidation project, the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, the Office of the Chief Information Officer, Analysis and Operations, and the Office of Inspector General for the department....

The Electoral College: Reform Proposals in the 114th and 115th Congress

American voters elect the President and Vice President of the United States indirectly, through presidential electors chosen by voters in the states—the electoral college. For further information see CRS Report RL32611, The Electoral College: How It Works in Contemporary Presidential Elections. Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, as revised by the 12th Amendment in 1804, requires winning candidates for President and Vice President to gain a majority of electoral votes. Since 1804, Presidents who won a majority of electoral votes and at least a plurality of popular votes were...

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 if a federal contracting officer certifies that such a guarantee is necessary. The SBA’s guarantee currently ranges from 80% to 90% of the surety’s loss...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) FY2017 Appropriations: Independent Agencies and General Provisions

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bills include funding for more than two dozen independent agencies in addition to the larger entities in the bill (Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President, the District of Columbia, and the judiciary). Among these are Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Election Assistance Commission (EAC), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Federal Election Commission (FEC), Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), General Services Administration (GSA), National...

Department of Homeland Security Appropriations: FY2018

This report provides an overview and analysis of FY2018 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The primary focus of this report is on Congressional direction and funding provided to DHS through the appropriations process, though note is also made of funding made available to DHS outside this process (e.g., user fees and trust funds). It includes an Appendix with definitions of key budget terms used throughout the suite of Congressional Research Service reports on homeland security appropriations. It also directs the reader to other reports providing context for and...

Violence Against Members of Congress and Their Staff: Selected Examples and Congressional Responses

Questions about the personal security and safety of Members of Congress and their staffs are of enduring concern for the House, Senate, and the United States Capitol Police (USCP). Broader interest in the media and among the public arises in the aftermath of incidents such as the June 14, 2017, attack on at least 17 Members of Congress, several staff, USCP officers, and members of the public in Alexandria, Virginia. In that incident, a Member was critically wounded, and others were injured during a shooting that occurred as Members were practicing for an annual congressional baseball...

Public Health and Emergency Management: CRS Experts

The following table provides names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to public health and emergency management. Policy areas identified include public health and medical system preparedness and response; mental and behavioral health; food safety and food defense; health care financing in disaster response; Stafford Act assistance and the role of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); Department of Defense (DOD) incident response and civil support; global health and international preparedness; selected legal issues in preparedness and response;...

EPA’s 2015 Ozone Air Quality Standards

On October 1, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized revisions to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone. The rule sets more stringent standards, lowering both the primary (health-based) and secondary (welfare-based) standards from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 70 ppb. This report discusses the standard-setting process, the specifics of the most recent reviews, and issues raised by the rulemaking and its implementation.

NAAQS are standards for outdoor (ambient) air that are intended to protect public health and welfare from harmful...

Tolling U.S. Highways and Bridges

The Federal-Aid Road Act of 1916 (39 Stat. 355), which provided federal funds to states for highway construction, included the requirement that all roads funded under the act be “free from tolls of all kinds.” Following the funding of the Interstate System in 1956, the “freedom from tolls” policy was reaffirmed (23 U.S.C. §301). Although the provision still exists, exceptions to the general ban on tolls now cover the vast majority of federal-aid roads and bridges. New roads, bridges, and tunnels may be tolled, and most existing roads, bridges, and tunnels may be tolled if they are...

Executive Branch Reorganization

The federal bureaucracy of the present day is the product of more than two centuries of legislative and administrative actions by successive generations of elected and appointed officials. As such, the diverse organizations and processes of the federal government are a consequence of the influence and decisions of thousands of officials with differing viewpoints about the role of government and diverse policy preferences. The federal bureaucracy’s organizational arrangements are also reflective of ongoing competition between Congress and the President to influence the behavior of agencies....

The First Day of a New Congress: A Guide to Proceedings on the Senate Floor

The Constitution mandates that Congress convene at noon on January 3, unless the preceding Congress by law designated a different day. P.L. 113-201 set January 6, 2015, as the convening date of the 114th Congress. The 115th Congress convened on January 3, 2017. The Senate follows a well-established routine on the opening day of a new Congress. The proceedings include swearing in Senators elected or reelected in the most recent general election (approximately one-third of the Senate) or newly appointed to the convening Senate; establishing the presence of a quorum; adopting administrative...

Bail: An Overview of Federal Criminal Law

This is an overview of the federal law of bail. Bail is the release of an individual following his arrest upon his promise—secured or unsecured; conditioned or unconditioned—to appear at subsequent judicial criminal proceedings. An accused may be denied bail if he is unable to satisfy the conditions set for his release. He may also be denied bail if the committing judge or magistrate concludes that no amount of security or any set of conditions will suffice to ensure public safety or the individual’s later appearance in court.

The federal bail statute layers the committing judge’s or...

Bail: An Abridged Overview of Federal Criminal Law

This is an overview of the federal law of bail. Bail is the release of an individual following his arrest upon his promise—secured or unsecured; conditioned or unconditioned—to appear at subsequent judicial criminal proceedings. An accused may be denied bail if he is unable to satisfy the conditions set for his release. He may also be denied bail if the committing judge or magistrate concludes that no amount of security or any set of conditions will suffice to ensure public safety or the individual’s later appearance in court.

The federal bail statute layers the committing judge’s or...

The Proposed Equal Rights Amendment: Contemporary Ratification Issues

The proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (ERA), which 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,” was approved by Congress for ratification by the states in 1972. The proposal included a 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 the amendment during the extended period, at which...

The First Day of a New Congress: A Guide to Proceedings on the House Floor

Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution sets a term of office of two years for all Members of the House. One House ends at the conclusion of each two-year Congress, and the newly elected Representatives must constitute a new House at the beginning of the next Congress. Consequently, the House must choose its Speaker and officers and adopt the chamber’s rules of procedure every two years.

The Constitution mandates that Congress convene at noon on January 3, unless the preceding Congress by law designated a different day. P.L. 113-201 set January 6, 2015, as the convening date of the 114th...

Accounting and Auditing Regulatory Structure: U.S. and International

Accounting and auditing standards in the United States are promulgated and regulated by various federal, state, and self-regulatory organizations (SROs). Accounting and auditing standards are also influenced by practitioners from businesses, nonprofits, and government entities. Congress has allowed financial accounting and auditing practitioners to remain largely self-regulated while retaining oversight responsibility. At certain times, Congress has sought to achieve specific accounting- and auditing-based policy objectives by enacting legislation such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002...

Salaries of Members of Congress: Congressional Votes, 1990-2017

Article I, Section 6, of the U.S. Constitution requires that compensation for Members of Congress be “ascertained by law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States.” Congress has relied on three different methods in adjusting salaries for Members. Specific legislation was last used to provide increases in 1990 and 1991. It was the only method used by Congress for many years.

The second method, under which annual adjustments took effect automatically unless disapproved by Congress, was established in 1975. From 1975 to 1989, these annual adjustments were based on the rate of annual...

The State of Campaign Finance Policy: Recent Developments and Issues for Congress

Major changes have occurred in campaign finance policy since 2002, when Congress substantially amended campaign finance law via the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA). The Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United and a related lower-court decision, SpeechNow.org v. FEC, arguably represent the most fundamental changes to campaign finance law in decades. Citizens United lifted a previous ban on corporate (and union) independent expenditures advocating election or defeat of candidates. SpeechNow permitted unlimited contributions supporting such expenditures and facilitated the advent...

A Retrospective of House Rules Changes Since the 110th Congress

One of the majority party’s prerogatives is writing House rules and using its numbers to effect the chamber’s rules on the day a new House convenes. Because all Members of the House stand for election every two years, the Members-elect constitute a new House that must adopt rules at the convening of each Congress. Although a new House largely adopts the chamber rules that existed in the previous Congress, it also adopts changes to those rules. Institutional and political developments during the preceding Congress inform rules changes that a party continuing in the majority might make....

Climate Change: Frequently Asked Questions About the 2015 Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement (PA) to address climate change internationally entered into force on November 4, 2016. The United States is one of 149 Parties to the treaty; President Barack Obama accepted the agreement rather than ratifying it with the advice and consent of the Senate. On June 1, 2017, President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to withdraw the United States from the agreement and that his Administration would seek to reopen negotiations on the PA or on a new “transaction.” Following the provisions of the PA, U.S. withdrawal could take effect as early as November 2020.

Experts...

Types of Committee Hearings

Congressional committee hearings may be broadly classified into four types: legislative, oversight, investigative, and confirmation. Hearings may be held on Capitol Hill or elsewhere (e.g., a committee member’s district or state, or a site related to the subject of the hearing). These latter hearings are often referred to as field hearings.

Oil and Natural Gas Pipelines: Role of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Growth in North American crude oil and natural gas production has led to efforts to expand the domestic oil and natural gas pipeline network. Pipeline developers are required to obtain authorizations from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) before constructing certain pipeline segments. Under the agency’s regulatory program, the Corps is responsible for authorizing activities that may affect federally regulated waters and wetlands. Under its civil works program, the agency is responsible for approving activities that cross or may affect Corps-managed lands and Corps water resource...

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

The Office of 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 (hereinafter Chief Counsel) directs the office and is appointed by the President from civilian life with the advice and consent of the Senate.

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

Federal Grants to State and Local Governments: A Historical Perspective on Contemporary Issues

The federal government is expected to provide state and local governments more than $703 billion in federal grants in FY2018, funding a wide range of public policies, such as health care, transportation, income security, education, job training, social services, community development, and environmental protection. Federal grants account for about one-third of total state government funding, and more than half of state government funding for health care and public assistance.

Congressional interest in federal grants to state and local governments has always been high given the central role...

Office of Government Ethics: Role in Collecting and Making Ethics Waivers Public

On April 28, 2017, the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) issued a program advisory (PA-17-02) to request data on the issuance of certain waivers and authorizations from executive branch agencies, including the Executive Office of the President (EOP). OGE requested documentation for all waivers given to executive branch appointees between May 1, 2016, and April 30, 2017, under five authorities: Executive Order (E.O.) 13770, E.O. 13490, 18 U.S.C. §208(b)(1), 5 C.F.R. §2635.502(d), and 5 C.F.R. §2635.503(c). The data were due to OGE by June 1, 2017. One hundred thirty five of 136 executive...

Short-Term, Small-Dollar Lending: Policy Issues and Implications

Short-term, small-dollar loans are consumer loans with relatively low initial principal amounts (often less than $1,000) with relatively short repayment periods (generally for a small number of weeks or months). Short-term, small-dollar loan products are frequently used to cover cash-flow shortages that may occur due to unexpected expenses or periods of inadequate income. Small-dollar loans can be offered in various forms and by various types of lenders. Banks and credit unions (depositories) can make small-dollar loans through financial products such as credit cards, credit card cash...

Effects of Buy America on Transportation Infrastructure and U.S. Manufacturing: Policy Options

With the aim of protecting American manufacturing and manufacturing jobs, Congress over the years has passed several domestic content laws. Statements and actions by the Trump Administration about reinvigorating domestic manufacturing and reinvesting in infrastructure have stimulated renewed interest in these laws, including Buy America. The President’s “Buy American and Hire American” initiative includes an executive memorandum requiring the Secretary of Commerce to develop a plan for new pipelines in the United States to be made from domestically produced iron and steel, and a separate...

Financial Regulatory Relief: Approaches for Congress, Regulators, and the Administration

The 2007-2009 financial crisis led to significant changes in financial regulation, but critics argue that the burden these changes have imposed now exceeds their benefits. Congress and the Administration are considering financial regulatory relief from various postcrisis regulatory changes, including the Dodd-Frank Act (P.L. 111-203). This report provides an overview of the options available to pursue that goal.

Approaches for Congress

Congress can mandate that regulators provide relief through legislation. Most relief legislation likely would follow the normal legislative process. For...

Political Status of Puerto Rico: Brief Background and Recent Developments for Congress

Puerto Rico lies approximately 1,000 miles southeast of Miami and 1,500 miles from Washington, DC. Despite being far outside the continental United States, the island has played a significant role in American politics and policy since the United States acquired Puerto Rico from Spain in 1898.

Puerto Rico’s political status—referring to the relationship between the federal government and a territorial one—is an undercurrent in virtually every policy matter on the island. In a June 11, 2017, plebiscite (popular vote), 97.2% of voters chose statehood when presented with three options on the...

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 aging B-1 and B-52 bombers, and would possibly replace B-2s 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 B-21...

Stafford Act Assistance and Acts of Terrorism

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (the Stafford Act) authorizes the President to issue two types of declarations that could potentially provide federal assistance to states and localities in response to a terrorist attack: a “major disaster declaration” or an “emergency declaration.” Major disaster declarations authorize a wide range of federal assistance to states, local governments, tribal nations, individuals and households, and certain nonprofit organizations to recover from a catastrophic event. Major disaster declarations also make Small Business...

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...

Unique Identification Codes for Federal Contractors: DUNS Numbers and CAGE Codes

An essential element of the federal government’s acquisition system is the capability to identify the businesses, and other types of entities, that do work for the government. Accurate identification of potential contractors and incumbent contractors facilitates a host of procurement processes while contributing to the transparency of federal government procurement.

The federal government uses a proprietary system, Dun & Bradstreet’s (D&B’s) Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS), to uniquely identify the entities with which it does business. At no cost to the applicant, D&B assigns a DUNS...

Selected Federal Water Activities: Agencies, Authorities, and Congressional Committees

Congress addresses numerous issues related to the nation’s water resources annually, and over time it has enacted hundreds of water-related federal laws. These laws—many of which are independent statutes—have been enacted at different points in the nation’s history and during various economic climates. They were developed by multiple congressional committees with varying jurisdictions. Such committees are involved in legislating, funding, and overseeing the water-related activities of numerous federal agencies. These activities include responding to natural disasters such as droughts and...

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...

Presidential Transitions: Issues Involving Outgoing and Incoming Administrations

The crux of a presidential transition is the transfer of executive power from the incumbent to the President-elect. Yet the transition process encompasses a host of activities, beginning with pre-election planning and continuing through inauguration day. The process ensures that the federal government provides resources to presidential candidates’ transition teams, and, eventually, the President-elect’s team; and includes close coordination between the outgoing and incoming Administrations. The Presidential Transition Act (PTA) of 1963, as amended, established formal mechanisms to...

The Electoral College: How It Works in Contemporary Presidential Elections

When Americans vote for a President and Vice President, they are actually choosing presidential electors, known collectively as the electoral college. It is these officials who choose the President and Vice President of the United States. The complex elements comprising the electoral college system are responsible for election of the President and Vice President.

The 2016 presidential contest was noteworthy for the first simultaneous occurrence in presidential election history of four rarely occurring electoral college eventualities. These included (1) the election of a President and Vice...

Congress’s Contempt Power and the Enforcement of Congressional Subpoenas: Law, History, Practice, and Procedure

Congress’s contempt power is the means by which Congress responds to certain acts that in its view obstruct the legislative process. Contempt may be used either to coerce compliance, to punish the contemnor, and/or to remove the obstruction. Although arguably any action that directly obstructs the effort of Congress to exercise its constitutional powers may constitute a contempt, in recent times the contempt power has most often been employed in response to non-compliance with a duly issued congressional subpoena—whether in the form of a refusal to appear before a committee for purposes of...

Cost-Benefit Analysis and Financial Regulator Rulemaking

Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) in the federal rulemaking process is the systematic examination, estimation, and comparison of the potential economic costs and benefits resulting from the promulgation of a new rule. Agencies with rulemaking authority implement regulations that carry the force of law. While this system allows technical rules to be designed by experts that are to some degree insulated from political considerations, it also results in rules being implemented by executive branch staff that arguably are not directly accountable to the electorate.

One method for Congress to...

Selected Homeland Security Issues in the 115th Congress

In 2001, in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, “homeland security” went from being a concept discussed among a relatively small cadre of policymakers and strategic thinkers to a broadly discussed issue among policymakers, including 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) and the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Evolution of America’s response to terrorist threats has continued under the leadership of different Administrations,...

Casework in a Congressional Office: Background, Rules, Laws, and Resources

In a congressional office, the term casework refers to the response or services that Members of Congress provide to constituents who request assistance. Each year, thousands of constituents turn to Members of Congress with a wide range of requests, from the simple to the complex. Members and their staffs help constituents deal with administrative agencies by acting as facilitators, ombudsmen, and, in some cases, advocates. In addition to serving individual constituents, some congressional offices also consider as casework liaison activities between the federal government and local...

SBA’s “8(a) Program”: Overview, History, and Current Issues

The Minority Small Business and Capital Ownership Development Program—commonly known as the “8(a) Program”—provides participating small businesses with training, technical assistance, and contracting opportunities in the form of set-aside and sole-source awards. A set-aside award is a contract in which only certain contractors may compete, whereas a sole-source award is a contract awarded, or proposed for award, without competition. In FY2016, 8(a) firms were awarded more than $27 billion in federal contracts, including $8.5 billion in 8(a) set-aside awards and $8.7 billion in 8(a)...

Zika Virus: CRS Experts

In late 2015, health officials in Brazil recognized a marked increase in the number of infants born with microcephaly (from Greek, meaning “small head”), a birth defect that may accompany significant, permanent brain damage. Although not conclusive, the increase in microcephaly is suspected to be related to the emergence of Zika virus infections in Brazil early in 2015.

Zika virus is related to the viruses that cause yellow fever, dengue, West Nile, and Japanese encephalitis viruses. Historically Zika virus was found in Africa. Since 2007, Zika transmission has also occurred in Southeast...

FBI Director: Appointment and Tenure

The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The statutory basis for the present nomination and confirmation process was developed in 1968 and 1976, and has been used since the death of J. Edgar Hoover in 1972. Over this time, seven nominations have been confirmed and two have been withdrawn by the President before confirmation. The position of FBI Director has a fixed 10-year term, and the officeholder cannot be reappointed, unless Congress acts to allow a second appointment of the incumbent....

Cost and Benefit Considerations in Clean Air Act Regulations

The Clean Air Act (CAA) gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) broad authority to set ambient air quality standards to protect public health and welfare. It authorizes emission standards for both mobile and stationary air pollution sources, including cars, trucks, factories, power plants, fuels, consumer products, and dozens of other source categories. Since 1970, EPA has used this authority to require emission controls for these sources. Emissions of the most widespread (“criteria”) pollutants have been reduced by 72% during that period.

As directed by Congress and by executive...

The Meaning of “Made in U.S.A.”

Numerous provisions in federal law are intended to support manufacturing in the United States. Almost without exception, these provisions define manufacturing as the process of physically transforming goods. Physical transformation involves what might be thought of as traditional manufacturing activities such as molding, cutting, and assembly. These laws establish a variety of potential benefits, preferences, or penalties based on the country in which physical transformation occurs. On April 18, 2017, President Trump issued an executive order directing federal agencies to ensure that...

Commemorations in Congress: Options for Honoring Individuals, Groups, and Events

Since its inception, Congress has used commemorative legislation to express public gratitude for distinguished contributions; dramatize the virtues of individuals, groups, and causes; and perpetuate the remembrance of significant events. During the past two centuries, commemoratives have become an integral part of the American political tradition. They have been used to authorize the minting of commemorative coins and Congressional Gold Medals; fund monuments and memorials; create federal holidays; establish commissions to celebrate important anniversaries; and name public works,...

Presidential Appointee Positions Requiring Senate Confirmation and Committees Handling Nominations

As part of the process of making an appointment to an advice and consent position, the President submits a nomination to the Senate. Most nominations are referred to the appropriate Senate committee or committees on the day they are received. Such referrals are guided by Senate Rule XXV, which establishes the subject matter under the purview of each committee and directs that “all proposed legislation, messages, petitions, memorials, and other matters relating primarily to [those] subjects” be referred to that committee. Precedents set by prior referrals, standing orders, and unanimous...

Trade Implications of the President’s Buy American Executive Order

With the April 18, 2017, issuance of President Trump’s Executive Order on Buy American and Hire American, U.S. procurement obligations with 57 countries under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and other U.S. free trade agreements (FTAs) are coming under scrutiny. Some may question whether the order, when implemented, could conflict with current U.S. obligations under these agreements. More specifically, could the EO run counter to U.S. policy on government procurement, which generally seeks to balance...

Committee Types and Roles

Congress divides its legislative, oversight, and internal administrative tasks among more than 200 committees and subcommittees. Within assigned areas, these functional subunits gather information; compare and evaluate legislative alternatives; identify policy problems and propose solutions; select, determine, and report measures for full chamber consideration; monitor executive branch performance (oversight); and investigate allegations of wrongdoing.

Party Leaders in the House: Election, Duties, and Responsibilities

Each major party in the House has a leadership hierarchy. This report summarizes the election, duties, and responsibilities of the Speaker of the House, the majority and minority leaders, and the whips and whip system. For a listing of all past occupants of congressional party leadership positions, see CRS Report RL30567, Party Leaders in the United States Congress, 1789-2017, by Valerie Heitshusen.

Temporarily Filling Presidentially Appointed, Senate-Confirmed Positions

A vacant presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed position (herein, “advice and consent position”) can be filled temporarily under one of several authorities that do not require going through the Senate confirmation process. Under specific circumstances, many executive branch vacancies can be filled temporarily under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 or by recess appointment. In some cases, temporary filling of vacancies in a particular position is specifically provided for in statute. Generally, designation or appointment under one of these methods confers upon the official the...

Video Broadcasting of Congressional Proceedings

Video broadcasts of congressional proceedings enable constituents, policy professionals, and other interested individuals to see Congress at work, learn about specific Members, and follow the legislative process. Members of Congress have always considered communication with constituents an essential part of their representational duties. Members also often utilize new tools and technologies to reach and engage their constituents and colleagues.

Background

The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 first enabled congressional committees to broadcast their proceedings, if desired. Separate...

Congressional News Media and the House and Senate Press Galleries

The House and Senate press galleries provide services both for journalists and for Members of Congress. The news media helps Members communicate with the public, and enables the public to learn about policy initiatives, understand the legislative process, and observe elected officials representing their constituents. In the earliest Congresses, news reports commonly provided the most comprehensive record of congressional proceedings, even for Members themselves, because few official documents were kept. To accommodate the press, and in response to its growth through the mid-19th century,...

Internships in Congressional Offices: Frequently Asked Questions

Many interns serve Congress, assisting individual Members, committees, and other offices or support services. Interns serve the House or Senate in a temporary capacity, primarily for an educational benefit, although some interns may receive pay for their service. Like many aspects of congressional operations, individual House or Senate offices can make many of their own rules and guidelines for interns, if they choose to operate an internship program. Additional institutional rules, however, may also apply. In the House, policies set by the Committee on Ethics or the Committee on House...

Points of Order, Rulings, and Appeals in the Senate

The Senate’s presiding officer typically does not have responsibility for proactively ensuring that matters under consideration comply with the rules. Instead, Senators may enforce the Senate’s legislative rules and precedents by making points of order whenever they believe that one of those rules or precedents is, or is about to be, violated. Under some circumstances, a ruling by the presiding officer determines whether or not the point of order is well taken. Under others, the Senate itself decides the point of order, usually by majority vote.

Senate Rule XX states in part that “[a]...

Multinational Species Conservation Fund Semipostal Stamp

The Multinational Species Conservation Fund (MSCF) supports international conservation efforts benefitting several species of animals, often in conjunction with efforts under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). MSCF receives annual appropriations under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to fund five grant programs for conserving tigers, rhinoceroses, Asian and African elephants, marine turtles, and great apes (gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, and various species of gibbons). To provide a convenient way for the public to contribute to these...

Major Disaster Assistance from the Disaster Relief Fund: State Profiles

The primary source of funding for federal assistance authorized by a major disaster declaration is the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF), which is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Major disaster declarations have occurred in every U.S. state since FY2000, with obligations for each incident ranging from a few hundred thousand dollars to more than $31 billion.

This report summarizes DRF actual and projected obligations as a result of major disaster declarations at the national level for the period FY2000 through FY2015. CRS profiles for each state and the District of...

Supreme Court Appointment Process: Consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee

The appointment of a Supreme Court Justice is an event of major significance in American politics. Each appointment is of consequence because of the enormous judicial power the Supreme Court exercises as the highest appellate court in the federal judiciary. To receive appointment to the Court, a candidate must first be nominated by the President and then confirmed by the Senate. Although not mentioned in the Constitution, an important role is played midway in the process (after the President selects, but before the Senate considers) by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Specifically, the...

The Decennial Census: Issues for 2020

The U.S. Constitution—Article I, Section 2, clause 3, as modified by Section 2 of the 14th Amendment—requires a population census every 10 years for apportioning seats in the House of Representatives. Decennial census data are used, too, for within-state redistricting and in certain formulas for distributing more than $450 billion annually in federal funds to states and localities. Census counts also are the foundation for estimates of current population size between censuses and projections of future size. Businesses, nonprofit organizations, researchers, and all levels of government are...

Major Disaster Declarations for Snow Assistance and Severe Winter Storms: An Overview

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides two types of assistance for winter incidents: (1) snow assistance, and (2) assistance for severe winter storms. The assistance is triggered by a presidential disaster declaration. The criteria used by FEMA to determine whether to recommend a declaration depend on the type of winter incident. Snow assistance is based on record, or near record snowfall according to official government reports on snow accumulations. Acceptable government reports are snowfall amounts measured and published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric...

Small Business Mentor-Protégé Programs

Mentor-protégé programs typically seek to pair new businesses with more experienced businesses in mutually beneficial relationships. Protégés may receive financial, technical, or management assistance from mentors in obtaining and performing federal contracts or subcontracts, or serving as suppliers under such contracts or subcontracts. Mentors may receive credit toward subcontracting goals, reimbursement of certain expenses, or other incentives.

The federal government currently has several mentor-protégé programs to assist small businesses in various ways. For example, the 8(a)...

Majority, Concurring, and Dissenting Opinions by Judge Neil M. Gorsuch

On January 31, 2017, President Trump announced the nomination of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (Tenth Circuit) to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia on February 13, 2016. Judge Gorsuch has served as a judge on the Tenth Circuit since August 2006, and has also sat, by designation, on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

This report provides a tabular listing of cases in which Judge Gorsuch authored a majority, concurring,...

The Scalia Vacancy in Historical Context: Frequently Asked Questions

The procedure for appointing a Justice to the Supreme Court of the United States is provided for by the Constitution in only a few words. The “Appointments Clause” (Article II, Section 2, clause 2) states that the President “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate shall appoint ... Judges of the supreme Court.” The process of appointing Justices has undergone changes over two centuries, but its most basic feature—the sharing of power between the President and Senate—has remained unchanged. To receive a lifetime appointment to the Court, a candidate must first...

Independence of Federal Financial Regulators: Structure, Funding, and Other Issues

Conventional wisdom regarding regulators is that the structure and design of the organization matters for policy outcomes. Financial regulators conduct rulemaking and enforcement to implement law and supervise financial institutions. These agencies have been given certain characteristics that enhance their day-to-day independence from the President and Congress, which may make policymaking more technical and less “political” or “partisan,” for better or worse. Independence may also make regulators less accountable to elected officials and can reduce congressional influence, at least in the...

Filling Advice and Consent Positions at the Outset of Recent Administrations, 1981-2009

The length of the appointment processes during presidential transitions has been of concern to observers for more than 30 years. The process is likely to develop a bottleneck during this time due to the large number of candidates who must be selected, vetted, and, in the case of positions filled through appointment by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate (PAS positions), considered by that body.

The appointment process has three stages: selection and vetting, nomination and Senate consideration, and presidential appointment. Congress has taken steps to accelerate...

The Senkakus (Diaoyu/Diaoyutai) Dispute: U.S. Treaty Obligations

Since the mid-1990s, and particularly since 2012, tensions have spiked between Japan and China over the disputed Senkaku (Diaoyu/Diaoyutai) islands in the East China Sea. These flare-ups run the risk of involving the United States in an armed conflict in the region. Japan administers the eight small, uninhabited features, the largest of which is roughly 1.5 square miles. Some geologists believe the features sit near significant oil and natural gas deposits. China, as well as Taiwan, contests Japanese claims of sovereignty over the islands, which Japan calls the Senkaku-shoto, China calls...

Key Historical Court Decisions Shaping EPA’s Program Under the Clean Air Act

This report provides a selective overview of court decisions that historically have most shaped EPA’s program under the Clean Air Act (CAA or Act). Court decisions described in the report deal with the following:

National ambient air quality standards (NAAQSs), holding that in setting the standards EPA is not to consider economic and technological feasibility.

State implementation plans for achieving NAAQSs, holding that EPA may not consider economic and technological feasibility in approving or disapproving such plans, or that the state plan is more stringent than necessary, or does not...

Congressional Gold Medals, 1776-2016

Senators and Representatives are frequently asked to support or sponsor proposals recognizing historic events and outstanding achievements by individuals or institutions. Among the various forms of recognition that Congress bestows, the Congressional Gold Medal is often considered the most distinguished. Through this venerable tradition, the occasional commissioning of individually struck gold medals in its name, Congress has expressed public gratitude on behalf of the nation for distinguished contributions for more than two centuries. Since 1776, this award, which initially was bestowed...

Wildfire Suppression Spending: Background, Issues, and Legislation

Congress has directed that the federal government is responsible for managing wildfires that begin on federal lands, such as national forests or national parks. The states are responsible for managing wildfires that originate on all other lands. Although a greater number of wildfires occur annually on nonfederal lands, wildfires on federal lands tend to be much larger, particularly in the western United States. The federal government’s wildfire management responsibilities—fulfilled primarily by the Forest Service (FS) and the Department of the Interior (DOI)—include prevention, detection,...

Bypassing Senate Committees: Rule XIV and Unanimous Consent

Most bills and joint resolutions introduced in the Senate, and many House-numbered bills and joint resolutions received by the Senate after House passage, are referred to committee. Some bills and joint resolutions, however, are not referred to committee. This report examines the alternative procedures and actions that the Senate uses to bypass committee consideration of bills and joint resolutions. It also provides examples of how the Senate uses these alternative procedures and actions to facilitate consideration and passage of some bills and joint resolutions.

Provisions of Senate Rule...

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...

Proposals to Eliminate Public Financing of Presidential Campaigns

Recent Congresses have debated whether or how to maintain the presidential public financing program, which consisted of financing for candidates and nominating conventions until 2014. The 113th Congress eliminated public financing of nominating conventions. Amid this backdrop, there is consensus that, with no change in the status quo, the most competitive presidential candidates—who may still choose to accept public financing if they wish to do so—will either need substantial additional resources via a reformed public financing program or will decline public financing entirely. None of the...

Senate Select Committee on Ethics: A Brief History of Its Evolution and Jurisdiction

The United States Constitution provides each House of Congress with the sole authority to establish rules and punish and expel Members. From 1789 to 1964, the Senate dealt individually with cases of disciplinary action against Members, often forming ad hoc committees to investigate and make recommendations when acts of wrongdoing were brought to the chamber’s attention. Events of the 1960s, including the investigation of Secretary to the Majority Robert G. “Bobby” Baker, for alleged corruption and influence peddling, prompted the creation of a permanent ethics committee and the writing of...

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant Legislation in the 114th Congress

P.L. 114-254, the further continuing resolution for FY2017, extended funding and program authority for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant through April 28, 2017. Though several bills that would have changed TANF policies were reported by the House Ways and Means Committee to the full House during the 114th Congress—and one bill passed the House—none were enacted.

The TANF block grant funds grants to states, tribes, and territories for providing benefits, services, and activities to broadly address both the effects and root causes of childhood economic and social...

Cuba: Issues and Actions in the 114th Congress

Cuba remains a one-party communist state with a poor record on human rights. The country’s political succession in 2006 from the long-ruling Fidel Castro to his brother Raúl was characterized by a remarkable degree of stability. In 2013, Raúl began his second and final five-year term, which is scheduled to end in February 2018, when he would be 86 years of age. Castro has implemented a number of market-oriented economic policy changes over the past several years. An April 2016 Cuban Communist Party congress endorsed the current gradual pace of Cuban economic reform. Few observers expect...

SORNA: A Legal Analysis of 18 U.S.C. §2250 (Failure to Register as a Sex Offender)

Section 2250 of Title 18 of the United States Code outlaws an individual’s failure to comply with federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) requirements. SORNA demands that an individual—previously convicted of a qualifying federal, state, or foreign sex offense—register with state, territorial, or tribal authorities. Individuals must register in every jurisdiction in which they reside, work, or attend school. They must also update the information whenever they move, or change their employment or educational status. Section 2250 applies only under one of several...

SORNA: An Abridged Legal Analysis of 18 U.S.C. §2250 (Failure to Register as a Sex Offender)

Section 2250 of Title 18 of the United States Code outlaws an individual’s failure to comply with federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) requirements. SORNA demands that an individual—previously convicted of a qualifying federal, state, or foreign sex offense—register with state, territorial, or tribal authorities. Individuals must register in every jurisdiction in which they reside, work, or attend school. They must also update the information whenever they move, or change their employment or educational status. Section 2250 applies only under one of several...

Constitutional Authority Statements and the Powers of Congress: An Overview

On January 5, 2011, the House of Representatives adopted an amendment to House Rule XII to require that Members of the House state the constitutional basis for Congress’s power to enact the proposed legislation when introducing a bill or joint resolution. This Constitutional Authority Statement (CAS) rule, found at House Rule XII, clause 7(c), was subsequently adopted in the 113th, 114th, and 115th Congresses.

Understanding the CAS rule first requires an understanding of both the powers provided to the Congress under the Constitution and Congress’s role in interpreting the founding...

Constituent Services: Overview and Resources

Constituent service encompasses a wide array of non-legislative activities undertaken by Members of Congress or congressional staff, and it is commonly considered a representational responsibility. Member offices vary in their priorities, activities, and scope of constituent service, but most offices try to assist with certain requests when possible. Member offices have engaged in constituent service activities since the earliest Congresses. Depending on what the constituent is seeking, requests may be addressed by a Member’s Washington, DC, office, or by a Member’s district or state...

Party Leaders in the United States Congress, 1789-2017

This report briefly describes current responsibilities and selection mechanisms for 15 House and Senate party leadership posts and provides tables with historical data, including service dates, party affiliation, and other information for each. Tables have been updated as of the report’s issuance date to reflect leadership changes.

Although party divisions appeared almost from the First Congress, the formally structured party leadership organizations now taken for granted are a relatively modern development. Constitutionally specified leaders, namely the Speaker of the House and the...

Smithsonian Institution: Background and Issues for Congress

The Smithsonian Institution (SI) is a complex of museum, education, research, and revenue-generating entities primarily located in the Washington, DC, region, with additional facilities and activities across the United States and world, that reportedly employs 6,500 staff, supplemented by 6,300 volunteers. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, SI’s museums and zoo, which are open to the public largely without admission fee, were visited 29.3 million times, while its websites were accessed 134 million times.

Congress created SI in 1846, after it agreed to accept the bequest of James Smithson, an...

Overview of Further Continuing Appropriations for FY2017 (H.R. 2028)

This report is an analysis of the provisions in H.R. 2028, which provides further continuing appropriations for FY2017 through April 28, 2017. The measure also included appropriations for the remainder of the fiscal year for Overseas Contingency Operations in the Security Assistance Appropriations Act (Division B). On December 10, 2016, the President signed H.R. 2028 into law (P.L. 114-254).

Division A of H.R. 2028 was termed a “continuing resolution” (CR) because it provided temporary authority for federal agencies and programs to continue spending in FY2017 in the same manner as a...

Colombia’s Peace Process Through 2016

In August 2012, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced that the government was engaged in exploratory peace talks with the violent leftist insurgent group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), in a bid to resolve a nearly 50-year internal armed conflict. The secret, initial dialogue between the Santos government and the FARC’s leadership led to the opening of formal peace talks with the FARC—the oldest, largest, and best-financed guerrilla organization in Latin America. Formal talks began in Oslo, Norway, in October 2012 and then, as planned, moved to Havana, Cuba,...

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 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 funding and operational...

DHS Appropriations FY2017: Security, Enforcement, and Investigations

This report is part of a suite of reports that discuss appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for FY2017. It specifically discusses appropriations for the components of DHS included in the second title of the homeland security appropriations bill—Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Transportation Security Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Secret Service. Collectively, Congress has labeled these components in recent years as “Security, Enforcement, and Investigations.”

The report provides an overview of the...

Changing the Senate Cloture Rule at the Start of a New Congress

From 1953 to 1975, proposals to reform Rule XXII at the start of a new Congress were biennial rituals. They were instigated by Senators in each party frustrated by the chamber’s inability to enact social and civil rights legislation because of the opposition of other Members. The biennial focus declined somewhat when the Senate in 1975 amended Rule XXII to reduce the number of Senators required to invoke cloture from two-thirds of the Senators present and voting to three-fifths of the Senators chosen and sworn (60 of 100). In 1979 and 1986, the Senate also amended Rule XXII by reducing the...

Creating a Federal Advisory Committee in the Executive Branch

Federal advisory committees provide a formal forum for members of the public to provide advice and recommendations to the federal government on issues ranging from how to support trade goals of small and minority-owned businesses to which drugs best treat arthritis pain. Many of the roughly 1,000 federal advisory committees that operate at any given time are required to operate pursuant to the open meetings, records access, and reporting requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).

Advisory committees are established for a number of reasons. These reasons often include...

Terrorist Material Support: An Overview of 18 U.S.C. §2339A and §2339B

The material support statutes, 18 U.S.C. §§2339A and 2339B, have been among the most frequently prosecuted federal anti-terrorism statutes. Section 2339A outlaws:

(1) whoever (2) [knowingly] (3)(a) attempting to, (b) conspiring to, or (c) actually (4)(a) providing material support or resources, or (b) concealing or disguising (i) the nature, (ii) location, (iii) source, or (iv) ownership of material support or resources (5) knowing or intending that they be used (a) in preparation for, (b) in carrying out, (c) in preparation for concealment of an escape from, or (d) in carrying out the...

Terrorist Material Support: A Sketch of 18 U.S.C. §2339A and §2339B

The material support statutes, 18 U.S.C. §§2339A and 2339B, have been among the most frequently prosecuted federal anti-terrorism statutes. Section 2339A outlaws:

(1) whoever (2) [knowingly] (3)(a) attempting to, (b) conspiring to, or (c) actually (4)(a) providing material support or resources, or (b) concealing or disguising (i) the nature, (ii) location, (iii) source, or (iv) ownership of material support or resources (5) knowing or intending that they be used (a) in preparation for, (b) in carrying out, (c) in preparation for concealment of an escape from, or (d) in carrying out the...

Improper Payments Legislation: Key Provisions, Implementation, and Selected Proposals in the 114th Congress

As Congress searches for ways to generate savings, reduce the deficit, and fund federal programs, it has held hearings and passed legislation to prevent and recover improper payments. Improper payments—which exceeded $137 billion in FY2015—are payments made in an incorrect amount, payments that should not have been made at all, or payments made to an ineligible recipient or for an ineligible purpose. The total amount of improper payments may be even higher than reported because several agencies have yet to determine improper payment amounts for all of their programs.

In 2002, Congress...

Senate Standing Committees’ Rules on Legislative Activities and Executive Business: Analysis for the 114th Congress

Senate Rule XXVI directs Senate committees to adopt rules of procedure and publish them in the Congressional Record by March 1 of the first year of a new Congress. A committee’s rules must be “not inconsistent” with the Senate’s rules. Committee rules, even if they have not been amended, must be revalidated in each Congress as provided in Rule XXVI.

Committee rules cover a variety of subjects—from meeting dates to quorums to processing nominations. Some Senate rules that are reflected in committees’ rules must be followed, such as the rule that requires a majority of a committee to be...

The Budget Reconciliation Process: The Senate’s “Byrd Rule”

Reconciliation is a procedure under the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 by which Congress implements budget resolution policies affecting mainly permanent spending and revenue programs. The principal focus in the reconciliation process has been deficit reduction, but in some years reconciliation has involved revenue reduction generally and spending increases in selected areas. Although reconciliation is an optional procedure, it has been used most years since its first use by the House and Senate in 1980 (20 reconciliation bills have been enacted into law and four have been...

Casework in Congressional Offices: Frequently Asked Questions

Constituents often contact a congressional office looking for assistance; the work congressional offices do in response to these requests is generally referred to as casework. Members of Congress determine the scope of their constituent service activities, including casework. Many requests for casework come from constituents seeking assistance from federal agencies, but offices may also receive requests from non-constituents. Congressional offices can have different conceptualizations of casework based on Member preferences, district needs, and constituent expectations.

This report...

The Civil Defense Acquisition Workforce: Enhancing Recruitment Through Hiring Flexibilities

Policymakers and defense acquisition experts have asserted that improved recruitment for the defense acquisition workforce is a necessary component for comprehensive acquisition reform. To help rebuild the workforce and enhance recruitment, DOD has used several hiring flexibilities authorized by Congress, the President, and OPM in recent years. Hiring flexibilities are a suite of tools that are intended to simplify, and sometimes accelerate, the hiring process.

The impact of hiring flexibilities on recruitment and workforce quality, however, remains unclear. Congress may consider three...

The Congressional Review Act: Frequently Asked Questions

The Congressional Review Act (CRA) is an oversight tool that Congress may use to overturn a rule issued by a federal agency. 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...

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

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...

Staff Tenure in Selected Positions in House Committees, 2006-2016

The length of time a congressional staff member spends employed in a particular position in Congress—or congressional staff tenure—is a source of recurring interest to Members, staff, and the public. A congressional office, for example, may seek this information to assess its human resources capabilities, or for guidance in how frequently staffing changes might be expected for various positions. Congressional staff may seek this type of information to evaluate and approach their own individual career trajectories. This report presents a number of statistical measures regarding the length...

Staff Pay Levels for Selected Positions in Senate Committees, FY2001-FY2015

The level of pay for congressional staff is a source of recurring questions among Members of Congress, congressional staff, and the public. There may be interest in congressional pay data from multiple perspectives, including assessment of the costs of congressional operations; guidance in setting pay levels for staff in committee offices; or comparison of congressional staff pay levels with those of other federal government pay systems.

This report provides pay data for 13 staff position titles used in Senate committees. The positions include the following: Chief Clerk, Chief Counsel,...

Staff Pay Levels for Selected Positions in Senators’ Offices, FY2001-FY2015

The level of pay for congressional staff is a source of recurring questions among Members of Congress, congressional staff, and the public. There may be interest in congressional pay data from multiple perspectives, including assessment of the costs of congressional operations; guidance in setting pay levels for staff in Member offices; or comparison of congressional staff pay levels with those of other federal government pay systems.

This report provides pay data for 16 staff position titles that are typically used in Senators’ offices. The positions include the following: Administrative...

Staff Tenure in Selected Positions in Senate Committees, 2006-2016

The length of time a congressional staff member spends employed in a particular position in Congress—or congressional staff tenure—is a source of recurring interest to Members, staff, and the public. A congressional office, for example, may seek this information to assess its human resources capabilities, or for guidance in how frequently staffing changes might be expected for various positions. Congressional staff may seek this type of information to evaluate and approach their own individual career trajectories. This report presents a number of statistical measures regarding the length...

Staff Tenure in Selected Positions in House Member Offices, 2006-2016

The length of time a congressional staff member spends employed in a particular position in Congress—or congressional staff tenure—is a source of recurring interest to Members, staff, and the public. A congressional office, for example, may seek this information to assess its human resources capabilities, or for guidance in how frequently staffing changes might be expected for various positions. Congressional staff may seek this type of information to evaluate and approach their own individual career trajectories. This report presents a number of statistical measures regarding the length...

Staff Pay Levels for Selected Positions in House Committees, 2001-2015

The level of pay for congressional staff is a source of recurring questions among Members of Congress, congressional staff, and the public. There may be interest in congressional pay data from multiple perspectives, including assessment of the costs of congressional operations; guidance in setting pay levels for staff in committee offices; or comparison of congressional staff pay levels with those of other federal government pay systems.

This report provides pay data for 11 staff position titles that are used in House committees, and include the following: Chief Counsel; Communications...

Staff Pay Levels for Selected Positions in House Member Offices, 2001-2015

The level of pay for congressional staff is a source of recurring questions among Members of Congress, congressional staff, and the public. There may be interest in congressional pay data from multiple perspectives, including assessment of the costs of congressional operations; guidance in setting pay levels for staff in Member offices; or comparison of congressional staff pay levels with those of other federal government pay systems.

This report provides pay data for 12 staff position titles that are typically used in House Members’ offices. The positions include the following:...

Staff Tenure in Selected Positions in Senators’ Offices, 2006-2016

The length of time a congressional staff member spends employed in a particular position in Congress—or congressional staff tenure—is a source of recurring interest to Members, staff, and the public. A congressional office, for example, may seek this information to assess its human resources capabilities, or for guidance in how frequently staffing changes might be expected for various positions. Congressional staff may seek this type of information to evaluate and approach their own individual career trajectories. This report presents a number of statistical measures regarding the length...

Contingent Election of the President and Vice President by Congress: Perspectives and Contemporary Analysis

The 12th Amendment to the Constitution requires that presidential and vice presidential candidates gain “a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed” in order to win election. With a total of 538 electors representing the 50 states and the District of Columbia, 270 electoral votes is the “magic number,” the arithmetic majority necessary to win the presidency.

What would happen if no candidate won a majority of electoral votes? In these circumstances, the 12th Amendment also provides that the House of Representatives would elect the President, and the Senate would elect the Vice...

Extraterritorial Application of American Criminal Law

Criminal law is usually territorial. It is a matter of the law of the place where it occurs. Nevertheless, a number of American criminal laws apply extraterritorially outside of the United States. Application is generally a question of legislative intent, express or implied. There are two exceptions. First, the statute must come within Congress’s constitutional authority to enact. Second, neither the statute nor its application may violate due process or any other constitutional prohibition.

Claims of implied extraterritoriality must overcome additional obstacles. Federal laws are presumed...

Extraterritorial Application of American Criminal Law: An Abbreviated Sketch

Criminal law is usually territorial. It is a matter of the law of the place where it occurs. Nevertheless, a number of American criminal laws apply extraterritorially outside of the United States. Application is generally a question of legislative intent, express or implied. There are two exceptions. First, the statute must come within Congress’s constitutional authority to enact. Second, neither the statute nor its application may violate due process or any other constitutional prohibition.

Claims of implied extraterritoriality must overcome additional obstacles. Federal laws are...

Federal Advisory Committees: An Introduction and Overview

Federal advisory committees—which may also be labeled as commissions, councils, task forces, or working groups—are established to assist congressional and executive branch policymaking and grantmaking. In some cases, federal advisory committees assist in solving complex or divisive issues. Federal advisory committees may be established by Congress, the President, or an agency head to render independent advice or provide the federal government with policy recommendations.

In 1972, Congress enacted the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA; 5 U.S.C. Appendix—Federal Advisory Committee Act; 86...

The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act: Overview and Issues

Members of the uniformed services and U.S. citizens who live abroad are eligible to register and vote absentee in federal elections under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA, P.L. 99-410) of 1986. The law was enacted to improve absentee registration and voting for this group of voters and to consolidate existing laws. Since 1942, a number of federal laws have been enacted to assist these voters: the Soldier Voting Act of 1942 (P.L. 77-712, amended in 1944), the Federal Voting Assistance Act of 1955 (P.L. 84-296), the Overseas Citizens Voting Rights Act of 1975...

National Statuary Hall Collection: Background and Legislative Options

The National Statuary Hall Collection, located in the United States 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...

State Voter Identification Requirements: Analysis, Legal Issues, and Policy Considerations

About 60% of U.S. voters live in the 32 states that require a voter at a polling place to produce an identification document (ID) before casting a ballot. Among those states, 19 permit voters without ID to cast a ballot through alternative means, such as signing an affidavit; 13 strictly enforce the ID requirement. The other 18 states and the District of Columbia have a range of nondocument requirements instead.

Over the last two decades, the number of states requiring voter IDs has tripled. The stringency of those requirements is controversial. States vary substantially in the range of...

Procedures for Contested Election Cases in the House of Representatives

Under the U.S. Constitution, each House of Congress has the express authority to be the judge of the “elections and returns” of its own Members (Article I, Section 5, clause 1). Although initial challenges and recounts for House elections are conducted at the state level under the state’s authority to administer federal elections (Article I, Section 4, cl. 1), continuing contests may be presented to the House, which may make a conclusive determination of a claim to the seat.

In modern practice, the primary way for an election challenge to be heard by the House is by a candidate-initiated...

Overview of Continuing Appropriations for FY2017 (H.R. 5325)

The purpose of this report is to provide an analysis of the continuing appropriations provisions for FY2017 in H.R. 5325. The measure also included provisions covering appropriations in the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill for all of FY2017 (Division A), as well as emergency funds to combat the Zika virus and provide relief for flood victims in Louisiana and other affected states (Division B). On September 29, 2016, the President signed H.R. 5325 into law (P.L. 114-223).

Division C of H.R. 5325 was termed a “continuing resolution” (CR) because measures to...

House Standing Committees’ Rules on Legislative Activities: Analysis of Rules in Effect in the 114th Congress

Rule XI, clause 2(a)(1) directs each standing committee to adopt “written rules governing its procedure.” This paragraph continues: “Such rules ... (B) may not be inconsistent with the Rules of the House or with those provisions of law having the force and effect of Rules of the House....” Rule XI, clause 1(a)(1)(A) in addition states: “The Rules of the House are the rules of its committees and subcommittees so far as applicable.” Finally, Rule XI, clause 1(a)(1)(B) subordinates subcommittees to the committee of which they are a part: “Each subcommittee is a part of its committee and is...

Federal Government Employment: Veterans’ Preference in Competitive Examination

Veterans’ preference is a system that provides special consideration to certain former members of the Armed Forces who pursue civilian employment with the federal government. This report describes how veterans’ preference is established and applied in the assessment and selection of a candidate for federal positions that use competitive examination procedures.

The specific type of preference for which a veteran qualifies (if any) depends on the timing of the veteran’s service and whether or not the veteran has a service-connected disability. The strongest preference is for veterans who...

Security Clearance Process: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

This report provides a primer on some of the fundamental aspects of the security clearance process, using a “Frequently Asked Questions” format.

A security clearance is a determination that an individual—whether a direct federal employee or a private contractor performing work for the government—is eligible for access to classified national security information. A security clearance alone does not grant an individual access to classified materials. Rather, a security clearance means that an individual is eligible for access. In order to gain access to specific classified materials, an...

Presidential Elections: Vacancies in Major-Party Candidacies and the Position of President-Elect

What would happen in 2016 if a candidate for President or Vice President were to die or leave the ticket any time between the national party conventions and the November 8 election day? What would happen if this occurred during presidential transition, either between election day and the December 19, 2016, meeting of the electoral college; or between December 19 and the inauguration of the President and Vice President on January 20, 2017? Procedures to fill these vacancies differ depending on when they occur.

During the Election Campaign—Between the National Party Nominating Conventions...

Presidential Transition Act: Provisions and Funding

The Presidential Transition Act of 1963 (PTA) authorizes funding for the General Services Administration (GSA) to provide suitable office space, staff compensation, and other services associated with the presidential transition process (3 U.S.C. §102 note). The act has been amended a number of times since 1963 in response to evolving understandings of the proper role of the government in the transition process. Since the 2008-2009 transition, the PTA has been amended twice. The Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-283) did so by authorizing additional support to...

An Abridged Sketch of Extradition To and From the United States

“Extradition” is the formal surrender of a person by a State to another State for prosecution or punishment. Extradition to or from the United States is a creature of treaty. The United States has extradition treaties with over a hundred nations, although there are many countries with which it has no extradition treaty. International terrorism and drug trafficking have made extradition an increasingly important law enforcement tool.

Extradition treaties are in the nature of a contract and generate the most controversy with respect to those matters for which extradition may not be had. In...

Counting Regulations: An Overview of Rulemaking, Types of Federal Regulations, and Pages in the Federal Register

Federal rulemaking is an important mechanism through which the federal government implements policy. Federal agencies issue regulations pursuant to statutory authority granted by Congress. Therefore, Congress may have an interest in performing oversight of those regulations, and measuring federal regulatory activity can be a useful way for Congress to conduct that oversight. The number of federal rules issued annually and the total number of pages in the Federal Register are often referred to as measures of the total federal regulatory burden.

Certain methods of quantifying regulatory...

Extradition To and From the United States: Overview of the Law and Contemporary Treaties

“Extradition” is the formal surrender of a person by a State to another State for prosecution or punishment. Extradition to or from the United States is a creature of treaty. The United States has extradition treaties with over a hundred nations, although there are many countries with which it has no extradition treaty. International terrorism and drug trafficking have made extradition an increasingly important law enforcement tool. This is a brief overview of the adjustments made in recent treaties to accommodate American law enforcement interests, and then a nutshell overview of the...

Midnight Rulemaking: Background and Options for Congress

During the final months of recent presidential administrations, federal agencies have typically issued a larger number of rules relative to comparable time periods earlier in the administration. This phenomenon is often referred to as “midnight rulemaking.” Various scholars and public officials have documented evidence of midnight rulemaking by several recent outgoing administrations, especially for those outgoing administrations that will be replaced by an administration of a different party.

The most likely explanation for the issuance of “midnight rules” is the desire of the outgoing...

Zika Response Funding: Request and Congressional Action

The second session of the 114th Congress has considered whether and how to provide funds to control the spread of the Zika virus throughout the Americas. Zika infection, which is primarily spread by Aedes mosquitoes and sexual contact, has been linked to birth defects and other health concerns. Local transmission of the virus has occurred in Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Florida.

On February 22, 2016, the Obama Administration requested more than $1.89 billion in supplemental funding for the Zika response, all of which it asked to be designated as an emergency...

United States Supreme Court: Criminal Law Cases in the October 2015 Term

The white collar crimes on the Supreme Court’s 2015 docket consist of three Hobbs Act cases and one on computer fraud (Musacchio v. United States). The Hobbs Act outlaws robbery and extortion when committed in a manner which “in any way or degree” obstructs interstate commerce. One of the Hobbs Act cases before the Court (Taylor v. United States) involves the robbery of suspected drug dealers. The second (Ocasio v. United States) consists of a kickback conspiracy between traffic cops and body shop owners. The third (McDonnell v. United States) involves a local drug manufacturer who...

Corporate Tax Integration and Tax Reform

In January 2016, Senator Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, announced plans for a tax reform that would explore corporate integration. Corporate integration involves the elimination or reduction of additional taxes on corporate equity investment that arise because corporate income is taxed twice, once at the corporate level and once at the individual level. Traditional concerns are that this system of taxation is inefficient because it (1) favors noncorporate equity investment over corporate investment, (2) favors debt finance over equity finance, (3) favors retained...

Super PACs in Federal Elections: Overview and Issues for Congress

Super PACs emerged after the U.S. Supreme Court permitted unlimited corporate and union spending on elections in January 2010 (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission). Although not directly addressed in that case, related, subsequent litigation (SpeechNow v. Federal Election Commission) and Federal Election Commission (FEC) activity gave rise to a new form of political committee. These entities, known as super PACs or independent-expenditure-only committees (IEOCs), may accept unlimited contributions and make unlimited expenditures aimed at electing or defeating federal candidates....

House of Representatives Staff Levels in Member, Committee, Leadership, and Other Offices, 1977-2016

The manner in which staff are deployed within an organization may reflect the mission and priorities of that organization. This report provides staffing levels in House Member, committee, leadership, and other offices since 1977. Between 1977 and 2016, the number of House staff grew from 8,831 to 9,420, or 6.67%. Since 2008, however, the number of staff working for the House of Representatives has decreased 5.84%. These changes were characterized in part by increases in the number of staff working in chamber leadership offices, and larger increases in the staffing of chamber officers and...

Senate Staff Levels in Member, Committee, Leadership, and Other Offices, 1977-2016

The manner in which staff are deployed within an organization may reflect the missions and priorities of that organization. This report provides staffing levels in Senators’ Senate committee, leadership, and other offices since 1977. From 1977 to 1986, Senate staff, excluding state-based staff, increased from 3,397 to 4,180, or 23.05%. From 1987 to 2016, all Senate staff grew from 4,916 to 5,749, or 16.94%. The changes in both time periods were characterized in part by increases in the number of staff working in chamber leadership offices, and, prior to 2016, increases in the staffing of...

U.S. Withdrawal from Free Trade Agreements: Frequently Asked Legal Questions

The United States is party to 14 international free trade agreements (FTAs) with 20 countries. These agreements impose a wide variety of international obligations on the United States and its trading partners. Such obligations address import tariffs, as well as potential nontariff trade barriers. A country that is party to an FTA and that maintains laws, regulations, or practices that violate one of these obligations may be subject to trade retaliation (e.g., other FTA parties may increase tariffs on the country’s exports) or may have to pay a fine or monetary compensation to an FTA...

The Federal Advisory Committee Act: Analysis of Operations and Costs

Federal advisory committees are established to allow experts from outside the federal government to provide advice and recommendations to Congress, the President, or an executive branch agency. Federal advisory committees can be created either by Congress, the President, or an executive branch agency.

The Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) requires agencies to report on the structure, operations, and costs of qualifying federal advisory committees. The General Services Administration (GSA) is authorized to collect, retain, and review the reported information, and does so using an online...

The European Union’s Small Business Act: A Different Approach

The Small Business Act for Europe (2008) is not an act, per se, as understood in the United States. It is a European Commission initiative, endorsed by the Council of the European Union, that provides 10 “guiding principles” to promote the growth of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe (e.g., “Create an environment in which entrepreneurs and family businesses can thrive and entrepreneurship is rewarded,” “Design rules according to the Think Small First’ principle,” and “Facilitate SMEs’ access to finance and develop a legal and business environment supportive to timely...

Gangs in Central America

The Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and its main rival, the “18th Street” gang, continue to undermine citizen security and subvert government authority in parts of Central America. Gang-related violence has been particularly acute in El Salvador, Honduras, and urban areas in Guatemala, contributing to some of the highest homicide rates in the world. Congress has maintained an interest in the effects of gang-related crime and violence on governance, citizen security, and investment in Central America. Congress has examined the role that gang-related violence has played in fueling mixed migration...

Reforming the U.S. Postal Service: Background and Issues for Congress

This report provides background information on the responsibilities, financial challenges, and workforce issues facing the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Additionally, it covers the current strategies and initiatives under development by the USPS and discusses further options for postal reforms.

In FY2015, the USPS marked its ninth consecutive year of financial losses with a net loss of $5.1 billion. In addition, the USPS has reached its statutory debt limit of $15 billion. In recent years, the USPS has experienced growth in the package and shipping part of its business (known as Competitive...

History of House and Senate Restaurants: Context for Current Operations and Issues

The restaurants, cafeterias, and carry-out facilities operated by the House of Representatives and the Senate serve Members of Congress, congressional employees, constituents, and other visitors to the Capitol or congressional office buildings on a daily basis. Although their services may seem similar, food operations are separately administered and managed for the House, for the Senate, and for the Capitol Visitor Center (CVC). The House and Senate restaurant systems have operated continually since they were first created in the early 1800s, reflecting the necessary role they fulfill as...

March-In Rights Under the Bayh-Dole Act

Congress approved the Bayh-Dole Act, P.L. 96-517, in order to address concerns about the commercialization of technology developed with public funds. This 1980 legislation awards title to inventions made with federal government support if the contractor consists of a small business, a university, or other nonprofit institution. A subsequent presidential memorandum extended this policy to all federal government contractors. As a result, the contractor may obtain a patent on its invention, providing it an exclusive right in the invention during the patent’s term. The Bayh-Dole Act endeavors...

Stealing Trade Secrets and Economic Espionage: An Abridged Overview of the Economic Espionage Act

Stealing a trade secret is a federal crime when the information relates to a product in interstate or foreign commerce, 18 U.S.C. 1832 (theft of trade secrets), or when the intended beneficiary is a foreign power, 18 U.S.C. 1831 (economic espionage). Section 1832 requires that the thief be aware that the misappropriation will injure the secret’s owner to the benefit of someone else. Section 1831 requires only that the thief intend to benefit a foreign government or one of its instrumentalities.

Offenders face lengthy prison terms as well as heavy fines, and they must pay restitution....

Stealing Trade Secrets and Economic Espionage: An Overview of the Economic Espionage Act

Stealing a trade secret is a federal crime when the information relates to a product in interstate or foreign commerce, 18 U.S.C. 1832 (theft of trade secrets), or when the intended beneficiary is a foreign power, 18 U.S.C. 1831 (economic espionage). Section 1832 requires that the thief be aware that the misappropriation will injure the secret’s owner to the benefit of someone else. Section 1831 requires only that the thief intend to benefit a foreign government or one of its instrumentalities.

Offenders face lengthy prison terms as well as heavy fines, and they must pay restitution....

Coordinated Party Expenditures in Federal Elections: An Overview

A provision of federal campaign finance law, codified at 52 U.S.C. §30116(d) (formerly 2 U.S.C. §441a(d)), allows political party committees to make expenditures on behalf of their general election candidates for federal office and specifies limits on such spending. These “coordinated party expenditures” are important not only because they provide financial support to campaigns, but also because parties and campaigns may explicitly discuss how the money is spent. Although they have long been the major source of direct party financial support for campaigns, coordinated expenditures have...

Implementing Bills for Trade Agreements: Statutory Procedures under Trade Promotion Authority

The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (BCTPAA, title II of P.L. 114-26) renewed the “trade promotion authority” (TPA) under which implementing bills for trade agreements that address non-tariff barriers to trade (and certain levels of tariff reduction) are eligible for expedited (or “fast track”) consideration by Congress under the “trade authorities procedures” established by the Trade Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-618). These expedited procedures provide for automatic introduction of the implementing bill submitted by the President, attempt to ensure that...

The 2016 Olympic Games: Health, Security, Environmental, and Doping Issues

The 2016 Olympic Games will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 5-21, 2016, and will be followed by the Paralympic Games, September 7-18, 2016. Notably, these are the first games to be hosted by a South American city. Reportedly, 10,500 athletes from 206 countries will participate in the Olympics, including 555 athletes from the United States. Most Olympic events will take place in and around Rio de Janeiro. In addition to Rio de Janeiro, soccer matches will be held in the cities of Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Manaus, São Paulo, and Salvador.

Host countries and cities often have to...

Regular Vetoes and Pocket Vetoes: In Brief

The veto power vested in the President by Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution has proven to be an effective tool in the executive branch’s dealings with Congress. In order for a bill to become law, the President either signs the bill into law, or the President allows the bill to become law without signature after a 10-day period.

Regular vetoes occur when the President refuses to sign a bill and returns the bill complete with objections to Congress within 10 days. Upon receipt of the rejected bill, Congress is able to begin the veto override process, which requires a two-thirds...

The President’s Budget: Overview and Timing of the Mid-Session Review

The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 established for the first time the requirement that the President annually submit a budget proposal to Congress. Under current law (31 U.S.C. §1105(a)), the President is required to submit the budget proposal to Congress on or after the first Monday in January, but no later than the first Monday in February. For further information, see CRS Report R43163, The President’s Budget: Overview of Structure and Timing of Submission to Congress, by Michelle D. Christensen.

For nearly half a century after the 1921 act took effect, Presidents submitted their...

The Department of Defense Acquisition Workforce: Background, Analysis, and Questions for Congress

Congress and the executive branch have long been frustrated with waste, mismanagement, and fraud in defense acquisitions and have spent significant resources seeking to reform and improve the process. Efforts to address wasteful spending, cost overruns, schedule slips, and performance shortfalls have continued unabated, with more than 150 major studies on acquisition reform since the end of World War II. Many of the most influential of these reports have articulated improving the acquisition workforce as the key to acquisition reform. In recent years, Congress and the Department of Defense...

Federal Inspectors General: History, Characteristics, and Recent Congressional Actions

Federal inspectors general (IGs) are authorized to combat waste, fraud, and abuse within their affiliated federal entities. To execute their missions, offices of inspector general (OIGs) conduct and publish audits and investigations—among other duties. Two major enactments—the Inspector General Act of 1978 and its amendments of 1988 (codified at 5 U.S.C. Appendix)—established federal IGs as permanent, nonpartisan, and independent offices in more than 70 federal agencies.

OIGs serve to assist Congress in overseeing executive branch—and a few legislative branch—agencies. They provide...

Sessions, Adjournments, and Recesses of Congress

The House and Senate use the terms session, adjournment, and recess in both informal and more formal ways, but the concepts apply in parallel ways to both the daily and the annual activities of Congress. A session begins when the chamber convenes and ends when it adjourns. A recess, by contrast, does not terminate a session, but only suspends it temporarily.

In context of the daily activities of Congress, any calendar day on which a chamber is in session may be called a (calendar) “day of session.” A legislative day, by contrast, continues until the chamber adjourns. A session that...

Disposal of Unneeded Federal Buildings: Legislative Proposals in the 114th Congress

Real property disposal is the process by which federal agencies identify and then transfer, donate, or sell real property they no longer need. Disposition is an important asset management function because the costs of maintaining unneeded properties can be substantial, consuming financial resources that might be applied to long-standing real property needs, such as repairing existing facilities, or other pressing policy issues, such as reducing the national debt.

Despite the expense, federal agencies hold thousands of unneeded and underutilized properties. Agencies have argued that they...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) FY2016 Appropriations: Independent Agencies and General Provisions

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill funds more than two dozen independent agencies performing a wide range of functions, such as managing federal real property, regulating financial institutions, and delivering mail. These agencies include Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Election Assistance Commission (EAC), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Federal Election Commission (FEC), Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), General Services Administration...

The Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA; H.R. 5278, S. 2328)

Representative Duffy introduced H.R. 5278, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), on May 18, 2016. This bill is a revised version of H.R. 4900, introduced by Representative Duffy on April 12, 2016. The House Committee on Natural Resources marked up H.R. 5278 on May 25, 2016. Amendments include technical corrections and extensions of certain studies on the Puerto Rico government and economy. The major provisions of the bill were unaffected. The House passed an amended version of H.R. 5278, which is organized into seven titles, on June 9, 2016,...

SBA and CDBG-DR Duplication of Benefits in the Administration of Disaster Assistance: Background, Policy Issues, and Options for Congress

Numerous nonprofit, private, and governmental organizations provide a wide range of assistance after a disaster strikes. Section 312 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (P.L. 93-288) requires federal agencies providing disaster assistance to ensure that individuals and businesses do not receive disaster assistance for losses for which they have already been compensated. Duplication of benefits occurs when compensation from multiple sources exceeds the need for a particular recovery purpose. Recipients are liable to the United States when the assistance...

The Orlando Mass Shooting: CRS Experts

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Statements of Administration Policy

Presidents communicate their views on pending legislation in a variety of ways. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) formally communicates the Administration’s views by way of Statements of Administration Policy. Statements of Administration Policy, or SAPs, are designed to signal the Administration’s position on legislation scheduled on the House and Senate floor.

SAPs are often the first public document outlining the Administration’s views on pending legislation and allow for the Administration to assert varying levels of support for or opposition to a bill. While Administrations...

Social Media for Emergencies and Disasters: Overview and Policy Considerations

Since the mid1990s, new technologies have emerged that allow people to interact and share information through the Internet. Often called “social media,” these platforms enable people to connect in ways that were non-existent, or widely unavailable 15 years ago. Examples of social media include blogs, chat rooms, discussion forums, wikis, YouTube channels, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Social media can be accessed by computers, tablets, smart and cellular telephones, and mobile telephone text messaging (SMS).

In recent years social media has played an increasing role in emergencies and...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) FY2016 Appropriations: Overview

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and more than two dozen independent agencies. The House and Senate FSGG bills fund the same agencies, with one exception. The Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is funded through the Agriculture appropriations bill in the House and the FSGG bill in the Senate. This structure has existed since the 2007 reorganization of the House and Senate Committees on...

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...

Security Assistance and Cooperation: Shared Responsibility of the Departments of State and Defense

The Department of State and the Department of Defense (DOD) have long shared responsibility for U.S. assistance to train, equip, and otherwise engage with foreign military and other security forces. The legal framework for such assistance emerged soon after World War II, when Congress charged the Secretary of State with responsibility for overseeing and providing general direction for military and other security assistance programs and the Secretary of Defense with responsibility for administering such programs. Over the years, congressional directives and executive actions have modified,...

RICO: A Brief Sketch

Congress enacted the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) provisions as part of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970. In spite of its name and origin, RICO is not limited to “mobsters” or members of “organized crime” as those terms are popularly understood. Rather, it covers those activities which Congress felt characterized the conduct of organized crime, no matter who actually engages in them.

RICO proscribes no conduct that is not otherwise prohibited. Instead it enlarges the civil and criminal consequences, under some circumstances, of a list of state and...

RICO: An Abridged Sketch

Congress enacted the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) provisions as part of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970, 18 U.S.C. 1961-1968. In spite of its name and origin, RICO is not limited to “mobsters” or members of “organized crime” as those terms are popularly understood. Rather, it covers those activities which Congress felt characterized the conduct of organized crime, no matter who actually engages in them. RICO proscribes no conduct that is not otherwise prohibited. Instead it enlarges the civil and criminal consequences, under some circumstances, of a...

The Sentencing Reform Act of 2015 (H.R. 3713): A Summary

H.R. 3713, the Sentencing Reform Act of 2015, addresses the sentences that may be imposed in various drug and firearms cases. It proposes amendments to those areas of federal law that govern mandatory minimum sentencing requirements for drug and firearm offenses; the so-called safety valves which permits court to impose sentences below otherwise required mandatory minimums in the case of certain low-level drug offenders; and the retroactive application of the Fair Sentencing Act.

Related reports include CRS Report R44246, Sentencing Reform: Comparison of Selected Proposals, by Jared P....

“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 may also be included in legislation as introduced or added later by amendment. This report identifies the various forms these expressions may take and the procedures governing such actions.

National Security Space Launch at a Crossroads

The United States is in the midst of making significant changes in how best to pursue an acquisition strategy that would ensure continued access to space for national security missions. The current strategy for the EELV (Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle) program dates from the 1990s and has since been revised a few times. The program has been dogged by perennial concerns over cost and competition. Those same concerns are a major impetus for change today.

The EELV program stands at a crossroads today. Factors that prompted the initial EELV effort in 1994 are once again manifest—significant...

Legislative Procedures for Adjusting the Public Debt Limit: A Brief Overview

Nearly all of the outstanding debt of the federal government is subject to a statutory limit, which is set forth as a dollar limitation in 31 U.S.C. 3101(b). From time to time, Congress considers and passes legislation to adjust or suspend this limit.

The annual budget resolution is required to include appropriate levels of the public debt for each fiscal year covered by the resolution. The budget resolution, however, does not become law. Therefore, the enactment of subsequent legislation is necessary in order to implement budget resolution policies, including changes to the statutory...

Funding of Presidential Nominating Conventions: An Overview

During the 113th Congress, legislation (H.R. 2019) became law (P.L. 113-94) eliminating Presidential Election Campaign Fund (PECF) funding for convention operations. The 2012 Democratic and Republican convention committees each received grants, financed with public funds, of approximately $18.2 million (for a total of approximately $36.5 million, as rounded). Barring a change in the status quo, the 2016 presidential nominating conventions will, therefore, be the first since the 1976 election cycle not supported with public funds.

Changes in PECF funding for convention operations do not...

Judge Merrick Garland: His Jurisprudence and Potential Impact on the Supreme Court

On March 16, 2016, President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. Judge Garland was appointed to the D.C. Circuit by President Clinton in 1997, and is currently its chief judge, an administrative position that rotates among the active judges on the circuit. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Garland served in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where he notably oversaw...

EPA Regulation of Greenhouse Gases: Congressional Responses and Options

In August 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promulgated standards to limit emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from both new and existing fossil-fueled electric power plants. Because of the importance of electric power to the economy and its significance as a source of GHG emissions, the EPA standards have generated substantial interest. The economy and the health, safety, and well-being of the nation are affected by the availability of a reliable and affordable power supply. Many contend that that supply would be adversely impacted by controls on GHG emissions. At the same...

Protection of Trade Secrets: Overview of Current Law and Legislation

A trade secret is confidential, commercially valuable information that provides a company with a competitive advantage, such as customer lists, methods of production, marketing strategies, pricing information, and chemical formulae. (Well-known examples of trade secrets include the formula for Coca-Cola, the recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken, and the algorithm used by Google’s search engine.) To succeed in the global marketplace, U.S. firms depend upon their trade secrets, which increasingly are becoming their most valuable intangible assets.

However, U.S. companies annually suffer...

Freedom of Information Act Legislation in the 114th Congress: Issue Summary and Side-by-Side Analysis

Congress is currently considering legislation that would make substantive changes to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). FOIA was originally enacted in 1966 and has been amended numerous times since—most recently in 2009. FOIA provides the public with a presumptive right to access agency records, limited by nine exemptions that allow agencies to withhold certain types or categories of records.

The legislation under consideration in the 114th Congress, S. 337 and H.R. 653, is largely based on bills from the 113th Congress, S. 2520 and H.R. 1211. Both of the bills in the current Congress...

DHS Appropriations FY2016: Protection, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery

This report is part of a suite of reports that discuss appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for FY2016. It specifically discusses appropriations for the components of DHS included in the third title of the homeland security appropriations bill—the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), the Office of Health Affairs (OHA), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Collectively, Congress has labeled these components in the appropriations act in recent years as “Protection, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery.”

The report provides an overview of...

Mens Rea Reform: A Brief Overview

Criminal justice reform has played a major role in the congressional agenda over the past several Congresses, with sentencing reform bills making up the majority of the legislative action on this issue. However, some reformers have also highlighted the need to strengthen the mens rea requirements in federal law. Mens rea, Latin for “guilty mind,” is the mental state the government must prove to secure a conviction. For instance, some laws require that the prosecution demonstrate that the defendant intentionally have committed the act in question—that is, committing the act with the...

Gender Identity Discrimination in Public Education: A Legal Analysis

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The U.S. Intelligence Community: Selected Cross-Cutting Issues

This report focuses on cross-cutting management issues that affect the Intelligence Community’s (IC’s) ability to counter “pervasive and emerging threats” to the United States and balance resources both appropriately and wisely. As the IC’s senior manager, these issues ultimately fall within the Director of National Intelligence’s (DNI’s) area of responsibility. The DNI is charged with integrating the community of intelligence agencies so that they operate effectively as one team.

There are no easy solutions to the challenges examined in this report. The IC’s efforts to demonstrate...

Lead in Flint, Michigan’s Drinking Water: CRS Experts

Head Start; Home Visiting; Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting; MIECHV; Early Childhood; Child Development; blood lead reference level; blood lead level; lead poisoning prevention; health registries; EPA; toxicology of lead poisoning; EPSDT; Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment; special education; Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes; healthy homes; Safe Drinking Water Act; SDWA; Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund; Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, water infrastructure; Lead and Copper Rule; corrosion control; Water Infrastructure...

The Article V Convention to Propose Constitutional Amendments: Contemporary Issues for Congress

Article V of the U.S. Constitution provides two ways to amend the nation’s fundamental charter. Congress, by a two-thirds vote of both houses, may propose amendments to the states for ratification, a procedure that has been used for all 27 current amendments. Alternatively, on the application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the states, 34 at present, Article V directs that Congress “shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments....” This alternative, known as an “Article V Convention,” has yet to be implemented. This report examines the Article V Convention alternative, focusing on...

Justice Antonin Scalia: His Jurisprudence and His Impact on the Court

On February 13, 2016, Justice Antonin Scalia passed away unexpectedly at the age of 79, vacating a seat on the Supreme Court which he had held for nearly 30 years. Justice Scalia’s lengthy tenure on the Court, coupled with his strongly held views on how constitutional and statutory texts are to be interpreted, led him to have significant influence on the development of the jurisprudence of various areas of law. He was also an active speaker and author outside the Court, having, among other things, recently coauthored a book which sought to articulate interpretative canons that would, in...

Access to Government Information in the United States: A Primer

No provision in the U.S. Constitution expressly establishes a procedure for public access to executive branch records or meetings. Congress, however, has legislated various public access laws. Among these laws are two records access statutes, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA; 5 U.S.C. §552), and the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. §552a), and two meetings access statutes, the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA; 5 U.S.C. App.), and the Government in the Sunshine Act (5 U.S.C. §552b). These four laws provide the foundation for access to executive branch information in the American federal...

Nominations to the Supreme Court During Years of Divided and Unified Party Government

This report provides data and analysis related to nominations made to the Supreme Court during years of unified and divided party government.

Former Presidents: Pensions, Office Allowances, and Other Federal Benefits

The Former Presidents Act (FPA; 3 U.S.C. §102 note) was enacted to “maintain the dignity” of the Office of the President. The act provides the former President—and his or her spouse—certain benefits to help him respond to post-presidency mail and speaking requests, among other informal public duties often required of a former President. Prior to enactment of the FPA in 1958, former Presidents leaving office received no pension or other federal assistance. The FPA charges the General Services Administration (GSA) with providing former U.S. Presidents a pension, support staff, office...

Nominations to the Supreme Court During Presidential Election Years (1900-Present)

This report provides data and analysis related to nominations made to the Supreme Court during presidential election years from 1900 to the present.

DHS Appropriations FY2016: Departmental Management and Operations

This report is part of a suite of reports that discuss appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for FY2016. It specifically discusses appropriations for the components of DHS included in the first title of the homeland security appropriations bill—the Office of the Secretary and Executive Management, the Office of the Under Secretary for Management, the DHS headquarters consolidation project, the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, the Office of the Chief Information Officer, Analysis and Operations, and the Office of Inspector General for the department....

Five Years of the Budget Control Act’s Disaster Relief Adjustment

Signed into law on August 2, 2011, the Budget Control Act (P.L. 112-25, or BCA) established a set of limits on federal spending, as well as a set of mechanisms to adjust those limits to accommodate special categories of spending that has special priority. One of these mechanisms—a limited allowable adjustment to pay for the congressionally designated costs of major disasters under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (hereinafter “the disaster relief allowable adjustment” or “allowable adjustment”)—represented a new approach to paying for disaster relief. By...

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...

First-Term Members of the House of Representatives and Senate, 64th-114th Congresses

This report provides summary data on the number of Senators and Members of the House of Representatives who first entered Congress between the 64th Congress (1915-1917) and the 114th Congress (2015-2016). First-term membership is divided into two broad categories in each chamber: Members chosen prior to the convening of a Congress, and those chosen after a Congress convenes. The resulting data, combining pre-convening and post-convening first-term Members, provide a count of all Members who served a first term in the House or Senate.

Since the convening of the 64th Congress, 4,201...

Federal Capital Offenses: An Overview of Substantive and Procedural Law

Murder is a federal capital offense if committed in any of more than 50 jurisdictional settings. The Constitution defines the circumstances under which the death penalty may be considered a sentencing option. With an eye to those constitutional boundaries, the Federal Death Penalty Act and related statutory provisions govern the procedures under which the death penalty may be imposed.

Some defendants are ineligible for the death penalty regardless of the crimes with which they are accused. Children and those incompetent to stand trial may not face the death penalty; pregnant women and the...

Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. v. United States: A Case of Statutory Interpretation and Its Implications for Federal Contracting

On Monday, February 22, 2016, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. v. United States, a case that raises the question of whether the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is legally required to make certain purchases through a “set aside” for veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs). A set-aside is a competition in which only eligible small businesses may generally participate.

Congress amended the Small Business Act in 1999 to establish goals for the percentage of federal contract dollars awarded to one type of VOSBs: service-disabled veteran-owned small...

Federal Capital Offenses: An Abridged Overview of Substantive and Procedural Law

Murder is a federal capital offense if committed in any of more than 50 jurisdictional settings. The Constitution defines the circumstances under which the death penalty may be considered a sentencing option. With an eye to those constitutional boundaries, the Federal Death Penalty Act and related statutory provisions govern the procedures under which the death penalty may be imposed.

Some defendants are ineligible for the death penalty regardless of the crimes with which they are accused. Children and those incompetent to stand trial may not face the death penalty; pregnant women and the...

An Examination of Federal Disaster Relief Under the Budget Control Act

On August 2, 2011, the President signed into law the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA, P.L. 112-25), which included a number of budget-controlling mechanisms. As part of the legislation, caps were placed on discretionary spending for the next ten years, beginning with FY2012. If these caps are exceeded, the BCA provides for an automatic rescission—known as sequestration—to take place across most discretionary budget accounts to reduce the effective level of spending to the level of the cap. Additionally, special accommodations were made in the BCA to address the unpredictable nature of...

The Budget Reconciliation Process: Timing of Legislative Action

The budget reconciliation process is an optional procedure under the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 that operates as an adjunct to the annual budget resolution process. The chief purpose of the reconciliation process is to enhance Congress’s ability to change current law in order to bring revenue and spending levels into conformity with the policies of the budget resolution. Accordingly, reconciliation may be the most potent budget enforcement tool available to Congress for a large portion of the budget.

Reconciliation is a two-stage process in which reconciliation instructions are...

Amending Senate Rules at the Start of a New Congress, 1953-1975: An Analysis with an Afterword to 2015

The filibuster (extended debate) is the Senate’s most well-known procedure. Hollywood even highlighted its use in a famous 1939 movie entitled Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, starring actor Jimmy Stewart in the title role of Senator Jefferson Smith. Lengthy debate has many virtues (informing the public, for example) but the blocking potential of interminable debate has often made the filibuster a target for change by reform-minded Senators. Rule XXII requires 60 votes of Senators duly chosen and sworn to end debate on measures or motions—“except on a measure or motion to amend the Senate...

Appointment of African American U.S. Circuit and District Court Judges: Historical Overview and Current Data

This report briefly provides historical and statistical information related to the appointment of African Americans as U.S. circuit and district court judges. Such information addresses ongoing congressional interest in the demographic characteristics of lower federal court judges.

FY2016 Appropriations for the Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis

This report discusses FY2016 appropriations (discretionary budget authority) for the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and Bureau of the Census (Census Bureau), which make up the Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) in the U.S. Department of Commerce. The report will not be updated.

The FY2016 budget request for ESA (except the Census Bureau) was $113.8 million, $13.8 million (13.8%) over the $100.0 million FY2015-enacted funding level. Of the $113.8 million, the $110.0 million requested for BEA was $13.7 million (14.2%) above the $96.3 million FY2015-enacted amount; the $3.9...

Cybersecurity: CRS Experts

Concerns about information-system security and other aspects of cybersecurity are long-standing. The frequency, impact, and sophistication of cyberattacks and the growth of cybercrime and cyberespionage have added urgency to the concerns. Consensus has been growing that the policy framework for cybersecurity take into account the diversity and continuing evolution of the technology and threats—from spam to botnets to hacktivism, cyberterrorism, and cyberwar—and the increasing role of the Internet in the U.S. economy and the lives of citizens. Among the issues the 114th Congress is expected...

The President’s Budget: Overview of Structure and Timing of Submission to Congress

The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, as amended and later codified in the U.S. Code, requires the President to submit a consolidated federal budget to Congress toward the beginning of each regular session of Congress. Under 31 U.S.C. §1105(a), the President must submit the budget—which contains budgetary proposals, projections, and other required reports—to Congress on or after the first Monday in January, but no later than the first Monday in February.

The President’s budget, or the Budget of the United States Government as it is referred to in statute, is required to include in part...

The Fair Housing Act (FHA): A Legal Overview

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) was enacted “to provide, within constitutional limitations, for fair housing throughout the United States.” The original 1968 act prohibited discrimination on the basis of “race, color, religion, or national origin” in the sale or rental of housing, the financing of housing, or the provision of brokerage services. In 1974, the act was amended to add sex discrimination to the list of prohibited activities. The last major change to the act occurred in 1988 when it was amended to prohibit discrimination on the additional grounds of physical and mental handicap, as...

The Good Cause Exception to Notice and Comment Rulemaking: Judicial Review of Agency Action

While the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) generally requires agencies to follow certain procedures when promulgating rules, the statute’s “good cause” exception permits agencies to forgo Section 553’s notice and comment requirement if “the agency for good cause finds” that compliance would be “impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest” and bypass its 30-day publication requirement if good cause exists. Federal courts reviewing this agency practice have varied in their analysis, resulting in confusion as to precisely what constitutes “good cause.” In addition, some...

Final Senate Action on U.S. Circuit and District Court Nominations During a President’s Eighth Year in Office

This report, in light of continued Senate interest in the judicial confirmation process during a President’s final year in office, provides statistics related to Senate action on U.S. circuit and district court nominations during the eighth year of the George W. Bush, Clinton, and Reagan presidencies. The eighth year of a presidency is significant, in part, because it is the final opportunity for a President to appoint individuals as U.S. circuit and district court judges. Such judges have what effectively has come to mean life tenure, holding office “during good Behaviour.”

For the...

Methods of Estimating the Total Cost of Federal Regulations

Federal agencies issue thousands of regulations each year under delegated authority from Congress. Over the past 70 years, Congress and various Presidents have created a set of procedures agencies must follow to issue these regulations, some of which contain requirements for the calculation and consideration of costs, benefits, and other economic effects of regulations. In recent years, many Members of Congress have expressed an interest in various regulatory reform efforts that would change the current set of rulemaking requirements, including requirements to estimate costs and benefits...

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: A Sketch

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....

Department of Homeland Security Appropriations: FY2016

This report discusses the FY2016 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and provides an overview of the Administration’s FY2016 request. The report makes note of many budgetary resources provided to DHS, but its primary focus is on funding approved by Congress through the appropriations process. It also includes an Appendix with definitions of key budget terms used throughout the suite of Congressional Research Service reports on homeland security appropriations. It also directs the reader to other reports providing context for and additional details regarding...

Omnibus Appropriations Acts: Overview of Recent Practices

Omnibus appropriations acts have become a significant feature of the legislative process in recent years as Congress and the President have used them more frequently to bring action on the regular appropriations cycle to a close. Following a discussion of pertinent background information, this report reviews the recent enactment of such measures and briefly addresses several issues raised by their use.

For nearly two centuries, regular appropriations acts were considered by the House and Senate as individual measures and enacted as standalone laws. In 1950, the House and Senate undertook a...

U.S. Assistance Programs in China

This report examines U.S. foreign assistance activities in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), undertaken by the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The report also discusses related foreign operations appropriations, policy history, and legislative background. International programs supported by U.S. departments and agencies other than the Department of State and USAID, as well as Department of State public diplomacy programs, are not covered in this report.

U.S. foreign assistance efforts in the PRC aim to promote democracy, human rights, and...

The Federal Cybersecurity Workforce: Background and Congressional Oversight Issues for the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security

The federal cybersecurity workforce is responsible for protecting U.S. government systems and networks against cyber threats and attacks. Federal agencies, however, have reported difficulty in assessing the size and capabilities of their cybersecurity workforces. DOD and DHS, which play prominent roles in the nation’s cybersecurity posture, have also noted certain obstacles affecting the recruitment and retention of qualified cybersecurity professionals to fulfill their departments’ cybersecurity missions.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is constructing a dataset to catalog all...

The Federal Cybersecurity Workforce: Background and Congressional Oversight Issues for the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security

This report examines congressional oversight of two strategies undertaken by Congress and the executive branch to strengthen the federal cybersecurity workforce: initiatives to define and identify the federal cybersecurity workforce, and hiring and pay flexibilities applicable to cybersecurity positions at the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Gun Control: CRS Experts

The following table provides names and contact information for CRS experts on policy and legal issues related to gun control. In the wake of mass shootings and other firearms-related violence, several gun control issues are often raised. They include improving and expanding background checks, further regulating certain semiautomatic firearms (“assault weapons” or “military-style” firearms) that accept detachable ammunition feeding devices (“magazines”), combating illegal gun trafficking, interstate concealed carry of handguns, and enacting or repealing appropriations limitations related...

The Presidential Nominating Process and the National Party Conventions, 2016: Frequently Asked Questions

This report provides answers to frequently asked questions about the presidential nominating process, including how the delegates to the national conventions are chosen, the differences between a caucus and a primary, national party rules changes for 2016, and the national conventions themselves. It is not a comprehensive report on all aspects of the presidential nominating process.

The Nominating Process

The presidential nominating process is a subject of enduring congressional and national interest. Presidential elections are the only nationwide elections held in the United States and...

The Federal Election Commission: Overview and Selected Issues for Congress

More than 40 years ago, Congress created the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to administer the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and related amendments. Today, the FEC is responsible for administering disclosure of millions of campaign finance transactions; interpretation and civil enforcement of FECA and agency regulations; and administering the presidential public financing program.

Six presidentially appointed commissioners, who are subject to Senate advice and consent, head the FEC. No more than three members may be affiliated with the same political party. Congress arrived at...

The Federal Election Commission: Enforcement Process and Selected Issues for Congress

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is responsible for civil enforcement of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and other campaign finance statutes. Enforcement, one of the FEC’s principal functions, is perhaps the most controversial thing the agency does. Enforcement matters not only for encouraging compliance with law and regulation, but also for what it represents about the state of campaign finance policy overall. Some agency critics argue that modest fines, protracted processes, and deadlocked commission votes demonstrate that the FEC cannot effectively enforce campaign finance...

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR): Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

The federal government is the largest buyer of goods and services in the world, and executive branch agencies—particularly the Department of Defense—make most of these purchases. Many (although not all) acquisitions by executive branch agencies are subject to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), which can make the FAR a topic of interest to Members and committees of Congress and their staff. In particular, Members, committees, and staff may find themselves (1) considering or drafting legislation that would amend the FAR to save money, promote transparency, or further other public...

Terminating Contracts for the Government’s Convenience: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

“Termination for convenience” refers to the exercise of the government’s right to bring to an end the performance of all or part of the work provided for under a contract prior to the expiration of the contract “when it is in the Government’s interest” to do so. Federal agencies typically incorporate clauses in their procurement contracts granting them the right to terminate for convenience. However, the right to terminate procurement and other contracts for convenience has also been “read into” contracts which do not expressly provide for it on the grounds that the government has an...

Central America Regional Security Initiative: Background and Policy Issues for Congress

Central America faces significant security challenges. Criminal threats, fragile political and judicial systems, and social hardships such as poverty and unemployment contribute to widespread insecurity in the region. Consequently, improving security conditions in these countries is a difficult, multifaceted endeavor. Since U.S. drug demand contributes to regional security challenges and the consequences of citizen insecurity in Central America are potentially far-reaching—as demonstrated by the increasing number of migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees arriving at the U.S. border—the...

Legislative Branch Revolving Funds

Legislative branch revolving funds support the “business-type activities” of the House, Senate, and legislative branch agencies. The revolving funds are generally established as a means of accounting either for services provided by one agency to other governmental entities or for services provided to the general public. They comprise a small portion of the total legislative branch operating budget.

Revolving funds must be established statutorily. Authority for some legislative branch revolving funds dates back many decades, while others have been established more recently.

The legislative...

Crime Victims’ Rights Act: A Sketch of 18 U.S.C. §3771

Section 3771 of Title 18 of the United States Code is a statutory bill of rights for victims of crimes committed in violation of federal law or the laws of the District of Columbia. It defines victims as anyone directly and proximately harmed by such an offense, individuals and legal entities alike. It does not appear to include family relatives of a deceased, child, or incapacitated victim, except in a representative capacity.

Numbered among the rights it conveys are (1) the right to be reasonably protected from the accused; (2) the right to notification of public court and parole...

Crime Victims’ Rights Act: A Summary and Legal Analysis of 18 U.S.C. §3771

Section 3771 of Title 18 of the United States Code is a statutory bill of rights for victims of crimes committed in violation of federal law or the laws of the District of Columbia. It defines victims as anyone directly and proximately harmed by such an offense, individuals and legal entities alike. It does not appear to include family relatives of a deceased, child, or incapacitated victim except in a representative capacity.

Numbered among the rights it conveys are (1) the right to be reasonably protected from the accused; (2) the right to notification of public court and parole...

Federalism Issues in Surface Transportation Policy: A Historical Perspective

P.L. 114-94, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, was signed by President Obama on December 4, 2015. The act reauthorizes federal highway and mass transit programs through the end of FY2020. It also authorizes to be appropriated about $305 billion for these programs, an increase of about 4.2% over current funding levels plus projected inflation for highway programs and 7.9% over current funding levels plus projected inflation for public transportation programs.

Although the federal presence, and influence, on surface transportation policy remains significant, FAST is a...

House Committee Party Ratios: 98th-114th Congresses

The party ratio in a House of Representatives standing committee refers to the proportional number of members of each party caucus assigned to each committee. Determining sizes, ratios, and committee assignments are among the first actions taken following a general election and at the beginning of a Congress.

The Standing Rules of the House of Representatives are silent regarding committee sizes and party ratios; the apportionment of committee seats is a decision of the majority leadership that may include discussions between majority and minority party leaderships. Historically, the...

Senate Committee Party Ratios: 98th-114th Congresses

The party ratio in the Senate standing committees is the proportional number of members of each party caucus assigned to each committee. Determining committee sizes, ratios, and assignments are among the first actions taken after a general election and at the beginning of a Congress.

The standing rules of the Senate are silent on the subject of committee party ratios. The apportionment of committee seats results from discussions between majority and minority party leadership. In general, it has been the practice of the Senate to apportion committee seats to the majority and minority...

The Enactment of Appropriations Measures During Lame Duck Sessions

Ten of the past 11 Congresses, covering the 103rd Congress through the 113th Congress, have concluded with a lame duck session. (No such session occurred in 1996, during the 104th Congress.) Under contemporary conditions, any meeting of Congress that occurs between a congressional election in November and the following January 3 is a lame duck session. The significant characteristic of a lame duck session is that its participants are the sitting Members of the existing Congress, not those who will be entitled to sit in the new Congress.

The enactment of appropriations measures has been an...

The Lobbying Disclosure Act at 20: Analysis and Issues for Congress

On December 19, 1995, President William Jefferson Clinton signed the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) into law (2 U.S.C. §1601, et seq.). In his comments when signing the law, President Clinton identified a central question that continues to be an issue for lobbying laws: how can individual citizens’ rights be balanced against the desire to regulate and potentially control the access of special interests to government? As lobbying laws have been developed in the United States, the balance between the right of “ordinary Americans” to petition the government and the access that professional...

Sequestration as a Budget Enforcement Process: Frequently Asked Questions

A sequester provides for the automatic cancellation of previously enacted spending, making largely across-the-board reductions to non-exempt programs, activities, and accounts. Sequestration is currently employed as the enforcement mechanism for three budgetary policies:

It is used to enforce the statutory limits on defense and non-defense discretionary spending as created by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA; P.L. 112-25).

It is used to enforce the budgetary goal established for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction established by the BCA. This automatic process was created...

Federal Real Property Data: Limitations and Implications for Oversight

The federal executive branch owns and leases more than 275,000 buildings, with annual operating costs in excess of $21 billion. Oversight of this portfolio of buildings has been a priority for recent congresses, particularly since real property management has been identified as a “high-risk” area by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), every year since 2003. Key potential weaknesses in real property management include agencies holding empty or only partially occupied buildings; relying on leases for new space even when ownership would be cheaper; and making decisions using real...

Apportioning Seats in the U.S. House of Representatives Using the 2013 Estimated Citizen Population

Congressional apportionment is the process of determining the number of Representatives to which each state is entitled in the U.S. House of Representatives based on the decennial census of population. Congressional redistricting, often confused with apportionment, is the process of revising the geographic boundaries of areas from which voters elect Representatives to the House. The apportionment process is a function of four factors: (1) population size, (2) the number of Representatives or seats to be apportioned, (3) the number of states, and (4) the method of apportionment.

Recently,...

Sentencing Reform: Comparison of Selected Proposals

This is a comparison of selected criminal sentencing reform bills as introduced: H.R. 3713, H.R. 2944, S. 502, and H.R. 920; and S. 2123 as passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee with a manager’s amendment. It consists of narrative and charts comparing the bills with respect to adjustments in the mandatory minimum sentencing provisions that apply to controlled substance and firearms offenses, the safety valve, and retroactive application of the Fair Sentencing Act (FSA).

The SBA Disaster Loan Program: Overview and Possible Issues for Congress

Through its Office of Disaster Assistance (ODA), the Small Business Administration (SBA) has been a major source of assistance for the restoration of commerce and households in areas stricken by natural and human-caused disasters since the agency’s creation in 1953. Through its disaster loan program, SBA offers low-interest, long-term loans for physical and economic damages to businesses to help repair, rebuild, and recover from economic losses after a declared disaster. The majority of the agency’s disaster loans, however (over 80%) are made to individuals and households (renters and...

U.S. Postal Service Workforce Size and Employment Categories, FY1995-FY2014

This report provides data from the past 20 years on the size and composition of the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS’s) workforce. Reforms to the size and composition of the workforce have been an integral part of USPS’s strategy to reduce costs and regain financial solvency, particularly between FY2007 and FY2014. Since 2007, USPS has experienced significant revenue losses that have affected its ability to manage its expenses. Personnel costs are one of the primary drivers of USPS’s operating expenses. As such, USPS has employed strategies to reform the size and composition of its workforce in...

Federal Aid for Reconstruction of Houses of Worship: A Legal Analysis

In late October 2012, Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast of the United States, causing severe damage to the mid-Atlantic and northeast regions of the country. The resulting destruction led to major disaster declarations in 12 states and the District of Columbia, making those states eligible for certain federal supplemental assistance to aid in the recovery process. The damage resulting from Hurricane Sandy devastated a wide range of communities, and many individuals and organizations sought federal assistance for recovery, including churches, which, in turn, raised constitutional...

Sentence Reform Acts: S. 2123 and H.R. 3713

As introduced, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, S. 2123, and the Sentencing Reform Act of 2015, H.R. 3713, use virtually identical language to reduce the impact of the mandatory minimum sentences which federal courts must now impose for certain drug trafficking and firearms offenses.

Key Takeaways

Existing law requires long minimum sentences for certain drug traffickers who have prior drug convictions. S. 2123 and H.R. 3713 would shorten the mandatory minimums, but apply them for both prior drug and violent felony convictions.

The safety valve permits judges to ignore...

Overview of the FY2016 Continuing Resolution (H.R. 719)

The purpose of this report is to provide an analysis of the FY2016 continuing appropriations in H.R. 719. None of the FY2016 regular appropriations bills were enacted by the start of the fiscal year (October 1, 2015). On September 30, 2015, H.R. 719, a continuing resolution (CR) for FY2016, was signed into law by the President (P.L. 114-53).

The CR for FY2016 covers all 12 regular appropriations bills by providing continuing budget authority for projects and activities funded in FY2015 by that fiscal year’s regular appropriations acts, with some exceptions. It includes both budget...

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Supreme Court: A Legal Analysis of Young v. United Parcel Service

In 2015, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Young v. United Parcel Service. In the case, a United Parcel Service (UPS) worker named Peggy Young challenged her employer’s refusal to grant her a light-duty work assignment while she was pregnant, claiming that UPS’s actions violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), a federal law that prohibits pregnancy discrimination in employment. In a highly anticipated ruling, the Justices fashioned a new test for determining when an employer’s refusal to provide accommodations for a pregnant worker constitutes a violation of the PDA, and the...

Oversight of the Inspector General Community: The IG Council’s Integrity Committee

The federal government has more than 70 federal inspectors general (IGs) who are vested with authority to combat waste, fraud, and abuse in their affiliated departments and agencies. This community of IGs serves a key role in assisting congressional oversight by conducting audits, investigations, and evaluations of their affiliated agencies, and by providing written reports at least two times a year to Congress.

The Inspector General Act of 1978 (5 U.S.C. Appendix), as amended, establishes an Integrity Committee (IC) that serves to oversee the appropriate conduct of high-ranking employees...

Federal Mandatory Minimum Sentencing: The 18 U.S.C. 924(c) Tack-On in Cases Involving Drugs or Violence

Section 924(c) requires the imposition of one of a series of mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment upon conviction for misconduct involving the firearm and the commission of a federal crime of violence or a federal drug trafficking offense. The terms vary according to the type of firearm used, the manner of the firearm’s involvement, and whether the conviction involves a single, first-time offense. Liability extends to co-conspirators and to those who aid or abet in the commission of a violation of the section.

If a machine gun, silencer, short barreled rifle, short barreled shotgun, or...

Statutory Qualifications for Executive Branch Positions

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, some Members of Congress and others questioned the competence of leadership at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). After investigating the federal response to the hurricane, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs concluded that the agency’s leader had “lacked the leadership skills that were needed for his critical position.” In response, the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-295, 120 Stat. 1394) stipulated that the FEMA Administrator, among other top agency leaders, must meet certain...

VA Accountability Act of 2015 (H.R. 1994) as Passed by the House

This report describes H.R. 1994, 114th Congress, 1st Session, the VA Accountability Act of 2015, as passed by the House on July 29, 2015, and compares its sections to current law where appropriate. Sections 1 through 10 were reported by the Committee on Veterans Affairs. Section 11 was added as a floor amendment.

Section 1 is the short title, “VA Accountability Act of 2015.” Section 2 would authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to expedite removing or demoting most employees for misconduct. Section 3 would require an individual appointed to a permanent position in the competitive...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2015 Appropriations

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R44172 Summary The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and more than two dozen independent agencies. In its current form, it has existed since the 2007 reorganization of the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations. The House and Senate FSGG bills fund nearly the same agencies, with the exception of the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which is...

Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (H.R. 3230; P.L. 113-146)

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R43704 Summary On August 7, 2014, President Obama signed the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (H.R. 3230; H.Rept. 113-564; P.L. 113-146). The Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2014 (H.R. 5404; P.L. 113-175), the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (H.R. 83; P.L. 113-235), the Construction Authorization and Choice Improvement Act (H.R. 2496; P.L. 114-19), and the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015 (H.R. 3236; P.L. 114-41) made...

Federal Mandatory Minimum Sentences: The Safety Valve and Substantial Assistance Exceptions

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R41326 Summary Federal law requires a sentencing judge to impose a minimum sentence of imprisonment following conviction for any of a number of federal offenses. Congress has created two exceptions. One is available in all cases when the prosecutor asserts that the defendant has provided substantial assistance in the criminal investigation or prosecution of another, 18 U.S.C. 3553(e). The other, commonly referred to as the safety value, is available, without the government’s approval, for a handful of the more commonly prosecuted drug...

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing: Federal Aggravated Identity Theft

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R42100 Summary Aggravated identity theft is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment for two years or by imprisonment for five years if it relates to a terrorism offense. At least thus far, the government has rarely prosecuted the five-year terrorism form of the offense. The two-year offense occurs when an individual knowingly possesses, uses, or transfers the means of identification of another person, without lawful authority to do so, during and in relation to one of more than 60 predicate federal felony offenses (18...

Birthright Citizenship Under the 14th Amendment of Persons Born in the United States to Alien Parents

This report traces the history of birthright citizenship under U.S. law and discusses some of the legislation in recent Congresses intended to alter it. In the current and recent Congresses, some Members have introduced or supported legislation that would revise or reinterpret the Citizenship Clause to address several concerns.

The Intelligence Community and Its Use of Contractors: Congressional Oversight Issues

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R44157 Summary Contractors have been and are an integral part of the intelligence community’s (IC’s) total workforce (which also includes federal employees and military personnel). Yet questions have been raised regarding how they are used, and the size and cost of the contractor component. Of particular interest are core contract personnel, who provide direct technical, managerial, and administrative support to agency staff. Examples of these types of support are collection and operations, analysis and production, and enterprise...

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA): Background, Legislation, and Policy Issues

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R41933 Summary The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA; 5 U.S.C. §552) allows any person—individual or corporate, citizen or not—to request and obtain existing, identifiable, and unpublished agency records on any topic. Pursuant to FOIA, the public has presumptive access to agency records unless the material falls within any of FOIA’s nine categories of exception. Disputes over the release of records requested pursuant to FOIA can be appealed administratively, resolved through mediation, or heard in court. FOIA was enacted in 1966, after 11...

House Committee Hearings: Witness Testimony

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov 98-338 Summary Witnesses before House committees must generally file advance copies of their written testimony with the committees and then limit their oral testimony to brief summaries (Rule XI, clause 2(g)(5)). A question-and-answer period usually follows a witness’s opening statement. Following hearings, committees usually publish the transcripts of witness testimony and questioning. Contents Advance Written Testimony 1 Oral Testimony 1 Questioning Witnesses 1 Printing Hearings 2

Contacts Author Contact...

Armed Career Criminal Act (18 U.S.C. 924(e)): An Overview

The Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. 924(e), requires imposition of a mandatory minimum 15-year term of imprisonment for recidivists convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm under 18 U.S.C. 922(g), who have three prior state or federal convictions for violent felonies or serious drug offenses.

Section 924(e) defines serious drug offenses as those punishable by imprisonment for 10 years or more. It defines violent felonies as those (1) that have an element of threat, attempt, or use of physical force against another, (2) that involve burglary, arson, or extortion, or (3)...

OPM Data Breach: Personnel Security Background Investigation Data

This report provides information on the types of data that may be collected in a typical personnel security background investigation. In a July 9, 2015, news release on the cyber-intrusions of its systems, OPM "concluded with high confidence that sensitive information, including the Social Security Numbers (SSNs) of 21.5 million individuals, was stolen from the background investigation databases." This report is not an official statement of the data that was compromised in the OPM breach.

Cyber Intrusion into U.S. Office of Personnel Management: In Brief

On June 4, 2015, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) revealed that a cyber intrusion had impacted its information technology systems and data, potentially compromising the personal information of about 4.2 million former and current federal employees. Later that month, OPM reported a separate cyber incident targeting OPM’s databases housing background investigation records. This breach is estimated to have compromised sensitive information of 21.5 million individuals.

Amid criticisms of how the agency managed its response to the intrusions and secured its information systems,...

Hunting and Fishing: Analysis of S. 556 and S. 659

Hunting, fishing, trapping, and recreational shooting, particularly on federal lands, have been the subjects of various bills for several Congresses. In general, federal land management agencies work with state fish and game agencies in setting quotas, bag or size limits, and other specifics of management. Some agencies currently open more than 90% of their acreage to hunting and fishing. Yet there has been criticism in recent years that insufficient federal land is open to hunting. In the 114th Congress, attention has focused on a pair of companion bills, S. 556 and S. 659. While both are...

U.S. Capital Markets and International Accounting Standards: GAAP Versus IFRS

Capital markets function most efficiently when investors and creditors have a high degree of trust in the quality of information communicated by firms. Financial reports and disclosures are the primary means by which firms communicate about their performance with investors, creditors, regulators, and the public. Since the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 1930s, domestic companies in the United States have used U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (U.S. GAAP) to issue financial reports.

In 2002, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) was...

Tribal Jurisdiction over Nonmembers: A Legal Overview

Indian tribes are quasi-sovereign entities that enjoy all the sovereign powers that are not divested by Congress or inconsistent with the tribes’ dependence on the United States. As a general rule, this means that Indian tribes cannot exercise criminal or civil jurisdiction over nonmembers. There are two exceptions to this rule for criminal jurisdiction. First, tribes may exercise criminal jurisdiction over nonmember Indians. Second, tribes may try non-Indians who commit dating and domestic violence crimes against Indians within the tribes’ jurisdictions provided the non-Indians have...

Sex Trafficking: Proposals in the 114th Congress to Amend Federal Criminal Law

Existing federal law outlaws sex trafficking and provides a variety of mechanisms to prevent it and to assist its victims. Members have offered a number of proposals during the 114th Congress to bolster those efforts. Several clarify, expand, or supplement existing federal criminal law.

For instance, Senator Cornyn’s S. 178, which was packaged with Representative Poe’s H.R. 181 and several proposals and enacted as the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 (P.L. 114-22), confirms that federal commercial sex trafficking prohibitions apply to the customers of such enterprises. P.L....

Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act: A Legal Analysis of the Criminal Provisions of P.L. 114-22

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, P.L. 114-22 (S. 178), establishes and enhances a host of federal programs designed to prevent human trafficking and assist its victims. It also adjusts federal criminal law in the areas of substantive criminal law, victims’ rights, and related criminal procedure. It is these adjustments that are the subject of this report.

P.L. 114-22 amends the federal commercial sex trafficking statute, 18 U.S.C. 1591, to clarify the criminal liability of the advertisers and customers of a commercial sex trafficking enterprise. It modifies the Mann Act, which...

Department of Homeland Security: FY2015 Appropriations

This report analyzes the FY2015 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). While this report makes note of many budgetary resources provided to DHS, its primary focus is on funding approved by Congress through the appropriations process.

The Administration requested $38.332 billion in adjusted net discretionary budget authority for DHS for FY2015, as part of an overall budget of $60.919 billion (including fees, trust funds, and other funding that is not appropriated or does not score against the budget caps). The request amounted to a $0.938 billion, or 2.4%, decrease...

Congressional Power to Create Federal Courts: A Legal Overview

The U.S. Constitution established only one federal court—the U.S. Supreme Court. Beyond this, Article III of the Constitution left it to the discretion of Congress to “ordain and establish” lower federal courts to conduct the judicial business of the federal government. From the very first, Congress established a host of different federal tribunals to adjudicate a variety of legal disputes. The two central types of federal “courts”—courts established under Article III and those tribunals that are not—differ in many respects, including with regard to their personnel, purposes, and...

A Parliamentary-Style Question Period: Proposals and Issues for Congress

In May 2008, Senator and presidential candidate John McCain stated that, as President, he would “ask Congress to grant me the privilege of coming before both Houses to take questions and address criticism, much the same as the Prime Minister of Great Britain appears regularly before the House of Commons.”

Such a “question period,” in which the chief executive official appears before the legislature to answer questions, is a feature of most parliamentary systems. Prime Minister’s Questions is a major component of British politics, receiving substantial press, radio, and television...

Agricultural Disaster Assistance

This report briefly discusses the federal grand jury, which exists to investigate crimes against the United States and to secure the constitutional right of grand jury indictment.

Selected Issues in Homeland Security Policy for the 114th Congress

In 2001, in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, “homeland security” went from being a concept discussed among a relatively small cadre of policymakers and strategic thinkers to a broadly discussed issue 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) and the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Evolution of America’s response to terrorist threats has continued under the leadership of different Administrations, Congresses, and in a shifting...

Government Collection of Private Information: Background and Issues Related to the USA PATRIOT Act Reauthorization in Brief

This report discusses the legal background associated with the sunset of various provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act and of subsequent related legislation.

Candidates, Groups, and the Campaign Finance Environment

This report briefly discusses the current campaign finance environment and the implications of changes to campaign finance policy over the past several decades.

The Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA): A Legal Analysis

Introduced in each of the last several congressional sessions, the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) would prohibit discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity in public elementary and secondary schools. The stated purpose of the legislation (H.R. 846/S. 439 in the 114th Congress) is to ensure that students are free from discriminatory conduct such as harassment, bullying, intimidation, and violence. SNDA appears to be patterned on Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally...

Genomic Data and Privacy: Background and Relevant Law

Advances in genomics technology and information technology infrastructure, together with policies regarding the sharing of research data, support new approaches to genomic research but also raise new issues with respect to privacy. The development of new genomic sequencing technologies has allowed for the generation of big data, and recent changes in information technology infrastructure have facilitated big data storage and analytics. These developments are expected to support significant changes in health research and, eventually, in health care delivery.

Genetic and genomic research—and...

Employment for Veterans: Trends and Programs

Veterans’ employment outcomes in the civilian labor market are an issue of ongoing congressional interest. This report offers introductory data on veterans’ performance in the civilian labor market as well as a discussion of veteran-targeted federal programs that provide employment-related benefits and services.

According to federal data, the unemployment rate for veterans who served after September 2001 is higher than the unemployment rate for nonveterans. Conversely, the unemployment rate for veterans from prior service periods (a much larger population than post-9/11 veterans) is lower...

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Legislation in the 114th Congress

A surprising number of federal crimes carry mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment; that is, they are punishably by imprisonment for a term of not less than some number of years. During the 114th Congress, Members have introduced a number of related proposals. Some would expand the scope of existing mandatory minimum sentencing provisions; others would contract their reach.

The most sweeping proposal is that of Representative Scott (VA) (H.R. 706) and Senator Paul (S. 353), which impacts mandatory minimum sentencing across the board, allowing federal courts to disregard statutory...

Issues in International Trade: A Legal Overview of Investor-State Dispute Settlement

Ongoing trade negotiations among the United States and several Pacific Rim countries regarding the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and between the United States and the European Union with respect to the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) agreement have rekindled debate over the value of including investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions in bilateral investment treaties (BIT) and trade agreements. Congress plays an important role in the approval and implementation of U.S. international investment agreements (IIA), and, therefore,...

Congressional Redistricting and the Voting Rights Act: A Legal Overview

The Constitution requires a count of the U.S. population every 10 years. Based on the census, the number of seats in the House of Representatives is reapportioned among the states. Thus, at least every 10 years, in response to changes in the number of Representatives apportioned to it or to shifts in its population, each state is required to draw new boundaries for its congressional districts. Although each state has its own process for redistricting, congressional districts must conform to a number of constitutional and federal statutory standards, including the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of...

Same-Sex Marriage: A Legal Overview

Same-sex marriage has engendered heated debate throughout the country. There is no federal same-sex marriage prohibition after the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, which struck down the portion of the Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. However, many states have passed statutes or constitutional amendments that prohibit same-sex couples from marrying, and that deny recognition of same-sex marriages that were legally formed in other states. These state same-sex marriage bans may impact gay individuals’ rights and claims to...

Attempt: An Abridged Overview of Federal Criminal Law

It is not a crime to attempt to commit most federal offenses. Unlike state law, federal law has no generally applicable crime of attempt. Congress, however, has outlawed the attempt to commit a substantial number of federal crimes on an individual basis. In doing so, it has proscribed the attempt, set its punishment, and left to the federal courts the task of further developing the law in the area.

The courts have identified two elements in the crime of attempt: an intent to commit the underlying substantive offense and some substantial step towards that end. The point at which a step may...

Attempt: An Overview of Federal Criminal Law

It is not a crime to attempt to commit most federal offenses. Unlike state law, federal law has no generally applicable crime of attempt. Congress, however, has outlawed the attempt to commit a substantial number of federal crimes on an individual basis. In doing so, it has proscribed the attempt, set its punishment, and left to the federal courts the task of further developing the law in the area.

The courts have identified two elements in the crime of attempt: an intent to commit the underlying substantive offense and some substantial step towards that end. The point at which a step may...

International Drug Control Policy: Background and U.S. Responses

The global illegal drug trade represents a multi-dimensional challenge that has implications for U.S. national interests as well as the international community. Common illegal drugs trafficked internationally include cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. According to the U.S. intelligence community, international drug trafficking can undermine political and regional stability and bolster the role and capabilities of transnational criminal organizations in the drug trade. Key regions of concern include Latin America and Afghanistan, which are focal points in U.S. efforts to combat the...

Recess Appointments: Frequently Asked Questions

Under the Constitution (Article II, §2, clause 2), the President and the Senate share the power to make appointments to high-level policy-making positions in federal departments, agencies, boards, and commissions. Generally, the President nominates individuals to these positions, and the Senate must confirm them before he can appoint them to office. The Constitution also provides an exception to this process. When the Senate is in recess, the President may make a temporary appointment, called a recess appointment, to any such position without Senate approval (Article II, §2, clause 3)....

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2015 Appropriations

This report tracks and describes actions taken by the Administration and Congress to provide FY2015 appropriations for the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) accounts. It also provides an overview of FY2014 appropriations for agencies and bureaus funded as a part of the annual appropriation for CJS.

The annual CJS appropriations act provides funding for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, the science agencies, and several related agencies. Appropriations for the Department of Commerce include funding for agencies such as the Census Bureau; the U.S. Patent and...

Presidential Appointments to Full-Time Positions on Regulatory and Other Collegial Boards and Commissions, 112th Congress

The President makes appointments to 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 149 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 112th Congress.

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

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Legislation in the 113th Congress

Defendants convicted of violating certain federal criminal laws face the prospect of mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment. Bills offered during the 113th Congress would have supplemented, enhanced, or eliminated some of these. The most all-encompassing, H.R. 1695 (Representative Scott (VA)) and S. 619 (Senator Paul) would have permitted federal courts to impose a sentence below an otherwise applicable mandatory minimum when necessary to avoid violating certain statutory directives.

Federal drug statutes feature a series of mandatory minimums. S. 1410 (Senator Durbin)/H.R. 3382...

The OSH Act: A Legal Overview

Through the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (“OSH Act” or “act”), Congress sought a nationwide approach to regulating workplace accidents and injuries. The act authorizes the Secretary of Labor to create and enforce workplace safety standards. Additionally, the act contains a “General Duty Clause,” also enforced by the Secretary of Labor, which generally requires employers to provide workplaces that are free of potentially harmful hazards. The act created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) and an Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and...

Qualifications of Members of Congress

There are three, and only three, standing qualifications for U.S. Senator or Representative in Congress which are expressly set out in the U.S. Constitution: age (25 for the House, 30 for the Senate); citizenship (at least seven years for the House, nine years for the Senate); and inhabitancy in the state at the time elected. U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 2, cl. 2 (House); and Article I, Section 3, cl. 3 (Senate). The Supreme Court of the United States has affirmed the historical understanding that the Constitution provides the exclusive qualifications to be a Member of Congress,...

Presidential Appointments to Full-Time Positions in Executive Departments During the 112th Congress

The President makes appointments to positions within the federal government, either using the authorities granted to the President alone or with the advice and consent of the Senate. There are some 349 full-time leadership positions in the 15 executive departments for which the Senate provides advice and consent. This report identifies all nominations submitted to the Senate during the 112th Congress for full-time positions in these 15 executive departments.

Information for each department is presented in tables. The tables include full-time positions confirmed by the Senate, pay levels...

U.S. Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits and Pension Funding Issues

Congress designed the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to be a self-supporting government agency. Since 1971, the agency has not relied upon annual appropriations to cover its operating costs. Rather, USPS has funded its operations mostly through the sales of postage and postal products and services.

Since FY2007, however, the agency has run more than $40 billion in deficits and has reached its statutory borrowing limit ($15 billion). The agency does receive an annual appropriation of approximately $90 million per year, which amounts to about 0.1% of USPS’s $65 billion operating budget.

USPS’s...

The U.S. Postal Service’s Financial Condition: A Primer

Since 1971, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has been a self-supporting government agency that covers its operating costs with revenues generated through the sales of postage and related products and services.

The USPS is experiencing significant financial challenges. After running modest profits from FY2003 through FY2006, the USPS lost $45.6 billion between FY2007 and FY2013. Since FY2011, the USPS has defaulted on $22.4 billion in payments to its Retiree Health Benefits Fund (RHBF). The agency reached its $15 billion borrowing limit in FY2012 and has not reduced total debt since that...

An Overview of Selected Legislation in the 113th Congress Related to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has been a controversial product of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (P.L. 111-203; the Dodd-Frank Act). Some in Congress view the CFPB as an important protector of consumers and families against predatory financial actors. Others believe the CFPB is an institution not subject to sufficient accountability that imposes undue regulatory burdens on providers of financial services and limits credit available to households. This policy disagreement among Members of Congress has been on display during the controversy...

Congressional Oversight Manual

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) developed the Congressional Oversight Manual over 30 years ago, following a three-day December 1978 Workshop on Congressional Oversight and Investigations. The workshop was organized by a group of House and Senate committee aides from both parties and CRS at the request of the bipartisan House leadership. The Manual was produced by CRS with the assistance of a number of House committee staffers. In subsequent years, CRS has sponsored and conducted various oversight seminars for House and Senate staff and updated the Manual as circumstances...

Presidential Advisers’ Testimony Before Congressional Committees: An Overview

Since the beginning of the federal government, Presidents have called upon executive branch officials to provide them with advice regarding matters of policy and administration. While Cabinet members were among the first to play such a role, the creation of the Executive Office of the President (EOP) in 1939 and the various agencies located within that structure resulted in a large increase in the number and variety of presidential advisers. All senior staff members of the White House Office and the leaders of the various EOP agencies and instrumentalities could be said to serve as...

The National Popular Vote 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 to award all its electoral votes to the presidential ticket that wins the most popular votes nationwide, regardless of who wins in that...

Federal Laws Relating to Cybersecurity: Overview of Major Issues, Current Laws, and Proposed Legislation

For more than a decade, various experts have expressed increasing concerns about cybersecurity, in light of the growing frequency, impact, and sophistication of attacks on information systems in the United States and abroad. Consensus has also been building that the current legislative framework for cybersecurity might need to be revised.

The complex federal role in cybersecurity involves both securing federal systems and assisting in protecting nonfederal systems. Under current law, all federal agencies have cybersecurity responsibilities relating to their own systems, and many have...

Overview of Federal Real Property Disposal Requirements and Procedures

The federal government holds thousands of properties that agencies no longer need to accomplish their missions. When the government disposes of unneeded properties—through transfer, donation, or sale—it generates savings by eliminating maintenance costs. In addition, when state or local governments, nonprofits, or businesses acquire unneeded federal properties, they may be used to provide services to the public, such as temporary housing, or contribute to economic development.

The General Services Administration (GSA) plays a central role in disposing of unneeded property at most federal...

Cost-Benefit and Other Analysis Requirements in the Rulemaking Process

Regulatory analytical requirements (e.g., cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analysis) have been established incrementally during the last 40 to 50 years through a series of presidential and congressional initiatives. The current set of requirements includes Executive Order 12866 and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-4, the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), and the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA). These requirements vary in terms of the agencies and rules they cover, and the types of analyses that are required. For example, a regulatory analysis under the Regulatory...

Attorney General Nominations Since the Reagan Administration

On November 9, 2014, President Obama announced his intention to nominate U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch to replace Eric H. Holder Jr. as Attorney General (AG). Presidents have nominated a total of 11 individuals, including Lynch, for the position of AG since the beginning of the Reagan Administration in 1981. This report provides a table with information regarding these 11 nominations.

Cybercrime: An Overview of the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Statute and Related Federal Criminal Laws

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), 18 U.S.C. 1030, outlaws conduct that victimizes computer systems. It is a cyber security law. It protects federal computers, bank computers, and computers connected to the Internet. It shields them from trespassing, threats, damage, espionage, and from being corruptly used as instruments of fraud. It is not a comprehensive provision, but instead it fills cracks and gaps in the protection afforded by other federal criminal laws. This is a brief sketch of CFAA and some of its federal statutory companions, including the amendments found in the Identity...

Federal Pollution Control Laws: How Are They Enforced?

As a result of enforcement actions and settlements for noncompliance with federal pollution control requirements, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that, during FY2013, regulated entities committed to invest an estimated $7.0 billion for judicially mandated actions and equipment to control pollution (injunctive relief), and $22.0 million for implementing mutually agreed-upon (supplemental) environmentally beneficial projects. EPA estimated that these compliance/enforcement efforts achieved commitments to reduce or eliminate 1.3 billion pounds of pollutants in the...

Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Assistance: Summary Data and Analysis

The federal government has provided a significant amount of money through supplemental appropriations to state, local, and tribal governments to help them repair, rebuild, and recover from catastrophic incidents. For example, Congress provided roughly $120 billion for the 2005 and 2008 Gulf Coast hurricane seasons and $50 billion for Hurricane Sandy recovery. Congressional interest in disaster assistance has always been high given the associated costs.

Additional issues associated with disaster assistance have been contentious. These issues include

increasing disagreements over the...

Presidential Appointments to Full-Time Positions in Independent and Other Agencies During the 111th Congress

This report explains the process for filling positions to which the President makes appointments with the advice and consent of the Senate (also referred to as PAS positions). It also identifies, for the 111th Congress, all nominations to full-time positions requiring Senate confirmation in 41 organizations in the executive branch (28 independent agencies, 6 agencies in the Executive Office of the President (EOP), and 7 multilateral organizations) and 4 agencies in the legislative branch. It excludes appointments to executive departments and to regulatory and other boards and commissions,...

Lame Duck Sessions of Congress, 1935-2012 (74th-112th Congresses)

A “lame duck” session of Congress occurs whenever one Congress meets after its successor is elected, but before the term of the current Congress ends. Under present conditions, any meeting of Congress after election day in November, but before the following January 3, is a lame duck session. Prior to 1933, when the Twentieth Amendment changed the dates of the congressional term, the last regular session of Congress was always a lame duck session. Today, however, the expression is used not only for a separate session of Congress that convenes after a sine die adjournment, but also for any...

Article III Standing and Congressional Suits Against the Executive Branch

On July 30, 2014, the House of Representatives passed H.Res. 676, authorizing the Speaker of the House to initiate a civil action against the President and/or executive branch officials or employees for their failure to act consistently with their duties under the Constitution or federal law in implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Speaker John Boehner has argued that such a suit is necessary to compel the President to follow his oath of office and comply with his constitutional responsibility to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” The Speaker has...

The Doctrine of Constitutional Avoidance: A Legal Overview

Article III of the Constitution established the judicial branch of the United States, staffing the branch with life-tenured and salary-protected judges. Amongst the powers of the federal judiciary is the power of “judicial review”—that is, the power to invalidate the acts of other branches of government and the states that contravene the Constitution. The Framers of the Constitution established this “countermajoritarian” role for the judiciary to help protect the written Constitution and its principles against incursions from the political branches. The power of judicial review is both a...

Recess Appointments: A Legal Overview

The U.S. Constitution explicitly provides the President with two methods of appointing officers of the United States. First, the Appointments Clause provides the President with the authority to make appointments with the advice and consent of the Senate. Specifically, Article II, Section 2, clause 2 states that the President “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and...

The Defense Production Act of 1950, Before Passage of P.L. 113-172

The Defense Production Act (DPA) of 1950 (P.L. 81-774, 50 U.S.C. Appx §2061 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...

Federal Financial Conflict of Interest Rules and Biomedical Research: A Legal Overview

Every year the federal government through a host of different agencies spends billions of dollars supporting biomedical research. In addition, the federal government, through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), continually reviews the biomedical research that supports an application to market certain products, like drugs or medical devices. Collectively, the various federal agencies that either support or oversee biomedical research have a strong interest in ensuring that the underlying research is scientifically rigorous and free of bias. However, if a biomedical researcher has a...

Climate Change and Existing Law: A Survey of Legal Issues Past, Present, and Future

This report surveys existing law for legal issues that have arisen, or may arise in the future, on account of climate change and government responses thereto.

At the threshold of many climate-change-related lawsuits are two barriers—whether the plaintiff has standing to sue and whether the claim being made presents a political question. Both barriers have forced courts to apply amorphous standards in a new and complex context.

Efforts to mitigate climate change—i.e., reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions—have spawned a host of legal issues. The Supreme Court resolved a big one in 2007: the...

Juice Labeling and Pom Wonderful v. Coca-Cola: A Legal Overview

This report discusses two different federal statutes that regulate beverage labels. The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) and its implementing regulations outline requirements for beverage labels reflecting the different ingredients of the juice. The FDCA also prohibits misbranded food and beverages when labels are false and misleading. The Lanham Act, the federal trademark statute that regulates unfair competition, also prohibits misleading labels and advertisements that may hurt a competitor’s business and/or goodwill. While these two statutes both impact juice labels, the overall...

Statutory Authority for the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS): A Comparison of H.R. 4007 and P.L. 109-295, Section 550

The 109th Congress provided the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with statutory authority to regulate chemical facilities for security purposes through Section 550 of the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2007 (P.L. 109-295). This statutory authority contains a termination date, after which the statutory authority expires. The current termination date is October 4, 2014.

Subsequent Congresses have attempted to provide a new authorization for the current statutory authority, which DHS implements through the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS). In the...

Unaccompanied Alien Children: Potential Factors Contributing to Recent Immigration

Since FY2008, the growth in the number of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras seeking to enter the United States has increased substantially. Total unaccompanied child apprehensions increased from about 8,000 in FY2008 to 52,000 in the first 8 ½ months of FY2014. Since 2012, children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (Central America’s “northern triangle”) account for almost all of this increase. Apprehension trends for these three countries are similar and diverge sharply from those for Mexican children. Unaccompanied child...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2014 Appropriations

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill provides funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and more than two dozen independent agencies. Among those independent agencies are the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the United States Postal Service (USPS). The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is funded in the House through the...

Prayer and Religious Expression in Public Institutions: A Constitutional Analysis

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from providing official support or endorsement of religion and from interfering with individuals’ exercise of religion. Balancing the constitutional protections under the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses, as these provisions are known, often leads to questions regarding the extent to which religious activities may occur within public institutions or at public events. On one hand, permitting prayer at publicly sponsored activities arguably may suggest official support for religion. On the other hand, restricting...

Bond v. United States: Validity and Construction of the Federal Chemical Weapons Statute

The Chemical Weapons Convention obligates the United States to outlaw the use, production, and retention of weapons consisting of toxic chemicals. The Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act outlaws the possession or use of toxic chemicals, except for peaceful purposes. In Bond v. United States, the Supreme Court concluded that Congress had not intended the Act to reach a “run of the mill” assault case using a skin irritating chemical.

Carol Anne Bond, upon discovering that her husband had impregnated another woman, repeatedly dusted the woman’s mail box, front door knob, and car...

Climate Change: CRS Experts

Analysis of Senate-Passed S. 2198: Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014

Over the past five years, portions of the country have been gripped with extensive drought, including the state of California. Drought conditions in California are “exceptional” and “extreme” in much of the state, including in prime agricultural areas of the Central Valley, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Such conditions pose significant challenges to water managers who before this dry winter were already grappling with below-normal surface water storage in the state’s largest reservoirs. Groundwater levels in many areas of the state also have declined due to increased pumping over...

Office of Legislative Counsel: House

The Office of the Legislative Counsel of the House of Representatives provides confidential, nonpartisan legislative drafting services to committees and Members of the House. The office’s legislative mandate is “the achievement of a clear, faithful, and coherent expression of legislative policies.” The Legislative Counsel, appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, is responsible for the management and administration of the office. The professional staff of the office currently includes a deputy legislative counsel, approximately 50 attorneys, and an administrative support...

Office of Legislative Counsel: Senate

The Office of the Legislative Counsel of the Senate provides confidential, nonpartisan legislative drafting services to committees and Members of the Senate. The office’s legislative mandate is to “aid in drafting public bills and resolutions or amendments thereto.” The Legislative Counsel, appointed by the President pro tempore of the Senate, is responsible for the management and administration of the office. The professional staff of the office currently also includes a deputy legislative counsel, approximately 30 attorneys, and an administrative support staff. Services are provided on...

Federal Holidays: Evolution and Current Practices

The United States has established by law the following 11 permanent federal holidays, listed in the order they appear in the calendar: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday, Inauguration Day (every four years following a presidential election), George Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. Although frequently called public or national holidays, these celebrations are only legally applicable to federal employees and the District of Columbia, as the states individually decide their own...

FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund: Overview and Selected Issues

The Robert T. Stafford Emergency Relief and Disaster Assistance Act (P.L. 93-288, as amended) authorizes the President to issue declarations for incidents ranging from destructive, large-scale disasters to more routine, less damaging events. Declarations trigger federal assistance in the forms of various response and recovery programs under the Stafford Act to state, local, and tribal governments. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) is the primary funding source for disaster response and recovery.

Funds from the DRF are used to pay for ongoing...

Select Committee on Benghazi: CRS Experts

The following table provides names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to the Select Committee on Benghazi (H.Res. 567). In addition to the policy expertise identified below, related CRS products include CRS Insight IN10055, House Select Committee Precedents and Procedures and H. Res. 567, Establishing a Select Committee on the 2012 Benghazi Attack, by Christopher M. Davis; CRS Insight IN10022, Diplomatic Security After Benghazi, by Alex Tiersky; CRS Report R43195, Securing U.S. Diplomatic Facilities and Personnel Abroad: Legislative and Executive Branch...

Analysis of S. 2198: Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014

Over the past five years, portions of the country have been gripped with extensive drought, including the state of California. Drought conditions in California are exceptional and extreme in much of the state, including in prime agricultural areas of the Central Valley, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Such conditions pose significant challenges to water managers who before this dry winter were already grappling with below-normal surface water storage in the states largest reservoirs. Groundwater levels in many areas of the state also have declined due to increased pumping over the...

Department of Homeland Security: FY2014 Appropriations

This report analyzes the FY2014 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Administration requested $39.0 billion in adjusted net discretionary budget authority for DHS for FY2014, as part of an overall budget of $60.0 billion (including fees, trust funds, and other funding that is not appropriated or does not score against the budget caps). Net requested appropriations for major agencies within DHS were as follows: Customs and Border Protection (CBP), $10,833 million; Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), $4,997 million; Transportation Security...

Executive Orders: Issuance, Modification, and Revocation

Executive orders, presidential memoranda, and proclamations are used extensively by Presidents to achieve policy goals, set uniform standards for managing the executive branch, or outline a policy view intended to influence the behavior of private citizens. The U.S. Constitution does not define these presidential instruments and does not explicitly vest the President with the authority to issue them. Nonetheless, such orders are accepted as an inherent aspect of presidential power. Moreover, if they are based on appropriate authority, they have the force and effect of law. This report...

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2014 Appropriations

On March 26, 2013, President Obama signed into law the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 (P.L. 113-6). The act provides a total of $60.638 billion for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS). After rescissions and sequestration, the act provided a total of $57.936 billion for CJS, of which $7.510 billion was for the Department of Commerce, $25.830 billion was for the Department of Justice, $23.769 billion was for the science agencies, and $827.9 million was for the related agencies.

On April 10, 2013, President Obama submitted his FY2014 budget to...

The Debate Over Selected Presidential Assistants and Advisors: Appointment, Accountability, and Congressional Oversight

A number of the appointments made by President Barack H. Obama to his Administration or by Cabinet secretaries to their departments have been referred to, especially by the news media, as “czars.” For some, the term is used to convey an appointee’s title (e.g., climate “czar”) in shorthand. For others, it is being used to convey a sense that power is being centralized in the White House or certain entities. When used in political science literature, the term generally refers to White House policy coordination or an intense focus by the appointee on an issue of great magnitude. Congress has...

The Volcker Rule: A Legal Analysis

This report provides an introduction to the Volcker Rule, which is the regulatory regime imposed upon banking institutions and their affiliates under Section 619 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-203). The Volker Rule is designed to prohibit “banking entities” from engaging in all forms of “proprietary trading” (i.e., making investments for their own “trading accounts”)—activities that former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul A. Volcker often condemned as contrary to conventional banking practices and a potential risk to financial stability. The...

Department of Defense Trends in Overseas Contract Obligations

This report examines Department of Defense's (DOD) overseas contract obligations in the larger context of U.S. government and DOD contract spending, and how contract obligations are used to support DOD operations in different regions. This report also examines the extent to which this data is sufficiently reliable to use as a factor when developing policy or understanding government operations.

FBI Director: Appointment and Tenure

The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The statutory basis for the present nomination and confirmation process was developed in 1968 and 1976, and has been used since the death of J. Edgar Hoover in 1972. Over this time, seven nominations have been confirmed and two have been withdrawn by the President before confirmation. The position of FBI Director has a fixed 10-year term, and the officeholder cannot be reappointed, unless Congress acts to allow a second appointment of the incumbent....

State Government Fiscal Stress and Federal Assistance

This report examines the current status of state fiscal conditions and the role of federal assistance in state budgets. It begins with an overview of state budgeting procedures and then provides budgetary data comparing state fiscal conditions in FY2008 to FY2013. This report concludes with an assessment of the consequences current levels of state fiscal stress may have for the 113th Congress.

The 2014 Farm Bill (P.L. 113-79): Summary and Side-by-Side

Congress periodically establishes agricultural and food policy in a multi-year, omnibus farm bill. The 2008 farm bill governed policy for farm commodity support, horticulture, livestock, conservation, nutrition assistance, trade and international food aid, agricultural research, farm credit, rural development, bioenergy, and forestry. It originally expired in 2012, but the 112th Congress did not complete action and instead extended the law for one year (P.L. 112-240), leaving consideration of a new farm bill to the 113th Congress.

After nearly three years of deliberations, Congress...

Medicare Home Health Benefit Primer: Benefit Basics and Issues

The Medicare home health benefit provides coverage for home visits by skilled health care professionals. Medicare Parts A and B provide coverage for home health services. To be eligible for the home health benefit, a beneficiary must meet three different criteria. The beneficiary must (1) be homebound, (2) require intermittent skilled nursing care and/or skilled rehabilitation services, and (3) be under the care of a physician who has established that the home health visits are medically necessary in a 60-day plan of care. A beneficiary who meets these requirements is entitled to a 60-day...

Data Security and Credit Card Thefts: CRS Experts

Thefts of credit-card and other customer information from major retailers in the fall of 2013 have renewed concerns about the security of credit cards and the information systems that hold, process, and transmit data from them, as well as other financial and personal information of consumers. The impacts and growing sophistication of such data breaches, along with the broader growth of cybercrime, has added urgency to long-standing concerns about the security of electronic data. The table below provides names and contact information for CRS experts on data security, cybercrime, privacy,...

Products Liability: A Legal Overview

Products liability generally refers to the civil liability of a manufacturer or seller for injury caused by its product to the person or property of a buyer or third party. Legal developments starting in the 1960s, particularly the adoption of strict tort liability, have made it substantially easier for persons injured by defective products to recover for damages. Starting in the 1980s, however, many states enacted tort reform legislation that effectively places limits on an injured party’s ability to recover. Advocates for consumers and plaintiffs view strong products liability law as...

Representatives and Senators: Trends in Member Characteristics Since 1945

Questions about the characteristics of Members of Congress, including their age, education, previous occupations, and other descriptors, are of ongoing interest to Members, congressional staff, and constituents. Some of these questions may be asked in the context of representation, in efforts to evaluate the extent to which Members of Congress reflect their constituencies and the nation at large. In other instances, questions arise about how the characteristics of Members have changed over time, which may speak in part to the history of Congress.

This report provides profiles of Senators...

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics: Security and Human Rights Issues

The President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on July 4, 2007, that Sochi, Russia, had been selected as the host city for the Olympic Winter Games and Paralympics. The Olympic Games, which will be held February 7-23, 2014, are the first to be hosted by Russia as a successor state to the former Soviet Union. Reportedly, some 230 U.S. athletes out of approximately 2,900 from some 88 countries, and about 10,000 U.S. visitors, are expected in Sochi. Olympic events will take place at two main locations: a coastal cluster along the Black Sea and a mountain cluster in the...

Venue: A Brief Look at Federal Law Governing Where a Federal Crime May Be Tried

The United States Constitution assures those charged with a serious federal crime that they are entitled to jury trial in the state and district in which the crime occurred. A crime occurs in any district in which any of its “conduct” elements are committed. Some offenses are committed entirely within a single district; there they must be tried. Other crimes have elements that have occurred in more than one district. Still other crimes have been committed overseas and so have occurred outside any district. Statutory provisions dictate where a multi-district crime or overseas crime may be...

Venue: A Legal Analysis of Where a Federal Crime May Be Tried

The United States Constitution assures those charged with a serious federal crime that they are entitled to jury trial in the state and district in which the crime occurred. A crime occurs in any district in which any of its “conduct” elements are committed. Some offenses are committed entirely within a single district; there they must be tried. Other crimes have elements that have occurred in more than one district. Still other crimes have been committed overseas and so have occurred outside any district. Statutory provisions dictate where a multi-district crime or overseas crime may be...

U.S. Naturalization Policy

Naturalization is the process that grants U.S. citizenship to lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who fulfill requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). In general, U.S. immigration policy gives all LPRs the opportunity to naturalize, and doing so is a voluntary act. LPRs in most cases must have resided continuously in the United States for five years, show they possess good moral character, demonstrate English competency, and pass a U.S. government and history examination as part of their naturalization interview. The INA waives some of these...

The Role of Trade Secrets in Innovation Policy

Many businesses have developed proprietary information that provides a competitive advantage because it is not known to others. As the United States continues its shift to a knowledge- and service-based economy, the strength and competitiveness of domestic firms increasingly depends upon their know-how and intangible assets. Trade secrets are the form of intellectual property that protects this sort of confidential information.

Trade secret law protects secret, valuable business information from misappropriation by others. Subject matter ranging from marketing data to manufacturing...

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB): A Legal Analysis

In the wake of the worst U.S. financial crisis since the Great Depression, Congress passed and the President signed into law sweeping reforms of the financial services regulatory system through the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act), P.L. 111-203. Title X of the Dodd-Frank Act is entitled the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 (CFP Act). The CFP Act establishes the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB or Bureau) within the Federal Reserve System (FRS) with rulemaking, enforcement, and supervisory powers over many consumer financial...

Defense: FY2014 Authorization and Appropriations

Congressional action on DOD’s FY2014 budget was hobbled by the prevailing uncertainty over the entire federal budget that dissipated only in mid-December, when Congress passed and the President signed H.J.Res. 59, which set binding caps on discretionary spending for defense and nondefense programs in FY2014. The bill’s defense cap, while about $31 billion below the amount requested for defense programs by President Obama, was more than $20 billion higher than the FY2014 defense cap that had been set by the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011 (P.L. 112-25).

President Obama’s FY2014 base budget...

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2013 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except for the Bureau of Reclamation, and for agencies within other departmentsincluding the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service within the Department of Health and Human Services. It also includes funding for arts and cultural agencies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and numerous other entities.

Neither the House nor the Senate passed a regular appropriations bill for FY2013 for Interior, Environment, and...

Samantar v. Yousef: The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) and Foreign Officials

On June 1, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court decided unanimously in Samantar v. Yousef that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), which governs the immunity of foreign states in U.S. courts, does not apply in suits against foreign officials. The ruling clarifies that officials of foreign governments, whether present or former, are not entitled to invoke the FSIA as a shield, unless the foreign state is the real party in interest in the case. Samantar’s particular facts involve the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) and the Torture Victims Protection Act (TVPA), but the ruling applies to all causes...

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination in Employment: A Legal Analysis of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)

Introduced in various incarnations in every congressional session since the 103rd Congress, the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA; H.R. 1755/S. 815 in the 113th Congress) would prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity by public and private employers in hiring, discharge, compensation, and other terms and conditions of employment. The stated purpose of the legislation is “to address the history and persistent, widespread pattern of discrimination, including unconstitutional discrimination, on the basis of...

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA): A Legal Overview

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 guarantees parental access to student education records, while limiting the disclosure of those records to third parties. The act, sometimes referred to as the Buckley Amendment, was designed to address parents’ growing concerns over privacy and the belief that parents should have the right to learn about the information schools were using to make decisions concerning their children.

No substantial legislative changes have been made to FERPA since 2001, but in 2011, the Department of Education (ED) issued controversial new...

Cancellation of Nongroup Health Insurance Policies

Congress has expressed interest in health insurance cancellations, in light of media reports stating that individuals have received cancellation letters. While cancellations are not a new industry practice, additional attention has focused on the more recent cancellations given that many of the insurance market reforms included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, P.L. 111-148, as amended) will become effective beginning in 2014. These cancellations and proposals to address them, including the Administration’s recently announced transitional policy, have been discussed...

EPA Standards for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from New Power Plants

As President Obama announced initiatives addressing climate change on June 25, 2013, a major focus of attention was the prospect of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards for fossil-fueled—mostly coal-fired—electric generating units (EGUs). EGUs (more commonly referred to as power plants) are the largest anthropogenic source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for about one-third of total U.S. GHGs. If the country is going to reduce its GHG emissions by significant amounts, as the President has committed to do, emissions from these sources will almost certainly need to be controlled....

Federal Financial Reporting: An Overview

Federal financial reporting—defined here as the process of recording retrospective executive department-level financial and performance information—can provide both a snapshot of the government’s financial health at a given moment in time, as well as an accounting of its financial performance over a particular time frame. Federal financial reports may help the federal government demonstrate accountability, provide information for policy formulation and planning, and be used to evaluate governmental performance. Multiple reports are required by law, and all are intended to permit...

Improper Payments and Recovery Audits: Legislation, Implementation, and Analysis

As Congress searches for ways to generate savings, reduce the deficit, and fund federal programs, it has held hearings and passed legislation to prevent and recover improper payments. Improper payments—which exceeded $115 billion in FY2011—are payments made in an incorrect amount, payments that should not have been made at all, or payments made to an ineligible recipient or for an ineligible purpose. The total amount of improper payments may be even higher than reported because several agencies have yet to determine improper payment amounts for many programs, including some with billions...

Government Shutdown: Operations of the Department of Defense During a Lapse in Appropriations

Because Congress did not provide any FY2014 funding for the Department of Defense (DOD) by October 1, 2013, the beginning of the new fiscal year, DOD, like other agencies, is now subject to a lapse in appropriations during which agencies are generally required to shut down. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), however, has identified a number of exceptions to the requirement that agencies cease operations, including a blanket exception for activities that “provide for the national security.”

With the approach of the Treasury Department’s estimate of an October 17, 2013, deadline for...

The Medical Device Excise Tax: A Legal Overview

On December 7, 2012, the Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service issued final regulations explaining the scope of the medical device excise tax created by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (HCERA), which modified the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. The new regulations were issued less than a month before the 2.3% excise tax took effect on January 1, 2013. This report provides a brief overview of the recently enacted Treasury regulations, analyzes the legal implications of the regulations, and answers frequently asked questions...

Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Appropriations Process: FAQs Regarding Potential Legislative Changes and Effects of a Government Shutdown

Congress has yet to complete legislative action on any of the 12 regular appropriations bills to fund the routine operations of federal agencies for FY2014, which began on October 1, 2013. Moreover, lawmakers have been unable to agree on a continuing appropriations bill, or continuing resolution (CR), to provide funding for part or all of the new fiscal year. As a result, the federal government has begun a shutdown of programs that lack budget authority to continue operations in FY2014, except in certain circumstances.

Congress is deeply divided over implementation of the Patient...

Issues in Homeland Security Policy for the 113th Congress

With the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), many observers have made a fresh assessment of where America’s homeland security enterprise stands today. DHS is currently the third-largest department in the federal government, although it does not incorporate all of the homeland security functions at the federal level. The definition of homeland security remains unsettled, and questions about the effectiveness and efficiency of the department have been raised since it was first proposed. Evolution of America’s response to terrorist threats has...

Preemption of Drug and Medical Device Claims: A Legal Overview

The interaction between state tort laws and the federal regulation of medical devices and drugs has been a source of constant litigation in recent years. In the last two decades, the Supreme Court has issued several decisions concerning whether the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) preempts state tort law. The results have been mixed: in some cases a person injured by an allegedly defective drug or device is barred from suing a manufacturer, whereas in other cases, the Supreme Court has allowed a lawsuit to proceed. Following these decisions, ambiguities exist concerning the...

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA): A Legal Overview

From the 19th century to the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in 1978, the federal government, states, and private adoption agencies sought to remove Indian children from their tribes and families in order to “civilize” the children or provide them with better lives. Congress passed the ICWA to end this practice and the high rate at which Indian children were being removed from their homes and placed with non-Indians.

One survey reported that 25%-35% of all Indian children were being separated from their families and placed in foster homes, adoptive homes, or institutions....

NSA Surveillance Leaks: Background and Issues for Congress

Recent attention concerning National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance pertains to unauthorized disclosures of two different intelligence collection programs. Since these programs were publicly disclosed over the course of two days in June, there has been confusion about what information is being collected and under which authorities the NSA is acting. This report clarifies the differences between the two programs and identifies potential issues that may help Members of Congress assess legislative proposals pertaining to NSA surveillance authorities.

The first program collects in bulk the...

Banning the Use of Racial Preferences in Higher Education: A Legal Analysis of Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action

In the more than three decades since the Supreme Court’s ruling in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke affirmed the constitutionality of affirmative action in public colleges and universities, many institutions of higher education have implemented race-conscious admissions programs in order to achieve a racially and ethnically diverse student body or faculty. Nevertheless, the pursuit of diversity in higher education remains controversial, and legal challenges to such admissions programs routinely continue to occur.

Currently, the Court is poised to consider a novel question...

Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co.: Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Under the Alien Tort Statute

The Alien Tort Statute (ATS) was originally drafted as part of the Judiciary Act of 1789 in order to provide foreign plaintiffs with a forum to remedy violations of customary international law. Now codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1350, the ATS states that “district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” After being raised in only a handful of early cases, the ATS lay dormant for almost 200 years until a 1980 case, Filartiga v. Pena-Irala, signaled a new use for the...

Telecommunications and Media Convergence: Selected Issues for Consideration

The passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act (P.L. 104-104) resulted in a major revision of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 151 et seq.) to address the emergence of competition in what were previously considered to be monopolistic markets. Since its passage, however, the advancement of broadband technology to supply data, voice, and video; the growing convergence of the telecommunications and media sectors; and the growth in demand for usable radio-frequency spectrum has led to a consensus that the laws that govern these sectors have become inadequate to address this rapidly...

Head Start: Designation Renewal System

Head Start is a federal program that has provided comprehensive early childhood development services (e.g., education, health, nutrition, and social services) to low-income children and their families since 1965. These services are intended to promote the school readiness of children by enhancing their cognitive, social, and emotional development. At the federal level, Head Start is administered by the Office of Head Start within the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Federal Head Start funds are provided directly to local...

Military Justice: Courts-Martial, an Overview

Recent high-profile military-related cases involving sexual assaults by U.S. servicemembers have resulted in increased public and congressional interest in military discipline and the military justice system. Questions have been raised regarding how allegations of sexual assault are addressed by the chain of command, the authority and process to convene a court-martial, and the ability of the convening authority to provide clemency to a servicemember convicted of an offense. Additionally, some military-related cases, including those of Major Nidal Hasan, the alleged shooter at Fort Hood,...

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: A Legal Analysis

In 1993, after many months of study, debate, and political controversy, Congress passed and President Clinton signed legislation establishing a revised “[p]olicy concerning homosexuality in the armed forces.” The legislation reflected a compromise regarding the U.S. military’s policy toward members of the Armed Forces who engage in homosexual conduct. This compromise, colloquially referred to as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT),” held that “[t]he presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to the...

Federal Disaster Assistance after Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Gustav, and Ike

This report provides information on federal financial assistance provided to the Gulf States after major disasters were declared in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas in response to the widespread destruction that resulted from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma in 2005 and Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008.

Congressional interest in Gulf Coast assistance has increased in recent years because of the significant amount of assistance provided to the region. Congress has also been interested in how the money has been spent, what resources have been provided to the region,...

Financial Services and General Government: FY2013 Appropriations

The Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill provides funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and more than two dozen independent agencies. Among those independent agencies are the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the United States Postal Service (USPS). The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is funded in the House through the...

Cloture Attempts on Nominations: Data and Historical Development

The motion for cloture is available in the Senate to limit debate on nominations, as on other matters. Cloture can, accordingly, be used to overcome a filibuster against a nomination. Table 6 lists all nominations against which cloture has been moved, showing the outcome of the cloture attempt and the final disposition of the nomination. It would be erroneous, however, to treat this table as a list of filibusters on nominations. Filibusters can occur without cloture being attempted, and cloture can be attempted when no filibuster is evident. Often today, moreover, it appears that Senate...

Department of Homeland Security: FY2013 Appropriations

This report describes the FY2013 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Administration requested $39.510 billion in adjusted net discretionary budget authority for DHS for FY2013, as part of an overall budget of $59.501 billion (including fees, trust funds, and other funding that is not appropriated or does not score against the budget caps). The request amounted to a $90 million, or 0.2%, decrease from the $39.600 billion enacted for FY2012 through the consolidated appropriations act (P.L. 112-74).

Congress did not enact final FY2013 appropriations legislation...

The Federal Rulemaking Process: An Overview

Federal regulation, like taxing and spending, is one of the basic tools of government used to implement public policy. Although not as frequently examined as congressional or presidential policy making, the process of developing and framing rules is viewed by some as central to the definition and implementation of public policy in the United States.

Regulations generally start with an act of Congress, and are the means by which statutes are implemented and specific requirements are established. The terms “rule” or “regulation” are often used interchangeably in discussions of the federal...

Budget “Sequestration” and Selected Program Exemptions and Special Rules

“Sequestration” is a process of automatic, largely across-the-board spending reductions under which budgetary resources are permanently canceled to enforce certain budget policy goals. It was first authorized by the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 (BBEDCA, Title II of P.L. 99-177, commonly known as the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act).

Sequestration is of current interest because it has been triggered as an enforcement tool under the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA, P.L. 112-25). Sequestration can also occur under the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010 (Statutory...

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2013 Appropriations

On February 13, 2012, President Obama submitted his FY2013 budget to Congress. The Administration requests a total of $62.076 billion for the agencies and bureaus funded as a part of the annual Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations bill. The Administration’s request includes $7.978 billion for the Department of Commerce, $28.079 billion for the Department of Justice, $25.090 billion for the science agencies, and $929.2 million for the related agencies. The FY2013 request for CJS is 1.9% greater than the FY2012 appropriation of $60.910 billion.

On April 19,...

An Overview of the “Patent Trolls” Debate

Congress has recently demonstrated significant ongoing interest in litigation by “patent assertion entities” (PAEs), which are colloquially known as “patent trolls” and sometimes referred to as “non-practicing entities” (NPEs). The PAE business model focuses not on developing or commercializing patented inventions but on buying and asserting patents, often against firms that have already begun using the claimed technology after developing it independently, unaware of the PAE patent. PAEs include not only freestanding businesses but patent holding subsidiaries, affiliates, and shells of...

Congressional Authority to Regulate Firearms: A Legal Overview

Congress has broad authority pursuant to the Commerce Clause to enact laws in areas that may overlap with traditional state jurisdiction. As such, Congress has passed complex statutory provisions that regulate the possession, receipt, transfer, and manufacture of firearms and ammunition. Generally, courts have upheld the validity of firearms laws pursuant to Congress’s commerce power. However, courts have been confronted with the question of whether federal laws can be applied to intrastate possession and intrastate transfers of firearms, or whether such application exceeds the authority...

Selected Resources on Federal Oversight of Compounding Pharmacies

An outbreak of a rare, non-contagious form of fungal meningitis in 2012 has sickened over 700 individuals in 20 states. There has been extensive policy discussion and news coverage about the safety of compounded drugs and the role of federal and state governments in regulating compounded drugs and compounding pharmacies. A number of policy questions about Food and Drug Administration authority and resources were raised in congressional hearings held by the Energy and Commerce Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee of the...

Analysis of Recent Proposals to Amend the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) to Create a Coal Combustion Residuals Permit Program

In the 112th Congress, the House passed two bills to address the long-standing regulatory impasse over coal combustion residuals (CCRs). The impasse originated in 1980, when an amendment to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) excluded CCRs from regulation as a hazardous waste, pending further study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). That study was required to identify adverse effects on human health and the environment, if any, of CCR disposal and use before determining whether the materials should be subject to hazardous waste requirements.

For over 30 years, EPA...

The Judgment Fund: History, Administration, and Common Usage

The Judgment Fund is a permanent, indefinite appropriation that was created by Congress in 1956 to pay judgments entered against the United States. Generally, the United States cannot be sued unless it has waived its sovereign immunity. Originally, such waivers were rare, so individual claims were assigned to congressional committees, which in turn appropriated funds to satisfy the judgments. Prior to the creation of the Judgment Fund, the number of claims grew rapidly, taking up an increasing amount of Congress’s time and resources. Eventually, the Judgment Fund was created to reduce...

State and Local Economic Sanctions: Constitutional Issues

States and localities have occasionally enacted measures restricting their agencies from conducting economic transactions with entities that do business with or in foreign countries whose conduct these jurisdictions find objectionable. While some maintain that sub-federal entities may enact such laws under sovereign proprietary powers and other constitutional prerogatives, others argue that these measures impermissibly invade federal commerce and foreign affairs authorities and may, in some cases, be preempted by federal statute. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held in Crosby...

FY2013 Supplemental Funding for Disaster Relief

On January 29, 2013, the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013, a $50.5 billion package of disaster assistance largely focused on responding to Hurricane Sandy, was enacted as P.L. 113-2.

In late October 2012, Hurricane Sandy impacted a wide swath of the East Coast of the United States, resulting in more than 120 deaths and the major disaster declarations for 12 states plus the District of Columbia. The Administration submitted a request to Congress on December 7, 2012, for $60.4 billion in supplemental funding and legislative provisions to address both the immediate losses and damages...

Nondiscrimination in Environmental Regulation: A Legal Analysis

The enactment of various conservation and environmental protection statutes in the 1960s and 1970s created a new awareness of environmental harms. At the same time, the civil rights initiatives also secured nondiscrimination in a number of legal rights, including education, employment, housing, voting, etc. Over the following decades, the development of these movements eventually converged, raising concerns that minority groups face disproportionate exposure to environmental risks and harms.

Individuals and communities claiming to be disproportionately and adversely affected by how an...

The Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA, P.L. 112-144)

The Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA), P.L. 112-144, amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) to expand the authority of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in performing its human drug, biological product, and medical device responsibilities. Frequently referred to as the user fee reauthorization act, FDASIA does include four titles relating to user fees. Titles I and II reauthorize the prescription drug and medical device user fee programs (PDUFA and MDUFA). Titles III and IV authorize new user fee programs for generic drugs (GDUFA) and...

Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction over Non-Indians in S. 47 and H.R. 11, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013

Domestic and dating violence in Indian country are reportedly at epidemic proportions. However, there is a practical jurisdictional issue when the violence involves a non-Indian perpetrator and an Indian victim. Indian tribes only have criminal jurisdiction over crimes involving Indian perpetrators and victims within their jurisdictions. Most states only have jurisdiction over crimes involving a non-Indian perpetrator and a non-Indian victim within Indian country located in the state. Although the federal government has jurisdiction over crime committed by non-Indians against Indians in...

U.S. Trade Remedy Laws and Nonmarket Economies: A Legal Overview

Two major U.S. trade remedies are antidumping (AD) law, which combats the sale of imported products at less than their fair market value, and countervailing duty (CVD) law, which aims to offset foreign government subsidization of imported goods. If dumped or subsidized imports are found to cause or threaten material injury to a domestic industry, antidumping or countervailing duties will be imposed. Both remedies are available when goods are imported from competitor countries with free market policies. As of 1984, however, only AD law had been applied to goods from nonmarket or...

Cybersecurity: Cyber Crime Protection Security Act (S. 2111, 112th Congress)—A Legal Analysis

The Cyber Crime Protection Security Act (S. 2111) would enhance the criminal penalties for the cybercrimes outlawed in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Those offenses include espionage, hacking, fraud, destruction, password trafficking, and extortion committed against computers and computer networks. S. 2111 contains some of the enhancements approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee when it reported the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act (S. 1151), S.Rept. 112-91 (2011).

The bill would (1) establish a three-year mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for aggravated damage to a...

Immigration-Related Detention

The 113th Congress may consider a comprehensive reform of the nation’s immigration system (CIR), and during such discussions, the detention of noncitizens in the United States might be an issue. Congress may choose to reevaluate detention priorities (i.e., who should be detained, when they should be detained) and detention resources. Under the law, there is broad authority to detain foreign nationals (aliens/noncitizens) while awaiting a determination of whether the noncitizen should be removed from the United States. The law also mandates that certain categories of aliens are subject to...

Congressional Responses to Selected Work Stoppages in Professional Sports

Prior to the 2011 National Football League (NFL) lockout, developments in professional football’s labor-management relations had prompted questions regarding how, when, and in what manner a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) might be drafted. Interest in this matter included, on the part of some observers, questions about how Congress responded to previous work stoppages in professional sports. In attempting to address this particular question, this report examines congressional responses to the 1982 and 1987 work stoppages in the NFL. With the conclusion of the 2011 NFL lockout in...

Tobacco: Selected Legal Issues

Over the past couple of decades, the courts and Congress have been grappling with tobacco-related issues, among them, the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) authority to regulate certain tobacco products under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA); the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) that resulted from lawsuits brought by states’ attorneys general against tobacco companies; federal, private party, and foreign lawsuits against tobacco companies; limits on tobacco advertising; restrictions on selling and distributing tobacco to minors; and the Federal Trade Commission’s...

Trade Preferences for Developing Countries and the World Trade Organization (WTO)

Article I:1 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) requires World Trade Organization (WTO) Members to grant most-favored-nation (MFN) treatment “immediately and unconditionally” to like products of other Members with respect to tariffs and other trade-related measures. Programs such as the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), under which developed countries grant preferential tariff rates to developing country goods, are facially inconsistent with this obligation because these programs accord goods of some countries more favorable tariff treatment than that accorded to...

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act: An Overview of Limiting Tort Liability of Gun Manufacturers

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA, P.L. 109-92) was passed in 2005. The PLCAA generally shields licensed manufacturers, dealers, and sellers of firearms or ammunition, as well as trade associations, from any civil action “resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse” of a firearm or ammunition, but lists six exceptions where civil suits may be maintained. This act was introduced in response to litigation brought by municipalities and victims of shooting incidents against federally licensed firearms manufacturers and dealers, some of whom were located outside the state...

Presidential Reorganization Authority: History, Recent Initiatives, and Options for Congress

On January 13, 2012, President Barack Obama announced that he would ask Congress to reinstate so-called presidential reorganization authority, and his Administration conveyed a legislative proposal that would renew this authority to Congress on February 16, 2012. Bills based on the proposed language were subsequently introduced in the Senate (S. 2129) and the House (H.R. 4409) during the 112th Congress.

Should this authority be granted, the President indicated that his first submitted plan would propose consolidation of six business and trade-related agencies into one: U.S. Department of...

Title IX, Sex Discrimination, and Intercollegiate Athletics: A Legal Overview

Enacted four decades ago, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs or activities. Although the Title IX regulations bar recipients of federal financial assistance from discriminating on the basis of sex in a wide range of educational programs or activities, such as student admissions, scholarships, and access to courses, the statute is perhaps best known for prohibiting sex discrimination in intercollegiate athletics.

Indeed, the provisions regarding athletics have proved to be one of the more...

Introduction to the Federal Budget Process

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov 98-721 Summary Budgeting for the federal government is an enormously complex process. It entails dozens of subprocesses, countless rules and procedures, the efforts of tens of thousands of staff persons in the executive and legislative branches, millions of work hours each year, and the active participation of the President and congressional leaders, as well as other Members of Congress and executive officials. The enforcement of budgetary decisions involves a complex web of procedures that encompasses both congressional and executive...

The Indian Trust Fund Litigation: An Overview of Cobell v. Salazar

The settlement reached in Cobell v. Salazar was authorized by the Claims Resolution Act of 2010 on December 8, 2010. Under the terms of the settlement, the United States government will pay $1.4 billion to members of the class who sought to have a historical accounting of their IIM accounts (an abbreviation for Individual Indian Monies). An additional $2 billion will be provided by the government for the purpose of consolidating fractionated trust and restricted lands.

First filed in 1996, Cobell v. Salazar involved the Department of the Interior’s (DOI’s) management of several money...

Contracting Programs for Alaska Native Corporations: Historical Development and Legal Authorities

The widely reported increase in federal contract dollars awarded to Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) and their subsidiaries in recent years has generated congressional and public interest in the legal authorities that govern contracting with these entities. Currently, federal agencies may contract with ANCs or their subsidiaries under several different statutory authorities. These include (1) the Armed Services Procurement Act (ASPA) and the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act (FPASA); (2) Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act; and (3) Section 15 of the Small Business Act....

African American Members of the United States Congress: 1870-2012

There are 43 African American Members serving in the 112th Congress, all in the House of Representatives. There have been 133 African American Members of Congress: 127 have been elected to the House; 5 have been elected to the Senate; and 1 has been appointed to the Senate. There have been 104 Democrats, 101 in the House and 3 in the Senate; and 29 Republicans, 26 in the House and 3 in the Senate.

The number of African American Members has steadily increased since the first African Americans entered Congress in 1870. There were fewer than 10 Members until the 91st Congress (1969-1971). In...

Government Transparency and Secrecy: An Examination of Meaning and Its Use in the Executive Branch

From the beginnings of the American federal government, Congress has required executive branch agencies to release or otherwise make available government information and records. Some scholars and statesmen, including James Madison, thought access to information—commonly referred to in contemporary vernacular as “transparency”—was an essential cornerstone of democratic governance. Today, the federal government attempts to balance access to information with the need to protect certain information (including national security information and trade secrets) in order to achieve transparency....

Roles and Duties of a Member of Congress: Brief Overview

The duties carried out by a Member of Congress are understood to include representation, legislation, and constituent service and education, as well as political and electoral activities. The expectations and duties of a Member of Congress are extensive, encompassing several roles that could be full-time jobs by themselves. Despite the acceptance of these roles and other activities as facets of the Member’s job, there is no formal set of requirements or official explanation of what roles might be played as Members carry out the duties of their offices. In the absence of formal authorities,...

Contemporary Developments in Presidential Elections

This report considers contemporary developments in presidential elections. It emphasizes three topics chosen for their recurring importance and notable recent developments: (1) nominating procedures; (2) campaign finance; and (3) the electoral college. The report highlights significant developments in these areas, particularly for the 2008 and 2012 elections. It also provides background information about the presidential election process in general. Other CRS products cited throughout this report provide additional information about the topics introduced here.

As the report notes, 2012 was...

FDA’s Authority to Regulate Drug Compounding: A Legal Analysis

In light of the recent meningitis outbreak, believed to have been caused by a contaminated compounded steroid injection, the regulation of drug compounding has received significant attention. Compounding is traditionally defined as a process of combining, mixing, or altering ingredients in order to create a medication for a particular patient. However, as in the case of the pharmacy that produced the steroid medication, concerns have been raised about compounding pharmacies producing drugs on a larger scale, something more akin to drug manufacturing. While drug compounding has historically...

Congressional Oversight

Congressional oversight of policy implementation and administration has occurred throughout the history of the United States government under the Constitution. Oversight—the review, monitoring, and supervision of operations and activities—takes a variety of forms and utilizes various techniques. These range from specialized investigations by select committees to annual appropriations hearings, and from informal communications between Members or congressional staff and executive personnel to the use of extra-congressional mechanisms, such as offices of inspector general and study...

Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board: New Independent Agency Status

This report examines initial responses to the 9/11 Commission's call for a board to oversee adherence to presidential guidelines on information sharing that safeguard the privacy of individuals about whom information is shared, and the implementation of this board.

The Posse Comitatus Act and Related Matters: The Use of the Military to Execute Civilian Law

The Constitution permits Congress to authorize the use of the militia “to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.” And it guarantees the states protection against invasion or usurpation of their “republican form of government,” and, upon the request of the state legislature, against “domestic violence.” These constitutional provisions are reflected in the Insurrection Acts, which have been invoked numerous times both before and after passage of the Posse Comitatus Act, 18 U.S.C. Section 1385, in 1878. Congress has also enacted a number of statutes that...

501(c)(4)s and the Gift Tax: Legal Analysis

This report discusses whether substantial donations to tax-exempt 501(c)(4) organizations are subject to the federal gift tax.

National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius: Affordable Care Act Litigation Resources

In March 2010, Congress passed P.L. 111-148, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA), and amended it by passing P.L. 111-152, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (HCERA). Subsequently, lawsuits were filed in multiple courts challenging various aspects of the new law. Many of these cases were heard in the district courts and a few were appealed to appellate courts. In November 2011, the Supreme Court granted three petitions for certiorari in one of these cases. On June 28, 2012, the Court issued its decision in the case, National Federation of...

501(c)(3) Hospitals: Proposed IRS Rules under Section 9007 of the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (§9007) created several additional requirements for organizations that operate one or more hospital facilities seeking to maintain or achieve 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. Specifically, current and future hospital facilities and organizations will have to (1) regularly perform a community health needs assessment, (2) create and publicize a financial assistance policy, (3) impose limitations on charges, and (4) adopt certain billing and collections policies. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Department of the Treasury, recently released proposed regulations...

Religious Discrimination in Public Schools: A Legal Analysis

Reports of harassment in schools, including examples based on religious identity and practices, have raised public attention and congressional interest in the issue of religious discrimination in schools. Congressional attention to the issue has focused on efforts to prevent discrimination in programs receiving federal funding, namely, public schools. The 112th Congress has introduced proposals (e.g., the Student Non-Discrimination Act) to curtail harassment in public schools and may consider related issues in the potential reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act....

ACA: A Brief Overview of the Law, Implementation, and Legal Challenges

In March 2010, the 111th Congress passed health reform legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148), as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (HCERA; P.L. 111-152) and other laws. ACA increases access to health insurance coverage, expands federal private health insurance market requirements, and requires the creation of health insurance exchanges to provide individuals and small employers with access to insurance. It also expands Medicaid coverage. The costs to the federal government of expanding health insurance and Medicaid...

FDA User Fees and the Regulation of Drugs, Biologics, and Devices: Comparative Analysis of S. 3187 and H.R. 5651

UPDATE: On June 18, 2012, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce distributed the text of an agreement that combined provisions of S. 3187 [ES], as passed by the Senate on May 24, 2012, and H.R. 5651 [EH], as passed by the House on May 30, 2012. The full House passed the new version by voice vote under suspension of the rules on June 20, 2012. On June 25, 2012, the Senate voted for cloture to limit debate on that bill, S. 3187 [EAH], the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act of 2012 [hereinafter referred...

Holocaust-Era Insurance Claims: Background and Proposed Legislation

In November 1998, U.S. insurance regulators, six European insurers, international Jewish organizations, and the State of Israel agreed to establish the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC). ICHEIC was tasked with identifying policyholders and administering payment of hundreds of thousands of Holocaust-era insurance policies alleged never to have been honored by European insurance companies. It ended its claims process in March 2007, having facilitated the payment of just over $300 million to 47,353 claimants. An additional $190 million was allocated to a...

Submission of the President’s Budget in Transition Years

At the time of a presidential transition, one question commonly asked is whether the outgoing or incoming President submits the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Under past practices, outgoing Presidents in transition years submitted a budget to Congress just prior to leaving office, and incoming Presidents usually revised them. Six incoming Presidents—Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan—revised their predecessor’s budget shortly after taking office, while only two Presidents during this period, Lyndon Johnson and George H. W....

Congressional Oversight of Intelligence: Current Structure and Alternatives

This report describes the current select committees on intelligence; characteristics and a model for a possible joint committee; recent actions by Congress; and obstacles affecting legislative oversight in the field.

Passenger Train Access to Freight Railroad Track

Pressure is building for greater passenger use of freight railroad rights of way. Freight railroad rights of way are owned by private, for-profit corporations, and the routes potentially most useful for passenger service are typically the busiest with freight traffic. In many cases, states or commuter rail authorities have reached agreement with freight railroads to share either their track or right of way. However, unlike Amtrak, which has eminent domain power over freight facilities and can appeal to a federal agency to determine the terms of its access to freight track, other would-be...

The Use of Discretionary Authority in the Housing Choice Voucher Program: A CRS Study

The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program is the federal government’s largest needs-based housing assistance program, in terms of both the number of families served and the cost to the federal budget. Under the program, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides funds to local public housing authorities (PHAs), which, in turn, provide subsidies to low-income households to use to rent private market apartments. Although the basic structure of the program is governed by federal law and regulations, PHAs have discretion to determine many important elements. How...

Trade Law: An Introduction to Selected International Agreements and U.S. Laws

The United States has trade obligations under multilateral trade agreements, including the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the other World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements, as well as bilateral and regional trade agreements. A variety of domestic laws implement these agreements, prescribe U.S. trade policy goals, or regulate international trade to achieve specific foreign policy objectives. This report provides an overview of both international and domestic trade law, focusing on a select group of international agreements and statutes that are most commonly implicated...

An Overview and Analysis of H.R. 3010, the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2011

In the fall of 2011, a group of Members from the House and the Senate introduced the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2011 (RAA, H.R. 3010 and S. 1606). The RAA would make the most significant legislative changes to the rulemaking process since the enactment of the Administrative Procedure Act in 1946. The RAA would modify and enact into law numerous new general procedures for rulemaking that appear in narrower form in existing law, executive orders, and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) documents. The House of Representatives passed H.R. 3010 on December 2, 2011. The Obama...

Compensating State and Local Governments for the Tax-Exempt Status of Federal Lands: What Is Fair and Consistent?

The federal government owns significant amounts of land and resources that are exempt from state and local taxation. State and local governments provide a wide variety of services—education, social services, public safety, transportation facilities, utilities, and much more. These services are funded through intergovernmental transfers (federal grants to state governments and federal and state grants to local governments), user fees, and state and local levied taxation—property taxes, income taxes, sales and use taxes, excise taxes, severance taxes, and more.

Congress has established...

Dispute Settlement in the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA)

The U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA), which was approved by Congress in P.L. 112-41 and entered into force on March 15, 2012, follows current U.S. FTA practice in containing two types of formal dispute settlement: (1) State-State, applicable to disputes between the KORUS FTA Parties, and (2) investor-State, applicable to claims against one Party by an investor of the other Party for breach of an agreement investment obligation. An unsuccessful defendant in a State-State dispute would generally be expected to remove the complained-of measure; remedies for non-compliance...

Executive Branch Reorganization Initiatives During the 112th Congress: A Brief Overview

On January 13, 2012, President Barack Obama announced a proposal for a federal government reorganization. This reorganization initially would involve two legislative stages. First, the President would ask Congress to reinstate the so-called “President’s reorganization authority,” an expedited process that was available to Presidents periodically between 1932 and 1984. A legislative proposal that would renew this authority was conveyed to Congress on February 16, 2012. A bill that is substantively similar to the Administration’s request, S. 2129, was subsequently introduced in the Senate....

Financial Services and General Government: FY2012 Appropriations

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and more than two dozen independent agencies. Among those independent agencies are the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the United States Postal Service (USPS). The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is funded in the House through the...

Religious Exemptions for Mandatory Health Care Programs: A Legal Analysis

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148), enacted in 2010, established requirements for employers and individuals to ensure the provision or availability of certain health care coverage. Additionally, the threat of bioterrorism has caused some to consider the possibility of introducing vaccination programs to prevent an outbreak of serious illnesses. Programs like health care coverage and vaccinations have the potential to violate certain religious beliefs and therefore may conflict with the First Amendment. In the continuing debate over issues for which mandatory...

Issues in International Trade Law: Restricting Exports of Electronic Waste

Electronic waste (e-waste) is a term that loosely refers to obsolete, broken, or irreparable electronic devices like televisions, computer central processing units (CPUs), computer monitors, laptops, printers, scanners, and associated wiring. Because e-waste is generated in high volumes in the United States and contains hazardous materials like lead, mercury, and chromium, it is a growing area of domestic concern. Currently, e-waste is essentially unregulated at the federal level and can be disposed of with common household garbage in municipal solid waste landfills or incinerators....

Preventive Health Services Regulations: Religious Institutions’ Objections to Contraceptive Coverage

Since the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, controversy has surrounded the applicability of requirements for health plans and health insurers to cover certain recommended preventive health services, including a range of contraceptive services, without cost sharing. The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury have issued regulations that provide an exemption from ACA for certain religious employers who have religious objections to contraceptives. The exemption appears to cover churches and church associations, but...

Homeland Security Department: FY2012 Appropriations

This report describes the FY2012 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Administration requested a total appropriation (mandatory and discretionary) of $45,015 million in budget authority for FY2012. This amounts to a $1,610 million, or a 3.7%, increase from the $43,405 million enacted for FY2011 through the continuing resolution (P.L. 112-10). Total budget authority, including appropriations, fee revenues, and trust funds in the Administration’s budget request for DHS for FY2012 amounts to $57,079 million as compared to $55,783 million enacted for FY2011.

Net...

Sourcing Policy: Statutes and Statutory Provisions

This report discusses the federal government's sourcing policy, which dates to the 1950s with the publication of three Bureau of the Budget bulletins. Congressional interest and involvement in sourcing policy, as measured by legislation that has been enacted, has grown over the years. Recently enacted provisions have addressed, for example, protest rights for federal government employees, funding limits on competitive sourcing activities, the development of a single consistent definition of “inherently governmental,” and the development of “insourcing” guidelines.

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2012 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except for the Bureau of Reclamation, and for agencies within other departmentsincluding the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service (IHS) within the Department of Health and Human Services. It also includes funding for arts and cultural agencies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and numerous other entities.

On December 23, 2011, Congress enacted H.R. 2055, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-74)....

FY2012 Appropriations Overview: Status of Discretionary Appropriations Legislation

This report presents an overview of proposed and enacted FY2012 appropriations legislation. The report consists primarily of a table showing discretionary appropriations, by bill title, for each of the proposed and enacted appropriations bills, together with the comparable figures enacted for FY2011. The product is intended to allow for broad comparison between the House and Senate FY2012 proposals, the Administration’s FY2012 request, and the FY2011 and FY2012 enacted appropriations. The figures do not necessarily reflect budget scorekeeping adjustments allowable under the Budget Control...

Online Copyright Infringement and Counterfeiting: Legislation in the 112th Congress

The global nature of the Internet offers expanded commercial opportunities for intellectual property (IP) rights holders but also increases the potential for copyright and trademark infringement. Piracy of the content created by movie, music, and software companies and sales of counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs and consumer products negatively impact the American economy and can pose risks to the health and safety of U.S. citizens. Although rights holders and law enforcement agencies currently have some legal tools to pursue domestic infringers, they face difficult challenges in enforcing...

Duration of Continuing Resolutions in Recent Years

Continuing appropriations acts (commonly known as continuing resolutions or CRs), which provide interim funding in the event that regular appropriations have not been enacted, have been an integral component of the annual appropriations process for decades. Whenever action on one or more of the regular appropriations acts for a fiscal year is incomplete, an issue that arises is the appropriate duration of any period for which continuing resolutions will be used.

Continuing resolutions may have a relatively short duration in the expectation that action on the regular appropriations acts...

Riegel v. Medtronic, Inc.: Federal Preemption of State Tort Law Regarding Medical Devices with FDA Premarket Approval

In Riegel v. Medtronic, Inc., the United States Supreme Court held in an 8 to 1 decision that if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) grants premarket approval (PMA) to a medical device, the device manufacturer is immune from certain suits under state tort law, due to an express preemption provision in the Medical Device Amendments of 1976 (MDA). This holding establishes that FDA PMA preempts claims such as strict liability, breach of implied warranty, and negligence in design, testing, manufacturing, labeling, distribution, sale, inspection, or marketing of the device to the extent that...

Text and Multimedia Messaging: Issues for Congress

The first text messages were sent during 1992 and 1993, although commercially, text messaging was not widely offered or used until 2000. Even then, messages could only be sent between users subscribed to the same wireless carrier; for example, Sprint customers could only exchange messages with other Sprint customers. In November 2001, however, wireless service providers began to connect their networks for text messaging, allowing subscribers on different networks to exchange text messages. Since then, the number of text messages in the United States has grown to over 48 billion messages...

Application of Religious Law in U.S. Courts: Selected Legal Issues

Controversy has surrounded attempts by several state legislatures to limit the consideration of Islamic religious law (commonly referred to as sharia) or religious law generally, in domestic courts. In one of the most publicized examples, Oklahoma voters definitively approved a state constitutional amendment that prohibited state courts from considering “sharia law,” but the amendment has not taken effect pending the outcome of a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality. Other states have introduced variations of this limitation, with some generally prohibiting the use of religious...

Gray Area Retirees—Issues and Legislation

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides a broad range of benefits and services to American veterans and to certain members of their families. In addition, the Department of Defense (DOD) offers a variety of benefits to veterans who are also military retirees. When members of the National Guard or the reserves who have not yet reached the age of 60 retire (usually after at least 20 years of service), they may not necessarily meet the statutory definition of “veterans” for VA purposes or be eligible for DOD health benefits. These military retirees are commonly known as...

Recall of Legislators and the Removal of Members of Congress from Office

Under the United States Constitution and congressional practice, Members of Congress may have their services ended prior to the normal expiration of their constitutionally established terms of office by their resignation or death, or by action of the house of Congress in which they are a Member by way of an “expulsion,” or by a finding that in accepting a subsequent “incompatible” public office, the Member would be deemed to have vacated his congressional seat.

Under Article I, Section 5, clause 2, of the Constitution, a Member of Congress may be removed from office before the normal...

Presidential Signing Statements: Constitutional and Institutional Implications

Presidential signing statements are official pronouncements issued by the President contemporaneously to the signing of a bill into law that, in addition to commenting on the law generally, have been used to forward the President’s interpretation of the statutory language; to assert constitutional objections to the provisions contained therein; and, concordantly, to announce that the provisions of the law will be administered in a manner that comports with the administration’s conception of the President’s constitutional prerogatives. While the history of presidential issuance of signing...

State Efforts to Deter Unauthorized Aliens: Legal Analysis of Arizona’s S.B. 1070

On April 23, 2010, Arizona enacted S.B. 1070, which is designed to discourage and deter the entry or presence of aliens who lack lawful status under federal immigration law. Potentially sweeping in effect, the measure requires state and local law enforcement officials to facilitate the detection of unauthorized aliens in their daily enforcement activities. The measure also establishes criminal penalties under state law, in addition to those already imposed under federal law, for alien smuggling offenses and failure to carry or complete alien registration documents. Further, it makes it a...

State and Local Pension Plans and Fiscal Distress: A Legal Overview

Controversy has arisen over the funded status of some state and local government pension plans. It has been reported that several of these plans have not fully funded their future obligations and they could face substantial future shortfalls. While there is considerable debate over whether this is a problem that needs to be addressed, and if so, the extent and the possible causes of these shortfalls, some estimates have placed the combined unfunded liabilities anywhere from hundreds of billions of dollars to over $3 trillion. Governments facing investment losses combined with lower...

Patent Reform: Issues in the Biomedical and Software Industries

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, P.L. 112-29, passed Congress following several years of legislative debate over patent reform. This attention to patent policy reflects a recognition of the increasing importance of intellectual property to U.S. innovation. Patent ownership is perceived as an incentive to the technological advancement that leads to economic growth. As such, the number of patent applications and grants has grown significantly, as have the type and breadth of inventions that can be patented.

Along with the expansion in the number and range of patents, there were growing...

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2012 Appropriations

This report provides an overview of actions taken by Congress to provide FY2012 appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) accounts.

On November 18, 2011, President Obama signed into law the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-55), which includes the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012 (Division B). The act includes $60.91 billion for CJS, of which $7.808 billion is for the Department of Commerce, $27.408 billion is for the Department of Justice, $24.838 billion is for the science...

Veterans Benefits: Federal Employment Assistance

There are federal employment and training programs and policies specifically targeted to help veterans seeking employment in the civilian economy. Transition assistance programs are operated by the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Department of Labor (DOL) to assist servicemembers as they prepare to leave the military. DOL operates grant programs to states to provide outreach and assistance to veterans in finding civilian employment. In addition, the federal government has policies (including veterans preference) that assist veterans in...

Campaign Finance Policy After Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission: Issues and Options for Congress

Following the Supreme Court’s January 21, 2010, ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, questions have emerged about which policy options could be available to Congress. This report provides an overview of selected campaign finance policy options that may be relevant. It also briefly comments on how Citizens United might affect political advertising. A complete understanding of how Citizens United will affect the campaign and policy environments is likely to be unavailable until at least the conclusion of the 2010 election cycle.

As Congress considers legislative...

A Federal Sunset Commission: Review of Proposals and Actions

The sunset concept provides for programs and agencies to terminate automatically on a periodic basis unless explicitly renewed by law. Beginning in the 107th Congress, Representative Kevin Brady introduced a series of bills to create a federal sunset commission, modeled on the sunset review process in Texas (including most recently H.R. 393 in the 111th Congress).

Former President George W. Bush called for creation of a federal sunset commission in his FY2006 budget submission. Bills reflecting an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) draft proposal were introduced in the 109th Congress,...

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FOIA: Information Access Policy for the Government-Sponsored Enterprises

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA; 5 U.S.C. §552) grants the public presumptive access—without explanation or justification—to certain existing, identifiable, unpublished, executive branch agency records. FOIA includes nine categories of exemption from disclosure, including information that could prompt national security concerns, invade privacy, or damage financial markets, among other concerns. Disputes over the accessibility of requested records can be appealed administratively or ultimately settled in court.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are congressionally chartered, stockholder-owned...

Palestinian Initiatives for 2011 at the United Nations

Many Members of Congress are actively interested in the question of possible U.N. action on Palestinian statehood. Congress could try to influence U.S. policy and the choices of other actors through the authorization and appropriation of foreign assistance to the Palestinians, the United Nations, and Israel and through oversight of the Obama Administration’s diplomatic efforts. Changes to aid levels may depend on congressional views of how maintaining or changing aid levels could affect U.S. leverage and credibility in future regional and global contexts.

Officials from the Palestine...

Issues in Homeland Security Policy for the 112th Congress

With the tenth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, many observers are making a fresh assessment of where America’s homeland security enterprise stands today. In the wake of those attacks, Congress made extensive changes to the structure and function of many agencies, establishing a consolidated Department of Homeland Security and dedicating significant additional resources expressly to the security of the homeland. After the initial surge of activity, evolution of America’s response has continued under the leadership of different Administrations, Congresses, and in a...

FY2011 Appropriations: A Side-by-Side Comparison of Key Proposals and Enacted Legislation

FY2011 funding levels were not enacted in the 111th Congress. Thus, the debate over FY2011 appropriations continued into the 112th Congress and FY2011 spending proposals became a key focal point in the budget debates between the now-Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the Obama Administration.

This report was originally intended to facilitate comparison of three key spending proposals for FY2011—the Administration’s budget request, H.R. 1, and S.Amdt. 149 to H.R. 1—to FY2010 enacted funding levels. It has been updated to include the enacted FY2011 appropriations in P.L....

Somalia: Current Conditions and Prospects for a Lasting Peace

Proposals to Reform “Holds” in the Senate

“Holds” are an informal senatorial custom unrecognized in Senate rules or precedents. They allow Senators to give notice to their respective party leader that certain measures or matters should not be brought up on the floor. This report examines, over a more than three-decade period, a wide range of proposals to reform holds.

Regulatory Reform Legislation in the 112th Congress

A Legal Analysis of S. 968, the PROTECT IP Act

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2011 Appropriations

This report provides an overview of actions taken by Congress to provide FY2011 appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS). It also provides an overview of FY2010 appropriations for agencies and bureaus funded as a part of the annual appropriation for CJS.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (P.L. 111-117), included a total of $68.705 billion in new budget authority for CJS. Of the $68.705 billion appropriated for FY2010, $14.035 billion was for the Department of Commerce, $28.078 billion was for the Department of Justice, $25.658 billion was for the...

Homeland Security Department: FY2011 Appropriations

This report describes the FY2011 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Administration requested a net appropriation of $45.0 billion in budget authority for FY2011. This amounts to a $1.1 billion, or a 2.4% increase from the $43.9 billion enacted for FY2010. Total budget authority requested by the Administration for DHS for FY2011 amounts to $52.6 billion as compared to $51.7 billion enacted for FY2010.

Net requested appropriations for major agencies within DHS were as follows: Customs and Border Protection (CBP), $9,809 million; Immigration and Customs...

Other Transaction (OT) Authority

An other transaction (OT) is a special vehicle used by federal agencies for obtaining or advancing research and development (R&D) or prototypes. An OT is not a contract, grant, or cooperative agreement, and there is no statutory or regulatory definition of "other transaction." Only those agencies that have been provided OT authority may engage in other transactions.

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2011 Appropriations

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President, the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and 26 independent agencies. Among the independent agencies funded by the bill are the Small Business Administration, the Office of Personnel Management, and the United States Postal Service.

The FSGG FY2010 appropriations were provided through P.L. 111-117, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010. P.L. 111-117 provided $46.265 billion for FSGG agencies in FY2010. In addition, P.L. 111-80...

Federal Material Witness Statute: A Legal Overview of 18 U.S.C. 3144

This is an overview of the law under the federal material witness statute which authorizes the arrest of material witnesses, permits their release under essentially the same bail laws that apply to federal criminal defendants, but favors their release after their depositions have been taken.

Legislative efforts in the 109th Congress to amend the provisions never fully developed. Witnesses at Congressional oversight hearings did alleged that the authority to arrest and hold material witnesses until their appearance at federal criminal proceedings (including grand jury proceedings) had been...

Ashcroft v. al-Kidd: Official Immunity and Material Witnesses Before the Supreme Court

Public officials cannot be sued personally for injuries resulting from the performance of their duties. They lose this qualified immunity when the injuries resulted from their violation of clearly established law. In Ashcroft v. al-Kidd, the Supreme Court concluded that clearly established Fourth Amendment jurisprudence did not forbid the Attorney General from encouraging the use of the federal material witness statute as a pretext to detain and question a potential criminal suspect.

The Court left for another day several related issues. Does the material witness statute permit...

Political Status of Puerto Rico: Options for Congress

Interagency Collaborative Arrangements and Activities: Types, Rationales, Considerations

Interagency collaboration among federal agencies with overlapping jurisdictions and shared responsibilities is not a new phenomenon. Attempts to foster cooperation among agencies, reduce their number in particular policy areas, or clarify the division of labor among them date to the early days of the republic. Such arrangements are increasing in the contemporary era in number, prominence, and proposals across virtually all policy areas. The reasons for the current upsurge are the growth in government responsibilities, cross-cutting programs, and their complexity; certain crises which...

Accountable Care Organizations and the Medicare Shared Savings Program

The provision of health care in the United States has been described as fragmented, with patients seeing multiple unrelated providers. Fragmented care has been found to be, among other things, both costly, since provider payments are not linked to performance or outcomes and services can be duplicative, and of lower quality, since providers lack financial incentives to coordinate care. Section 3022 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148, PPACA), as amended, directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (the “Secretary”) to implement an integrated care delivery...

Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico: CRS Experts

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2011 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except for the Bureau of Reclamation, and for agencies within other departmentsincluding the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service (IHS) within the Department of Health and Human Services. It also includes funding for arts and cultural agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency, and numerous other entities.

The FY2011 appropriation for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies was $29.67 billion, a reduction of $2.65...

The Federal Workforce: Characteristics and Trends

This report describes the characteristics and trends of the United States federal government workforce, which many consider to reflect the gender, racial, and ethnic diversity of the country as a whole.

Federal Rulemaking: The Role of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 created the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Executive Order 12291, issued by President Reagan in 1981, gave OIRA the responsibility to review the substance of agencies’ regulatory actions before publication in the Federal Register. The office’s regulatory review role was initially highly controversial, and it has been criticized at different times as being both too active and too passive regarding agencies’ rules. Although OIRA has a number of specific statutory responsibilities (e.g.,...

The Origination Clause of the U.S. Constitution: Interpretation and Enforcement

Article I, Section 7, clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution is known as the Origination Clause because it provides that “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.” The meaning and application of this clause has evolved through practice and precedent since the Constitution was drafted.

The Constitution does not provide specific guidelines as to what constitutes a “bill for raising revenue.” This report analyzes congressional and court precedents regarding what constitutes such a bill. The precedents and practices of the House apply a broad standard and...

Adaptive Management for Ecosystem Restoration: Analysis and Issues for Congress

Adaptive management is the process of incorporating new scientific and programmatic information into the implementation of a project or plan to ensure that the goals of the activity are being reached efficiently. It promotes flexible decision-making to modify existing activities or create new activities if new circumstances arise (e.g., new scientific information) or if projects are not meeting their goals.

The complex and dynamic nature of ecosystems make their restoration and management amenable to an adaptive management approach, and the concept is being implemented at scales that...

Legal Issues Related to Proving “Service Connection” for VA Disability Compensation: Statutory Presumptions

This report provides a basic overview of various statutory presumptions that help veterans substantiate a service-connected claim for disability compensation.

Federal Employee Benefits and Same-Sex Partnerships

This report examines the current policies on the application of benefits to same-sex partners and reviews the policy debate on extending benefits to same-sex partners. This report is about federal benefits for same-sex partners and not about same-sex relationships in general.

The Regulatory Flexibility Act: Implementation Issues and Proposed Reforms

The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) of 1980 (5 U.S.C. §§601-612) requires federal agencies to assess the impact of their forthcoming regulations on “small entities” (i.e., small businesses, small governments, and small not-for-profit organizations). For example, the act requires the analysis to describe why a regulatory action is being considered; the small entities to which the rule will apply and, where feasible, an estimate of their number; the projected reporting, recordkeeping, and other compliance requirements of the rule; and any significant alternatives to the rule that would...

U.S.-Latin America Trade: Recent Trends and Policy Issues

Trade is one of the more enduring issues in contemporary U.S.-Latin America relations. Latin America is far from the largest U.S. regional trade partner, but historically is the fastest-growing one. Between 1998 and 2009, total U.S. merchandise trade (exports plus imports) with Latin America grew by 82% compared to 72% for Asia (driven largely by China), 51% for the European Union, 221% for Africa, and 64% for the world. Mexico composed 11.7% of total U.S. merchandise trade in 2009 and is the largest Latin American trade partner. It accounted for 58% of the region’s trade with the United...

Public Display of the Ten Commandments and Other Religious Symbols

Over the past few decades, the U.S. Supreme Court has issued several decisions regarding public displays of religious symbols. Although a few of these cases have involved temporary religious holiday displays, the more recent cases have involved permanent monuments of religious symbols, specifically the Ten Commandments. In 1980, the Supreme Court held in Stone v. Graham that a Kentucky statute requiring the posting of a copy of the Ten Commandments on the wall of each public school classroom in the state had no secular legislative purpose and was therefore unconstitutional. The Court did...

The Obama Administration's Open Government Initiative: Issues for Congress

This report reviews the objectives delineated in President Obama's Open Government Initiative (OGI) and examines the expectations placed on agencies to meet these objectives. This report reviews department and agency attempts to implement Obama Administration initiatives that seek to make the federal government more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. The report then analyzes options for congressional action in this area.

Sources of Constitutional Authority and House Rule XII, Clause 7(c)

On January 5, 2011, the House of Representatives adopted an amendment to House Rule XII adding a requirement to all measures introduced in the House of Representatives that are intended to become law. Specifically, Rule XII, clause 7(c) requires that, to be accepted for introduction by the House Clerk, all bills (H.R.) and joint resolutions (H.J.Res.) must provide a document stating “as specifically as practicable the power or powers granted to Congress in the Constitution to enact the bill or joint resolution.” The requirement is mandatory, and the House Clerk appears to have the...

Cuomo v. The Clearing House Association, L.L.C.: National Banks Are Subject to State Lawsuits to Enforce Non-Preempted State Laws

On June 29, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the National Bank Act (NBA) does not preempt states from bringing judicial actions against national banks to enforce non-preempted state anti-discrimination laws, and by implication state consumer protection laws, as long as the state authorities do not encroach on the visitorial powers of the national bank regulator, the Office of Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The Court ruled that administrative subpoenas or other forms of administrative oversight or examination are included in visitorial powers and, thus, are not available as state...

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): Background and Implementation

Beginning in the late 1950s and through the 1960s, Congress reacted to increasing public concern about the impact that human activity could have on the environment. A key legislative option to address this concern was the declaration of a national environmental policy. Advocates of this approach argued that without a specific policy, federal agencies were neither able nor inclined to consider the environmental impacts of their actions in fulfilling the agency’s mission. The statute that ultimately addressed this issue was the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA, 42 U.S.C. §§...

Critical Infrastructure Security: CRS Experts

The following table provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to critical infrastructure security. Policy areas identified include: mission, magnitude, importance, relationship to departmental mission; policy, organization, and operations across all infrastructures; information disclosure, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA); security services, airport screeners, guards; specific sectors, assessing vulnerabilities, planning and implementation; agriculture; banking and finance; chemical; defense industry; emergency systems; energy;...

Research and Development (R&D) to Enhance Homeland Security: CRS Experts

The following table provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to research and development (R&D) to enhance homeland security. Policy areas identified include: mission, scope, magnitude, relationship to other federal homeland security goals; developing countermeasures policy and strategic plan; access to scientific and technical information; establishing R&D policy and priorities; conducting and coordinating homeland security R&D; Department of Homeland Security; Department of Agriculture; Department of Defense; Department of Health and...

Statutory Damage Awards in Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Cases Involving Copyrighted Sound Recordings: Recent Legal Developments

The Copyright Act allows statutory damages of between $750 and $30,000 for each act of infringement, and up to $150,000 in cases where the infringement is committed willfully. Congress granted the copyright owner the power to choose to recover either statutory damages or the owner’s actual damages plus additional profits of the infringer at any time before final judgment is rendered. Statutory damages serve both compensatory and deterrent purposes: they provide the copyright owner with restitution of profit and reparation for the harm suffered by the owner in situations where it may be...

The USDA’s Authority to Recall Meat and Poultry Products

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has monitored numerous recalls of meat and poultry products sold in the United States. The recalls have involved beef products possibly contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, beef and poultry products possibly contaminated with Salmonella, and canned meat products possibly contaminated by botulism. These recalls raise issues of consumer confidence in the meat industry and questions about the adequacy of the USDA oversight of these products.

In February 2008, USDA announced the largest-ever recall, of 143.4...

Copyright Protection for Fashion Design: A Legal Analysis of Legislative Proposals

Fashion design does not currently receive explicit protection under U.S. copyright law. Limited avenues for protection of certain types of apparel designs can be found through trademark and patent law, though proponents of copyright protection for fashion design argue that these limited means are insufficient. The 111th Congress did not pass legislation that would have provided a three-year term of copyright protection for fashion designs, the Design Piracy Prohibition Act (H.R. 2196) and the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act (S. 3728). This report analyzes these two...

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: Military Policy and the Law on Same-Sex Behavior

In 1993, new laws and regulations pertaining to homosexuality and U.S. military service came into effect reflecting a compromise in policy. This compromise, colloquially referred to as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” (DADT), holds that the presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in same-sex acts would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion which are the essence of military capability. Under this policy, but not the law, service members are not to be asked about nor allowed to...

Military Recruitment on High School and College Campuses: A Policy and Legal Analysis

In recent years, many academic institutions have enacted rules that protect individuals who are gay from discrimination on campus. As a result, some high schools and institutions of higher education have sought to bar military recruiters from their campuses and/or to eliminate Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs on campus in response to the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy, which prohibits homosexual conduct by members of the armed services. These efforts, however, have largely been thwarted due to several laws that bar giving federal funds to campuses that block...

Hamas: Background and Issues for Congress

This report and its appendixes provide background information on Hamas, or the Islamic Resistance Movement, and U.S. policy towards it. It also includes information and analysis on (1) the threats Hamas currently poses to U.S. interests, (2) how Hamas compares with other Middle East terrorist groups, (3) Hamas’s ideology and policies (both generally and on discrete issues), (4) its leadership and organization, and (5) its sources of assistance. Finally, the report raises and discusses various legislative and oversight options related to foreign aid strategies, financial sanctions, and...

Reorganization of the Minerals Management Service in the Aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

This report provides background and context on the origins of the Minerals Management Service (MMS) in the Department of the Interior (DOI). The April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill refocused attention on MMS, which had previously endured management challenges. The report also discusses Secretary Kenneth L. Salazar's handling of conflicts within MMS, potential congressional options regarding MMS reorganization, historical examples of similar reorganization efforts, and information on related legislative initiatives.

Administrative Issues Related to a Change in Majority in the House of Representatives

This report briefly describes how a change in majority leadership in the House of Representatives -- such as the incoming new majority that will assume control of House operations at the beginning of the 112th Congress in January 2011 -- could affect House rules, committees, and administrative and legislative operations.

Accelerated Vehicle Retirement Programs in Japan and South Korea: Background for Congress

This report discusses the accelerated vehicle retirement (AVR) programs initiated in 2009 by the United States, Japan, South Korea, and other industrial nations (commonly known in the U.S. as the "cash for clunkers" program). The U.S. program began in June 2009, when President Obama signed the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save (CARS) Act. The report discusses how these various AVR programs affected the automobile industries in the U.S., Japan, and South Korea, specifically. Neither Japan nor South Korea imports large numbers of foreign vehicles, a circumstance not much altered by AVR...

Improper Payments Information Act of 2002: Background, Implementation, and Assessment

This report discusses the Improper Payments Information Act (IPIA), which was signed into law in 2002 with the intention of increasing financial accountability in the federal government, thereby reducing wasteful spending.

Inherently Governmental Functions and Other Work Reserved for Performance by Federal Government Employees: The Obama Administration's Proposed Policy Letter

On March 31, 2010, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a proposed policy letter on inherently governmental functions and other "work reserved for performance by federal government employees." While

not final, the policy letter represents the Obama Administration's proposed guidance for agencies determining (1) whether particular functions are inherently governmental and (2) when functions closely associated with the performance of inherently governmental functions and critical functions should be performed by government...

State Statutes Governing Hate Crimes

Concerns about hate crimes have become increasingly prominent among policymakers at all levels of government in recent years. This report compiles state statutes pertaining to hate crimes, including in the context of federal legislation such as the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 and the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (the latter of which was signed by President Obama on October 28, 1999).

Veterans Affairs: Health Care and Benefits for Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange

This report provides an overview of health care services and disability compensation benefits available to Vietnam veterans, Children of Vietnam Era veterans, and non-Vietnam veterans

exposed to herbicides. This is followed by a discussion of litigation pertaining to Navy veterans of the Vietnam Era who served offshore and were never physically present on Vietnamese soil. The report concludes with a discussion of epidemiologic research conducted to study the health effects of Agent Orange and dioxin exposure on Vietnam veterans.

Trade Remedy Legislation: Applying Countervailing Action to Nonmarket Economy Countries

Concern regarding the level of low-cost imports from China and other countries and its impact on U.S. firms and workers, combined with China’s limiting of the appreciation of its currency, have led some in Congress to introduce legislation proposing to make countervailing duty laws applicable to China and other nonmarket economy countries.

Countervailing duty laws provide for the assessment of additional duties on imports whose production and/or importation are found to be subsidized by a public entity in their country of origin and are injurious to a U.S. producer of similar merchandise....

Electoral College Reform: 111th Congress Proposals and Other Current Developments

This report examines and analyzes alternative proposals for change within the electoral college, presents pro and con arguments, and identifies and analyzes 111th Congress proposals and contemporary alternative reform developments.

The Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010: Summary and Legislative History

On February 12, 2010, President Barack Obama signed H.J.Res. 45 into law, as P.L. 111-139. In addition to an increase in the statutory limit on the public debt to $14.294 trillion, the act contains two titles dealing with budgetary matters. Title I, referred to as the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010, establishes a new budget enforcement mechanism generally requiring that direct spending and revenue legislation enacted into law not increase the deficit. Title II, which contains only a single section, pertains to routine investigations by the Comptroller General aimed at eliminating...

International Travel by Congress: Legislation in the 111th Congress, Background, and Potential Policy Options

International travel by Members of Congress and their staff is an issue of longstanding interest among some members of the public, media outlets, and Members. Questions regarding the purposes and destinations of international travel by Congress frequently arise, as do questions about the ability to track the costs and benefits of such travel. This report provides information and analysis on the use of foreign currency expended in support of congressional travel to international destinations that is paid for with appropriated funds and authorized by the House or Senate; on measures related...

The 2010 Oil Spill: Criminal Liability Under Wildlife Laws

OMB Controls on Agency Mandatory Spending Programs: “Administrative PAYGO” and Related Issues for Congress

On May 23, 2005, during President George W. Bush’s second term, then-Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Joshua B. Bolten issued a memorandum to the heads of agencies. The memorandum announced that OMB would involve itself systematically in some aspects of how agencies execute laws related to mandatory spending. Under the process outlined in the OMB memorandum, if an agency wished to use discretion under current law in a way that would “increase mandatory spending,” the memorandum required the agency to propose the action to OMB. Such actions might include regulations,...

House of Representatives and Senate Staff Levels in Member, Committee, Leadership, and Other Offices, 1977-2010

This report provides staffing levels in House and Senate Member, committee, leadership, and other offices since 1977. Data presented here are based on staff listed by chamber entity (offices of Members, committees, leaders, officers, officials, and other entities) in telephone directories published by the House and Senate.

Speed of Presidential and Senate Actions on Supreme Court Nominations, 1900-2010

The speed with which appointments to the Supreme Court move through various stages in the nomination-and-confirmation process is often of great interest not only to all parties directly involved, but, as well, to the nation as a whole. This report provides information on the amount of time taken to act on all Supreme Court nominations occurring between 1900 and the present. It focuses on the actual amounts of time that Presidents and the Senate have taken to act (as opposed to the elapsed time between official points in the process). For example, rather than starting the nomination clock...

FY2010 Supplemental for Wars, Disaster Assistance, Haiti Relief, and Other Programs

The Administration requested $64.3 billion in FY2010 supplemental appropriations: $5.1 billion to replenish the U.S. Disaster Relief Fund administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); $33 billion for the Department of Defense (DOD) primarily for deploying 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan; $4.5 billion in war-related foreign aid; and $2.8 billion for Haiti earthquake-related relief and reconstruction aid; $243 million for activities related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; $600 million for border security, and $129 million to reduce backlogs in patent requests;...

Federal Cocaine Sentencing Disparity: Sentencing Guidelines, Jurisprudence, and Legislation

Pursuant to the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, Congress established basic sentencing levels for crack cocaine offenses. Congress amended 21 U.S.C. § 841 to provide for a 100:1 ratio in the quantities of powder cocaine and crack cocaine that trigger a mandatory minimum penalty. As amended, 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A) required a mandatory minimum 10-year term of imprisonment and a maximum life term of imprisonment for trafficking offenses involving 5 kilograms of cocaine or 50 grams of cocaine base. In addition, 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B) established a mandatory 5-year term of imprisonment for...

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Selected Issues for Congress

Securities and Exchange Commission Rule 151A and Annuities: Issues and Legislation

In January 2011, a new rule from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Rule 151A, entitled “Indexed Annuities and Certain Other Insurance Contracts,” is slated to go into effect. This rule would effectively reclassify indexed annuities as both security products and insurance products. Since insurance products generally are regulated solely by the states, this rule will expand federal authority over indexed annuities, putting them in a similar classification as variable annuities, which are already regulated by both the SEC and the individual states.

The SEC has cited as a primary...

Legislative Options After Citizens United v. FEC: Constitutional and Legal Issues

In Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court invalidated two provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), finding that they were unconstitutional under the First Amendment. The decision struck down the long-standing prohibition on corporations using their general treasury funds to make independent expenditures, and Section 203 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), prohibiting corporations from using their general treasury funds for “electioneering communications.” BCRA defines “electioneering communication” as any broadcast, cable, or satellite communication that...

Potential Stafford Act Declarations for the Gulf Coast Oil Spill: Issues for Congress

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, P.L. 93-288, presents several options, and could provide a number of programs, to address the Gulf Coast oil spill. That spill is currently being addressed by a law fashioned for that purpose, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, P.L. 101-380.

An emergency declaration under the Stafford Act would appear a potential approach to the current situation since it is intended to lessen the impact of an imminent disaster. A major disaster declaration would open up more Stafford Act programs that might be especially appropriate for the...

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: Title X, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

In the wake of what many believe is the worst U.S. financial crisis since the Great Depression, the Obama Administration proposed sweeping reforms of the financial services regulatory system—including the creation of an executive agency with authority over consumer financial issues, the broad outline of which has been encompassed in a document called the Administration’s White Paper (the White Paper). The House of Representatives began consideration of bills seeking similar reform, which in large part were shepherded by Representative Barney Frank, Chairman of the Committee on Financial...

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA): A Legal Overview

This report provides an overview of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and discusses current legal and legislative developments. The ADEA, which prohibits employment discrimination against persons over the age of 40, was enacted “to promote employment of older persons based on their ability rather than age; to prohibit arbitrary age discrimination in employment; [and] to help employers and workers find ways of meeting problems arising from the impact of age on employment.”

The ADEA, which applies to employers, labor organizations, and employment agencies, makes it unlawful for...

Mixed-Motive Claims Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act: A Legal Analysis of the Supreme Court’s Ruling in Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc.

This report discusses Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc., a recent case in which the Supreme Court evaluated a mixed-motive claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which prohibits employment discrimination against individuals over the age of 40. In Gross, the plaintiff alleged that his employer’s decision to reassign him was motivated at least in part by his age, while the employer claimed that its decision was based on other legitimate factors. The question at trial was what types of evidence the parties must present and who bears the burden of proof in such...

Architect of the Capitol: Appointment Process and Current Legislation

The Architect of the Capitol (AOC) is responsible for “the maintenance, operation, development, and preservation of 16.5 million square feet of buildings and more than 450 acres of land throughout” the United States Capitol Complex.

The Architect is appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 1990, established a 10-year term for the Architect as well as a bicameral, bipartisan congressional commission to recommend candidates to the President. As amended, this law provides for a commission consisting of 14 Members of...

Timeliness of Disparate Impact Discrimination Claims Filed Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act: A Legal Analysis of Lewis v. City of Chicago

This report discusses Lewis v. City of Chicago, a recent case in which the Supreme Court considered questions regarding the timeliness of disparate impact discrimination claims filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, or religion. In Lewis, a group of aspiring black firefighters sued the City of Chicago over its repeated use of an employment test with racially disproportionate results to hire several new groups of firefighters over a six-year period. The city argued that the...

The Jurisprudence of Justice John Paul Stevens: Selected Federalism Issues

Structurally, the Constitution establishes a federal government with discrete, limited powers, reserving authority not given to the federal government under the Constitution to the states and the people. The uncertain contours of this dual system have often resulted in Supreme Court decisions on the reach of the federal government’s limited powers and the core autonomy of the states. Congress, for example, has invoked the Commerce Clause to regulate local, and sometimes non-economic, activities that historically have been subject to regulation under state police powers. Also, Congress has...

The Jurisprudence of Justice John Paul Stevens: The Constitutionality of Congressional Term Limits and the Presidential Line Item Veto

Justice John Paul Stevens authored the majority opinions in both U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton and Clinton v. City of New York, which struck down term limits for federal legislators and the federal Line Item Veto Act, respectively. While the Supreme Court seems unlikely to address the constitutionality of term limits or the line-item veto in the future, Justice Stevens’s conclusion that the absence of constitutional provisions expressly authorizing the exercise of certain powers constitutes a denial of these powers seems likely to influence the Court in the future, particularly in...

Presenting Measures to the President for Approval: Possible Delays

The Constitution requires Congress to present each measure it enacts to the President for approval. In contrast, the Constitution requires the President to act on measures within 10 days of their presentment and is silent on the amount of time that may elapse before Congress presents each measure to the President. Not being subject to a constitutional constraint, Congress has sometimes temporarily withheld enrolled measures from presentment, either when the President is absent or to avoid a possible pocket veto.

Before an enrolled measure can be presented to the President, it must be...

Green Procurement: Overview and Issues for Congress

Economic and environmental concerns have contributed to rising interest in green procurement—a term used in various ways but that may best be described as acquisition of products and services with smaller-than-average environmental footprints. Fully assessing a product or service requires integrated evaluation of cost, performance, and impacts for a set of green factors over all stages of the life cycle. Green building is an example of this approach. More generally, complexities and information gaps may constrict assessment options. However, where choices are comparative, partial...

District of Columbia Voting Representation in Congress: An Analysis of Legislative Proposals

This report provides a summary and analysis of legislative proposals that would provide voting representation in Congress to residents of the District of Columbia. Since the issue of voting representation for District residents was first broached in 1801, Congress has considered five legislative options: (1) seek voting rights in Congress by constitutional amendment, (2) retrocede the District to Maryland (retrocession), (3) allow District residents to vote in Maryland for their representatives to the House and Senate (semi-retrocession), (4) grant the District statehood, and (5) define...

Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces: Facts and Issues

Since the early 1990s, Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Task Forces have been certified, trained, and funded by the federal government. Twenty-eight task forces are located in 19 states. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials may call out the task force (or forces) in closest proximity to the disaster to help locate and extricate victims from collapsed buildings and structures. The task forces represent a partnership involving federal, local government, and private sector experts. Most recently, USAR teams received extensive media coverage for their missions to Haiti after the...

Permissible Securities Activities of Commercial Banks Under the Glass-Steagall Act (GSA) and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA)

In the wake of the recession of 2008, there have been calls to reexamine 1999’s landmark financial services legislation, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA; P.L. 106-102), which repealed certain provisions of the Banking Act of 1933, commonly referred to as the Glass-Steagall Act (GSA; 48 Stat. 162 §§ 16, 20, 21, and 32), which separated, to a certain degree, commercial banking (i.e., the activities engaged in by depository institutions with a bank charter, which this report generally will refer to as “banks” or “commercial banks”) from investment banking (i.e., activities engaged in by...

The No Child Left Behind Act and “Unfunded Mandates”: A Legal Analysis of School District of the City of Pontiac v. Secretary of the United States Department of Education

In 2008, a panel of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a decision in School District of the City of Pontiac v. Secretary of the United States Department of Education. In its decision, the court held that the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act failed to provide the required “clear notice” to states and school districts regarding the requirements they must fulfill as a condition of receiving federal funding. The case was subsequently reheard, but the en banc Sixth Circuit divided evenly, meaning that the judgment of the district court to dismiss the case was affirmed. This report...

U.S. Military Stop Loss Program: Key Questions and Answers

Stop Loss is a frequently misunderstood DOD force management program that retains servicemembers beyond their contractually agreed-to separation date. Because of the involuntary nature of this extension, some critics have referred to the program as a “backdoor draft” or “involuntary servitude”.

Stop Loss was initially used in the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War and later in Bosnia and the Kosovo Air Campaign. All of the Services used Stop Loss at the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) but only the Army has consistently employed some form of Stop Loss...

Automated Political Telephone Calls (“Robo Calls”) in Federal Campaigns: Overview and Policy Options

Prerecorded telephone messages that provide information about political candidates or urge voters to go to the polls are a common campaign tactic. Anecdotal accounts suggest that the public often objects to the volume and frequency of these automated political calls (also called “auto calls” or “robo calls”). Despite often negative anecdotal information about automated political calls, they remain an inexpensive, effective way to reach hundreds or thousands of voters quickly. Campaigns and groups often rely on automated political calls to respond to last-minute campaign developments.

Four...

The Copyright Registration Requirement and Federal Court Jurisdiction: A Legal Analysis of Reed Elsevier, Inc. v. Muchnick

Although an author need not register his or her work with the U.S. Copyright Office to obtain copyright protection, registration is a statutory prerequisite to bringing suit for infringement of the copyright, as mandated by 17 U.S.C. §411(a). The question in Reed Elsevier, Inc. v. Muchnick is whether this section of the Copyright Act restricts the subject-matter jurisdiction of the federal courts over copyright infringement claims involving unregistered works.

The plaintiffs in Reed Elsevier, consisting of individual authors and trade groups representing authors, brought a class action...

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA): Issues for the 111th Congress

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2010 Appropriations

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and 26 independent agencies. Among the independent agencies funded by the bill are the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the United States Postal Service (USPS).

On May 7, 2009, the Obama Administration delivered its FY2010 budget request to...

Health Reform and the 111th Congress

The health reform debate in the 111th Congress continued and expanded upon the work begun in the 110th Congress. On November 12, 2008, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Baucus, released a white paper detailing his principles for health reform. This provided a framework for work within the committee for the 111th Congress. Several bills were introduced when the 111th Congress first convened, and these bills focused on a broad spectrum of approaches to health reform.

On November 7, 2009, the House passed H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act. H.R. 3962 is...

Minority Ownership of Broadcast Properties: A Legal Analysis

Amidst growing media ownership consolidation and a significant decline in minority ownership of telecommunications businesses, there has been renewed interest in programs that foster diversity among telecommunications business owners. One potential avenue under consideration is to revive, in revised fashion, a tax program that would allow current owners who sell their broadcast properties to eligible purchasers to defer taxes on gains from the sale. That program had been available for sales to minority-owned firms, defined as socially and economically disadvantaged businesses (SDBs). It...

The History and Effect of Abortion Conscience Clause Laws

Conscience clause laws allow medical providers to refuse to provide services to which they have religious or moral objections. In some cases, these laws are designed to excuse such providers from performing abortions. While substantive conscience clause legislation, such as the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act, has not been approved, appropriations bills that include conscience clause provisions have been passed. This report describes the history of conscience clauses as they relate to abortion law and provides a legal analysis of the effects of such laws. The report also discusses the...

Disability Evaluation of Military Servicemembers

On February 18, 2007, the Washington Post published the first in a series of articles describing problems with outpatient medical care and other services provided at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC). The series noted, among other things, concerns about the processes used to evaluate disability in injured military servicemembers. Both the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) conduct disability evaluations and assign disability ratings to servicemembers or veterans under their respective authorities. An individual’s disability rating, from either...

CRS Issue Statement on Freedom of Speech

Race Discrimination and the Supreme Court: A Legal Analysis of Ricci v. DeStefano

This report discusses Ricci v. DeStefano, a recent Supreme Court case involving allegations of reverse discrimination by a group of white firefighters who challenged city officials in New Haven, Connecticut, over their refusal to certify a promotional test on which black and Hispanic firefighters had performed poorly relative to white firefighters. In a 5-4 vote, the Court held that the city’s actions violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The case has drawn...

Affirmative Action in Employment: A Legal Overview

This report discusses current constitutional and statutory requirements related to affirmative action in employment. Seeds of the legal controversy regarding affirmative action may be traced to the early 1960s as the Supreme Court grappled with the seemingly intractable problem of racial segregation in the nation’s public schools. Judicial rulings from this period recognized an “affirmative duty,” cast upon local school boards by the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, to desegregate formerly “dual school” systems and to eliminate “root and branch” the last “vestiges” of...

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2010 Appropriations

This report provides an overview of actions taken by Congress to provide FY2010 appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS). This report uses the House report to accompany H.R. 2847 (H.Rept. 111-149) and the text of the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2009 (P.L. 111-32), as the source for the FY2009-enacted and the FY2010-requested amounts, and it uses the Senate report to accompany H.R. 2847 (S.Rept. 111-34) as the source for the amounts in the House-passed bill. The Senate-passed version of H.R. 2847 is used as the source for the Senate-passed amounts. The...

Constitutional Limits on Hate Crime Legislation

Federal and state legislators recognize the special concerns and effects of hate crimes. Although there is some federal legislation in place, many states have enacted some form of ethnic intimidation law or bias-motivated sentence-enhancement factors in attempts to curtail hate crimes. Several United States Supreme Court cases provide the framework in which states must legislate to ensure the constitutionality of hate crime legislation. After these landmark cases, the real questions for states involve identifying permissible ways to curtail hate crimes without infringing on any...

The Design and Implementation of Patent Revocation Proceedings: Innovation Issues

Congressional recognition of the role patents play in promoting innovation and economic growth has resulted in the introduction of legislation proposing changes to the patent system. Among other goals, these changes would potentially decrease the cost of resolving disputes concerning patents, increase commercial certainty regarding the validity of particular patents, address potential abuses committed by speculators, and account for the particular needs of individual inventors, universities, and small firms with respect to the patent system.

In pursuit of these goals, several bills...

Congressional Redistricting: A Legal Analysis of the Supreme Court Ruling in League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) v. Perry

In a splintered, complex decision, the U.S. Supreme Court in League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) v. Perry largely upheld a Texas congressional redistricting plan that was drawn mid-decade against claims of unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering. The Court invalidated one Texas congressional district, District 23, finding that it diluted the voting power of Latinos in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. While not ruling out the possibility of a claim of partisan gerrymandering being within the scope of judicial review, a majority of the Court in this case was...

International Social Security Agreements

International Social Security agreements are bilateral agreements primarily intended to eliminate dual Social Security taxation based on the same work and provide benefit protection for workers who divide their careers between the United States and a foreign country. Most jobs in the United States are covered by Social Security. In addition, the Social Security Act extends Social Security coverage to U.S. citizens and resident aliens who are employed abroad by U.S. companies as well as those who are self-employed in a foreign country. Generally, a U.S. worker abroad and his or her employer...

Private Security Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan: Legal Issues

U.S. departments and agencies contributing to combat or stability operations overseas are relying on private firms to perform a wider scope of security services than was previously the case. The use of private security contractors (PSCs) to protect personnel and property in Iraq and Afghanistan has been a subject of debate in the press, in Congress, and in the international community. While PSCs are widely viewed as being vital to U.S. efforts in the region, many Members are concerned about transparency, accountability, and legal and symbolic issues raised by the use of armed civilians to...

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2010 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except for the Bureau of Reclamation, and for agencies within other departmentsincluding the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service (IHS) within the Department of Health and Human Services. It also includes funding for arts and cultural agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency, and numerous other entities.

The Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 (P.L. 111-88),...

Security Classification Policy and Procedure: E.O. 12958, as Amended

This report describes security classification policy and procedure, largely prescribed in a series of successive presidential executive orders issued over the past 50 years. This policy provides the rationale and arrangements for designating information officially secret for reasons of national security, and for its declassification as well.

Congressional Review Act: Rules Not Submitted to GAO and Congress

This report discusses the Congressional Review Act (CRA; 5 U.S.C. §801-808), which was enacted to improve congressional authority over agency rulemaking, and requires federal agencies to submit all of their final rules to both houses of Congress and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) before they can take effect.

Defense: FY2010 Authorization and Appropriations

For the Department of Defense (DOD) in FY2010, the Administration requested a total of $663.8 billion in discretionary budget authority. This includes $533.8 billion for the so-called “base budget”—all DOD activities other than combat operations—and $130.0 billion for “overseas contingency operations,” including operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Administration also requested $75.9 billion in supplemental DOD appropriations for FY2009 to cover war costs. The Administration’s DOD request, made public May 7, 2009, incorporated Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s April 6 recommendations to...

Would an Influenza Pandemic Qualify as a Major Disaster Under the Stafford Act?

This report provides a legal analysis of the eligibility of an influenza pandemic to be declared by the President as a major disaster under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.

Homeland Security Department: FY2010 Appropriations

This report describes the FY2010 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Administration requested a net appropriation of $44.1 billion in budget authority for FY2010. This amounts to a $2.8 billion, or a 6.7% increase over the $41.2 billion enacted for FY2009 (not including supplemental funding). Total budget authority requested by the Administration for DHS for FY2010 amounts to $55.1 billion.

Net requested appropriations for major agencies within DHS were as follows: Customs and Border Protection (CBP), $10,049 million; Immigration and Customs Enforcement...

Proposals for a Commission to Address the Federal Government’s Long-Term Fiscal Situation

In the 111th Congress, Members have introduced several proposals to establish a commission that would make potentially far-reaching recommendations on how to address the federal government’s long-term fiscal situation. Generally speaking, the measures would include Members of Congress as some or most of a commission’s membership, provide for a majority of commission members to be appointed by congressional leaders, have varying degrees of partisan balance in membership, and require supermajority votes of commission members to approve recommendations. Each of the bills also would provide...

China-U.S. Relations: Current Issues and Implications for U.S. Policy

The bilateral relationship between the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is vitally important, touching on a wide range of areas including, among others, economic policy, security, foreign relations, and human rights. U.S. interests with China are bound together much more closely now than even a few years ago. These extensive inter-linkages have made it increasingly difficult for either government to take unilateral actions without inviting far-reaching, unintended consequences. The Administration of President Barack Obama has inherited from the George W. Bush Administration...

Statutory Offices of Inspectors General (IGs): Methods of Appointment and Legislative Proposals

This report addresses the duties and functions of statutory Inspectors General (IGs); the numbers of each type of IG; the differences between IGs appointed by the President and those appointed by the agency head; considerations for whether certain IGs should be appointed by the President as opposed to the agency head; and the Inspector General Reform Act of 2008 (Reform Act), P.L. 110-409. In October 2008, Congress enacted the Reform Act, which created additional protections and authorities for IGs with regard to removal or transfer of an IG, budgets, law enforcement authority, pay,...

Protection of Children Online: Federal and State Laws Addressing Cyberstalking, Cyberharassment, and Cyberbullying

While Congress, under the Commerce Clause, has authority to regulate the Internet, Internet “harassment” presents new challenges for legislators in terms of defining and prosecuting such activity. Definitions for these terms vary based upon jurisdiction. Internet harassment usually encompasses “cyberstalking,” “cyberharassment,” and/or “cyberbullying.” If one were to categorize these offenses based on danger or greatest potential harm, cyberstalking would be the most dangerous, followed by cyberharassment and then cyberbullying. Generally, cyberstalking includes a credible threat of harm,...

Great Lakes Water Withdrawals: Legal and Policy Issues

This report describes the characteristics of the Great Lakes, the interests they support, and possible threats to lake levels. It analyzes the federal laws and policies that regulate the diversion, withdrawal, and consumptive use of water from the Great Lakes. Also included is a discussion of the final Compact and Agreement and some of the issues raised by various interest groups. This report concludes with a general discussion on the relationship between compacts, federal law, and the Congress.

Requiring Disclosure of Gifts and Payments to Health Care Professionals: A Legal Overview

In recent years, questions have been raised over the propriety of certain financial relationships between health care professionals such as physicians, and the pharmaceutical and other medical industries. As part of these relationships, companies may give gifts or make payments to healthcare professionals as part of their marketing efforts, or for other purposes. In an effort to promote transparency and prevent inappropriate relationships, there has been interest in requiring disclosure of certain types of payments. Several states and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation...

Surface Transportation Reauthorization Legislation in the 111th Congress: Summary of Selected Major Provisions

The existing authorization for federal surface transportation programs provided by the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: a Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU or SAFETEA) expires on September 30, 2009. Congress is now considering legislation that would either reauthorize these programs or extend the existing program into at least part of the next fiscal year.

While it considers reauthorization or extension legislation, Congress has also had to address an ongoing financial shortfall in the highway account of the Highway Trust Fund. Just before leaving for its...

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA): Implementation and New Challenges

The basic structure of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976 has never been amended, but recent legal, scientific, and technological changes are prompting some policy makers to reexamine the law. The Kid-Safe Chemicals Act (H.R. 6100/S. 3040 in the 110th Congress) would have reshaped risk assessment and management of industrial chemicals in U.S. commerce. TSCA currently regulates potential risks based on three policies: (1) Chemical manufacturers are responsible for testing chemicals to determine their potential effects on health and the environment; (2) EPA should regulate...

Homosexuals and the U.S. Military: Current Issues

This report examines the "don't ask, don't tell," policy in the U.S. military. "Don't ask, don't tell," holds that the presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion which are the essence of military capability. Service members are not to be asked about nor allowed to discuss their homosexuality.

Senate Confirmation Process: A Brief Overview

Summary of State Breastfeeding Laws and Related Issues

The practice of breastfeeding has expanded in recent years. Various legal issues have accompanied this development. The primary legal issues concern: 1) the ability of working mothers to breastfeed their children and/or to express milk during working hours; and 2) nursing and/or the expression of milk in public or semi-public places such as restaurants, public transportation facilities, and other locations where the public is present. Certain states have enacted legislation addressing breastfeeding in the workplace and exempting nursing mothers from laws dealing with indecent exposure...

Haiti: Current Conditions and Congressional Concerns

Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. Since the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986, Haiti has struggled to overcome its centuries-long legacy of authoritarianism, extreme poverty, and underdevelopment. While some progress has been made in developing democratic institutions, they remain weak. Economic and social stability have improved considerably. But poverty remains massive and deep, and economic disparity is wide.

In May 2006, René Préval began his second five-year term as President of Haiti. During his first two years in office, Préval began to...

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2009 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except for the Bureau of Reclamation, and for two agencies within other departmentsthe Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service (IHS) within the Department of Health and Human Services. It also includes funding for arts and cultural agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency, and numerous other entities.

On February 17, 2009, the President signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-5, H.R. 1)....

U.S. Motor Vehicle Industry: Federal Financial Assistance and Restructuring

This report focuses on the current situation faced by the Detroit 3, key aspects of their current crisis, including possible consequences of a failure of one or more companies, and some aspects of legislative actions that have been considered to bridge their financial conditions to a more stable situation.

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2009 Appropriations

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and 26 independent agencies. Among the independent agencies funded by the bill are the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the United States Postal Service (USPS).

On September 30, 2008, President George W. Bush signed the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing...

Thirty-Five Years of Water Policy: The 1973 National Water Commission and Present Challenges

Concern about the availability and use of water to support the nation’s people, economy, and environment has bolstered interest in establishing a national water commission. The commission structure proposed in recent legislation (e.g., H.R. 135) is similar to that of the 1968-1973 National Water Commission (NWC or Commission). As proposed in H.R. 135, the commission would assess future water demands, study current management programs, and develop recommendations for a comprehensive water strategy. Questions about a commission as an effective model and which topics a commission might...

Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies: FY2009 Appropriations

This report provides an overview of actions taken by Congress to provide FY2009 appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS). On March 11, 2009, President Obama signed into law the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 (P.L. 111-8). In the Omnibus, Congress appropriated $60.538 billion for CJS agencies. This amount was $4.578 billion more than the FY2008 enacted level (an 8.2% increase) and $3.488 billion more than the amended FY2009 request (a 6.1% increase). The Omnibus included $9.268 billion for the Department of Commerce, $26.120 billion for the Department of...

The Public Health and Medical Response to Disasters: Federal Authority and Funding

When there is a catastrophe in the United States, state and local governments lead response activities, invoking state and local legal authorities to support them. When state and local response capabilities are overwhelmed, the President, acting through the Secretary of Homeland Security, can provide assistance to stricken communities, individuals, governments, and not-for-profit groups to assist in response and recovery. Aid is provided under the authority of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (the Stafford Act) upon a presidential declaration. The...

Pay Discrimination Claims Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act: A Legal Analysis of the Supreme Court’s Decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Inc.

This report discusses Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Inc., a case in which the Supreme Court considered the timeliness of a sex discrimination claim filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. In Ledbetter, the female plaintiff alleged that past sex discrimination had resulted in lower pay increases and that these past pay decisions continued to affect the amount of her pay throughout her employment, resulting in a significant pay disparity between her and her male...

Advance Appropriations for Veterans’ Health Care: Issues and Options for Congress

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) operates the Nation’s largest health care delivery system, with about 222,000 employees supporting its mission. It is also the largest provider of health care education and training for medical residents and other health care trainees in the United States. In FY2008, VHA provided medical care to approximately 5.6 million unique patients and spent approximately $43.5 billion for medical care and research.

A coalition of veterans’ service organizations (VSOs) has been calling on Congress to provide VHA with a...

Selected Federal Compensation Programs for Physical Injury or Death

Congress has established a number of programs to compensate or assist victims of certain specific circumstances, including negligence, terrorism, and “acts of God.” Federal compensation programs can be described by certain common attributes. These include aspects of program administration; requirements for and determination of individual eligibility; eligibility of health care providers; types of benefits provided; whether certain diseases are presumed to be eligible for compensation; and the means by which the program is financed.

Though federal compensation programs display considerable...

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-5): Summary and Legislative History

President Barack Obama signed H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, into law on February 17, 2009, as P.L. 111-5 (123 Stat. 115-521). The act is seen as one of the most significant legislative responses made thus far to the current economic turmoil. This report provides a summary and legislative history of ARRA and identifies other resources that provide additional information regarding its content and implementation.

ARRA is a relatively lengthy and complex act, amounting to just over 400 pages (in slip law form) and melding together hundreds of billions of...

Recess Appointments Made by President George W. Bush

Under the Constitution, the President and the Senate share the power to make appointments to the highest-level politically appointed positions in the federal government. The Constitution also empowers the President unilaterally to make a temporary appointment to such a position if it is vacant and the Senate is in recess. Such an appointment, termed a recess appointment, expires at the end of the following session of the Senate. This report identifies recess appointments made by President George W. Bush during his presidency. Basic descriptive statistics regarding these appointments are...

Emergency Preparedness and Hazard Mitigation: CRS Experts

This report includes a table that provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to emergency preparedness and hazard mitigation. Includes a number of policy areas, such as: emergency preparedness and protection missions, functions, and structures; emergency authorities; preparedness plans; communications networks; warning systems; and state and local homeland security funding, training, and standards.

House Rules Changes in the 111th Congress Affecting Floor Proceedings

On the first day of the 111th Congress, the House agreed to H.Res. 5, which made several changes to House rules affecting floor proceedings. First, the House amended clause 6 of Rule XV to require that Calendar Wednesday only occur at the request of a committee. Calendar Wednesday is a rarely-utilized procedure that allows reported legislation, not otherwise privileged for floor consideration, to be called up by the committee of jurisdiction on Wednesdays. Prior to this rules change, unanimous consent was routinely granted to waive the Calendar Wednesday procedure.

The House also added a...

Federal Sentencing Guidelines: Background, Legal Analysis, and Policy Options

Historically, the way in which convicted offenders are sentenced falls under one of two penal policies—indeterminate and determinate sentences. Indeterminate sentencing practices were predominant for several decades, leading up to the major reform efforts undertaken by many states and the federal government in the mid- to-late 1970s and early 1980s. The perceived failure of the indeterminate system to “cure” the criminal, coupled with renewed concern about the rising crime rate throughout the nation in the mid-1970s, resulted in wide experimentation with sentencing systems by many states...

Higher Education Tax Credits: An Economic Analysis

Homeland Security Department: FY2009 Appropriations

This report describes the FY2009 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Administration requested a net appropriation of $38,849 million in budget authority for FY2009. The House Appropriations Committee reported its version of the FY2009 DHS Appropriations bill on June 24, 2008. The bill was filed on September 18, 2008, as H.R. 6947, and the accompanying report has been numbered H.Rept. 110-862. House-reported H.R. 6947 would have provided a net appropriation of $41,137 million in budget authority for DHS for FY2009. This amounted to an increase of $2,288...

Members Who Have Served in the U.S. Congress for 30 Years or More

This report identifies the 240 Members of Congress who have served in Congress for at least 30 years, as of February 11, 2009. Those 240 Members are only 2% of the 11,893 individuals who have represented their states and congressional districts in Congress since 1789.

Of the 240 Members with at least 30 years of congressional service, 139 have spent all of their congressional careers in the House; 29 have spent all of their careers in the Senate; and 72 have had combined service in the House and Senate. Among Members of the 111th Congress, 16 Senators and 18 Representatives have served 30...

Federal Land Management Agencies: Background on Land and Resources Management

The federal government owns about 650 million acres (29%) of the 2.27 billion acres of land in the United States. Four agencies administer 617.5 million acres of the federal land: the Forest Service in the Department of Agriculture, and the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service, all in the Department of the Interior. Most of these lands are in the West, including Alaska. They generate revenues for the U.S. Treasury, some of which are shared with states and localities. The agencies receive funding through the annual Interior, Environment, and...

Military Recruitment Provisions Under the No Child Left Behind Act: A Legal Analysis

This report describes the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA) military recruitment provisions and discusses the legal issues that they may raise if the 111th Congress considers reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The NCLBA amended the ESEA to say that high schools receiving federal funds must provide certain student contact information to military recruiters upon request and must allow recruiters to have the same access to students as employers and colleges.

States and Proposed Economic Recovery Plans

This report examines arguments presented by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the National Governors Association (NGA) to include state fiscal assistance in an economic recovery plan, several arguments to exclude state assistance from such a plan, and the implications the proposals presented by NCSL and NGA might have for the economy. It also examines issues related to the targeting of state fiscal assistance and arguments for and against including infrastructure construction projects in an economic recovery plan, and presents key provisions in proposed economic...

Abortion Law Development: A Brief Overview

In Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), the U.S. Supreme Court determined that the Constitution protects a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy. In a companion case, Doe v. Bolton, 410 U.S. 179 (1973), the Court held further that a state may not unduly burden a woman’s fundamental right to abortion by prohibiting or substantially limiting access to the means of effectuating her decision. Rather than settle the issue, the Court’s decisions kindled heated debate and precipitated a variety of governmental actions at the national, state and local levels designed either to...

The Emoluments Clause: History, Law, and Precedents

With the announcements by President-elect Barack Obama that he intends to nominate several Members of Congress to various positions in the Executive Branch, questions regarding their constitutional eligibility in light of the plain language of the Emoluments Clause have been raised. This report provides an historical review of the Emoluments Clause, focusing on the debates at the time the clause was drafted, as well as the precedents adopted by Congress and the executive branch with respect to nominations where the issue has arisen.

The report also contains a legal analysis of the issues...

An Overview of the Presidential Pardoning Power

The Constitution of the United States of America imbues the President with broad authority to grant pardons and reprieves for offenses against the United States. This report provides an overview of the scope of the President’s pardoning power, the legal effects of a pardon, and the procedures that have traditionally been adhered to in the consideration of requests for pardons.

Members of Congress have introduced resolutions expressing the sense of Congress that the President either should or should not grant pardons to certain individuals or groups of individuals, such as H.Res. 9 in the...

The Role of Public Works Infrastructure in Economic Stimulus

Interest in using federal government spending to stimulate U.S. economic recovery has intensified recently in response to indicators showing significant deterioration of the economy. Policymakers at all levels of government are debating a range of options to address these problems. Some favor using traditional monetary and fiscal policies. Others, however, favor making accelerated investments in the nation’s public infrastructure in order to create jobs while also meeting infrastructure needs. This report is an overview of policy issues associated with the approach of using infrastructure...

Title IX and Single Sex Education: A Legal Analysis

Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs or activities, school districts have long been permitted to operate single-sex schools. In 2006, the Department of Education (ED) published Title IX regulations that, for the first time, authorized schools to establish single-sex classrooms as well. This report evaluates the regulations in light of statutory requirements under Title IX and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act (EEOA) and in consideration of constitutional equal protection requirements.

Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY2009 (P.L. 110-329): An Overview

Midnight Rulemaking: Considerations for Congress and a New Administration

The Department of Defense Role in Foreign Assistance: Background, Major Issues, and Options for Congress

The Department of Defense (DOD) has long played a role in U.S. efforts to assist foreign populations, militaries, and governments. The use of DOD to provide foreign assistance stems in general from the perception that DOD can contribute unique or vital capabilities and resources because it possesses the manpower, materiel, and organizational assets to respond to international needs. Over the years, Congress has helped shape the DOD role by providing DOD with its mandate for such activities through a wide variety of authorities.

The historical DOD role in foreign assistance can be regarded...

Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, P.L. 110-289, is likely to affect most owner-occupied housing in the United States through a variety of channels.

The act creates a new, stronger, unified regulator for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks (the housing GSEs). As a result of various provisions in the act, the secondary mortgage market is likely to be broadly affected. For example, the Secretary of the Treasury is given (until December 31, 2009) the authority to lend or invest in the housing GSEs on whatever terms the Secretary determines to be appropriate....

Prescription Drug Importation: A Legal Overview

High prescription drug prices have increased consumer interest in purchasing less costly medications abroad. Policymakers opposed to allowing prescription drugs to be imported from foreign countries argue that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cannot guarantee the safety or effectiveness of such drugs. Importation proponents, who claim that importation would result in significantly lower prices for U.S. consumers, say that safety concerns are overblown and would recede if additional precautions were implemented. The importation debate continues.

In response to concerns about...

Senate Manual: A Guide to Its Contents

Presidential Directives: Background and Overview

This report provides an overview of the different kinds of directives that have been utilized primarily by twentieth century Presidents. It presents background on their historical development, accounting, use, and effect.

Presidential Libraries: The Federal System and Related Legislation

This report provides a brief overview of the federal presidential libraries system and tracks the progress of related legislation.

The Executive Office of the President: An Historical Overview

Executive Branch Reorganization and Management Initiatives: A Brief Overview

This report provides a brief overview of recent executive branch reorganization actions and related management initiatives. It reviews the relevant plans and preparations of President-elect Barack Obama as the new Administration transitions to assuming management of the executive branch. Briefly examined, as well, are the organization and management efforts of the most recent regimes.

An Overview of Tax Benefits for Higher Education Expenses

The Capitol Visitors’ Center: An Overview

Pay-As-You-Go Procedures for Budget Enforcement

Federal Budget Process Reform in the 110th Congress: A Brief Overview

Bush Administration Policy Regarding Congressionally Originated Earmarks: An Overview

During the 110th Congress, the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the George W. Bush Administration have defined terms like congressional earmark, congressionally directed spending item, and earmark, and have provided some direction for how congressionally originated earmarks, according to these definitions, are to be handled. This report focuses on Bush Administration policy regarding earmarks originated by Congress and related issues. Specific definitions for the term earmark (and related terms, like congressional earmark, presidential earmark, and others) vary considerably and...

Homeland Emergency Preparedness and the National Exercise Program: Background, Policy Implications, and Issues for Congress

This report provides an overview of emergency preparedness authorities and guidance; development and management of the National Exercise Program (NEP); and current exercise planning, scheduling, and evaluation processes. Additionally, it provides analysis of national preparedness policy issues and exercise operations issues that Congress might wish to consider.

The Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIG TARP)

This report discusses the Special Inspector General provisions in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, H.R. 1424, which was enacted as P.L. 110-343 on October 3, 2008. This Act created a Special Inspector General (SIG) for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). This report will compare the duties and authorities of

the SIG TARP to those of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) and the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), as well as statutory IGs under the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended (IG Act).

The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2008: Senate Amendment 5662 as Submitted on September 26, 2008

Senate Amendment 5662, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2008, was submitted as an amendment intended to be proposed to H.R. 5151 on September 26, 2008. Two existing packages have been paired to form S.Amdt. 5662: S. 3213 is a collection of over 90 individual bills which is on the Senate calendar, was combined with an additional 53 bills that were approved by a unanimous vote of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on September 11, 2008.

Given the large number of individual bills that make up this omnibus amendment, it has numerous supporters and detractors....

Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Legislation for Disaster Assistance: Summary Data

This report provides summary information on emergency supplemental appropriations enacted after major disasters since 1989. During the 20-year span from FY1989 through the present, Congress appropriated almost $271 billion in constant 2008 dollars. Most of the appropriations were preceded by a presidential request for supplemental funding.

In 2008 a number of major natural disasters took place including Hurricanes Ike and Gustav, the California wildfires, and the Midwest floods. To date however, the most costly disasters occurred in the summer of 2005 when Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and...

The U.S. Postal Service’s Use of Contractors to Deliver Mail

The Executive Schedule IV Pay Cap on General Schedule Compensation

Wind Energy: Offshore Permitting

This report discusses the disputes over Corps jurisdiction prior to enactment of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 as well as the current law applicable to siting offshore wind facilities.

Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA): An Overview

The constitutional standard by which laws that burden an individual’s First Amendment right to exercise his religion are measured has evolved over the last half-century through U.S. Supreme Court decisions and legislative action by Congress in response to those decisions. After decades of requiring that laws burdening the free exercise of religion be subject to heightened judicial review, the Court reinterpreted that constitutional standard in the 1990 case of Employment Division v. Smith, deciding that the First Amendment provided narrower protection than the Court had previously...

The Process, Data, and Costs of Mortgage Foreclosure

Veterans' Benefits: Issues in the 110th Congress

This report provides a general discussion of veterans' benefits issues that are part of the legislative agenda of the 110th Congress or are likely to be of legislative interest. Among those issues are disability compensation and pensions; education benefits; homelessness; life insurance; the status or eligibility of groups such as U.S. merchant seamen and World War II Filipino veterans for veterans' benefits; Reserve and National Guard eligibility for veterans' benefits; the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims; and legal representation for veterans. For each issue, an overview is...

Legislative Branch Staffing, 1954-2007

This report provides data and analysis concerning legislative branch staffing levels since 1954.

Legislative branch staff include congressional staff, who work in the House or Senate, and legislative agency staff, who work in a legislative branch agency. At present, there is no legislation pending before Congress to change existing staff arrangements in Congress or legislative branch agencies. As policies and issues before Congress continue to proliferate in volume and complexity, new proposals for change in staffing levels or changes in the balance between congressional staff and...

Female Genital Mutilation as Persecution: When Can It Constitute a Basis for Asylum and Withholding of Removal?

This report explores the basic statutory and regulatory framework that governs asylum law. This entails an outline of the requirements an applicant must meet in order to obtain relief under asylum law and a discussion about the differences between the two main forms of relief for aliens facing removal from the United States: asylum and withholding of removal. It will then examine several important issues and controversies concerning female genital mutilation (FGM) and its effect on asylum law.

Presidential Succession: Perspectives, Contemporary Analysis, and 110th Congress Proposed Legislation

This report provides analytical perspective on presidential succession questions in U.S. history, identifies and assesses contemporary succession issues, and identifies and analyzes relevant legislation offered in the 110th Congress.

Do Not Mail Initiatives and Their Potential Effects: Possible Issues for Congress

Since 2007, at least 19 state legislatures have introduced legislation that would require the creation of state Do Not Mail (DNM) registries. In 2008, 12 states had pending DNM legislation. Although each state’s DNM initiative is unique, all attempt to curb the delivery of unsolicited advertising mail—often referred to as “junk mail or “direct mail marketing.” Each state’s bill would permit a resident to submit his or her name and address to a state agency or department, which would compile all the names and addresses into a registry that would then be distributed to direct mail marketers....

Communications Act Revisions: Selected Issues for Consideration

The passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act (P.L. 104-104) resulted in a major revision of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 151 et seq.) to address the emergence of competition in what were previously considered to be monopolistic markets. Although less than a decade has passed, a consensus has grown that existing laws that govern the telecommunications and broadcasting sectors have become inadequate to meet the Nation’s changing telecommunications environment. Technological changes such as the advancement of Internet technology to supply data, voice, and video, the transition...

Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs): An Institutional Overview

Congress chartered government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) to improve the workings of credit markets. This report briefly describes the nature of GSEs, their mixed governmental-private nature, the differences between GSEs and government agencies, and the arguments for and against GSEs.

Flood Insurance Requirements for Stafford Act Assistance

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (the Stafford Act) imposes flood insurance requirements upon eligibility for disaster assistance in two general cases: (1) if the entity seeking disaster assistance has received disaster assistance in the past, or (2) if the entity seeking disaster assistance is a state or local government or private nonprofit located in a federally designated special flood hazard area (SFHA) as determined under the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968. The requirements imposed by the Stafford Act operate independently of each other, and a...

The Buy American Act: Requiring Government Procurements to Come from Domestic Sources

The Buy American Act is the major domestic preference statute governing procurement by the federal government. Essentially it attempts to protect domestic labor by providing a preference for American goods in government purchases. In the 110th Congress a new reporting requirement was added to the Buy American Act. The Buy American Improvement Act of 2007 would make statutory the definition of "American made," increase the domestic content requirement from 50% to 75%, and place limits upon the "inconsistent with the public interest" and "use outside of the United States" exceptions to the act.

Presidential Claims of Executive Privilege: History, Law, Practice and Recent Developments

This report discusses the background of claims of executive privilege, a right to preserve the confidentiality of information and documents in the face of legislative demands, ending with a look into how President George W. Bush has used them.

General Services Administration Prospectus Thresholds for Owned and Leased Federal Facilities

The General Services Administration (GSA) oversees GSA-owned and -leased federal buildings and courthouses. This report provides an overview of the funding for GSA, GSA procedures, and related legislation, especially in light of recent disasters, i.e., hurricanes, flooding, etc.

Congressional Investigations of the Department of Justice, 1920-2007: History, Law, and Practice

This report discusses the legislative oversight that is most commonly conducted through congressional budget, authorization, appropriations, confirmation, and investigative processes, and, in rare instances, through impeachment.

Suits Against Terrorist States by Victims of Terrorism

In 1996 Congress amended the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) to allow U.S. victims of terrorism to sue designated State sponsors of terrorism for their terrorist acts. The courts have handed down large judgments against the terrorist State defendants, generally in default, and successive Administrations have intervened to block the judicial attachment of frozen assets to satisfy judgments. After a court ruled that Congress never created a cause of action against terrorist States themselves, but only against their officials, employees, and agents, plaintiffs have based claims on...

Congressional Influence on Rulemaking and Regulation Through Appropriations Restrictions

This report examines the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2008, and identifies four types of such provisions: (1) restrictions on the finalization of particular proposed rules, (2) restrictions on regulatory activity within certain areas, (3) implementation or enforcement restrictions, and (4) conditional restrictions (e.g., preventing implementation of a rule until certain actions are taken). The report then examines appropriations acts in nine previous fiscal years, noting that some provisions have been included in appropriations bills every year, and others have appeared for several...

Retroactive Immunity Provided by the FISA Amendments Act of 2008

This report discusses the various retroactive immunity mechanisms that were proposed to be included in the FISA Amendments Act, one of which was ultimately adopted, and their likely effect on lawsuits facing telecommunications providers.

Country-of-Origin Labeling for Foods

The 2002 farm bill required retailers to provide country-of-origin

labeling for fresh produce, red meats, peanuts, and seafood by September 30, 2004. Congress twice postponed implementation for all but seafood; country-of-origin labeling (COOL) now must be

implemented by September 30, 2008. Some lawmakers have proposed new COOL requirements for other foods and food ingredients, as part of a proposed overhaul of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC): An Overview

The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) is an agreement among member states to provide assistance after disasters overwhelm a state's capacity to manage consequences. The compact, initiated by the states and coordinated by the National Emergency Management Association, provides a structure for requesting emergency assistance from party states. In 1996 Congress approved EMAC as an interstate compact ( P.L. 104-321 ). EMAC also resolves some, but not all, potential legal and administrative obstacles that may hinder such assistance at the state level. EMAC also enhances state...

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Amendments: 110th Congress

Federal Advisory Committees: A Primer

Senate Administrative Officers and Officials

The 2008 Farm Bill: Analysis of Tax-Related Conservation Reserve Program Proposals

This report discusses the 2008 Farm Bill, which contains two tax-related proposals for the Conservation Reserve Program.

How Bills Amend Statutes

Many bills proposed in Congress address subjects on which law already exists, and their enactment would result in changes in the body of existing law. This report describes how new legislation may commonly express its intention either explicitly to amend existing law or implicitly to supersede its provisions. It does not present guidance for drafting legislation; for that purpose, recourse to the Office of Legislative Counsel is appropriate. Nor does it offer guidance for interpreting statutory language, which may be obtained by consulting the American Law Division of CRS. For more...

Asian Pacific Americans in the United States Congress

Asian Pacific Americans have served in both houses of Congress representing California, Hawaii, Louisiana, Oregon, Virginia, American Samoa, and Guam. They have served in leadership positions, including committee and subcommittee chairmanships. This report presents information on Senators, Representatives, and Delegates, including party affiliations, length and dates of service, and committee assignments.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965, As Amended: Its History and Current Issues

Several bills have been introduced in the 110th Congress concerning the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) that would rename the short title of the act, and address its bilingual provisions and issues of deceptive practices and voter intimidation during elections. This report discusses this issue at length and also addresses allegations of voting irregularities and of violations of the VRA during the presidential election of 2000.

Senate Rules for Committee Markups

Voting in the Senate: Forms and Requirements

Voting is among the most important public acts of individual Senators. For example, Senators recognize that their decisions often need to be explained to constituents who are interested in knowing why lawmakers voted as they did on various measures or matters. Party leaders, too, understand the importance of voting, for they often try to schedule votes during a time when they believe they can win senatorial support for their objectives. That Senators try never to miss votes is reflected in the high percentage of rollcall votes that they cast. On all recorded votes taken in the chamber,...

Senate Amendment Process: General Conditions and Principles

Senate Executive Business and the Executive Calendar

The Senate has responsibilities under both Article I (outlining legislative prerogatives) and Article II of the Constitution. As a result, the upper body handles legislative and executive business differently. This report discusses the Senate’s lawmaking responsibilities under Article I; executive business, which consists of treaties and nominations.

”Holds” in the Senate

Electronic Rulemaking in the Federal Government

This report explores the Bush Administration's initiative of implementing electronic rulemaking (e-rulemaking) in the federal government, the questions regarding how this initiative is being funded, its overall structure, its costs and expected financial benefits, the functionality of some of the applications being used, and its effect on public participation in the rulemaking process.

Lobbyists and Interest Groups: Sources of Information

Lobbyists and interest groups play an active role in the American legislative process. Information on lobbyist registrations and on interest groups in general is available from a variety of online and printed sources, including files available for public inspection. This report is a guide for locating governmental sources that maintain files on lobby groups, their registrations, and finances. Also included in this report are nongovernmental sources that offer background information on the lobbyists and interest groups who focus on legislation in Washington.

Congressional Review of Agency Rulemaking: An Update and Assessment of The Congressional Review Act after a Decade

This report will provide a brief explanation of how the structure of the review scheme was expected to operate and describes how it has in fact been utilized.

Lobbying Regulations on Non-Profit Organizations

Public charities, religious groups, social welfare organizations, and other nonprofit organizations which are exempt from federal income taxation are not generally prohibited from engaging in all lobbying or public policy advocacy activities merely because of their tax-exempt status. There may, however, be some lobbying limitations on certain organizations, depending. This report discusses this issue at length, including related legislation, relevant passages in the Internal Revenue Code, and other regulatory information.

A User’s Guide to the Congressional Record

Chemical Facility Security: Regulation and Issues for Congress

This report describes the statutory authority granted to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with regards to chemical facility security regulation and the interim final rule promulgated by DHS, and identifies select issues of contention related to the interim final rule. Finally, this report discusses several possible policy options for Congress.

Congressional Budget Resolutions: Revisions and Adjustments

Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY2008: Brief Overview

Messages, Petitions, Communications, and Memorials to Congress

The Constitution and the rules of the House and Senate identify various means that citizens, subordinate levels of government, and other branches of the federal government may use to communicate formally with either or both houses of Congress. The House and Senate use written messages to communicate with the other. For more information on legislative process, see http://www.crs.gov/¿products/¿guides/¿guidehome.shtml.

European Union–U.S. Trade and Investment Relations: Key Issues

Former NFL Players: Disabilities, Benefits, and Related Issues

This report discusses professional football players' injuries and health conditions that might have long-term consequences for their health.

Judicial Security: Responsibilities and Current Issues

Presidential Transitions

Selected Federal Homeland Security Assistance Programs: A Summary

Secret Sessions of Congress: A Brief Historical Overview

Engrossment, Enrollment, and Presentation of Legislation

Engrossment, enrollment, and presentation of legislation are components of the legislative process that attest to the accuracy of bill texts, confirm House and Senate action, and confirm delivery of the bills to the President for review.

Federal Courthouse Construction

Former Presidents: Federal Pension and Retirement Benefits

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2008 Appropriations

FY2008 appropriations for Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) agencies were originally proposed in H.R. 2829. The bill included funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and 20 independent agencies. Among the independent agencies funded by the bill are the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the United States Postal Service (USPS).

On June 28, 2007, the House approved $43.8 billion for H.R. 2829, a...

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2008 Appropriations

This report monitors actions taken by the 110th Congress for the FY2008 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations bill. In the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 (P.L. 110-161), Congress has provided $54.637 billion in CJS appropriations, a 3.4% increase over the FY2007 enacted level and a 2.2% increase over the Administration’s request. This amount includes $6.857 billion for the Department of Commerce (a 3.5% increase over the FY2007 enacted level), $23.592 billion for the Department of Justice (a 1.6% increase), $23.38 billion for science agencies (a 5.3%...

OMB and Risk Assessment

The Law of Church and State: U.S. Supreme Court Decisions Since 2002

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof....” The language is commonly referred to as the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. The two clauses serve to balance the collective freedom so that the government may neither coerce nor prohibit citizens’ participation in religion. The U.S. Supreme Court historically has rendered its decisions on both clauses without applying brightline rules.

Political developments have raised new questions of church-state...

Senate Policy on “Holds”: Action in the 110th Congress

Federal Grants to State and Local Governments: A Brief History

The Department of the Treasury’s Authority to Regulate GSE Debt: A Legal Analysis

The Department of the Treasury is developing a more formalized approach for approving Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s debt issuances. Although the Department of the Treasury has traditionally used its approval authority merely to coordinate the timing of debt issuances, the department may seek to regulate the amount of debt that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may issue. This report analyzes the Department of the Treasury’s legal authority over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and concludes that a court would likely hold that the department possesses the power to regulate the amount of debt issued by...

Homeland Security Department: FY2008 Appropriations

This report describes the FY2008 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Administration requested a net appropriation of $35.5 billion in net budget authority for FY2008. The requested net appropriation for major components of the department included the following: $8,783 million for Customs and Border Protection (CBP); $4,168 million for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); $3,608 million for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA); $8,457 million for the U.S. Coast Guard; $1,399 million for the Secret Service; $1,047 for the National Protection...

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD): FY2008 Appropriations

The FY2008 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies appropriations bill (THUD) provides funding for the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and five independent agencies related to these two departments.

The Bush Administration requested $100.3 billion (after scorekeeping adjustments) for FY2008, an increase of $300 million (less than 1%) over FY2007. DOT would receive $64.5 billion, $1.3 billion more than provided in FY2007. HUD would receive $35.6 billion, $1.0 billion less than provided in FY2007.

A...

Presidential Transitions: Background and Federal Support

This report discusses the Presidential Transition Act, which authorizes funding for the General Services Administration (GSA) to provide suitable office space, staff compensation and other services associated with the transition process.

Products Liability: A Legal Overview

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2008 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except for the Bureau of Reclamation, and for two agencies within other departments—the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service (IHS) within the Department of Health and Human Services. It also includes funding for arts and cultural agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency, and numerous other entities.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY2008 (P.L. 110-161) included $26.89 billion for Interior, Environment, and...

Haiti: Developments and U.S. Policy Since 1991 and Current Congressional Concerns

Following the first free and fair elections in Haiti’s history, Jean-Bertrand Aristide first became Haitian President in February 1991. He was overthrown by a military coup in September 1991. For over three years, the military regime resisted international demands that Aristide be restored to office. In September 1994, after a U.S. military intervention had been launched, the military regime agreed to Aristide’s return, the immediate, unopposed entry of U.S. troops, and the resignation of its leadership. President Aristide returned to Haiti in October 1994 under the protection of some...

FY2008 Appropriations for State and Local Homeland Security

A Legal Analysis of the “70/70” Provision of the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) recently issued a report requesting data to aid in determining whether the so-called “70/70” test for cable market penetration has been met. Under Section 612(g) of the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984, when 70% of households in the United States are able to subscribe to cable services of 36 channels or more and 70% of those households actually subscribe to such services, the FCC will be empowered to “promulgate any additional rules necessary to provide a diversity of information sources.” A House Report issued when the...

Defense: FY2008 Authorization and Appropriations

The President’s FY2008 federal budget request, released February 5, 2007, included $647.2 billion in new budget authority for national defense including $483.2 billion for the regular operations of the Department of Defense (DOD), $141.8 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, $17.4 billion for the nuclear weapons and other defense-related programs of the Department of Energy, and $4.8 billion for defense-related activities of other agencies. On July 31, 2007, the President requested an additional $5.3 billion for war-fighting costs, and on October 22 he requested an...

North Korean Refugees in China and Human Rights Issues: International Response and U.S. Policy Options

North Koreans have been crossing the border into China, many in search of refuge, since the height of North Korea’s famine in the 1990s. The State Department estimates that 30,000-50,000 North Korean refugees currently live in China (some non-governmental organizations estimate the number is closer to 300,000) and believes those who are repatriated may face punishment ranging from a few months of “labor correction” to execution. A number of reports also document the difficult conditions faced by North Koreans who remain in China. The plight of the North Koreans focuses attention not only...

Innovation and Intellectual Property Issues in Homeland Security

The U.S. government and private firms alike seek high technology solutions to detect and prevent future terrorist attacks, as well as to respond to any future attacks that do occur. Some concerns exist, however, that patents, trade secrets or other intellectual rights may impede the prompt, widespread and cost-effective distribution of innovations that promote homeland security. In 2001, these concerns arose with respect to pharmaceutical CIPRO, an antibiotic that treats inhalation anthrax. Some commentators called for the U.S. government to “override” a privately owned patent in order to...

Court Security Improvement Act of 2007: Public Law 110-177 (H.R. 660 and S. 378) in Brief

Early in the 110th Congress, the Chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees introduced essentially identical versions of the Court Security Improvement Act of 2007 (H.R. 660 and S. 378), which mirrored legislation that the Senate passed at the close of the 109th Congress. Each house reported (S.Rept. 110-42; H.Rept. 110-218) and passed somewhat different variations (153 Cong. Rec. S4741-742, H7466), although the basic of the legislation remains unchanged in both instances. The Senate subsequently passed H.R. 660 with slight changes, which the House accepted under suspension of...

Court Security Improvement Act of 2007: A Legal Analysis of Public Law 110-177 (H.R. 660 and S. 378)

The proposals of the Court Security Improvement Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-177, H.R. 660 and S. 378), fall within one of four categories. One consists of amendments to existing federal criminal law. The bill increases the penalties for manslaughter committed during the course of an obstruction of justice and for witness intimidation and retaliation. It creates new federal crimes proscribing (1) the use of nuisance liens and encumbrances to harass federal officials; (2) the public disclosure of personal, identifying information concerning federal officials in order to intimidate them or incite...

Overview of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Requirements

Changes to the OMB Regulatory Review Process by Executive Order 13422

Across-the-Board Spending Cuts in End-of Session Appropriations Acts

This report examines the use of across-the-board spending cuts in the end-of-session appropriations acts for FY2000-FY2006 identified above, assessing the budgetary context leading to the spending cut, recounting the legislative action on the spending cut provision, and reviewing the provision’s design and implementation.

The Interagency Security Committee and Security Standards for Federal Buildings

The federal government owns or leases 3.7 billion square feet of office space, which may be vulnerable to acts of terrorism and other forms of violence. The Interagency Security Committee (ISC) was created by E.O. 12977 in 1995, following the domestic terrorist bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, OK, to address the quality and effectiveness of physical security requirements for federal facilities. The September 2001 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center renewed concerns about the vulnerability of federal buildings to bombing or other...

Anti-Doping Policies: The Olympics and Selected Professional Sports

Legislative Branch: FY2007 Appropriations

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov RL33379 Summary Congress provided $3.785 billion in FY2007 appropriations for the legislative branch in the Revised Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2007, which was enacted on February 15, 2007. Additional funding was subsequently provided in the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007, which was enacted on May 25, 2007. From October 1, 2006, the beginning of the 2007 fiscal year, until the enactment of the Revised Continuing Appropriations Resolution, the legislative...

Legal Issues Related to Prescription Drug Sales on the Internet

This report provides a legal analysis of issues related to prescription drug sales on the Internet, including issues involving online pharmacies and physicians who prescribe medications over the Internet. Specifically, this report provides an overview of the various federal and state laws that regulate this field, including laws and regulations covering prescription drugs, controlled substances, doctors, and pharmacies. Legislators have introduced the following bills in the 110th Congress: H.R. 194, H.R. 380, S. 242, S. 251, S. 554, S. 596, and S. 980. Additionally, in May 2007, the Senate...

National Emergency Powers

FDA Legislation in the 110th Congress: A Side-by-Side Comparison of S. 1082 and H.R. 2900

Both the House and the Senate have passed comprehensive legislation to reauthorize existing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) programs and expand the agency’s authority to ensure the safety of prescription drugs, medical devices, and biologics. The Senate passed the Food and Drug Administration Revitalization Act (S. 1082) on May 9, 2007. The House passed the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007 (H.R. 2900) on July 11, 2007.

At its core, the legislation renews authority for two key user fee programs that are set to expire on October 1, 2007: the Prescription Drug User Fee...

Emergency Contraception: Plan B

On August 24, 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the approval of an application to switch Plan B, an emergency contraceptive, from a prescription-only drug to an over-the-counter (OTC) drug for women 18 years of age and older. Plan B will only be sold in pharmacies or healthcare clinics. It will continue to be dispensed as a prescription drug for women 17 years old and younger. Plan B is a brand of post-coital contraceptive that is administered within a few hours or days of unprotected intercourse. Emergency contraception prevents pregnancy; it does not disrupt an...

Student Loans in Bankruptcy

Requiring Disclosure of Gifts and Payments to Physicians: State Efforts and a Legal Analysis of Potential Federal Action

A recent Senate hearing, state efforts, and media attention have brought the issue of pharmaceutical companies’ gifts and payments to physicians into focus. Pharmaceutical companies sometimes give gifts or make payments to doctors as part of their marketing efforts. Senator Herb Kohl has expressed interest in introducing a federal bill that would mandate disclosure of such gifts and payments. This report briefly outlines the arguments for and against a federal disclosure measure. Next, it describes the state disclosure laws already in effect. Finally, it analyzes potential legal hurdles to...

The Constitution and Racial Diversity in K-12 Education: A Legal Analysis of the Supreme Court Ruling in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1

The diversity rationale for affirmative action in public education has long been a topic of political and legal controversy. Many colleges and universities have established affirmative action policies not only to remedy past discrimination, but also to achieve a racially and ethnically diverse student body or faculty. Although the Supreme Court has recognized that the use of race-based policies to promote diversity in higher education may be constitutional, the Court had never, until recently, considered whether diversity is a constitutionally permissible goal in the elementary and...

Members Who Have Served in the U.S. Congress 30 Years or More

Project BioShield: Appropriations, Acquisitions, and Policy Implementation Issues for Congress

The Project BioShield Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-276) established a 10-year program to acquire civilian medical countermeasures to chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) agents for the Strategic National Stockpile. Provisions of this act were designed to encourage private companies to develop these countermeasures by guaranteeing a government market for successfully developed countermeasures.

Congress has expressed concern about the implementation of Project BioShield. It has held multiple oversight hearings and considered several pieces of legislation to improve the execution...

Congressional Budget Actions in 2007

Transportation, the Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia, the Executive Office of the President, and Independent Agencies (TTHUD): FY2007 Appropriations

The Bush Administration requested $138.5 billion (after scorekeeping adjustments) for these agencies for FY2007, an increase of $2.3 billion over the $136.2 billion Congress provided in the agencies’ FY2006 appropriations act (this FY2006 figure reflects a 1.0% across-the-board rescission that was included in the FY2006 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, P.L. 109-148). The total FY2006 funding (after scorekeeping adjustments) for the agencies in this bill was $146.3 billion, due to emergency supplemental funding provided to deal with the effects of the Gulf Coast hurricanes of...

Lobbying Disclosure: Themes and Issues, 110th Congress

Free Mail for Troops Overseas

Science, State, Justice, Commerce and Related Agencies (House)/Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (Senate): FY2007 Appropriations

This report monitors actions taken by the 109th Congress for the House’s Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies (SSJC) and the Senate’s Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) FY2007 appropriations bill. Appropriations bills reflect the jurisdiction of the subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees in which they are considered. Jurisdictions for the subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees changed at the beginning of the 109th Congress.

On September 29, 2006, Congress passed the Defense Department Appropriation...

DHS’s Max-HR Personnel System: Regulations on Classification, Pay, and Performance Management Compared With Current Law, and Implementation Plans

This report compares the final regulations with current law under Title 5 of the United States Code and relevant regulations under Title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Specifically, Subparts A (General Provisions), B (Classification), C (Pay and Pay Administration), and D (Performance Management) of the final regulations are examined.

Senate Policy Committees

Campaign Finance: An Overview

Watters v. Wachovia Bank, N.A.

In Watters v. Wachovia Bank, the Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision, ruled that Michigan mortgage lending requirements do not apply to a state-chartered operating subsidiary of a national bank. The decision was based on the Court’s interpretation of various provisions of the National Bank Act, including provisions granting national banks the power to make real estate loans; the “incidental powers” clause, under which national banks have been authorized by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the regulator of national banks, to conduct banking activities in operating...

Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act: A Sketch

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, P.L. 109-248 (H.R. 4472), serves four purposes. It reformulates the federal standards for sex offender registration in state, territorial and tribal sexual offender registries, and does so in a manner designed to make the system more uniform, more inclusive, more informative and more readily available to the public online. It amends federal criminal law and procedure, featuring a federal procedure for the civil commitment of sex offenders, random search authority over sex offenders on probation or supervised release, a number of new federal...

House Committee Funding, 110th Congress

Federal White-Collar Pay: FY2006 and FY2007 Salary Adjustments

Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76: Selected Issues

The Federal Activities Inventory Reform Act and Circular A-76

This report begins with a brief history of Circular A-76, a review of the its key components, and an assessment of the implementation of the circular. The section on FAIR (Federal Activities Inventory Reform Act) describes how it emerged from a series of compromises, explains the statute's key provisions, and reviews the implementation process, including guidance issued by OMB. The final section addresses recent initiatives, notably the President's competitive sourcing initiative and the Commercial Activities Panel.

Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act: A Legal Analysis

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, (P.L. 109-248, H.R. 4472), emerged from Congress following the passage of separate bills in the House and Senate (H.R. 3132 and S. 1086 respectively). The act’s provisions fall into four categories: a revised sex offender registration system, child and sex related amendments to federal criminal and procedure, child protective grant programs, and other initiatives designed to prevent and punish sex offenders and those who victimize children.

The sex offender registration provisions replace the Jacob Wetterling Act provisions with a statutory...

Indian Gaming Regulatory Act: Gaming on Newly Acquired Lands

H.R. 1 (Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007) and S. 4 (Improving America’s Security Act of 2007): A Comparative Analysis

This comparative analysis of H.R. 1 (Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007) and S. 4 (Improving America’s Security Act of 2007) is an assessment of major similarities and differences between the two bills as passed by the House (January 9, 2007) and Senate (March 13, 2007) and under conference consideration.

References to the two bills are to engrossed versions. The presentation is organized to follow the basic construct of the House bill because its coverage remained more stable through the legislative process and as the analyses began. Titles unique to S. 4 follow...

Grazing Regulations: Changes by the Bureau of Land Management

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued changes to grazing regulations (43 C.F.R. Part 4100) on August 11, 2006, after a three year review. Some portions of the regulations have been enjoined. The previous major revision of grazing rules, which took effect in 1995, was highly controversial. The 2006 changes addressed many of the same issues, and received mixed reviews. BLM asserted that the 2006 changes were needed to increase flexibility for grazing managers and permittees, to improve rangeland management and grazing permit administration, to promote conservation, and to comply with...

FY2007 Appropriations for State and Local Homeland Security

The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (P.L. 109-417): Provisions and Changes to Preexisting Law

Authorities to direct federal preparedness for and response to public health emergencies are found principally in the Public Health Service Act (PHS Act), and are administered by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). Three recent laws provided the core of these authorities. P.L. 106-505, the Public Health Threats and Emergencies Act of 2000 (Title I of the Public Health Improvement Act), established a number of new programs and authorities, including grants to states to build public health preparedness. P.L. 107-188, the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and...

Federal Emergency Management Policy Changes After Hurricane Katrina: A Summary of Statutory Provisions

Reports issued by committees of the 109th Congress, the White House, federal offices of Inspector General, and the Government Accountability Office (GAO), among others, concluded that the losses caused by Hurricane Katrina were due, in part, to deficiencies such as questionable leadership decisions and capabilities, organizational failures, overwhelmed preparation and communication systems, and inadequate statutory authorities. As a result, the 109th Congress revised federal emergency management policies vested in the President; reorganized the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA);...

The Columbia River Basin’s Fish Passage Center

Senior Executive Service (SES) Pay for Performance System

Judiciary Appropriations for FY2007

PAYGO Rules for Budget Enforcement in the House and Senate

527 Political Organizations: Legislation in the 109th Congress

Campaign Financing: Highlights and Chronology of Current Federal Law

The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act

President George W. Bush signed the Postal Enhancement and Accountability Act (P.L. 109-435) on December 20, 2006. This report briefly describes Congress’s pursuit of postal reform, summarizes the major provisions of the new postal reform law, and identifies possible P.L. 109-435 oversight issues for Congress.

Venue for Federal Criminal Prosecution: Proposals in the 109th Congress

Venue, the place where federal criminal trials may be held, is a matter of constitutional and statutory law. Several proposals in the 109th Congress would have expanded federal venue. The Supreme Court’s recent decisions in Cabrales and Rodriguez-Moreno suggest that a few of the proposals might have been more limited than their terms might indicate. The proposals dealt with venue in cases involving capital offenses, obstruction of justice, violent crime, drug trafficking offenses, false statements, failure to pay spousal support, wartime procurement fraud, and trial in emergency...

Housing Issues in the 109th Congress

The 109th Congress considered a number of housing-related issues in its two sessions. These included appropriations for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); assistance for families and communities affected by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma; reform of the Government Sponsored Enterprises—Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—and Federal Home Loan Banks (GSEs and FHLBs); revisions to the FHA loan insurance program; and changes to existing housing programs such as the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program. However, the 109th Congress...

Disaster Housing Assistance: A Legal Analysis of ACORN v. FEMA

This report discusses the ongoing litigation in Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) v. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), litigation that involves certain evacuees from Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. In the ACORN case now before the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia addressed the constitutional adequacy of the notice provided to hurricane evacuees who were denied long-term housing assistance benefits by FEMA under § 408 of the Stafford Act. The court held that the notice FEMA...

Postal Reform

Savings in Mandatory Outlays in Selected Reconciliation Acts

Congressional Budget Actions in 2006

Revenue Reconciliation Directives to the Senate Finance Committee in Congressional Budget Resolutions

This report discusses the revenue reconciliation directives that varied in their time frame, from single-year coverage (in the FY1976, FY1981, and FY1990 budget resolutions) to 11-year coverage (in the FY2002 and FY2004 budget resolutions)

USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005: A Legal Analysis

Several sections of the USA PATRIOT Act and one section of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 were originally scheduled to expire on December 31, 2005. In July 2005, both Houses approved USA PATRIOT reauthorization acts, H.R. 3199 and S. 1389, and the conference committee filed a report, H.Rept. 109-333. A separate bill, the USA PATRIOT Act Additional Reauthorizing Amendments Act of 2006 (S. 2271), provided civil liberties safeguards not included in the conference report. Both H.R. 3199 and S. 2271 were signed into law (P.L. 109-177 and P.L. 109-178) by the...

Civilian Patrols Along the Border: Legal and Policy Issues

Tax Provisions in the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 (H.R. 6111)

“Terrorism” and Related Terms in Statute and Regulation: Selected Language

Congress has used the term “terrorism” often in legislation. Hundreds of federal statutes and regulations already refer to “terrorism” and related terms in a variety of other contexts. However, these statutes and regulations ultimately refer to an extremely small set of statutory definitions, current criminal law and immigration definitions among them. This report provides the current text of a few of the fundamental definitions.

9/11 Commission Recommendations: Implementation Status

This report provides a review of the 9/11 Commission recommendations and the status of their implementation at the end of the 109th Congress. The discussions herein are organized on the basis of policy themes that are at the core of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, rather than through a review of each numbered item set out in the Commission’s final report. The analysis was produced by a large team of CRS Specialists, analysts, and attorneys who are responsible for the wide variety of policy areas covered by the 9/11 Commission in its work. The authors of the varied segments of this...

Membership of the 109th Congress: A Profile

This report presents a profile of the membership of the 109th Congress. Statistical information is included on selected characteristics of Members, including data on party affiliation, average age and length of service, occupation, religious affiliation, female and minority Members, foreign-born Members, and military service.

Homeland Security Department: FY2007 Appropriations

The annual consideration of appropriations bills (regular, continuing, and supplemental) by Congress is part of a complex set of budget processes that also encompasses the consideration of budget resolutions, revenue and debt-limit legislation, other spending measures, and reconciliation bills. In addition, the operation of programs and the spending of appropriated funds are subject to constraints established in authorizing statutes. Congressional action on the budget for a fiscal year usually begins following the submission of the President’s budget at the beginning of each annual session...

House Contested Election Cases: 1933 to 2005

This report provides a summary of contested election cases from the 73rd Congress through the 109th Congress, 1933 to 2005. The descriptions primarily provide information concerning the nature of the action and the disposition of the case. The summary is limited to only those cases that were considered by the House of Representatives; cases decided at the state level are beyond the scope of this report.

Elections in States Affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

Extradition Between the United States and Great Britain: A Sketch of the 2003 Treaty

Federal court denial of British extradition requests in the cases of four fugitives from Northern Ireland led to the Supplementary Extradition Treaty. The Treaty proved controversial, and before the Senate would give its consent, it insisted upon modifications, some quite unusual. Those modifications have been eliminated in a newly negotiated treaty to which the Senate has recently given its advice and consent and which incorporates features often more characteristic of contemporary extradition treaties with other countries. The Senate conditioned its approval of the Treaty upon an...

The Voting Rights Act of 1965, As Amended: Reauthorization Issues

Harvey v. Veneman and the National Organic Program: A Legal Analysis

The First Circuit’s ruling in Harvey v. Veneman brought much attention and uncertainty to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program. In the case, Harvey alleged that multiple provisions of the National Organic Program Final Rule (Final Rule) were inconsistent with the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA). The First Circuit sided with Harvey on three counts, putting into question the use of synthetics and commercially unavailable organic agricultural products, as well as certain feeding practices for dairy herds converting to organic production. On remand, the...

The Information Quality Act: OMB’s Guidance and Initial Implementation

The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (S. 2590): Overview and Comparison with H.R. 5060

In an attempt to expand oversight of federal spending, including earmarks, S. 2590 would provide the public with access to an online database containing information about entities that are awarded federal grants, loans, and contracts. This report summarizes S. 2590, compares it to H.R. 5060, and outlines the arguments in favor of the bill and those critical of it. The final section discusses the implications of using the Federal Assistance Award Data System (FAADS) and the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) to populate the bill’s proposed database.

FEMA Reorganization Legislation in the 109th Congress

Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Hurricane Katrina Relief

This CRS report summarizes federal disaster assistance funding legislation in the 109th Congress and presents some information on federal expenditures and obligations for disaster recovery activities.

The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC): An Overview

Disaster Evacuation and Displacement Policy: Issues for Congress

Employment Discrimination and Retaliation Claims: A Legal Analysis of the Supreme Court Ruling in Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Co. v. White

This report discusses Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Co. v. White, a recent case in which the Supreme Court considered the scope of the retaliation provision under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Specifically, the Court held that the retaliation provision, which bars employers from retaliating against employees who complain of discrimination, is not limited only to activity that affects the terms and conditions of employment, but rather covers a broader range of actions...

State and Local Homeland Security: Unresolved Issues for the 109th Congress

Arguably, the three most important homeland security public laws enacted following the terrorist attacks on September 2001 are: P.L. 107-56, “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act (USA PATRIOT Act)”; P.L. 107-296, “Homeland Security Act of 2002”; and P.L. 108-458, “Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.” The PATRIOT Act focused on enhancing domestic security through anti-terrorism measures, specifically, law enforcement and legal responses to terrorism. The Homeland Security Act established the...

Federal Emergency Management and Homeland Security Organization: Historical Developments and Legislative Options

This report provides background information about the establishment and evolution of federal emergency management and related homeland security organization since 1950. Post-Katrina assessments of current arrangements by Congress and the White House are also discussed. Finally, the report provides a brief summary of related legislation that had been introduced as of July 17, 2006.

Report of the Illinois Special State’s Attorney Relating to Police Brutality: A Legal Analysis of Federal Laws Implicated

The report of an Illinois Special State’s Attorney, appointed to investigate allegations of police brutality committed against certain detainees during the early 1980s, concluded that in three instances indictable aggravated battery, perjury, and obstruction of justice had occurred, but that the 3-year Illinois statute of limitations barred prosecution. Media accounts, however, have suggested the possibility of federal prosecution.

Statements found in the report implicate, at a minimum, federal statutes outlawing civil rights violations, perjury, false statements, obstructions of justice,...

FY2003 and FY2004 State Allocations for Selected Homeland Security Assistance Programs

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provide assistance programs to state and local first responders and public health officials to prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks, including weapons of mass destruction (WMD) incidents. Most of the programs provide assistance funding to states, which in turn allocate funding to localities. Some programs, however, provide assistance directly to localities. Programs of this type include the Assistance to Firefighters Program (FIRE) and the Urban Area Security Initiative...

FY2006 Appropriations for State and Local Homeland Security

FY2004 Appropriations for First Responder Preparedness: Fact Sheet

This report provides an overview of FY2004 appropriations for state and local terrorism preparedness. Preparedness may be defined as enhancing a state or local government’s capability to respond effectively to a terrorist attack, particularly one involving a weapon of mass destruction (WMD).

A Sunset Commission for the Federal Government: Recent Developments

The sunset concept provides for programs and agencies to terminate automatically on a periodic basis unless explicitly renewed by law. In the last ten years, bills to create a federal sunset commission, modeled on the sunset review process in Texas, have been introduced in each Congress. President Bush called for creation of a federal sunset commission in his FY2006 budget submission. This report discusses this issue and relevant pieces of legislation.

Chapter 15 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code: Ancillary and Cross-Border Cases

The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 added chapter 15 to the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Chapter 15 implements the United Nations Commission on International Trade and Investment’s Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency. In so doing, chapter 15 (1) retains the Code’s focus on the role of the foreign representative, initially introduced in 1978; (2) clarifies procedural cooperation between U.S. and foreign courts; and (3) promotes comity and reciprocity, wherever possible, with respect to the interpretation and application of substantive law. Chapter 15 applies to...

S. 3521, the Stop Over Spending Act of 2006: A Brief Summary

S. 3521, the Stop Over Spending Act of 2006, proposes several changes to the congressional budget process. This report provides a brief summary of the major provisions of S. 3521.

Border Security: Apprehension of ”Other Than Mexican” Aliens

FY2006 Supplemental Appropriations: Iraq and Other International Activities; Additional Hurricane Katrina Relief

This report discusses the two separate FY2006 supplemental appropriations requests submitted on February 16, 2006. The first, totaling $72.4 billion, would fund ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan ($67.9 billion), non-DOD intelligence operations ($0.3 billion), State Department operations in Iraq and various foreign aid programs, including additional assistance for Iraq ($4.2 billion), and other counter-terrorism funding for other agencies ($12 million). The other supplemental would provide $19.8 billion for recovery and reconstruction activities in hurricane affected Gulf...

Hearings in the House of Representatives: A Guide for Preparation and Procedure

Congressional hearings are the principal formal method by which committees collect and analyze information in the early stages of policy making. Whether legislative, oversight, investigative, or a combination of these, all hearings share common elements of preparation and conduct. House Rule XI sets down many of the regulations to which committee hearings must conform, including the quorum requirement, advance submission of witness statements, the opportunity for minority party members to call witnesses of their choosing, the five-minute rule for questioning witnesses, witness rights, the...

Congressional Gifts and Travel: Proposals for the 109th Congress

Softwood Lumber Imports from Canada: Issues and Events

Information Brokers: Federal and State Laws

Argentina's Sovereign Debt Restructuring

In December 2001, after four years of deepening recession, impending financial crisis, and mounting social unrest, Argentina's government suddenly collapsed and ceased all payments on its debt. Argentina has failed to pay before, but this time it registered the largest sovereign default in history. Total public debt grew from 62% of GDP in late 2001 to a record-breaking and unsustainable 164% following default and devaluation in early 2002. Argentina faced restructuring over $100 billion of debt owed to domestic and international bondholders, including $10-15 billion of bonds held by...

Executive Compensation in Bankruptcy: The Fairness and Accountability in Reorganizations Act

S. 2556 and its companion bill, H.R. 5113, 109th Congress, 2nd Sess. (2006), introduced by Senator Bayh and Representative Conyers, respectively, are entitled the Fairness and Accountability in Reorganizations Act of 2006. The legislation, according to its sponsors, is intended to “ensure that workers are treated more fairly during [bankruptcy] reorganizations by limiting executive compensation deals and requiring corporations to provide a more accurate picture of their holdings before attempting to modify collective bargaining agreements or promised health benefits.” This report surveys...

Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 and International Adoptions

The Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 ( P.L. 106-279 , Oct. 6, 2000, 114 Stat. 825, "Act") provides the domestic legislation to enable the United States to implement the provisions of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption ("Convention"). At the same time that Congress passed the implementing legislation, the Senate was reviewing the Convention. Although the Senate approved the ratification of the Convention, the Convention has not been formally ratified and has not entered into force in the United States. The Department of State...

NEPA and Hurricane Response, Recovery, and Rebuilding Efforts

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): The Definition of Disability

The threshold issue in any Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) case is whether the individual alleging discrimination is an individual with a disability. The ADA definition is a functional one and does not list specific disabilities. This report discusses the definition of "disability." It also briefly discusses the Supreme Court's opinions and analyze how the lower courts are interpreting the Supreme Court's holdings.

Comparison of Selected Senate Earmark Reform Proposals

In response to reports of, and concern over, alleged irregularities in certain lobbying and representational activities, the Senate is considering various lobby and ethics reform proposals. Some have argued that the Senate should consider changes to the process by which the Senate earmarks spending priorities as a part of the larger focus on lobby and ethics reform.

Proposals to modify the earmark processes have been included in some Senate bills. On February 28, 2006, for example, the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration ordered reported S. 2349 , Legislative Transparency and...

Diploma Mills: A Legal Overview

This report provides an analysis of state and federal laws regarding diploma mills, which offer students academic degrees for little or no meaningful academic work. Specifically, this report addresses the criminal, civil, and common law ramifications for both the manufacturers and distributors of phony degrees, as well as for the buyers and users of such degrees. This analysis does not address counterfeit degrees that purport to be from existing accredited universities, but rather focuses primarily on the legal issues surrounding phony degrees from entities that provide diplomas without...

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): FY2006 Budget

In February 2005, a House Appropriations Committee reorganization plan abolished the Veterans Affairs, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Independent Agencies Subcommittee, sending HUD to a new Treasury, Transportation, Judiciary, Housing and Urban Development, District of Columbia and Related Agencies Subcommittee. A similar but not identical change was made in the Senate, creating the Transportation, Treasury, HUD Subcommittee. On February 7, 2005, the Administration submitted a $29.1 billion FY2006 budget request for HUD, which is 9% less than was provided in...

The History and Effect of Abortion Conscience Clause Laws

USA PATRIOT Act Additional Reauthorizing Amendments Act of 2006 (S. 2271)

Abortion: Legislative Response

Charitable Choice: Legal and Constitutional Issues

This report provides analysis of a number of factual, civil rights, and constitutional questions that have been raised regarding charitable choice in general. The analysis is generally focused on those provisions enacted as part of the 1996 welfare reform law. More recent charitable choice rules may give rise to the same or similar concerns. Primarily, this report focuses on civil rights concerns that have arisen in the context of charitable choice and First Amendment issues, as well as recent legal developments related to charitable choice.

Pension Issues Cloud Postal Reform Debate

Education Vouchers: Constitutional Issues and Cases

Interrogation of Detainees: Overview of the McCain Amendment

This report discusses the recent controversy that has arisen regarding U.S. treatment of enemy combatants and terrorist suspects detained in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations, and whether such treatment complies with U.S. statutes and treaties such as the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). Congress recently approved additional guidelines concerning the treatment of detainees. The Department of Defense, Emergency Supplemental Appropriations to Address Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and Pandemic...

Homeland Security Department: FY2006 Appropriations

This report describes the FY2006 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Administration requested a net appropriation of $30.6 billion in net budget authority for FY2006, of which $29.6 billion is discretionary budget authority, and $1 billion is mandatory budget authority. P.L. 109-90 was signed into law on October 18, 2005, and provides a net appropriation of $31.9 billion for DHS and $30.8 billion in discretionary budget authority.

The President’s request for appropriations includes the following break out of net budget authority for the four Titles of the DHS...

Postal Reform

The World Trade Organization: The Hong Kong Ministerial

The World Trade Organization (WTO) held its 6th Ministerial summit in Hong Kong from December 13-18, 2005. WTO Ministerials are held every two years to bring together trade ministers from member states, often to make political decisions for the body. Although an original goal of the Ministerial was to agree on a package of modalities (methods by which the round is negotiated) for the ongoing Doha Development Agenda (DDA) round of trade negotiations, this aim was dropped in order to avoid a high-profile failure similar to previous Ministerials at Cancun and Seattle. Rather, members agreed...

Transportation, the Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia, the Executive Office of the President, and Independent Agencies: FY2006 Appropriations

At the beginning of the 109th Congress, both the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations reorganized their subcommittee structure, affecting the coverage of the FY2006 appropriations bills. As a result, the appropriations subcommittees that previously oversaw the Departments of Transportation and the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President, and Independent Agencies now also oversee the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, and (in the case of the House, but not the Senate) the District of Columbia.

The Bush Administration requested $126.1 billion for...

Congressional Budget Actions in 2005

Banking and Securities Regulation and Agency Enforcement Authorities

The federal bank regulatory agencies — the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and the Office of Thrift Supervision — have extensive authority to enforce various legal and regulatory standards with respect to the banking institutions that they supervise. Similarly, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has a wide range of tools to enforce the securities laws. This report provides a brief sketch of these authorities and identifies the organizational entities within each agency that...

The Role of HUD Housing Programs in Response to Past Disasters

Hurricane Katrina has resulted in the displacement of tens of thousands of families from their homes. While its magnitude is unprecedented, the resulting need to shelter and house displaced families is not. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the nation's agency with a mission to provide safe and decent housing for all Americans, has played a role in meeting those needs in the past and is playing a role in the wake of Katrina. This report looks at HUD's current programs and how they have been used to respond to past disasters. The report begins by introducing the...

Science, State, Justice, Commerce and Related Agencies (House)/Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (Senate): FY2006 Appropriations

This report monitors actions taken by the 109th Congress for the House’s Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies (SSJC) and the Senate’s Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) FY2006 appropriations legislation. Appropriations bills reflect the jurisdiction of the subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees in which they are considered. Jurisdictions for the subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees changed at the beginning of the 109th Congress. In the 108th Congress, both the House and Senate subcommittees had...

Civil Rights Opinions of U.S. Supreme Court Nominee Samuel Alito: A Legal Overview

During his 15 years as a federal appellate judge on the Third Circuit, Judge Alito has written for the majority, concurred, or dissented in several cases alleging discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and other prohibited grounds. His legal position in these cases has varied, depending on the facts and law being applied, and defy rigid or facile classification. Nonetheless, some continuity in judicial approach, both substantive and procedural, may arguably be discerned from a review of several of his significant opinions.

Excited Utterances, "Testimonial" Statements, and the Confrontation Clause

The United States Supreme Court will hear oral argument this term in appeals from two state supreme court cases, Hammon v. Indiana and Davis v. Washington, concerning the admissibility of “excited utterance” statements made by non-testifying witnesses at criminal trials. In the landmark Crawford v. Washington case in 2004, the Court held that the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause forbids hearsay “testimonial” evidence from being introduced against the accused unless the witness is unavailable to testify and the defendant has had a prior opportunity to crossexamine the witness....

The Law of Church and State: Opinions of Judge Samuel Alito

This report provides an overview of opinions addressing issues related to the law of church and state written by Judge Alito while serving on the Third Circuit and Supreme Court precedent relevant to those cases.

Wagnon v. Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation: State Tax on Motor Fuels Distributed to Indian Tribal Retailers

This report discusses the U.S. Supreme Court decison, in Wagnon v. Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation (No. 94-631), which upheld the application of a non-discriminatory Kansas motor fuels tax to gasoline sold by off-reservation distributors to Indian tribal retailers for on-reservation sales.

Congress' Power to Legislate Control Over Hate Crimes: Selected Legal Theories

Congress has no power under the commerce clause over “noneconomic, violent criminal conduct” that does not cross state lines said Chief Justice William Rehnquist in United States v. Morrison. Congress, however, enjoys additional legislative powers under the spending clauses and the legislative clauses of the Thirteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. Extensive, if something less than all encompassing, national legislation may be possible under the confluence of authority conveyed by the commerce clause, spending clause, and the legislative clauses of the constitution’s Reconstruction Amendments,...

Military Courts-Martial: An Overview

Rumsfeld v. FAIR:

Limiting Tort Liability of Gun Manufacturers and Gun Sellers: Legal Analysis of P.L. 109-92 (2005)

This report examines P.L. 109-92 (2005), which passed the Senate and the House as S. 397, 109th Congress and was signed by the President on October 26, 2005

Congressional Primaries and Filing Deadlines, 2006 Schedule

This report provides the dates of congressional filing deadlines and primary and runoff primary dates for 2006 for the states, the District of Columbia, and territories.

Postal Service for Katrina Survivors

This report discusses the affected areas served by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Products Liability: A Legal Overview

U.S. Treatment of Prisoners in Iraq: Selected Legal Issues

Photographs depicting the apparent abuse of Iraqi detainees at the hands of U.S. military personnel at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq resulted in numerous investigations, congressional hearings, and prosecutions, raising questions regarding the applicable law. The international law of armed conflict, in particular, those parts relating to belligerent occupation, applies in Iraq. The four Geneva Conventions of 1949 related to the treatment of prisoners of war (POW) and civilian detainees, as well as the Hague Regulations define the status of detainees and state responsibility for...

Disaster Response and the Appointment of a Recovery Czar: The Executive Branch's Response to the Flood of 1927

This report describes the flood of 1927, and assesses the federal government’s response thereto. In short, the federal response was an executive branch response. President Calvin Coolidge created a quasi-governmental commission that included members of his Cabinet and the American National Red Cross. This commission encouraged the public to donate funds to the relief effort. It also gave Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover near-absolute authority to organize and oversee its response. Hoover used this authority to weave together federal resources, American National Red Cross volunteers,...

Hurricane Katrina Recovery: Contracting Opportunities

ANWR and FY2006 Budget Reconciliation Legislation

This report briefly discusses the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and FY2006 budget reconciliation legislation, which is considered under expedited procedures that, in particular, limit debate and amendments in the Senate.

S. 147/H.R. 309: Process for Federal Recognition of a Native Hawaiian Governmental Entity

S. 147 / H.R. 309 , companion bills introduced in the 109th Congress, represent an effort to accord to Native Hawaiians a means of forming a governmental entity that could enter into government-to-government relations with the United States. This entity would be empowered to negotiate with the State of Hawaii and with the federal government regarding the transfer of land and the exercise of governmental power and jurisdiction. There was similar legislation in the 106th, 107th, and 108th Congresses; the House passed a Native Hawaiian recognition bill, H.R. 4904 , in the 106th Congress....

The Use of Blind Trusts By Federal Officials

A blind trust, as discussed in this report, is a device employed by a federal official to hold, administer and manage the private financial assets, investments and ownerships of the official, and his or her spouse and dependant children, as a method of conflict of interest avoidance. In establishing a qualified blind trust upon the approval of the appropriate supervisory ethics entity, the official transfers, without restriction, control and management of private assets to an independent trustee who may not communicate information about the identity of the holdings in the trust to...

Klamath River Basin Issues and Activities: An Overview

The Klamath River Basin, an area on the California-Oregon border, has become a focal point for local and national discussions on water management and water scarcity. Water and species management issues were brought to the forefront when severe drought in 2001 exacerbated competition for scarce water resources and generated conflict among several interests -- farmers, Indian tribes, commercial and sport fishermen, other recreationists, federal wildlife refuge managers, environmental groups, and state, local, and tribal governments. The conflicts over water distribution and allocation are...

Emergency Contracting Authorities

Hurricane Katrina has given rise to many emergency contracting situations. This report will attempt to identify and summarize the primary emergency contracting authorities which might be available to facilitate response to these situations. Generally, these authorities may be divided into two categories, general emergency authority, and emergency (or national interest) exceptions to general procurement statutes or regulations.

Regulatory Waivers and Extensions Pursuant to Hurricane Katrina

This report identifies some of Katrina-related waivers and extensions. Federal agencies have waived a number of regulatory requirements and extended the deadlines for certain reports and applications to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina and to ease the economic effects of the storm.

The "Right to Die": Constitutional and Statutory Analysis

In the spring of 2005, national attention was drawn to a series of court and legislative actions regarding the withdrawal of nutrition and hydration from a Florida patient, Theresa Schiavo, who had suffered severe brain damage. For a summary of relevant factual and legal events surrounding this case, see http://www.miami.edu/ethics2/schiavo/timeline.htm and CRS Report RL32830(pdf) , The Schiavo Case: Legal Issues . This case brought new scrutiny to the “right to die” issue. Although the popular term “right to die” has been used as a label to describe the current political debate...

National Emergency Powers

Summary of State Laws on the Issuance of Driver's Licenses

Colleges and Universities Attended by Senators of the 109th Congress

This report identifies the colleges and universities attended by Senators serving in the 109th Congress. Where available in published sources, the degrees earned are also listed.

Federal Civil Rights Statutes: A Primer

Emergency Preparedness and Continuity of Operations (COOP) Planning in the Federal Judiciary

This report discusses actions taken by AOUSC following the September 11 attacks, and describes expectations for emergency preparedness and COOP plans in the judiciary. Other sections address issues and policy questions Congress might consider, including matters of the status of judicial emergency and COOP preparedness, and funding for future policy and oversight questions regarding judicial contingency planning.

Louisiana Emergency Management and Homeland Security Authorities Summarized

"Fast Track" Congressional Consideration of Recommendations of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission

The recommendations of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission will automatically take effect unless, within a stated period after the recommendations are submitted to the House and Senate, Congress adopts a joint resolution of disapproval rejecting them in their entirety. Congressional consideration of this disapproval resolution is not governed by the regular rules of the House and Senate, but by special expedited or “fast track” procedures laid out in statute. This report describes these expedited parliamentary procedures and explains how they differ from the regular...

Supplemental Appropriations for the 2004 Hurricanes and Other Disasters

Legislative Branch: FY2006 Appropriations

The President signed H.R. 2985, the FY2006 Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, into P.L. 109-55 on August 2, 2005 (119 Stat. 565). The act provides $3.804 billion in new budget authority, a 4.49% increase of $163.61 million over current budget authority. Going into conference, the House bill contained $2.87 billion, a 1.7% increase over the current budget, excluding funds for Senate items, which were determined by the Senate after House consideration of the bill. The Senate bill contained $3.83 billion, a 6.3% increase, including funds for House items.

The level of funding is less than...

Continuity of Congress: Enacted and Proposed Federal Statutes for Expedited Election to the House in Extraordinary Circumstances

This report is one of several CRS products related to congressional continuity and contingency planning.

Terrorist Financing: U.S. Agency Efforts and Inter-Agency Coordination

Stopping the ability of terrorists to finance their operations is a key component of the U.S. counterterrorism strategy. To accomplish this, the Administration has implemented a three-tiered approach based on (1) intelligence and domestic legal and regulatory efforts; (2) technical assistance to provide capacity-building programs for U.S. allies; and (3) global efforts to create international norms and guidelines. Effective implementation of this strategy requires the participation of, and coordination among, several elements of the U.S. Government. This report provides an...

Capital Punishment: A Legal Overview Including the Supreme Court Decisions of the 2004-2005 Term

Executions declined through the 1950s and 1960s and ceased after 1967, pending definitive Supreme Court decisions. This interval ended only after States altered their laws in response to the 1972 Supreme Court decision in Furman v. Georgia , a 5-4 decision deciding that the death penalty, as imposed under existing law, constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. In Furman, the Court ruled that the death penalty was arbitrarily and capriciously applied under existing law based on the unlimited discretion accorded...

The Federal Consent Decree Fairness Act (S. 489/H.R. 1229) - A Legal Analysis

A “consent decree” refers to an agreement or contract between the parties to a lawsuit which usually settles all outstanding legal issues and is adopted by the court hearing the case as a formal judgment, including appropriate remedies and relief. Such decrees differ from litigated judgments only in that they grow out of negotiation between the parties, rather than being forced on the parties by the court without their consent. In addition, they may be entered by the court at any time, frequently before trial or formal presentation of evidence, and permit resolution of the controversy...

Judicial Recess Appointments: A Legal Overview

Article II of the Constitution provides that the President “shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and counsels, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for and which shall be established by law.” As a supplement to this authority, the Constitution further provides that “[t]he President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the...

FTAIA Limits Availability of U. S. Courts to Foreign Antitrust Plaintiffs: F. Hoffman-LaRoche, Ltd. v. Empagran, S.A.

When the Supreme Court decided F. Hoffman-LaRoche, Ltd. v. Empagran, S.A. (542 U.S. 155 (2004)), it narrowed the degree to which the Federal Circuits were split concerning the availability of U.S. courts to foreign plaintiffs seeking relief for violations of U.S. antitrust laws; it also lessened the concern of foreign governments, global commercial entities and U.S. antitrust enforcement officials that the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act of 1982 (FTAIA) could be a vehicle for extending the reach of U.S. antitrust laws. A unanimous Court ruled that the FTAIA’s general Sherman Act...

Constitutionality of a Senate Filibuster of a Judicial Nomination

The Senate cloture rule requires a super-majority vote to terminate a filibuster (i.e., extended debate). The Appointments Clause of the Constitution, which provides that the President is to “nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, ... appoint” judges, does not impose a super-majority requirement for Senate confirmation. Critics of the Senate filibuster argue that a filibuster of a judicial nomination is unconstitutional in that it effectively requires a super-majority vote for confirmation, although the Appointments Clause does not require such a super-majority...

An Abridged View of the Gang Deterrence and Community Protection Act (H.R. 1279)

The House passed H.R. 1279 , the Gang Deterrence and Community Protection Act of 2005, on May 11, 2005. S. 155 , the Gang Prevention and Effective Deterrence Act of 2005, addresses many of the same issues often to similar effect and occasionally in the same language found in H.R. 1279. H.R. 1279, among other things, would dramatically increase the criminal penalties that follow as a consequence of a conviction for violent crimes, including gang offenses. It would expand the instances where juveniles charged with federal crimes of violence could be tried as adults and would authorize...

Gang Deterrence: A Legal Analysis of H.R. 1279 With References to S. 155

The Gang Deterrence and Community Protection Act of 2005, H.R. 1279 as passed by the House, among other things, would dramatically increase the criminal penalties that follow as a consequence of a conviction for violent crimes, including gang offenses. It would expand the instances where juveniles charged with federal crimes of violence can be tried as adults and would authorize the establishment of criminal street gang enforcement teams.

More precisely, it would establish either longer maximum prison terms or mandatory minimum terms (or both) for federal street gang offenses, Travel...

The Posse Comitatus Act and Related Matters: A Sketch

Congressional Oversight of Judges and Justices

This report addresses Congress’s oversight authority over individual federal judges or Supreme Court Justices. Congressional oversight authority, although broad, is limited to subjects related to the exercise of legitimate congressional power. While Congress has the power to regulate the structure, administration and jurisdiction of the courts, its power over the judicial acts of individual judges or Justices is more restricted. For instance, Congress has limited authority to remove or discipline a judge for decisions made on the bench. Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution provides...

Homosexuality and the Constitution: A Legal Analysis of the Supreme Court Ruling in Lawrence v. Texas

In a sweeping decision issued on June 26, 2003, the Supreme Court struck down a Texas state statute that made it a crime for homosexuals to engage in certain private sex acts. Specifically, the Court’s ruling in Lawrence v. Texas held that the due process privacy guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment extends to protect consensual gay sex. Although the Court also considered whether the Texas state statute violated the constitutional right to equal protection, the Court ultimately based its ruling on broader privacy grounds. In addition, the Court also overturned its 1986 decision in ...

Public Relations and Propaganda: Restrictions on Executive Agency Activities

Controversies recently have arisen over certain executive branch agencies' expenditures of appropriated funds on public relations activities, some of which have been characterized as propagandistic. Generally speaking, there are two legal restrictions on agency public relations activities and propaganda. 5 U.S.C. 3107 prohibits the use of appropriated funds to hire publicity experts. Appropriations law "publicity and propaganda" clauses restrict the use of funds for puffery of an agency, purely partisan communications, and covert propaganda. No federal agency monitors federal public...

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Paperwork Reduction in P.L. 108-446

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (20 U.S.C. Section 1400 et seq .) is both a grants statute and a civil rights statute. It provides federal funding for the education of children with disabilities and requires, as a condition for the receipt of such funds, the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE). School districts must identify, locate, and evaluate all children with disabilities, regardless of the severity of their disability, to determine which children are eligible for special education and related services. Each child receiving services has an...

Implications of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations upon the Regulation of Consular Identification Cards

Recent controversy regarding the use of consular identification cards (IDs) by aliens within the United States, in particular Mexico’s matricula consular, has led to calls for legislation to regulate the issuance of the cards by foreign missions or their acceptance by U.S. government and private entities. This report identifies possible implications that U.S. regulation or monitoring of the issuance of these cards by foreign missions might have upon U.S. obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR), which protects foreign missions in the exercise of their legitimate...

The Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005

An Overview of S. 263, the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act: Fossil Resources Located on Federal Lands

About 30% of the land in the United States is controlled by federal land managers through several different federal agencies. Much of this land contains valuable paleontological [fossil] resources. There is no comprehensive management policy or statute for the management or the protection of paleontological resources located on federal lands. Current, management authority derives from certain resource protection statutes, from general criminal theft statutes concerning the theft of government property, and from certain site-specific statutes. Congress has considered legislation to provide...

Securities Fraud: Dura Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Broudo

On June 28, 2004, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in the case Dura Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Broudo , appealed from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The case concerns allegedly false statements made by Dura to its shareholders concerning development and marketing of two of its products: an asthma inhaler and asthma antibiotic. Plaintiffs charge that the company knowingly defrauded investors by making overly optimistic statements about product approval and company earnings. The district court held that plaintiffs had not satisfied the...

Copyright Protection of Digital Television: The "Broadcast Flag"

This report addresses the adoption of a “broadcast flag” system by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to protect digital television (DTV) broadcasts from unauthorized redistribution. The report also addresses the recent decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversing and vacating the FCC’s broadcast flag report and order.

Federal Budget Process Reform: A Brief Overview

Federal-State Maritime Boundary Issues

Over the last few decades, new uses for coastal and offshore areas have emerged, including aquaculture and renewable energy (wind, wave, and tidal), while more traditional uses, such as commercial fishing and oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf, have continued to flourish. As technologies improve, companies may increasingly seek to move activities farther offshore and to expand resource development in both state and federal waters. Various interests argue over which policies and regulations will best minimize conflicts between competing offshore resource users while...

Effective Dates of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act

The means test and consumer provisions of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA), P.L. 109-8 , will become operative on October 17, 2005. Other provisions of the law, cited below, took effect on the date of enactment, April 20, 2005, or will take effect at another future date.

House Committee Funding Legislation, 109th Congress

An Overview of the Impeachment Process

The Constitution sets forth the general principles which control the procedural aspects of impeachment, vesting the power to impeach in the House of Representatives, while imbuing the Senate with the power to try impeachments. Both the Senate and the House have designed procedures to implement these general principles in dealing with a wide range of impeachment issues. This short report provides a brief overview of the impeachment process, reflecting the roles of both the House and the Senate during the course of an impeachment inquiry and trial.

Administrative Subpoenas and National Security Letters in Criminal and Intelligence Investigations: A Sketch

Administrative subpoena authority, including closely related national security letter authority, is the power vested in various administrative agencies to compel testimony or the production of documents or both in aid of the agencies’ performance of their duties. Both the President and Members of Congress have called for statutory adjustments relating to the use of administrative subpoenas and national security letters in criminal and foreign intelligence investigations. One lower federal court has found the sweeping gag orders and lack of judicial review that mark one of the national...

Administrative Subpoenas and National Security Letters in Criminal and Foreign Intelligence Investigations: Background and Proposed Adjustments

Administrative subpoena authority, including closely related national security letter authority, is the power vested in various administrative agencies to compel testimony or the production of documents or both in aid of the agencies’ performance of their duties. During the 108th Congress, the President urged Congress to expand and re-enforce statutory authority to use administrative subpoenas and national security letters in criminal and foreign intelligence investigations; and legislation was introduced for that purpose. Related proposals have been offered during the 109th Congress, some...

State Regulation of Tribal Lands in New York: City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York

On March 29, 2005, the Supreme Court issued its decision in City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York , a case with serious implications for the State of New York’s ability to regulate tribal lands within New York. A federal appeals court had ruled that the Oneida Indian Nation could, by purchasing former reservation lands illegally alienated from the tribe, reestablish the reservation status of those lands and thereby shield them from state taxation. The Supreme Court reversed this decision, holding that the passage of time between the illegal conveyance and the claim in this...

Sentencing Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines: An Abridged Terrorism Related Example

Until recently, the federal Sentencing Guidelines determined the sentences meted out as punishment for most federal crimes. Then the Supreme Court declared that as a matter of constitutional necessity the Guidelines must be viewed as advisory rather than mandatory. The Guidelines remain a major consideration nevertheless. The Guidelines system is essentially a scorecard system. The purpose of this report is to give a bare bones description of the score-keeping process with a simple example of how it works in a terrorism related case. This report is an abridged version -- without...

Sentencing Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines: An Abridged Controlled Substance Example

Until recently, the federal Sentencing Guidelines determined the sentences meted out as punishment for most federal crimes. Then the Supreme Court declared that as a matter of constitutional necessity the Guidelines must be viewed as advisory rather than mandatory. The Guidelines remain a major consideration nevertheless. The Guidelines system is essentially a scorecard system. The purpose of this report is to give a bare bones description of the score-keeping process with a simple example of how it works in a drug trafficking case. This report is an abridged version -- without footnotes,...

How the Federal Sentencing Guidelines Work: Two Examples

Until recently, the federal Sentencing Guidelines determine the sentences imposed as punishment for most federal crimes. They are now only advisory, but remain a major sentencing consideration. The guidelines system is essentially a scorecard system. This is a discussion of how the system works using two relatively simple examples -- one involving a terrorism-related crime and the other involving drug trafficking -- and following this roadmap:

I. Identify the applicable guideline which sets the base offense level for the crime(s) of conviction (i.e., the level assigned based on the...

Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act Contracts and Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma v. Leavitt: Agency Discretion to Fund Contract Support Costs

On March 1, 2005, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma v. Leavitt . The conflicts in the case (actually two consolidated cases) involved federal agencies’ duty to fund contract support costs for contracts with Indian tribes under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDA).

While the case in some ways turned on technical questions of statutory interpretation and appropriations law, it also presented interesting questions regarding the federal government’s legal responsibility to honor ISDA contracts and how this responsibility...

Campaign Finance: Constitutional and Legal Issues of Soft Money

“Entrenchment” of Senate Procedure and the “Nuclear Option” for Change: Possible Proceedings and Their Implications

Senate procedure permits most matters to be decided by a simple majority of Senators voting (with a quorum present). Yet Senate procedure generally lacks means for a simple majority to limit consideration and proceed to a vote. As a result, Senate minorities can attempt to block proposals by preventing a vote from occurring, a practice known as filibustering. Filibuster opponents have long sought to institute rules permitting a voting majority to limit consideration, most recently, in relation to judicial nominations. The Senate has seldom been able to adopt such limits, however, because...

The Schiavo Case: Legal Issues

Recently, there have been a series of court and legislative actions regarding the proposed withdrawal of nutrition and hydration from a Florida patient, Theresa Schiavo, who has suffered severe brain damage. This report provides a synopsis of the factual and legal issues related to the case. The report then analyzes P.L. 109-3 , “For the relief of the parents of Theresa Marie Schiavo.” This law provides that either parent of Theresa Marie Schiavo shall have standing to bring a suit in federal court. Under this law, the federal courts shall determine de novo any claim of a violation of...

9/11 Commission Recommendations: The Senate Confirmation Process for Presidential Nominees

On July 22, 2004, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, known as the 9/11 Commission, issued its final report, detailing the events up to and including the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks upon the United States. The report contained 41 recommendations on ways to prevent future catastrophic assaults, including a series of proposals designed to improve the presidential appointments process as it relates to the top national security officials at the beginning of a new administration. On October 6, the Senate passed legislation ( S. 2845 ) to implement many...

United States Sentencing Guidelines and the Supreme Court: Booker, Fanfan, Blakely, Apprendi, and Mistretta

For fifteen years, sentencing in federal court had been governed by the United States Sentencing Guidelines. During that time, the Supreme Court has upheld the Guidelines in the face of various challenges. In the meantime, however, it had decided a series of cases which called into question past assumptions relating to the role of the jury in the sentencing process. In Apprendi , the Court held that any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the statutory maximum assigned for that offense must be submitted to the jury and found beyond a reasonable doubt. The federal Sentencing...

The United States - Mexico Dispute over the Waters of the Lower Rio Grande River

The waters from the lower Rio Grande River are shared between the United States and Mexico pursuant to a 1944 Treaty. Beginning in 1992, Mexico claimed that “extraordinary drought” prevented it from fully meeting and repaying its water delivery obligations under the Treaty. Water supplies for users in South Texas (as well as Mexico) were significantly reduced as a result. Mexico owes the United States approximately 730,700 acre feet of water and is under threat of international litigation for allegedly expropriating water at the expense of South Texas water users, though it recently...

Genetic Testing: Scientific Background and Nondiscrimination Legislation

Issues surrounding genetic discrimination and privacy in health insurance and employment are currently being debated in the 109th Congress. This report provides a comprehensive overview of the status of genetic testing in the United States.

Hardrock Mining: State Regulation

Various state and federal laws play important roles in the regulation of mining activities. Mining for hardrock minerals on federal public lands is governed primarily by the General Mining Act of 1872. The General Mining Act authorizes a prospector to locate and claim an area believed to contain a valuable mineral deposit, subject to the payment of certain fees. The General Mining Act does not, however, require payment of a production-related royalty, as is required for federal oil, gas, and other minerals governed by more recently enacted laws. Critics of the General Mining Act suggest...

The Postal Revenue Forgone Appropriation: Overview and Current Issues

Capital Punishment and Juveniles

In Roper v. Simmons , 543 U.S. ____ (2005), the United States Supreme Court held that the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments forbid imposition of the death penalty on offenders who were under the age of 18 at the time of the offense. In deciding Roper , the Court was not writing on a clean slate. In 1988, in Thompson v. Oklahoma , 487 U.S. 815 (1988), the Court struck down the death penalty for juvenile offenders under the age of 16. The Court last reviewed the issue in 1989, when its decision in Stanford v. Kentucky , 492 U.S. 361 (1989) set the minimum eligibility age for the death...

Survey of State Homestead Exemptions

Congressional Official Mail Costs

This report discusses the franking privilege , which allows Members of Congress to send official mail at government expense, such as letters commenting on legislation and casework, press releases, government reports, town meeting notices, and newsletters.

Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC): Property Transfer and Disposal

The Defense Base Realignment and Closure Act of 1990 and the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 provide the basic framework for the transfer and disposal of military installations closed during the base realignment and closure (BRAC) process. This report provides an overview of the various authorities available under the current law and describes the planning process for the redevelopment of BRAC properties.

Debt-Limit Legislation in the Congressional Budget Process

The gross federal debt consists of the debt held by the public plus the debt held by government accounts. Almost all of the gross federal debt is subject to a public debt limit, as set forth in statute (31 U.S.C. 3101).This report considers legislation needed to change the public debt limit.

Preemption of State Law for National Banks and Their Subsidiaries by Regulations Issued by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency: A Sketch

February 12, 2004, was the effective date of regulations, issued by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the regulator of national banks, preempting certain types of state laws affecting national bank real estate lending, other lending, and deposit-taking functions and providing a procedure for OCC to preempt other state laws affecting activities or powers authorized by Congress for national banks. Over the years, OCC's preemptive authority has been challenged in the courts. (1)
The new regulations have been criticized by state bank regulators, mortgage bankers, and...

House Rules Changes Affecting Floor Procedures in the 109th Congress

On the first day of the 109th Congress, the House agreed to H.Res. 5 , which made several rules changes affecting floor proceedings. These modifications include allowing committees to adopt rules giving chairs the general authority to make the motion necessary to send a measure to conference; adding Wednesdays to the permissible days on which suspension motions may be entertained; eliminating the Corrections Calendar; amending the rules of decorum and debate regarding references to the Senate and its members; and granting the Speaker added authority to postpone votes on certain questions....

Insurance Regulation: History, Background, and Recent Congressional Oversight

This report provides the historical background for examining the arguments in this debate. It shows that state regulation of insurance is largely a historical artifact, that Congress has become increasingly involved in both regulating insurance and overseeing states' regulation of insurance, and that the National Association of Insurance Commissioners has assumed a national role.

Invoking Cloture in the Senate

This report discuses cloture, which is is the only procedure by which the Senate can vote to set an end to a debate without also rejecting the bill, amendment, conference report, motion, or other matter it has been debating. A Senator can make a nondebatable motion to table an amendment, and if a majority of the Senate votes for that motion, the effect is to reject the amendment. Thus, the motion to table cannot be used to conclude a debate when Senators still wish to speak and to enable the Senate to vote for the proposal it is considering. Only the cloture provisions of Rule XXII...

Federal Regulatory Reform: An Overview

Executive Branch Continuity of Operations (COOP): An Overview

Suspension of the Rules in the House of Representatives

Suspension of the rules is a procedure the House of Representatives uses frequently to debate and pass measures on the floor. After a Representative moves to suspend the rules and pass a particular measure, there can be 40 minutes of debate on the motion and the measure. No floor amendments to the measure are in order. However, the Member who offers the suspension motion may include amendments to the measure as part of the motion. In this case, the Member moves to suspend the rules and pass the bill or resolution as amended. At the end of the debate, the House casts a single vote on...

Continuity of Operations (COOP) in the Executive Branch: Issues in the 109th Congress

Spurred in part by occasional warnings of potential terrorist threats in the post- 9/11 era, some policymakers have intensified their focus on continuity of operations (COOP) issues. COOP planning is a segment of federal government contingency planning linked to continuity of government (COG). Together, COOP and COG are designed to ensure survival of a constitutional form of government and the continuity of essential federal functions. This report focuses primarily on executive branch COOP activities.

The Alaska Land Transfer Acceleration Act: Background and Summary

On December 10, 2004, the President signed into law P.L. 108-452 , the Alaska Land Transfer Acceleration Act. The act represents an attempt to clear up the conflicting land claims of three distinct parties in Alaska -- the State, Alaska Native Corporations, and Native allottees -- in time for the fiftieth anniversary of Alaska's statehood in 2009. These claims are grounded in the Alaska Statehood Act, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, and the Native Allotment Act of 1906. This report provides a background on these Acts, the claims they support, and a summary of the provisions of...

Appropriations for FY2005: Commerce, Justice, State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies

This report monitors actions taken by the 108th Congress on FY2005 appropriations for the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the judiciary and related agencies (often referred to as the CJS appropriations). The Administration requested $43.216 billion for CJS appropriations in its FY2005 budget request sent to Congress on February 2, 2004. In the spring of 2004, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees held hearings on these requests. The House Appropriations Committee reported out its unnumbered bill on June 23, 2004, recommending a total of $43.483 billion for CJS in...

State Sales Taxation of Internet Transactions

This report examines state taxation of Internet transactions as well as efforts to achieve uniform state sales and use tax treatment.

Salaries of Federal Officials: A Fact Sheet

Calendars of the House of Representatives

In the House of Representatives, the term “calendar” has two related meanings. This fact sheet, one of a series of fact sheets on legislative process, explains calendars and their use in the House of Representatives.

Information Sharing for Homeland Security: A Brief Overview

Reconciling McCarran-Ferguson (Insurance) Case Law and ERISA Preemption: Kentucky Ass'n of Health Plans, Inc. v. Miller

In Kentucky Ass'n of Health Plans, Inc. v. Miller, (1) the Supreme Court ruled that Kentucky's "any willing provider" statutes, which mandate that health plans and health insurers may not exclude from their networks any health-care providers that agree to the plans' participation terms, are not preempted by ERISA; as statutes that regulate and are specifically directed toward the insurance industry they are exempted from such preemption by the "savings" clause in ERISA, which precludes preemption for state laws that "regulate ... insurance, banking, or securities."...

Suspension of Rules in the House: Measure Sponsorship by Party

From the 100th through the 105th Congresses (1987-1998), the House of Representatives acted on measures through a motion to suspend the rules an average of 549 times per Congress. Measures so acted on were sponsored by Members of the minority party, on average, 17.3% of the time (15.9% if sponsors of House measures only are counted). Figures for the 106th through the 108th Congresses, are significantly above these averages.

Capital Punishment: An Overview of Federal Death Penalty Statutes

With the passage of P.L. 103-322 , the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, the federal death penalty became available as a possible punishment for a substantial number of new and existing civilian offenses. On April 24, 1996, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 made further modifications and additions to the list of federal capital crimes. On June 25, 2002, P.L. 107-197 , the Terrorist Bombings Convention Implementation Act of 2002, added another capital crime to the United States Code. The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004,...

The Senate's Executive Calendar

Copyright Law: Digital Rights Management Legislation in the 107th and 108th Congresses

Digital Rights Management (DRM) refers to the technology that copyright owners use to protect digital media. This report surveys several of the DRM bills that were introduced in the 107th and 108th Congresses. Generally, the bills are directed at two separate goals. One goal is to increase access to digitally-protected media for lawful purposes. The other attempts to thwart digital piracy and would do so by enhancing civil and criminal sanctions for digital (and traditional) copyright infringement and educating the public about the rights of copyright holders.

The Senate's Calendar of Business

This report provides a summary of the contents of the Senate's Calendar of Business, which lists bills, resolutions, and other items of legislative business that are eligible for floor consideration.

"Dear Colleague" Letters: A Brief Overview

“Dear Colleague” letters are official correspondence distributed in bulk to Members in both chambers. Primarily, they are used by one or more Members to persuade others to cosponsor or oppose a bill (generally, prior to introduction). Dear Colleague letters might also inform Members of an event connected with congressional business, of new or modified House procedures, or of some other matter. The use of the phrase “‘Dear Colleague’ letter” to refer to a widely distributed letter among Members dates at least to the start of the 20th century. New technologies and expanded use of the...

Introduction to the Federal Budget Process

Congressional Budget Actions in 2004

During the second session of the 108th Congress, the House and Senate considered many different budgetary measures. Most of them pertained to FY2005 (referred to as the “budget year”) and beyond. In addition, some made adjustments to the budget for FY2004 (referred to as the “current year”). This report describes House and Senate action on major budgetary legislation within the framework of the congressional budget process and other procedural requirements.

Secrecy Versus Openness: New Proposed Arrangements for Balancing Competing Needs

During the latter half of 2004, disputes arose over whether or not to declassify portions of the sensitive content of reports resulting from congressional investigations and national commission inquiries into the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the war in Iraq, and related matters. As a result, some called for Congress to create a special mechanism for the impartial and expeditious resolution of such disputes (S. 2672/H.R. 4855; S. 2845 amendment). This report discusses the culmination of one such effort at balancing legitimate competing needs for secrecy and openness.

Casework in a Congressional Office

9/11 Commission Recommendations: A Civil Liberties Oversight Board

This report discusses the recommendation made by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission) regarding the creation of a board within the executive branch to oversee adherence to guidelines on, and the commitment to defend, civil liberties by the federal government.

Congressional Budget Actions in 2003

Federal Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Statutes: Legislative Proposals in the 108th Congress

Federal mandatory minimum sentencing statutes (mandatory minimums) demand that execution or incarceration follow criminal conviction. They cover drug dealing, murdering federal officials, and using a gun to commit a federal crime. They circumscribe judicial sentencing discretion. They have been criticized as unthinkingly harsh and incompatible with a rational sentencing guideline system; yet they have also been embraced as hallmarks of truth in sentence and a certain means of incapacitating the criminally dangerous. Mandatory minimum sentences are not unconstitutional per se, although on...

The Copyright Royalty and Distribution Reform Act of 2004

Campaign Finance Legislation in the 108th Congress

During the 108th Congress, 30 bills were introduced to change the nation's campaign finance laws (primarily under Titles 2 and 26 of the U.S. Code). These bills -- 21 in the House and nine in the Senate -- seek to make improvements in the current system, including to tighten perceived loopholes. In the wake of enactment of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 ( P.L. 107-155 ), there has been decidedly less legislative activity in this area than in recent Congresses, which typically saw well over 100 campaign finance-related bills introduced.

Enforcement of Bank Secrecy Act Requirements: Money Services Businesses

Questions have been raised regarding the IRS's ability to effectively monitor the compliance of money services businesses (e.g., check cashing and money order businesses) with the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), given the large number of such institutions and the IRS's limited resources. In response, the IRS has announced a forthcoming model pact for coordination between the IRS and states with regard to money services businesses and BSA enforcement. This report provides background on the BSA, the IRS's BSA responsibilities, and an overview of some of the criticism leveled at the IRS with respect...

Earmarks and Limitations in Appropriations Bills

An annual appropriations act is generally made up of separate paragraphs, each of which provides funding for specific agencies and programs. Generally, each paragraph corresponds to a unique account and provides appropriations for multiple projects and purposes as a single lump sum. Earmarks and limitations are two devices regularly used in annual appropriations acts to restrict, or more precisely direct, the availability of funds for specific projects or purposes of an account. Sometimes an earmark or a limitation may generate more interest or controversy than the total appropriation.

The Congressional Appropriations Process: An Introduction

This report describes the annual appropriations cycle from the President’s submission of his annual budget through enactment of the appropriations measures. It describes the three types of appropriations measures—regular appropriations bills, continuing resolutions, and supplemental bills. It explains the spending ceilings for appropriations bills that are associated with the budget resolution and the sequestration process, including a description of the mechanisms used to enforce the ceilings. It also explains the authorization appropriations process, which prohibits certain provisions in...

Appropriations for FY2005: Military Construction

The military construction (MilCon) appropriations bill provides funding for (1) military construction projects in the United States and overseas; (2) military family housing operations and construction; (3) U.S. contributions to the NATO Security Investment Program; and (4) the bulk of base realignment and closure (BRAC)costs. The President forwarded his FY2005 budget request of $9.6 billion to the Congress on February 2, 2004. Military construction subcommittees held hearings between February 25 and June 22, 2004. The House Appropriations Committee its bill ( H.R. 4837 ) on July 15,...

Homeland Security Financial Accountability Act: History and Recent Developments

Prior to the enactment of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Financial Accountability Act ( P.L. 108-330 ), the DHS was the only federal cabinet department not included under the Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Act of 1990. DHS had a CFO, but the position was not subject to Senate confirmation. In the 108th Congress, S. 1567 , to bring DHS under the CFO Act, passed the Senate on November 21, 2003, and a related bill, H.R. 4259 , was approved by the House on July 20, 2004. Supporters of the DHS Financial Accountability Act contended that the CFO Act and related laws should apply...

Federal Management and Protection of Paleontological (Fossil) Resources Located on Federal Lands: Current Status and Legal Issues

Paleontological [fossil] resources are of great interest to scholars, dealers in rare objects, and legislators. Large tracts of land under federal management possess valuable fossil resources, many of which remain unexcavated. Concern has developed over the protection and management of these resources, some of which have been subject to theft and/or vandalism. There is no comprehensive statute or management policy for the protection and management of fossils on federal lands. Federal authority may derive from a number of statutes relating to the protection of public properties. There is...

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR): Controversies for the 108th Congress

This report discusses one major element of the energy debate in the 108th Congress, which has been whether to approve energy development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in northeastern Alaska, and if so, under what conditions, or whether to continue to prohibit development to protect the area's biological resources. The Refuge is an area rich in fauna, flora, and commercial oil potential. Current law forbids energy leasing in the Refuge.

Safeguarding Federal Elections from Possible Terrorist Attack: Issues and Options for Congress

Concerns have arisen that terrorist attacks near the November 2, 2004 federal election might be launched to disrupt voting and affect the outcome. As a result, questions have arisen about what might be done both to prevent such attacks and to respond to any that occur. Deliberations have centered largely around two questions: If a terrorist attack occurs, should the election be postponed, in whole or in part, and if so, by whom and under what authority? What steps should and are being taken to enhance security for the election? Questions about election postponement include who has the...

Endangered Species: Difficult Choices

This report discusses issues debated in the 108th Congress while is considering various proposals to amend the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA). Major issues in recent years have included changing the role of science in decision-making, changing the role of critical habitat, reducing conflicts with Department of Defense activities, incorporating further protection for property owners, and increasing protection of listed species, among others. In addition, many have advocated including significant changes to ESA regulations made during the Clinton Administration in the law itself.

State Election Laws: Overview of Statutes Regarding Emergency Election Postponement Within the State

Federal law establishes the date of the general presidential election as the Tuesday following the first Monday in November every four years. However, due to the possibility of an emergency or disaster, including the threat of a terrorist attack, occurring immediately before or during a scheduled election, some states have enacted statutes providing for the temporary postponement of elections in their respective states, precincts, districts, or counties. This Report summarizes seven state statutes that provide a mechanism for the postponement of certain elections. In the event of...

Membership of the 108th Congress: A Profile

9/11 Commission Recommendations: Intelligence Budget

This report identifies the main recommendations of the 9/11 Commission with respect to the intelligence budget. The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, known as the 9/11 Commission, on July 22, 2004 recommended replacing the Director of Central Intelligence with a National Intelligence Director: (1) to oversee national intelligence centers on specific subjects of interest across the United States government; and (2) to manage the national intelligence program and oversee agencies that contribute to it. The National Intelligence Director would submit a unified budget for national...

H.R. 10 (9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act) and S. 2845 (National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004): A Comparative Analysis

This comparative analysis of H.R. 10 (9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act) and S. 2845 (National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004) is an assessment of major similarities and differences between the two bills as passed by the House (October 8, 2004) and Senate (October 6, 2004) and under conference consideration.

References to the two bills are to engrossed versions. The presentation is organized to follow the basic construct of the House bill, because its coverage remained more stable through the legislative process to date. For purposes of clarity, we refer to the House-passed bill as...

9/11 Commission Recommendations: Joint Committee on Atomic Energy -- A Model for Congressional Oversight?

In its July 22, 2004, final report, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the "9/11 Commission") proposed a five-part plan to build unity of effort across the U.S. government in fighting terrorism. The commission's report includes specific recommendations for "centralizing and strengthening congressional oversight of intelligence and homeland security issues" including a recommendation that Congress consider creating a joint committee for intelligence, using the Joint Atomic Energy Committee as its model. Created in the wake of the explosion of...

Military Personnel Financial Services Protection Act: H.R. 5011, 108th Congress

This report discusses the military personnel financial services protection act: H.R. 5011, 108th The bill utilizes both Congress’ constitutional Commerce Power authority to enact insurance legislation, and the states’ traditional regulation of the insurance industry1 to create a scheme for regulating the sale of certain life insurance products to military personnel that supporters argue is fairer and more transparent than is currently the case.

Military Base Closures: A Historical Review from 1988 to 1995

The United States has experienced difficulty in closing military bases to match the requirements of downsized forces with changed composition. During the decade of the 1980s, major military base closures were seriously hampered by procedural requirements established by Congress, to the point that none occurred. The mismatch between real estate assets and defense requirements grew with the military downsizing that began late in the Reagan Administration and continued under Presidents George H. W. Bush and Clinton. After several legislative efforts to break the deadlock had failed,...

The 9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act: An Abridged Comparison of the Criminal Law and Procedure Provisions of H.R. 10 and S. 2845 as Passed by Their Respective Houses

This is a brief description of the substantive criminal law and procedures provisions of the House-passed version of H.R. 10 . They have no equal in Senate-passed S. 2845 . The provisions are largely devoted to increasing the penalties for various existing terrorist crimes and increasing the jurisdictional circumstances under which they may be prosecuted under federal law. The provisions include “lone wolf” FISA and grand jury information sharing amendments; increased penalties for hoaxes and obstructions of justice in terrorism cases, for identification offenses, and for smuggling...

The 9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act: Comparison of the Criminal Law and Procedure Provisions in H.R. 10 and S. 2845 as Passed by Their Respective Houses

This is a brief description of the substantive criminal law and procedures provisions of the House-passed version of H.R. 10 . They have no equal in Senate-passed S. 2845 . . The provisions are largely devoted to increasing the penalties for various existing terrorist crimes and increasing the jurisdictional circumstances under which they may be prosecuted under federal law. The provisions include “lone wolf” FISA and grand jury information sharing amendments; increased penalties for hoaxes and obstructions of justice in terrorism cases, for identification offenses, and for smuggling...

General Management Laws and the 9/11 Commission's Proposed Office of National Intelligence Director (NID) and National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC)

To improve the organization and capabilities of the U.S. intelligence community, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission) recommended, among other things, that two entities be established -- a National Intelligence Director (NID) and a National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). The commission said that the NID should be located within the Executive Office of the President (EOP), and said the NCTC should report to the NID. Legislation designed to create these entities would place them either within the EOP (e.g., H.R. 5024 and H.R. 5050 ) or...

Mobile Telephones and Motor Vehicle Operation

In the United States, as well as worldwide, there has been substantial growth in the use of mobile wireless telecommunication services ("mobile telephones"). The use of mobile telephones by the drivers of motor vehicles has been the subject of certain state and local restrictions. S. 179 (108th Cong., 1st Sess. (2003)) has been introduced in the 108th Congress to provide some federal oversight of mobile telephone use by drivers of motor vehicles, by requiring the individual states to enact legislation to restrict mobile telephone use by drivers of motor vehicles. Noncomplying...

Standards For Retroactive Application Based Upon Groundbreaking Supreme Court Decisions in Criminal Law

The Supreme Court is said to have announced a "new rule" when it hands down a decision that addresses an issue of law in a new way or for the first time. In criminal law new rules apply prospectively, but they also apply retroactively sometimes. Whether a new rule provides the basis for overturning a past case depends on the nature of the new rule and where in the review process a past case is located when the new rule is announced. If the new rule is a substantive one, that is, if it declares that conduct previously outlawed may not be criminalized, it applies retroactively. If the new...

Financial Institution Customer Identification Programs Mandated by the USA PATRIOT Act

Under the USA PATRIOT Act, P.L. 107-56 , section 326, 31 U.S.C. Section 5318(l), the Secretary of the Treasury has prescribed minimum standards for banks, savings associations, credit unions, and securities firms to establish Customer Identification Programs (CIPs). To open a new account, U.S. individuals must provide a social security number and non-U.S. persons, a government issued identification with a photograph. The required information must be verified either by documents, such as driver's licenses, or by non-documentary means, such as inquiring with a credit reporting agency. The...

Washington Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of Washington.

Vermont Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of Vermont.

Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Effects, and Process

This report provides a brief overview of the causes and effects of federal government shutdowns. This report provides a brief overview of the causes and effects of federal government shutdowns. When federal agencies and programs lack appropriated funding, they must cease operations, except in emergency situations. The failure of the President and Congress to reach agreement on funding measures has caused government shutdowns. It is necessary either to enact temporary funding legislation at the close of the fiscal year or to shut down the activities that are not funded at that time.

Judge, Jury and Sentencing Guidelines: Their Respective Roles Following the Supreme Court's Decision in Blakely v. Washington

In Apprendi v. New Jersey , 530 U.S. 466 (2000), the United States Supreme Court held that except in the case of recidivists a judge could not sentence a criminal defendant to a term of imprisonment greater than that which the statutory maximum assigned to the crime for which he had been convicted by the jury. In Blakely v. Washington , 124 S.Ct. 2531 (2004), the Court made it clear that Apprendi meant that when sentencing a criminal defendant under sentencing guidelines a judge may proceed up the severity scale only so far as the specific findings of the jury will allow. Facts new to...

"Good Samaritan" Tort Reform: Three House Bills

On September 8, 2004, the House Committee on the Judiciary ordered to be reported three 108th Congress tort reform bills: the Volunteer Pilot Organization Protection Act ( H.R. 1084 ), the Good Samaritan Firefighter Assistance Act of 2003 ( H.R. 1787 ), and the Nonprofit Athletic Organization Protection Act of 2003 ( H.R. 3369 ). On September 14, the House passed H.R. 1084 and H.R. 1787, but failed to pass H.R. 3369. Tort law is primarily state law, and federal tort reform bills such as these are generally designed to limit liability under state tort law.

Salaries of Members of Congress: Current Procedures and Recent Adjustments

Paleontological Resources Preservation Act: Proposal for the Management and Protection of Fossil Resources Located on Federal Lands

Approximately 30% of the land in the United States is under the control of federal land managers. Much of this public land is rich in paleontological [fossil] resources. Concern has been expressed over the management, conservation, and protection of these resources. There is no comprehensive statute or management policy for the protection or management of fossils located on federal lands. Federal authority for the management of such resources may be derived from a number of general statutes relating to the protection of public properties. The applicability of some of these statutes, such...

Genocide: Legal Precedent Surrounding the Definition of the Crime

The current situation in Darfur, Sudan, and the surrounding debate over whether the Sudanese government's actions constitute genocide or ethnic cleansing provides the impetus for this report. This report presents a brief historical background on the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention), its ratification and implementation by the United States, and its incorporation into the Rome Statute creating an International Criminal Court (ICC). Decisions from the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda...

The Supreme Court Revisits the Environment: Seven Cases Decided or Accepted in the 2003-2004 Term

In the Supreme Court's 2003-2004 term, concluded June, 2004, the Court accepted for review seven environmental cases -- an unusually large number. Five decisions were handed down during the term, and two cases were carried over to the upcoming 2004-2005 term. Of the five decided cases, three involve the Clean Air Act (CAA). Alaska Dep't of Environmental Conservation v. EPA asked whether EPA may issue CAA enforcement orders that effectively overrule a permit issued by a state under its EPA-approved air program. The Court said yes, though only by a 5-4 margin. In Engine Manufacturers...

West Virginia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of West Virginia.

Puerto Rico Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on Puerto Rico.

Maryland Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of Maryland.

Maine Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of Maine.

Wyoming Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of Wyoming.

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: A Legal Overview

This report examines the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 was enacted principally to prevent corporate bribery of foreign officials. This act had three major parts: 1. It required the

keeping by corporations of accurate books, records, and accounts; 2. It required issuers registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission to maintain a responsible internal accounting control system; and 3. It prohibited bribery by American corporations of foreign officials.

Presidential and Vice Presidential Terms and Tenure

Equal Rights Amendments: State Provisions

Twenty states adopted state equal rights amendments between 1879 and 1998. The texts of most of these amendments either are similar to the proposed federal amendment or restate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The timing of the enactment of these state amendments and the choice of wording reflect both the ebb and flow of the women's movement in the United States and the political culture of the particular states at the time of passage. A brief history of the women's rights movement as it relates to the passage of state equal rights...

Privacy: Key Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission

Several of the recommendations made to protect against and prepare for terrorist attacks in the final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission) focus on the protection of civil liberties. This report examines these recommendations, and those of other recent commissions. It will not be updated.

Private Rights of Action and the Wiretap Act: The "DirecTV" Litigation

Attempts by DirecTV to reduce the piracy of its satellite broadcast signal have garnered significant legal and congressional interest. Over the past several years DirecTV has been engaged in an aggressive campaign to prevent the theft and piracy of its satellite television signal. One element of this campaign has been to bring civil lawsuits against individuals who possess certain devices that apparently can be used to intercept satellite transmissions. DirecTV has brought these lawsuits primarily pursuant to the civil remedies section of the Electronic Communications Piracy Act (Wiretap...

The NCAA and Due Process: Legal Issues

Recent events surrounding sports scandals at several of the nation's major universities have sparked interest in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA) procedures for investigating claims of rules violations, and the procedural protection afforded to the accused in such an investigation. This report examines the NCAA's current investigatory process and outlines two important court cases that have shielded the NCAA from attempts to require the NCAA to adhere to due process principles.

Capital Punishment: Summary of Supreme Court Decisions of the 2003-2004 Term

In the 2003-2004 term, the Supreme Court decided in Banks v. Dretke , that Delma Banks should be allowed to raise Brady challenges based on failure by the prosecution to release exculpatory evidence in federal habeas proceedings even though they had been fully presented to the state courts. In Nelson v. Campbell, it ruled that a challenge to the method of execution under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 is not equivalent to a habeas corpus petition, provided that the petitioner is not contesting his imprisonment (the petitioner claimed that the Alabama prison's intended use of a...

Electronic Voting Systems (DREs): Legislation in the 108th Congress

Several bills have been introduced in the 108th Congress to address issues that have been raised about the security of direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines. Touchscreen and other DREs using computer-style displays are arguably the most versatile and voter-friendly of any current voting system. The popularity of DREs, particularly the touchscreen variety, has grown in recent years. In addition, the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA, P.L. 107 -- 252), while not requiring or prohibiting the use of any specific kind of voting system, does promote the use of DREs through some of...

Proposed Change to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) under S. 113

This report discusses S. 113, a bill to extend the coverage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act ("FISA") to non-U.S. persons who engage in international terrorism or activities in preparation for terrorist acts, without a showing of membership in or affiliation with an international terrorist group.

Federal Land Management Agencies: Background on Land and Resources Management

This report provides an overview of how federal lands and resources are managed, the agencies that manage the lands, the authorities under which these lands are managed, and some of the issues associated with federal land management. The report is divided into nine sections.

Athens Olympics 2004: U.S. Government Involvement in Security Preparations

The Athens Olympics 2004 are the first Summer Games to be held since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Salt Lake City Winter Olympics were held in February 2002, but the Winter Games involve far fewer people than the Summer Games. For example, 2,399 athletes competed in 2002; 10,500 athletes are expected to compete at the Athens Games, August 13-29, 2004. The Greek government expects 2 million visitors, 21,500 journalists, 5,500 team officials, and 8,000 members of the Olympic family. To help safeguard the Olympics, Greece reportedly has spent $1.2 billion on security, and...

Confrontation Clause Reshaped: Crawford v. Washington

In Crawford v. Washington , 124 S.Ct. 1354 (2004), the United States Supreme Court held that to admit hearsay testimonial evidence in criminal prosecutions the Sixth Amendment, the Confrontation Clause, requires that (1) the witness be unavailable and (2) the accused had a prior opportunity to cross-examine the witness. This decision overruled Ohio v. Roberts , 448 U.S. 56 (1980), where the Supreme Court had advanced a test requiring only that the statement from unavailable witnesses fall within a "firmly rooted hearsay exception" or bore "particularized guarantees of...

Location of Federal Government Offices

Executive Branch Power to Postpone Elections

Because of the continuing threat of terrorism, concerns have been raised about the potential for terrorist events to occur close to or during the voting process for the November 2004 elections. For instance, the question has been raised as to whether a sufficiently calamitous event could result in the postponement of the election, and what mechanisms are in place to deal with such an event. This report focuses on who has the constitutional authority to postpone elections, to whom such power could be delegated, and what legal limitations exist to such a postponement. Traditionally, all...

Supreme Court Opinions: October 2003 Term

This report contains synopses of Supreme Court decisions issued from the beginning of the October 2003 Term through the end of the Term on June 29, 2004. Included in this listing are all cases decided by signed opinion and selected cases decided per curiam . In addition to the summary, the date of decision is indicated, and cites to United States Law Week and West's Supreme Court Reporter are provided. Following each synopsis the vote on the Court's holding is indicated in bold typeface, and authors of the Court's opinion and of any concurring and dissenting opinions, along with the...

The Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology Act of 2003 (H.R. 3214): A Section-by-Section Analysis

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) maintains an automated information processing system, the Combined DNA Index (CODIS), of DNA profiles of certain convicted criminals and DNA analyses of samples recovered from crime scenes, from unidentified human remains and from missing persons. The National DNA Indexing System (NDIS), one of the three indexes that make up the CODIS, enables participating laboratories to exchange and compare state and federal DNA profiles. State legislation has increased the number of qualifying offenses for which convicted offenders must submit DNA samples, such...

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Requirements Concerning the Provision of Interpreters by Hospitals and Doctors

This report briefly discusses the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities by places of public accommodation. This report specifically discusses a common question of whether or not the ADA requires medical doctors and hospitals to provide an interpreter when they have a patient with a hearing disability.

U.S. Virgin Islands Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Wisconsin Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of Wisconsin.

Federal Workforce Flexibility Act of 2003: S. 129 (108th Congress)

As in the previous Congress, management of the federal workforce continues to be an issue of interest to the Senate and the House of Representatives in the 108th Congress. S. 129 , the Federal Workforce Flexibility Act of 2003, passed the Senate with an amendment by unanimous consent on April 8, 2004. In the House, the Subcommittee on Civil Service and Agency Organization forwarded S. 129 to the House Committee on Government Reform on May 18, 2004, after amending it by voice vote. On June 24, 2004, the House committee ordered the bill to be reported to the House of Representatives, after...

Federal Workforce Flexibilities: A Side-by-Side Comparison of S. 129 (108th Congress) with Current Law

A bill related to the management of the federal workforce is being considered by the 108th Congress. S. 129 , the Federal Workforce Flexibility Act of 2003, passed the Senate with an amendment by unanimous consent on April 8, 2004. In the House, the Subcommittee on Civil Service and Agency Organization forwarded S. 129 to the House Committee on Government Reform on May 18, 2004, after amending it by voice vote. On June 24, 2004, the House committee ordered the bill to be reported to the House of Representatives, after amending it, by voice vote. The bill was introduced by Senator George...

Salaries of Federal Officials: A Fact Sheet

Rhode Island Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of Rhode Island.

Congress’s Power Under the Commerce Clause: The Impact of Recent Court Decisions

This report will first review the current Supreme Court case law with respect to the Commerce Clause. Second, it will examine the analysis used and the results of the three lower court opinions. Finally, two areas of tension that appear to exist within the Court’s jurisprudence, and the potential implications that resolution of these conflicts may have on congressional power under the Commerce Clause will be examined.

Clarett v. National Football League and the Nonstatutory Labor Exemption in Antitrust Suits

On May 24, 2004, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit delivered its opinion in Clarett v. National Football League . In that case, a former college running back challenged on antitrust grounds the NFL's so-called "three-year rule," which prohibits players from entering the NFL Draft unless they are three years removed from high school. The Second Circuit ruled that the three-year rule is protected from antitrust challenges by the nonstatutory labor exemption, which shields the collective bargaining process from antitrust scrutiny in deference to federal labor laws....

Holocaust-era Insurance Claims: Federal Court Decisions and State Statutes and Federal Legislative Proposals

In American Insurance Association v. Garamendi, the United States Supreme Court struck down California's Holocaust Victim Insurance Relief Act (HVIRA), finding that it impermissibly interfered with the President's conduct of foreign affairs. The challenged statute required insurance companies wishing to do business in California to disclose specified information concerning their policy-writing activities in Europe during the Holocaust era, and those of their related, European insurance companies; it was enacted by the state, one of many state statutes enacted to expedite the handling of...

South Dakota Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of South Dakota.

South Carolina Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of South Carolina.

Public Participation in the Management of Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management Lands: Overview and Recent Changes

Historically, opportunities for public participation in the management of the federal lands managed by the Forest Service (FS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) increased over the years as the statutes and regulations governing the lands were modernized, and the remaining federal lands became increasingly important to the public. Public participation in the management of FS and BLM lands derives primarily from four sources: (1) the relevant management laws, regulations, and agency guidance -- especially as to planning procedures; (2) the National Environmental Policy...

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Comparison and Analysis of Selected Provisions in H.R. 1350 as Passed by the House and by the Senate, 108th Congress

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) authorizes federal funding for the education of children with disabilities and requires, as a condition for the receipt of such funds, the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE). The statute also contains detailed due process provisions to ensure the provision of FAPE. Originally enacted in 1975, the act responded to increased awareness of the need to educate children with disabilities, and to judicial decisions requiring that states provide an education for children with disabilities if they provided an education for...

Sensitive Security Information and Transportation Security: Issues and Congressional Options

As a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress passed legislation creating the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The agency was charged with making improvements to the country's transportation security systems and protecting against future terrorist attacks. TSA was also given the authority to establish regulations for protecting certain information from public disclosure. These regulations govern sensitive security information, or SSI. The SSI regulations prohibit TSA officials and employees having a "need to know" status from disclosing transportation...

Tennessee Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of Tennessee.

Public Printing Reform: Issues and Actions

Virginia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of Virginia.

Utah Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of Utah.

Administrative Separations for Misconduct: An Alternative or Companion to Military Courts-Martial

The recent reports of abuse of prisoners held by U.S. military personnel have raised questions about how the armed forces control servicemembers. Congress, under the authorities vested in it by the U.S. Constitution, has enacted procedures for addressing misconduct by servicemembers. One such procedure is an administrative separation under which a member's continued suitability for service is determined. Administrative separations are non-punitive and can be initiated for a number of reasons, including misconduct or criminal offenses. They may be used in place of or after the servicemember...

Suits Against State Employers Under the Family and Medical Leave Act: Analysis of Nevada Department of Human Resources v. Hibbs

This report discusses Nevada Department of Human Resources v. Hibbs , a recent case in which the Supreme Court held that states may be sued by private individuals under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This report provides an overview of the Supreme Court's decision, coupled with a discussion of its significance for state immunity from private lawsuits under other federal statutes.

Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts: History, Operations, and Current Issues

The Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AO) is the principal administrative agency of the judicial branch. Originally created by Congress to improve the supervision of the federal courts and to give the federal judicial branch greater managerial independence from the executive branch, the AO is charged with a number of important tasks. Since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a principal area of concern for the AO has been courthouse security and emergency preparedness. In addition, the AO is currently decentralizing its budget process and improving the judicial...

General Management Laws: Major Themes and Management Policy Options

This report is a companion to CRS Report RL30795, General Management Laws: A Compendium (hereafter “compendium”). In combination, these reports have three main objectives: (1) to identify and describe the major management laws under which the executive branch is required to operate, including their rationale, design, and scope; (2) to assist Members of Congress and their staff in oversight of executive branch management; and (3) to help Congress when considering potential changes to the management laws, as well as other legislation, including authorization statutes and appropriations.

This...

General Management Laws: A Compendium

This report (hereafter "compendium") is a companion to CRS Report RL32388(pdf) , General Management Laws: Major Themes and Management Policy Options . In combination, these reports have three main objectives: (1) to identify and describe the major management laws under which the executive branch of the federal government is required to operate, including their rationale, design, and scope; (2) to assist Members of Congress and their staff in oversight of executive branch management; and (3) to help Congress when considering potential changes to the management laws themselves, as well as...

Vienna Convention on Consular Relations: Overview of U.S. Implementation and International Court of Justice (ICJ) Interpretation of Consular Notification Requirements

On March 31, 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in the case of Avena and Other Mexican Nationals that the United States had failed to comply with its obligations owed to Mexico and its foreign nationals under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. It further instructed the United States to review and reconsider the convictions and sentences of foreign nationals denied requisite consular information owed under Convention Article 36, and held that U.S. state or federal procedural default rules should not prevent relief from Article 36 violations. The Vienna...

Racial Profiling: Issues and Federal Legislative Proposals

Congressional Overrides of Presidential Vetoes

This report discusses Congress' power to override presidential vetoes. The President's veto authority is among his most significant tools in legislative dealings with Congress. It is effective not only in preventing the passage of legislation undesirable to the President, but also as a threat, sometimes forcing Congress to modify legislation before it is presented to the President.

President Clinton’s Vetoes

Presidential Vetoes, 1789-Present: A Summary Overview

This report discusses the veto power vested in the President by Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution. It provides a general overview and a table of presidential vetoes from 1789-2004, listing the coincident Congresses, regular vetoes, pocket vetoes, total vetoes, and vetoes overridden for each president.

Protecting Noncreative Databases: Bills Before the 108th Congress

Delaware Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of Delaware.

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the Northern Mariana Islands.

District of Columbia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the District of Columbia.

Connecticut Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of Connecticut.

Guam Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on Guam.

American Samoa Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on American Samoa.

Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of Georgia.

Foreign Relations Authorization, FY2004 and FY2005: State Department and Foreign Assistance

The foreign relations authorization process dovetails with the annual appropriation process for the Department of State (within the Commerce, Justice, State and Related Agency appropriation) and foreign policy/foreign aid activities (within the foreign operations appropriation). Congress is required by law to authorize the spending of appropriations for the State Department and foreign policy activities every two years. Foreign assistance authorization measures (such as authorization for the U.S. Agency for International Development, economic and military assistance to...

Idaho Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of Idaho.

Colorado Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of Colorado.

Indiana Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of Indiana.

Florida Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of Florida.

Oregon Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of Oregon.

North Dakota Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of North Dakota.

Pennsylvania Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of Pennsylvania.

Arizona Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of Arizona.

Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities in the States, District of Columbia, and Insular Areas: A Summary

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), through a contract with the Congressional Research Service (CRS), compiled information in calendar year 2003 that was used to develop profiles of emergency management and homeland security statutes in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the insular areas. These profiles are published separately as CRS reports and are listed in the appendix to this report.

Alaska Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of Alaska.

California Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of California.

Arkansas Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized

This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified. This report focuses on the state of Arkansas.

Intellectual Property, Computer Software and the Open Source Movement

The term "open source" refers to a computer program that is distributed along with a license, or contract, that requires users of the program to comply with specified conditions. Among these stipulations are that the source code be distributed along with the software, and that others be allowed to modify the source code as they desire. In contrast, the source code of "closed source" software is proprietary, not publicly distributed and subject to alteration only by the software manufacturer. Some concerns have arisen concerning the relationship between open source software...

Budget Sequesters: A Brief Review

Title IX and Sex Discrimination in Education: An Overview

This report provides an overview of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and the various aspects of education affected by this law. Although Title IX has been only partially successful in eliminating sex discrimination in education, the effects of this legislation have been far-reaching.

Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, H.R. 1036 and S. 659, 108th Congress: Legal Analysis

This report examines H.R. 1036, 108th Congress, as ordered to be reported by the House Committee on the Judiciary on April 3, 2003, and passed by the House without amendment on April 9, 2003. H.R. 1036, titled the “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act,” would prohibit lawsuits, except in specified circumstances, against a manufacturer or seller of a firearm or ammunition, or a trade association, for damages resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a firearm or ammunition.

Appropriations for FY2004: Transportation, Treasury, Postal Service, Executive Office of the President, General Government, and Related Agencies

For FY2004 Congress began providing, in a single bill, appropriations for the Departments of Transportation and the Treasury, the United States Postal Service, the Executive Office of the President, and Related Agencies, as well as General Government provisions. On January 23, 2004, President Bush signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2004 ( H.R. 2673 ; P.L. 108-199 ), which included the conference version of the FY2004 Transportation, Treasury and Independent Agencies Appropriations bill. On September 9, 2003, the House passed H.R. 2989 , the FY2004 Transportation, Treasury and...

Campaign Finance Law: A Legal Analysis of the Supreme Court Ruling in McConnell v. FEC

In its most comprehensive campaign finance ruling since Buckley v. Valeo in 1976, on December 10, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld against facial constitutional challenges key portions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), P.L. 107-155, also known as the McCain-Feingold or Shays-Meehan campaign finance reform law. In McConnell v. FEC, a 5 to 4 majority of the Court upheld restrictions on the raising and spending of previously unregulated political party soft money and a prohibition on corporations and labor unions using treasury funds to finance “electioneering...

Appropriations for FY2004: Commerce, Justice, State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies

Congress packaged a number of appropriations bills, including CJS, into an omnibus bill ( H.R. 2673 ). A conference report ( H.Rept. 108-401 ) emerged just prior to the Thanksgiving recess. The CJS portion of the bill (Division B) contains a total of $41.0 billion, not reflecting the .465% rescission in the general provisions of Division B. Within Division H--Miscellaneous Appropriations and Offsets--Section 168 includes a .59% across-the-board rescission. The House agreed to the conference report on December 8th, while the Senate passed the package on January 22, 2004. The President...

Regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Under the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act: A Legal Analysis

In 2002, an auditor found inaccuracies in Freddie Mac's financial statements, which ultimately led to the enterprise restating three years of earnings. In the wake of the resulting scandal, Congress has expressed an interest in tightening the oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Currently, federal oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is governed by the Federal Housing Enterprises Safety and Soundness Act of 1992. The purpose of this report is to analyze the oversight provisions of this Act.

Bankruptcy Reform in the 108th Congress

On March 19, 2003, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 975, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2003. H.R. 975, as introduced, was substantially similar to the legislation (H.R. 333) approved by both the House and the Senate during the 107th Congress, but omitted the Schumer Amendment which would have prevented the discharge of liability for willful violation of protective orders and violent protests against providers of “lawful services,” including reproductive health services. As passed by the House, H.R. 975 was amended to add sections to, among other...

NASA Workforce Flexibilities: H.R. 1085 and S. 610, 108th Congress

Various personnel flexibilities would be provided to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) under legislation currently pending in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. H.R. 1085 , the NASA Flexibility Act of 2003, was introduced by Representative Sherwood Boehlert on March 5, 2003. S. 610 , the NASA Flexibility Act of 2003, was introduced by Senator George Voinovich on March 13, 2003. H.R. 1836 , the Civil Service and National Security Personnel Improvement Act, introduced by Representative Tom Davis on April 29, 2003, includes, in Title III, Subtitle B,...

Comparison of California's Financial Information Privacy Act of 2003 with Federal Privacy Provisions

The California Financial Information Privacy Act,1 enacted on August 28, 2003, and effective on July 1, 2004, governs the rights of California residents with respect to the dissemination of nonpublic personal information by financial institutions. In some respects, it diverges from two federal laws that impose restrictions on the dissemination of nonpublic personally identifiable customer information by financial information.

Supreme Court Recognition of Fifth Amendment Protection for Acts of Production

On several occasions the Supreme Court has addressed the question of when Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination applies to the act of responding to a government subpoena or other command. Beginning with Schmerber and Fisher , through Doe, and finishing with Hubbell , the Court has declared that acts of production may fall within the privilege when they are personal, compelled, incriminating, testimonial communications. The act of production doctrine is easily misunderstood, but some of the uncertainty can be dissipated by a close examination of the facts and views of the...

Congressional Member Office Operations

Copyright Law's "Small Business Exception": Public Performance Exemptions for Certain Establishments

The Copyright Act grants specific exclusive rights to the owners of copyrighted works. Among the rights conferred upon the composer of a musical work is the authority to "perform the work publicly." This right is implicated when small businesses, including bars, cafes, and restaurants broadcast background music from either the radio, television or from recordings such as compact discs. While the general provisions of the Copyright Act require that these businesses obtain licenses to play background music, there are exemptions, which were expanded when Title II of the "Sonny Bono...

Sports Legislation in the 108th Congress

As a result of increasing conflict within the sports industry over the past few decades, Congress and federal agencies have given greater attention to public policy issues associated with amateur and professional sports in the United States. Congress has focused on sports in the context of the following public policy areas: antitrust, labor relations, immigration, player and fan violence, broadcasting and cable issues, taxation, drug abuse and testing, federal spending related to the conduct of U.S.-held Olympic Games, sports franchise relocations, legal and illegal gambling, oversight of...

Presiding Officer: Senate

The Constitution designates the Vice President of the United States as the presiding officer of the Senate and further provides that in the absence of the Vice President, the Senate may elect a President pro tempore, who by custom, is usually the most senior Senator of the majority party, to perform the duties of the chair. In daily practice, however, the duties and functions of the chair are carried out by an acting President pro tempore, and temporary presiding officers, often junior Senators, who rotate in the chair for shifts of generally one hour each. Since 1977, only majority-party...

Federal Grazing Regulations: Public Lands Council v. Babbitt

New regulations on livestock grazing on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management became effective August 21, 1995. Many aspects of the new regulations were challenged in Public Lands Council v. Babbitt , 529 U.S. 728 (2000). A federal district court upheld many of the regulations, but struck down four of them and enjoined their implementation. At the appellate level, only the new regulation allowing "conservation use" of a grazing allotment to the exclusion of livestock grazing for the full term of a permit was held invalid. In a unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court on May 15,...

Copyright Law: Statutory Royalty Rates for Webcasters

This report surveys the procedures for and the results of the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel’s (CARP’s) February 20, 2002 Report making recommendations for statutory royalty rates for eligible nonsubscription webcasters.

Reorganization of the House of Representatives: Modern Reform Efforts

On January 7, 2003, the House created a Select Committee on Homeland Security. One of its responsibilities is to conduct a "thorough and complete study of the operation and implementation of the rules of the House, including Rule X, with respect to the issue of homeland security." The select committee is required to submit its recommendations on possible changes to the Committee on Rules not later than September 30, 2004. Numerous official and unofficial reviews by Congress have been conducted in the past 60 years. Three joint committees, two select committees, two commissions, and...

Child Pornography: Constitutional Principles and Federal Statutes

The Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996, P.L. 104-208, 110 Stat. 3009- 26, added a definition of “child pornography” that include visual depictions of what appears to be a minor engaging in explicit sexual conduct, even if no actual minor was used in producing the depiction. On April 16, 2002, in Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, the Supreme Court held this provision unconstitutional to the extent that it prohibited pictures that were not produced with actual minors. (This case is discussed under “Section 2256,” below.) In response to Ashcroft, bills were introduced in the House and...

Reorganization of the Senate: Modern Reform Efforts

Numerous reviews of the operations and structure of the Senate have been conducted in the past 60 years. Three joint committees, two select committees, two commissions, one study group, one standing committee, and party conferences have studied various aspects of the Senate and its committee system. The contemporary Senate is primarily a product of two major laws and a significant overhaul of Senate Rules. The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946, among other things, codified committee jurisdictions, streamlined the committee system, and instituted a professional committee staffing...

Homeland Security: Standards for State and Local Preparedness

Punch-Card Voting Systems and the California Gubernatorial Recall: Overview of Appellate Court Decisions

On September 23, 2003 an eleven member panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously reversed the decision in Southwest Voter Registration Education Project v. Shelley in which a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit had ordered the California gubernatorial recall election postponed. The en banc panel determined that the plaintiffs had not shown a strong likelihood of success on the merits of their argument that holding the recall election on October 7, 2003 would violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution because voters in counties that use...

The Alien Tort Statute: Legislative History and Executive Branch Views

The Alien Tort Statute (ATS), also known as the Alien Tort Claims Act (ACTA), provides that "district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States." The Second Circuit's 1980 decision in Filartiga v. Pena-Irala, a case involving torture and wrongful death that occurred in Paraguay, opened the door for the use of the ATS for aliens to assert jurisdiction in federal court for human rights violations and other violations of international law. Since 1980, the ATS has...

Disaster Relief and Response: FY2003 Supplemental Appropriations

Federal departments and agencies are authorized to undertake a range of emergency management activities, including disaster relief and response efforts. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has primary responsibility, but other departments and agencies provide grants and loans to disaster victims and reimburse state and local governments overwhelmed by costs associated with clearing debris and rebuilding facilities, among other forms of assistance. FY2003 supplemental funding for these activities has been the issue of debate.

Tax Rules and Rulings Specifically Applicable to Members Of Congress

This report examines provisions of federal law, and interpretations thereof, which provide tax rules with specific applicability to Members of Congress. These include rules applicable only to Members and rules that, while generally applicable, apply in some specific way to Members. Topics covered include: immunity from certain State and local income and personal property taxes; specific rules for certain items which must be included in gross income for federal tax purposes (including honorarium and official allowances); rules allowing certain amounts to be excluded from gross income; and...

First Responder Initiative: Policy Issues and Options

This report provides background information and policy analysis pertinent to proposals to restructure first responder assistance programs. Specifically, this report provides information on existing programs, appropriations, legislation in the 108th Congress, and selected policy issues. This report does not discuss all relevant policy issues, but, rather, those issues that may be germane to any significant restructuring of existing programs.

Foreign Investor Protection Under NAFTA Chapter 11

Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) affords various protections to investors of one signatory nation having investments in the territory of another. Such foreign-investor protections exist in the large majority of modern bilateral investment treaties, but NAFTA is different. NAFTA is apparently the only instance where such protections, including a mechanism for resolving investor-state disputes by binding arbitration, have been made available for use against the United States by countries (Mexico and Canada) that invest heavily in the U.S. NAFTA, that is, has...

Congressional Intervention in the Administrative Process: Legal and Ethical Considerations

When congressional committees engage in oversight of the administrative bureaucracy, or when Members of Congress intervene in agency proceedings on behalf of private constituents or other private entities with interests affecting the Members’s constituency, such interventions involve varying degrees of intrusion into agency decisionmaking processes. This report will briefly examine the currently applicable legal and ethical considerations and standards that mark the limits of such intercessions.

The report initially reviews the judicial development and application of standards for...

Legal Analysis of H.R. 1429, the "One Strike and You're Out! Act of 2003"

H.R. 1429 would create an exception for victims of domestic violence from current federal law and policy mandating zero tolerance for criminal activity in federally assisted housing. Under HUD's "One Strike Policy," tenants may be held strictly liable and evicted by public housing authorities for criminal behavior by "a tenant, any member of a tenant's household, a guest or another person under the tenant's control." Reportedly, the policy has been applied to evict public housing tenants who were victims of domestic violence at the hands of their own household members or guests. The...

Fair Credit Reporting Act: Frequently Asked Questions

As financial privacy issues are debated in Congress, numerous questions about the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) have emerged. Enacted in 1970, the Fair Credit Reporting Act is the federal statute that establishes a regulatory framework for credit reporting in the United States and establishes a consumer’s rights with respect to his or her credit report. This report attempts to answer frequently asked questions about the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Extradition To and From the United States: Overview of the Law and Recent Treaties

“Extradition” is the formal surrender of a person by a State to another State for prosecution or punishment. Extradition to or from the United States is a creature of treaty. The United States has extradition treaties with over a hundred of the nations of the world. International terrorism and drug trafficking have made extradition an increasingly important law enforcement tool. This is a brief overview of federal law in the area and of the adjustments in recent treaties to make them more responsive to American law enforcement interests.

Bomb-Making Online: An Abridged Sketch of Federal Criminal Law

Subsection 842(p) of title 18 of the United States Code outlaws teaching, demonstrating, or distributing information on how to make or use explosives, destructive devices, or weapons of mass destruction either when the offender intends the instruction or information to be used to commit a federal crime of violence or when the offender knows that a person to whom the instruction or information has been given intends to use it to commit a federal crime of violence. Passage stretched over three Congresses, delayed in part by First Amendment concerns, but ultimately bolstered by submission...

Bomb-Making Online: Explosives, Free Speech, Criminal Law and the Internet

Subsection 842(p) of title 18 of the United States Code outlaws teaching, demonstrating, or distributing information on how to make or use explosives, destructive devices, or weapons of mass destruction either when the offender intends the instruction or information to be used to commit a federal crime of violence or when the offender knows that person to whom the instruction or information has been given intends to use it to a commit a federal crime of violence. Passage stretched over three Congresses, delayed in part by First Amendment concerns, but ultimately bolstered by submission...

Creation of Executive Departments: Highlights from the Legislative History of Modern Precedents

On November 25, 2002, President George W. Bush signed legislation to establish a Department of Homeland Security ( P.L. 107-296 , 106 Stat. 2135). In the period from World War II until the establishment of this latest department, Congress also created or implemented major reorganizations of seven other Cabinet departments. This report provides a brief legislative history of the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and for the purpose of comparison, describes the principal elements of the legislative process that established the Departments of Defense; Health,...

Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act of 2003 (S. 1125, 108th Congress)

This report summarizes salient features of S. 1125 , 108th Congress, the Fairness in Asbestos Resolution Act of 2003 (or FAIR Act of 2003), as reported by the Committee on the Judiciary on July 30, 2003 ( S.Rept. 108-118 ). S. 1125 would create the Office of Special Asbestos Masters, within the United States Court of Federal Claims, to award damages to asbestos claimants on a no-fault basis. Damages would be paid by the Asbestos Injury Claims Resolution Fund, which would be funded by companies that have previously made payments related to asbestos claims filed against them, and by...

Casework in a Congressional Office

This report and its appendices present a general overview of congressional office procedures associated with handling casework and the assistance provided by a Member of Congress to help constituents in their dealings with federal agencies. It discusses options for assisting Members’ constituents and the role of Members and staff in providing casework services.

Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children: ICPC

The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children ("ICPC") provides a uniform legal framework for the placement of children across State lines in foster homes and/or adoptive homes. At the present time, all fifty States, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands have enacted the provisions of the ICPC in their individual laws. This report examines the ICPC, the regulations which implement the ICPC, and various federal laws which impact the ICPC.

Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press. . . .” This language restricts government both more and less than it would if it were applied literally. It restricts government more in that it applies not only to Congress, but to all branches of the federal government, and to all branches of state and local government. It restricts government less in that it provides no protection to some types of speech and only limited protection to others. This report provides an overview of the major...

Chaplain of the House: Selection and Related Procedures

House procedures to elect an officer during a Congress differ from those followed at the start of a Congress. A resolution to elect a replacement officer to fill a vacancy during a Congress is privileged and debatable under the hour rule. By statute, the Speaker has authority to appoint a temporary replacement officer, and in some cases, temporary appointments have continued in effect for the remainder of a Congress. This report describes the consultative process that ultimately led to Father Coughlin’s temporary appointment, and related parliamentary issues concerning the selection of...

Public Aid to Faith-Based Organizations (Charitable Choice) in the 107th Congress: Background and Selected Legal Issues

Soon after taking office in 2001, President Bush put forward an agenda "to enlist, equip, enable, empower, and expand the heroic works of faith-based and community groups across American." That agenda included a substantial expansion of tax incentives for charitable giving and an extension of charitable choice to most of the federal government's social services programs. But the 107th Congress refused to adopt these initiatives. The House adopted a modified version of the President's initiative; but H.R. 7 bogged down in the Senate due to concerns about the constitutionality and...

Departmental Organization, 1947-2003

Since the end of World War II, nine federal departments have been created in the executive branch. The tables in this report provide selected information on the organization of those departments.

Emergency Electronic Communications in Congress: Proposals and Issues

The events of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent anthrax incidents have prompted some observers to suggest creating an emergency electronic communications system for Congress to ensure continuity of its operations. On July 25, 2003, Representative James R. Langevin introduced H.R. 2948. The bill would direct the Comptroller General of the United States to enter into arrangements with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the Librarian of Congress for conducting a study on the feasibility and costs of implementing such a system for Congress to use during an emergency.

Messages, Petitions, Communications, and Memorials to Congress

Trade Remedies and The U.S.-China Bilateral WTO Accession Agreement

The November 1999 U.S.-China bilateral agreement on China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) addresses a range of U.S. foreign trade and investment concerns related to China's entry into the WTO. In particular, U.S. import-sensitive industries are wary of the impact from increased imports that might result from China's WTO membership. The bilateral agreement allows the United States to continue to use, at least temporarily, special trade remedy procedures against surges of imports and against dumped and subsidized imports from China that it has used since the two countries...

Federal/State Relations Under the Clean Air Act: The Supreme Court Takes Two Cases

Recently, the Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases involving federalism issues under the Clean Air Act (CAA). In Alaska Dep't of Environmental Conservation v. EPA , the Court will wrestle with whether EPA can enforce a Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) provision in the CAA contrary to a prior state determination under its EPA-approved PSD program. In Engine Manufacturers Ass'n v. South Coast Air Quality Mgmt. Dist ., the issue is the preemptive scope of the CAA program regulating mobile sources of air pollution. Why the Court has taken these cases is unclear, given that...

"Fast-Track" or Expedited Procedures: Their Purposes, Elements, and Implications

This report discusses certain provisions of law that commonly are known as “fast-track” or expedited procedures. They are so labeled because these statutory provisions contain special legislative procedures that apply to one or both houses of Congress and that expedite, or put on a fast track, congressional consideration of a

certain measure or a narrowly defined class of measures. This report first presents the nature, purpose, and elements of fast-track procedures. Then the report discusses some of the most important ways in which these procedures differ from the normal procedures of...

Calling Up Measures on the Senate Floor

The Senate takes up measures under procedures set in Senate rules and by longstanding customs, thereby giving it flexibility in setting its floor agenda. This report first treats those processes or customs most often used by the Senate and then discusses some procedures less often used to call up measures.

The Congressional Budget Process Timetable

The Congressional Budget Act (CBA) of 1974 (Titles I-IX of P.L. 93-344, 88 Stat. 297-332) established the congressional budget process, which coordinates the legislative activities on the budget resolution, appropriations bills, reconciliation legislation, revenue measures, and other budgetary legislation. Section 300 of this act provides a timetable (see Table 1) so that Congress may complete its work on the budget by the start of the fiscal year on October 1.

Budget Reconciliation Legislation: Development and Consideration

Budget reconciliation is an optional two-step process Congress may use to assure compliance with the direct spending, revenue, and debt-limit levels set forth in budget resolutions.

A User's Guide to the Congressional Record

The Congressional Record is a substantially verbatim account of remarks made during the proceedings of the House and Senate, subject only to technical, grammatical, and typographical corrections. It consists of four main sections: the proceedings of the

House and Senate, the Extensions of Remarks, and the Daily Digest. This fact sheet is one of a series on the legislative process.

Capital Punishment: Summary of Supreme Court Decisions of the 2002-2003 Term

In its 2001-2002 term, for the first time since 1988, the Supreme Court placed substantial new restrictions on the powers to impose the death penalty. In Ring v. Arizona (1) , it overturned a death sentence imposed by a judge, holding that defendants have a Sixth Amendment right to have a jury--not a judge--determine whether aggravating factors warrant the imposition of the death penalty. In Atkins v. Virginia , (2) it held that the execution of the mentally retarded is cruel and unusual punishment. In the 2002-2003 term, in Miller-El v. Cockrell the Court imposed...

Suspension of Rules in the House: Measure Sponsorship by Party

Flow of Business: Typical Day on the Senate Floor

Several authorities govern the daily chamber work of the Senate: the standing rules, the “standing orders,” unanimous consent agreements, precedent, and tradition. Because these authorities have different influence at certain times, no Senate session day is truly typical. This report discusses procedures and business that usually occur every session day, and refers to certain business items that may occur less frequently.

"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 may also be added to pending legislative measures by amendments expressing the views of one or both chambers. This fact sheet identifies the various forms such expressions may take and the procedures governing such actions.

The Endangered Species Act (ESA), "Sound Science," and the Courts

Decisions to list species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) must rest only on the best available scientific data, and science plays a part in other important aspects of the Act. Yet many times the relevant science may be complex or incomplete. Recent situations involving economic and social conflicts over resources have resulted in a renewed focus on and criticism of how science is used under the ESA. This report reviews how some courts have regarded these issues. It will be updated as developments warrant.

Supreme Court Opinions: October 2002 Term

This report contains synopses of Supreme Court decisions issued from the beginning of the October 2002 Term through the end of the Term on June 26, 2003. Included in this listing are all cases decided by signed opinion and selected cases decided per curiam . In addition to the summary, the date of decision is indicated, and cites to United States Law Week and West's Supreme Court Reporter are provided. Following each synopsis the vote on the Court's holding is indicated in bold typeface, and authors of the Court's opinion and of any concurring and dissenting opinions, along with the...

Presidential Appointments to Full-Time Positions in Independent and Other Agencies During the 107th Congress

During the 107th Congress, 109 nominations to full-time positions in independent and other agencies were submitted to the Senate. Of these nominations, three were submitted by President Clinton before he left office and were withdrawn by President Bush on March 19, 2001. President Bush submitted 106 nominations, of which 94 were confirmed, 10 were returned to him, and two were withdrawn. President Clinton made three recess appointments to these positions during the intersession between the 106th and 107th Congresses; all expired at the end of the first session of the 107th Congress....

Political Action Committees: Their Role in Financing Congressional Elections

Political action committees, or PACs, are legal entities through which interest groups raise and spend money in elections. They constitute one of four major sources of funds contributed to congressional campaigns, along with individual citizens, political parties, and candidates. While PACs proliferated and became an issue in the 1970s and 1980s, interest groups have long played a major role in funding American elections.

Statutory Offices of Inspector General: Establishment and Evolution

Presidential Vetoes, 1789-Present: A Summary Overview

Campaign Finance: Issues Before the U.S. Supreme Court in McConnell v. FEC

Shortly after the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), P.L. 107-155 ( H.R. 2356 , 107th Cong.) was enacted in March 2002 (also known as the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation), Senator Mitch McConnell and others filed suit in U.S. District Court for D.C. against the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) arguing that provisions of the law are unconstitutional. Ultimately, eleven suits challenging BCRA were brought by more than 80 plaintiffs and consolidated into one lead case, McConnell v. FEC. On May 2, 2003, the...

Employment Benefits in Bankruptcy

Public Printing Reform: Issues and Actions

Theft of Debris from the Space Shuttle Columbia: Criminal Penalties

The breakup of the Space Shuttle Columbia strewed debris over parts of the West and the South, and recovery of this debris was considered vital to the investigation into the Columbia's final moments of flight. Almost immediately after the breakup, however, press stories reported that members of the public were recovering pieces of Columbia's wreckage and converting them to their personal use. Even though the organized search for Columbia debris is winding down, prosecutions continue for stealing debris and new ones could possibly arise in the future. This report briefly describes...

Federal Regulation of Sports Agents: Sports Agents Responsibility and Trust Act (SPARTA)

H.R. 361 , the Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act (SPARTA), would make certain activities of alleged or actual sports agents -- providing gifts or cash, inducing a student athlete to sign an agent contract, or providing questionable information concerning the athlete's possible professional prospects -- unfair practices to be regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Witnesses at hearings emphasized the far reaching consequences of frequently "unethical" or "unscrupulous" conduct of sports agents in pursuing and soliciting student athletes; such conduct can subject student...

The Sudan Peace Process

Iraq's Economy: Past, Present, Future

This report discusses the government of Iraq and its active role in stimulating and directing the Iraqi economy.This report identifies issues to be addressed before Iraq can participate normally in the world economy.

Budget Enforcement Procedures : Senate's Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) Rule

This report describes the legislative history of the Senate's PAYGO rule, explains its current features, and reviews Senate actions under the rule .

Innovation, Intellectual Property, and Industry Standards

An "industry standard" is a set of technical specifications that provides a common design for a product or process. Relating to products ranging from typewriter keyboards to high technology computer protocols, standards are pervasive in the modern economy. Standards sometimes arise through government action or through the operation of the marketplace. However, private industry groups called standards bodies have long been active in promulgating standards. Standards bodies and their members have encountered a growing number of claims that a privately held "intellectual property right" --...

American National Government: An Overview

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs): Legislative History

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) are defined contribution plans primarily invested in the employer's securities. Employee stock plans in the form of an ESOP pre-date the 1974 Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). (1) ERISA, however, was the first law to recognize ESOPs. Congress has routinely revisited ESOPs and amended the IRC to reflect policy. The 1975 Tax Reduction Act created a tax credit for ESOPs. The Revenue Act of 1978 added new formalities to ESOPs through creation of IRC Section 409A. In the mid-1980s, the 1984 Tax Reform Act created new and substantial tax...

State Laws on Human Cloning

Committee Funding for the House and Senate, 108th Congress

The Senate adopted ad hoc procedures in approving committee operating budgets. With the Senate divided 51-48-1 at the beginning of the 108th Congress, Senate Democrats argued for a proportional allocation of committee staff between the parties. On January 15, after a week-long delay in the appointment of Senate committees, a unanimous consent agreement was reached providing for the proportional allocation of staff and office space between the parties on each committee, with a separate provision for each committee chair to control up to 10% of the committee budget to employ administrative...

Revenue Reconciliation Directives in the FY2004 Budget Resolution

This report discusses the proposed levels of revenue reduction in the President’s budget and the congressional budget resolution for FY2004, the features of the budget reconciliation process, the inclusion of revenue reconciliation directives in the FY2004 budget resolution, and selected procedural issues pertaining to the consideration of the resultant reconciliation legislation.

Department of Homeland Security: State and Local Preparedness Issues

The Homeland Security Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-296) makes the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) responsible for providing assistance to state and local governments to ensure adequate preparedness for all disasters, including terrorist attacks. Several federal entities with functions relating to state and local preparedness, ranging from entire independent agencies to units of agencies and departments, will be transferred to the new department.

Supplemental Appropriations FY2003: Iraq Conflict, Afghanistan, Global War on Terrorism, and Homeland Security

On March 25, 2003, President Bush requested $74.8 billion in the FY2003 Emergency Supplemental for ongoing military operations in Iraq, postwar occupation, reconstruction and relief in Iraq, international assistance to countries contributing to the war in Iraq or the global war on terrorism, the cost of the continued U.S. presence in Afghanistan, and additional homeland security. On April 12, 2003, the House and Senate passed the conference version of the FY2003 supplemental ( H.R. 1559 / H.Rept. 108-76 / P.L. 108-11 ). It includes $78.49 billion, $3.7 billion more than requested by the...

Museum and Library Services Act of 2003 (H.R. 13): Using "Obscenity" and "Decency" Criteria in Selecting Grantees

The Museum and Library Services Act of 2003, H.R. 13 , 108th Congress, as passed by the House, reauthorizes funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services. It requires the Director to deny funding to any project that has been found to be obscene by a court, and requires the Director, in making grants, to "tak[e] into consideration general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the American public." The Spending Clause of the Constitution gives Congress broad power to appropriate funds, and the content standards in H.R. 13 appears to fall well...

Appropriations for FY2003: Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies

The Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and other related agencies (often referred to as CJS) appropriations for FY2003 were completed by Congress and signed ( P.L. 108-7 ) by the President on February 20, 2003, five months into the budget year. The enacted CJS appropriation provides $44,773.7 million in new budget authority (before applying an across-the-board rescission of 0.65%). President Bush sent the FY2003 budget request to Congress on February 4, 2002 seeking a total budget authority level for CJS appropriations of $44,019.0 million -- a mandatory level of $649.3 million...

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Statutory Language and Recent Issues

This report summarizes the major provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and also discusses selected recent issues, including ten ADA Supreme Court cases.

Preparation for Senate Committee Markup

Sponsorship and Cosponsorship of Senate Bills

Sponsorship and Cosponsorship of House Bills

This report discusses the sponsorship and co-sponsorship of House bills. A Representative who introduces a bill or other measure in the House is called its sponsor. Under House Rule XII, clause 7, several Members together may submit a bill, but the first-named Representative is considered the chief or primary sponsor; the others are considered cosponsors.

Introducing a Senate Bill or Resolution

This report discusses the beginning steps in the Senate's legislative procedure. Ideas and recommendations for legislation may come from private sources, like ordinary citizens or interest groups; executive branch agencies and the White House; states and localities; and, of course, from individual Senators, committees and other Senate work groups, and party and chamber leaders. Any or all of these entities may also participate in drafting legislation (resolutions as well as bills).

Federal Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Statutes: An Overview of Legislation in the 107th Congress

Federal mandatory minimum sentencing statutes (mandatory minimums) demand that execution or incarceration follow criminal conviction. They cover drug dealing and using a gun to commit a federal crime, among other crimes. They circumscribe judicial sentencing discretion. They have been criticized as unthinkingly harsh and incompatible with a rational sentencing guideline system; yet they have also been embraced as hallmarks of truth in sentencing and a certain means of incapacitating the criminally dangerous. Among the bills introduced in the 107th Congress, some would have created new...

Presidential Appointments to Full-Time Positions on Regulatory and Other Collegial Boards and Commissions, 107th Congress

During the 107th Congress, 125 nominations to full-time positions on 33 regulatory and other boards and commissions were submitted to the Senate by the President. President Clinton submitted 12 of these nominations before he left office on January 20, 2001, and these 12 were withdrawn by President Bush on March 19, 2001. President Bush submitted 113 nominations, of which 72 were confirmed, 6 were withdrawn, and 35 were returned to him (13 at the August 2001 recess and 22 at the end of the Congress). President Clinton made 12 recess appointments during the intersession between the 106th and...

Homeland Security Act of 2002: Legislative History and Pagination Key

Senate Consideration of Treaties

A History of Federal Estate, Gift, and Generation-Skipping Taxes

In this report, the history of the federal transfer taxes, has been divided into four parts: (1) the federal death and gift taxes utilized in the period 1789 to 1915; (2) the development of the modern estate and gift taxes from 1916 through 1975; (3) the creation and refinement of a unified estate and gift tax system, supplemented by a generation-skipping transfer tax; and (4) the phase out and repeal of the estate and generation-skipping taxes, with the gift tax being retained as a device to protect the integrity of the income tax.

Federal Pay: FY2003 Salary Adjustments

Federal white-collar employees are to receive an annual pay adjustment and a locality-based comparability payment, effective in January of each year, under Section 529 of P.L. 101-509 , the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act (FEPCA) of 1990. In January 2003, they received a 3.1% annual pay adjustment under Executive Order 13282 issued by President Bush on December 31, 2002 and a locality-based comparability payment, averaging about 1.0% of the General Schedule payroll, under Executive Order 13291 issued by the President on March 21, 2003. The locality pay adjustment is retroactive to...

Judicial Salary-Setting Policy

"Digital Rights" and Fair Use in Copyright Law

This report examines judicial case law which has considered the doctrine of fair use in relation to the First Amendment, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and as a means of protecting private, noncommercial use of digital music and film by consumers. It concludes that when the potential to infringe is great, as it almost

always will be in a digital environment, the courts have not been willing to expand fair use to encompass subsidiary uses such as time shifting, space shifting, or personal noncommercial use.

Mandatory Minimum Sentences: Three Strikes in the Supreme Court -- Ewing v. California and Lockyer v. Andrade

The Eighth Amendment's cruel and unusual punishments clause forbids grossly disproportionate sentences. The question of how to determine whether a particular term of imprisonment is grossly disproportionate under the facts of a particular case has divided the Court for years. The division was evident in the Court's recent treatment of the issue in two cases arising under the California Three Strikes law, Lockyer v. Andrade , 123 S.Ct. 1166 (2003), and Ewing v. California , 123 S.Ct. 1179 (2003). In Andrade , the Court conceded that its precedents were unclear. As a consequent, federal...

Sexual Offender Registration Acts: Supreme Court Review of the Connecticut and Alaska Statutes in Connecticut Dept. of Public Safety v. Doe and Smith v. Doe

The United States Supreme Court has rejected constitutional challenges to two state sex offender registration and notification statutes (SORA), Connecticut Dept. of Public Safety v. Doe , 123 S.Ct. 1140 (2003); Smith v. Doe , 123 S.Ct. 1160 (2002). In one, it concluded that as a matter of due process registrants under the Connecticut statute need not be afforded the opportunity of a hearing to establish that they should be released from the burdens of the statute because they are not currently dangerous. In the other, it held that the ex post facto clause does not ban application of the...

RICO and Abortion Clinic Protests in the Supreme Court: Scheidler v. NOW

The Supreme Court has ruled that the National Organization for Women (NOW) and two abortion clinics may not sue anti-abortion protesters under the federal Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provisions based solely upon allegations that the protesters' efforts to shut down the clinics constituted extortion, Scheidler v. NOW , 123 S.Ct. 1057 (2003). The majority opinion by Chief Justice Rehnquist, joined by seven other justices noted that RICO requires the commission of a pattern of racketeering activity. Racketeering activity is defined to include extortion under the...

Remedies Available to Victims of Identity Theft

Privacy: Total Information Awareness Programs and Related Information Access, Collection, and Protection Laws

This report describes the Total Information Awareness (TIA) programs in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the Department of Defense, and related information access, collection, and protection laws. TIA is a new technology under development that plans to use data mining technologies to sift through personal transactions in electronic data to find patterns and associations connected to terrorist threats and activities. Data mining technologies are currently used by federal agencies for various purposes. DARPA has underway a five year research project to develop and...

Congressional Budget Actions in 2002

The Amending Process in the Senate

This report summarizes many of the rules, precedents, and practices of the Senate affecting the consideration of amendments to measures on the floor. Much of the information presented here has been extracted from Riddick’s Senate Procedure (Senate Document 101-28) the published collection of Senate precedents.

Appropriations for FY2003: Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education

This report tracks the legislative progress of the FY2003 appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED). This Act provides discretionary funds for three federal departments and related agencies. The report summarizes L-HHS-ED discretionary funding issues, but not authorization or entitlement issues. On February 4, 2002, the President submitted the FY2003 budget request to the Congress. The L-HHS-ED request is $130.7 billion in discretionary funds; the comparable FY2002 amount was $128.1 billion, enacted...

Trade and the 108th Congress: Major Legislative and Oversight Initiatives

Trade will continue to be an active topic for the 108th Congress. However, with the passage of the Trade Act of 2002, it is not expected that the 108th Congress will consider comprehensive legislation that might alter the basic foundation of U.S. trade statutes. Nevertheless, several legislative initiatives and active oversight of a growing number of specific issues can be expected. Legislatively, the Bush Administration later this year is expected to ask Congress to approve free trade agreements (FTAs) it has concluded with Chile and Singapore. If the Administration this year or early...

Conference Reports and Joint Explanatory Statements

The conference report presents the formal legislative language on which the conference committee has agreed. The joint explanatory statement explains the various elements of the conferees’ agreement in relation to the positions that the House and Senate had committed to the conference committee.

Immigration Legislation Enacted in the 107th Congress

The 107th Congress enacted a variety of immigration-related laws. The Homeland Security Act ( P.L. 107-296 ) reorganizes the federal government with the creation of a new Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security. As part of this reorganization, it abolishes the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and transfers INS's enforcement and service functions to separate bureaus within the new department. The USA PATRIOT Act ( P.L. 107-56 ) and the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act ( P.L. 107-173 ) contain important provisions on border security, admissions policy, and...

Homeland Security: Department Organization And Management -- Legislative Phase

After substantial congressional entreatment, President George W. Bush gave impetus to the creation of a Department of Homeland Security when, on June 6, 2002, he proposed the establishment of such an entity by Congress. At the time, bills to mandate a department were pending in both houses of Congress. The President's action was viewed as an effort to move beyond the coordination efforts of the Office of Homeland Security, established by E.O. 13228 of October 8, 2001, to a strong administrative structure for managing consolidated programs concerned with border security and effective...

Copyright Term Extension: Eldred v. Ashcroft

This report examines the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Eldred v. Ashcroft. Plaintiffs/Petitioners challenged the constitutionality under the Copyright Clause of a law adding 20 years to the terms of existing and future copyrights. The law was upheld by both the U.S. district court and the court of appeals considering it. Among the questions before the Supreme Court was whether Congress may retrospectively extend the term of copyright for existing copyrights; and, what role and impact, if any, does the First Amendment have in determining the validity of a congressional extension of...

Liability Issues Associated with the Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster

The loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia resulted in the tragic deaths of seven astronauts and a hail of debris strewed over parts of at least two states. Investigators remain uncertain why Columbia was lost; there have been no definitive determinations of underlying causes or fault. But while the facts of the Columbia disaster are unclear, the legal principles and processes that govern possible compensation for the resultant losses of life and property can be identified. This report provides an overview of these issues and will be updated as circumstances warrant. (1)
1.  This...

Presidential Appointments to Full-Time Positions in Executive Departments During the 107th Congress, 2001-2002

During the 107th Congress, 354 nominations to executive department full-time positions were submitted to the Senate. Of these nominations, seven were submitted by President Clinton before he left office and were withdrawn by President Bush on March 19, 2001. President Bush submitted 347 nominations, of which 297 were confirmed, two were withdrawn, 35 were returned to him at the August 2001 recess, one was returned to him at the adjournment of the first session, and 12 were returned to him at the end of the 107th Congress. President Clinton made eight recess appointments during the...

The Right of Undocumented Alien Children to Basic Education: An Overview of Plyler v. Doe

In Plyler v. Doe (457 U.S. 202 (1982)), the Supreme Court held that it was unconstitutional for Texas to deny illegal alien children who were residing in the state equal access to its elementary and secondary schools. Though the vote was close (5-4), Plyler remains good law and continues to be cited for the proposition that illegal aliens are not beyond protection under the Constitution. However, while Plyler set limits on state power, it clearly suggested that constitutional restrictions on the ability of states to discriminate against illegal aliens may be influenced...

INS Reorganization Under the Homeland Security Act of 2002: Effective Dates and Dual Roles

As a current agency within the US Department of Justice, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) provides immigration and citizenship services as well as law enforcement functions. Under the Homeland Security Act of 2002, INS will be abolished upon the completion of all transfers from INS to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Under President Bush's Reorganization Plans and in accordance with the Act, the dual roles of INS will be transferred on March 1, 2003 and will form three distinct bureaus within the DHS. This report discusses the status of the dual roles provided by...

Drug Smuggling, Drug Dealing and Drug Abuse: Background and Overview of the Sanctions Under the Federal Controlled Substances Act and Related Statutes

This is a brief sketch of the death penalty, terms of imprisonment, fines, sentencing guidelines, forfeitures, civil penalties and other sanctions associated with the proscriptions of the federal Controlled Substances Act and related statutes. The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) assigns various plants, drugs and chemicals to one of five schedules and authorizes the Attorney General to add or reassign substances to the schedules according to the risks they represented and medical benefits they provided. Those who wish to manufacture, distribute or dispense controlled substances must be...

Drug Offenses: Sentencing Under the United States Sentencing Guidelines - An Example

The federal sentencing guidelines determine the sentences imposed as punishment for most federal crimes. The guidelines system is essentially a scorecard system. This is the application of the sentencing guidelines to the case of a defendant convicted of possession of crack cocaine with the intent to distribute and with unlawful possession of a firearm. The example follows the outline that governs federal sentencing under the guidelines: I. The applicable guideline which sets the base offense level for the crime(s) of conviction (i.e., the level assigned based on the nature of the...

Sports Legislation in the 106th Congress

Over the past few decades, Congress and other federal agencies have given greater attention to public policy issues associated with amateur and professional sports in the United States. Congress has focused on sports in the context of other public policy issues: antitrust, labor relations, immigration, gambling and other criminal behavior, player and fan violence, broadcasting and cable issues, taxation, drug abuse and testing, federal spending relative to the conduct of U.S. held Olympic Games, sports franchise relocations, legal and illegal gambling, and equal access for women to...

Critical Infrastructure Information Disclosure and Homeland Security

Critical infrastructures have been defined as those systems and assets so vital to the United States that the incapacity of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on the United States. One of the findings of the President’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection, established by President Clinton in 1996, was the need for the federal government and owners and operators of the nation’s critical infrastructures to share information on vulnerabilities and threats. However, the Commission noted that owners and operators are reluctant to share confidential business...

Federal Regulatory Reform: An Overview

Employer Liability Provisions in Selected Patient Protection Bills

In the various patient protection bills introduced in the 106th (H.R. 5628, S.Amdt. 3694, H.R. 2990) and to date in the 107th (H.R. 526, H.R. 2315, H.R. 2563, S. 889, S. 1052), Congress has attempted to address the issue of employer liability by limiting liability to certain persons or circumstances. This report provides an overview of the employer liability provisions of selected bills from the 106th and 107th Congress.

Designating Lake Saint Clair a "Great Lake": Legal Analysis

The Great Lakes and their connecting waters form the largest fresh surface water system on Earth. The Great Lakes affect millions of people as well as aspects of the natural environment. Consequently, law makers have now become sensitive to the industrial and environmental needs of the Lakes. Several federal agencies play key roles in the management and protection of the Great Lakes by implementing programs for pollution control, conservation, navigation, and scientific research. Lake Saint Clair is located between Lakes Huron and Erie, and is the smallest lake in the Great Lakes system....

Faith-Based Organizations and Their Relationship with State and Local Governments: Analysis of Recent Initiatives

This report discusses federal, state, and local government funding for faith-based organizations (FBOs) to provide services to needy citizens. It provides an overview of several selected issues including the effectiveness of FBOs, their accountability for results, and the working relationship that FBOs have at various levels of government.

House and Senate Vacancies: How Are They Filled?

This report discusses how vacancies in Congress are filled when a Senator or Representative dies, resigns, declines to serve, or is expelled or excluded from either house. The Constitution requires that vacancies in both houses be filled by special election, but in the case of the Senate, it empowers state legislatures to provide for temporary appointments by the state governor until special elections can be scheduled.

House and Senate Vacancies: How Are They Filled?

Vacancies in Congress occur due to the death, resignation, or declination (refusal to serve) of a Senator or Representative, or as the result of expulsion or exclusion by either house. The Constitution requires that vacancies in both houses be filled by special election, but in the case of the Senate, it empowers state legislatures to provide for temporary appointments by the state governor until special elections can be scheduled. This report describes this process.

Patent Law and Innovation: The Creation, Operation and a Twenty-Year Assessment of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ("Federal Circuit") is a specialized court with exclusive appellate jurisdiction over patent appeals. Congress established the Federal Circuit in 1982 in order to promote predictability and uniformity in the patent law. Now that the Federal Circuit has celebrated its twentieth anniversary, it is appropriate to consider the influence of the court upon patent law and, more generally, the climate for innovative industry within the United States. A number of commentators believe that the Federal Circuit has strengthened the economic, legal...

House Rules Changes Affecting Floor Proceedings in the 108th Congress

On the first day of the 108th Congress, the House agreed to H.Res. 5 , which made several rules changes affecting floor proceedings. The 108th Congress was the first Congress to convene after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the House modified three rules to prepare for a catastrophic event. In addition, the House adjusted its rules regarding motions to instruct conferees and the admission of electronic devices on the floor. It also repealed the term limit on the Speaker. The House clarified rules concerning the access of leadership staff to the floor, five-minute voting...

Immigration: Adjustment to Permanent Resident Status Under Section 245(i)

Bills have been introduced in the 108th Congress to extend ( H.R. 85 ) or make permanent ( H.R. 47 ) a controversial immigration provision known as Section 245(i). Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) was first enacted as a temporary provision in 1994 and has been extended several times since then. It enables unauthorized aliens in the United States who are eligible for immigrant visas based on family relationships or job skills to become legal permanent residents (LPRs) without leaving the country, provided they pay an additional fee. Before an alien can apply to...

Bankruptcy Reform: A Recap

Sports Legislation in the 107th Congress

As a result of increasing conflict within the sports industry over the past few decades, Congress and other federal agencies have given greater attention to public policy issues associated with amateur and professional sports in the United States. Congress has focused on sports in the context of related public policy areas. These areas are: antitrust, labor relations, immigration, player and fan violence, broadcasting and cable issues, taxation, drug abuse and testing, federal spending relative to the conduct of U.S.-held Olympic Games, sports franchise relocations, legal and illegal...

National Identification Cards: Legal Issues

In the wake of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, renewed debate has arisen regarding the efficacy and legal implications of a national identification card, a form of identification that would be something more comprehensive than a driver's license, a Social Security card or a passport. Such debate has centered around finding the appropriate balance between maintaining personal freedom and protecting national security. Proponents contend that a card using "biometric" surveillance technologies such as electronic retinal scans or fingerprints could help reduce and/or track...

Terrorism Preparedness: Catalog of Selected Federal Assistance Programs

Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade: Key Issues for the 108th Congress

The 108th Congress will be faced early on with a number of pressing foreign affairs, defense, and trade issues. This report provides background information on the issues most likely to be taken up in the first session, analyzes the congressional role in shaping U.S. policy on these key issues, and lists CRS products that provide more detailed discussion and analysis. The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon dramatically altered the U.S. political environment, pushing issues of war and homeland security to the top of the policy agenda. Of particular concern to...

Export Administration Act of 1979 Reauthorization

The Export Administration Act of 2001 was introduced on January 23, 2001. Hearings were held by the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, and the bill was reported for consideration by the full Senate by a vote of 19-1 to March 22, 2001. A companion version in the House, H.R. 2581, was introduced by Rep. Gilmanon July 20, 2001. The House International Relations Committee reported the measure with 35 amendments on August 1. The Export Administration Act of 1979 expired on August 20, 2001, however the President extended export control authority and the Export Administration...