Appropriations

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Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: Overview of FY2019 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for more than 30 agencies and entities. They include most of the Department of the Interior (DOI) as well as agencies within other departments, such as the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service within the Department of Health and Human Services. The bill also provides funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), arts and cultural agencies, and other organizations and entities. At issue for Congress is determining the amount, terms, and conditions of...

Status of FY2019 LHHS Appropriations

Congress is considering an FY2019 appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS). The LHHS bill is the largest ($1.0 trillion in FY2018) of the 12 annual appropriations bills, when accounting for both mandatory and discretionary funding. Most recently, on September 13, a conference report (H.Rept. 115-952) was filed on H.R. 6157, containing a full-year appropriations act for LHHS (Division B) and the Department of Defense (Division A), as well as a continuing resolution (through December 7) for the remaining annual...

Allocation of Funds Under Title I-A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was comprehensively reauthorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA; P.L. 114-95) on December 10, 2015. The Title I-A program is the largest grant program authorized under the ESEA and is funded at $15.8 billion for FY2018. It is designed to provide supplementary educational and related services to low-achieving and other students attending pre-kindergarten through grade 12 schools with relatively high concentrations of students from low-income families. Under current law, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) determines Title I-A...

Trends in Mandatory Spending: In Brief

Federal spending is divided into three broad categories: discretionary spending, mandatory spending, and net interest. Those categories are procedural—that is, how Congress provides or has provided spending authority differs among those categories. The Budget Enforcement Act of 1990 (BEA; P.L. 101-508) provides a statutory definition for those terms, which are therefore referred to as BEA categories. To a large extent, however, the type of spending differs across those categories.

Discretionary spending, by and large, funds operations of federal agencies. Net interest spending is the...

Hurricane Florence: Brief Overview of FEMA Programs and Resources

Introduction

This Insight provides a brief overview of emergency and major disaster declarations relevant to Hurricane Florence, and selected federal resources and links to CRS products related to emergency and disaster declarations, disaster response, and recovery.

Hurricane Florence made landfall at Wrightsville Beach, NC, as a category 1 hurricane on September 14, 2018. In anticipation of the landfall, President Trump has issued emergency declarations to Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Authorized under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act...

Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education: FY2018 Appropriations

This report offers an overview of actions taken by Congress and the President to provide FY2018 appropriations for accounts funded by the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) appropriations bill. This bill includes all accounts funded through the annual appropriations process at the Departments of Labor (DOL) and Education (ED). It also provides annual appropriations for most agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with certain exceptions (e.g., the Food and Drug Administration is funded via the Agriculture...

FY2019 Appropriations for the Department of Energy

Overview

The Department of Energy (DOE) is funded through the Energy and Water Development appropriations bill. The President’s FY2019 budget request is $30.4 billion for the DOE, approximately $4.2 billion (12%) less than the FY2018 enacted level of $34.6 billion (see P.L. 115-141 and Title III of Division D, Explanatory Statement on page H2481). Conference report H.Rept. 115-929 to accompany H.R. 5895, which includes the FY2019 Energy and Water appropriations bill in a three-bill “minibus” funding bill, was filed on September 10, 2018. According to the joint explanatory statement, the...

Hurricane Events: CRS Experts

The following table provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns related to hurricane events in the United States. Policy areas identified include disaster assistance and recovery matters extending to impacts such as displaced residents and business, disruptions in the energy sector and transportation, problems with water treatment and supply; responses and recovery operations such as disaster declarations and federal assistance, public health provisions, federal flood insurance, agricultural disaster relief and assistance, tax relief, environmental...

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

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

Abortion and Family Planning-Related Provisions in U.S. Foreign Assistance Law and Policy

This report details legislation and policies that restrict or place requirements on U.S. funding of abortion or family planning activities abroad. The level and extent of federal funding for these activities is an ongoing and controversial issue in U.S. foreign assistance and has continued to be a point of contention during the 115th Congress.

These issues have been debated for over four decades in the context of a broader domestic abortion controversy that began with the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, which holds that the Constitution protects a woman’s decision to terminate...

National Flood Insurance Program Borrowing Authority

This Insight evaluates the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) borrowing authority to receive loans from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, particularly in the context of major floods, and discusses the current financial situation of the NFIP.

NFIP Funding

Funding for the NFIP is primarily maintained in an authorized account called the National Flood Insurance Fund (NFIF). Generally, the NFIP has been funded from receipts from the premiums of flood insurance policies, including fees and surcharges; direct annual appropriations for specific costs of the NFIP (currently only flood...

Housing Issues in the 115th Congress

A variety of housing-related issues have been active during the 115th Congress. These issues include topics related to housing finance, tax provisions related to housing, housing assistance and grant programs administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and regulatory review efforts underway at HUD. In some cases, the 115th Congress has considered or passed legislation related to certain housing issues, such as mortgage-related provisions enacted as part of broader financial “regulatory relief” legislation and particular housing-related tax provisions. In other...

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 (CDCs). 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...

Decision to Stop U.S. Funding of UNRWA (for Palestinian Refugees)

On August 31, 2018, the State Department announced that the United States will not make further contributions to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), but will seek to help “innocent Palestinians” through other models and approaches. The U.S. decision to end contributions could greatly affect UNRWA, which provides services for around 5.4 million Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. The decision also has other important humanitarian and political implications. The United States has been a major contributor...

Georgia: Background and U.S. Policy

Georgia is one of the United States’ closest non-NATO partners among the post-Soviet states. With a history of strong economic aid and security cooperation, the United States has deepened its strategic partnership with Georgia since Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia and 2014 invasion of Ukraine. U.S. policy expressly supports Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, and Georgia is a leading recipient of U.S. aid in Europe and Eurasia.

Many observers consider Georgia to be one of the most democratic states in the post-Soviet region,...

Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF): Overview, Issues, and Legislation

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) is the federal authority for regulating contaminants in public water supplies. The act includes the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) program, established in 1996 to help public water systems finance infrastructure projects needed to comply with federal drinking water regulations and to meet the act’s health protection objectives. Under this program, states receive annual capitalization grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide financial assistance (primarily subsidized loans) to public water systems for drinking...

Department of Transportation (DOT): FY2018 Appropriations

Congress appropriated $86.2 billion for the Department of Transportation (DOT) for FY2018. This represented a $9.1 billion (11.8%) increase over the amount provided in FY2017. The principal reason for the higher spending level was increases in funding from the general fund for highways, public transportation capital investments, and passenger rail projects. The appropriation was included in an omnibus spending bill, P.L. 115-141, Title I of Division L, the DOT Appropriations Act.

The DOT appropriations bill funds federal programs covering aviation, highways and highway safety, public...

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

Cuba remains a one-party authoritarian state with a poor record on human rights. Current President Miguel Díaz-Canel succeeded Raúl Castro on April 19, 2018, although Castro is continuing in his position as first secretary of Cuba’s Communist Party. Over the past decade, Cuba has implemented gradual market-oriented economic policy changes, but critics maintain that it has not taken enough action to foster sustainable economic growth. Most observers do not anticipate significant policy changes under Díaz-Canel, at least in the short term, but the president faces the enormous challenges of...

Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations In Brief

This is an abbreviated version of CRS Report R41368, Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations, by Jim Zanotti and Clayton Thomas.

Turkey, a NATO ally since 1952, significantly affects a number of key U.S. national security issues in the Middle East and Europe. U.S.-Turkey relations have worsened throughout this decade over several matters, including Syria’s civil war, Turkey-Israel tensions, Turkey-Russia cooperation, and various Turkish domestic developments. The United States and NATO have military personnel and key equipment deployed to various sites in Turkey, including at Incirlik air...

Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations

Turkey, a NATO ally since 1952, significantly affects a number of key U.S. national security issues in the Middle East and Europe. U.S.-Turkey relations have worsened throughout this decade over several matters, including Syria’s civil war, Turkey-Israel tensions, Turkey-Russia cooperation, and various Turkish domestic developments. The United States and NATO have military personnel and key equipment deployed to various sites in Turkey, including at Incirlik air base in the southern part of the country.

Bilateral ties have reached historic lows in the summer of 2018. The major flashpoint...

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...

Emergency Relief for Disaster-Damaged Roads and Public Transportation Systems

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) provides federal assistance for disaster-damaged roads and public transportation systems through two programs: the Emergency Relief Program (ER) administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Public Transportation Emergency Relief Program administered by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). These programs are funded mainly by appropriations that have varied considerably from year to year. Over time the amounts are substantial. Since 2012, the Highway ER Program has received $5.4 billion; FTA’s ER program has received $10.7...

Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME)

The Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) program provides direct financial support to children’s hospitals to train medical residents and fellows. The program is administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and is authorized in Section 340E of the Public Health Service Act (PHSA). CHGME receives annual discretionary appropriations and received $299.3 million in FY2017. The program is currently funded at $135 million for FY2018 under P.L. 115-141, which provided full-year appropriations...

Land and Water Conservation Fund: Appropriations for “Other Purposes”

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Act of 1965 (P.L. 88-578) created the LWCF in the Treasury as a funding source to implement the outdoor recreation goals set out by the act. The LWCF Act authorizes the fund to receive $900 million annually through September 30, 2018, with the monies available only if appropriated by Congress. The fund receives additional money under more recent legislation—the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006—and these appropriations are mandatory. The level of annual appropriations has varied widely since the origin of the fund in FY1965.

The LWCF...

Appropriations: CRS Experts

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

U.S. Agent Orange/Dioxin Assistance to Vietnam

U.S. assistance to Vietnam for the environmental and health damage attributed to a dioxin contained in Agent Orange and other herbicides sprayed over much of the southern portion of the country during the Vietnam War remains a major bilateral issue. Between fiscal years (FY) 2007 and 2018, Congress appropriated over $222 million to address these two issues. In addition, the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (P.L. 115-232) authorized the transfer of up to $15 million to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for the dioxin cleanup of the...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) FY2019 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 Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is funded through the Agriculture appropriations bill in the House and the FSGG bill in the Senate.

President Trump submitted his FY2019 budget request on February 12, 2018. The request included a total of $49.1...

School Meals Programs and Other USDA Child Nutrition Programs: A Primer

The “child nutrition programs” refer to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (USDA-FNS) programs that provide food for children in school or institutional settings. The best known programs, which serve the largest number of children, are the school meals programs: the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP). The child nutrition programs also include the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), which provides meals and snacks in day care and after school settings; the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which provides food...

Democratic Republic of Congo: Background and U.S. Relations

The United States and other donors have focused substantial resources on stabilizing the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since the early 2000s, when “Africa’s World War”—a conflict in DRC that drew in multiple neighboring countries and reportedly caused millions of deaths—drew to a close. Smaller-scale insurgencies have nonetheless persisted in DRC’s densely inhabited, mineral-rich eastern provinces, causing regional instability and a long-running humanitarian crisis. In recent years, political uncertainty at the national level has sparked new unrest. Elections due in 2016 have been...

HUD FY2019 Appropriations: In Brief

The programs and activities of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are designed primarily to address housing problems faced by households with very low incomes or other special housing needs and to expand access to homeownership. Nearly all of the department’s budget comes from discretionary appropriations provided each year in the annual appropriations acts, typically as a part of the Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies appropriations bill (THUD).

On February 12, 2018, the Trump Administration submitted its FY2019 budget request to Congress, including $41.4 billion...

The War in Yemen: A Compilation of Legislation in the 115th Congress

The 115th Congress continues to debate the extent and terms of the United States’ involvement in the ongoing conflict in Yemen, where fighting has continued unabated since March 2015. Lawmakers have questioned the extent to which successive Administrations have adhered to existing law relating to providing security assistance, including sales or transfers of defense goods and defense services, while upholding international human rights standards (e.g., 22 U.S.C. §2754 or 22 U.S.C. §2304). They also have proposed new legislation that would condition or prohibit the use of U.S. funds for...

Escalating Tariffs: Timeline and Potential Impact

Concerns over the U.S. trade deficit and trading partner trade practices have been a focus of the Trump Administration. Citing these concerns, the President has imposed tariffs under three U.S. laws that allow the Administration to impose trade restrictions based on certain criteria unilaterally: (1) Section 201 (Table 1) on U.S. imports of washing machines and solar products; (2) Section 232 (Table 2) on U.S. imports of steel and aluminum, and potentially autos and uranium, and (3) Section 301 (Table 3) on U.S. imports from China. In 2017, U.S. imports of goods subject to the additional...

Land and Water Conservation Fund: Overview, Funding History, and Issues

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Act of 1965 was enacted to help preserve, develop, and ensure access to outdoor recreation facilities to strengthen the health of U.S. citizens. The law created the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the U.S. Treasury as a funding source to implement its outdoor recreation goals.

The LWCF has been used for three general purposes. First, it has been the principal source of monies for land acquisition for outdoor recreation by four federal agencies—the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Forest Service....

Implementing EPA’s 2015 Ozone Air Quality Standards

Implementation of revised ozone standards by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now moving forward, after the agency designated 52 areas with just over 200 counties or partial counties and two tribal areas as “nonattainment” for the standards. The standards—formally known as National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone—are standards for outdoor (ambient) air. In 2015, EPA tightened both the primary (health-based) and secondary (welfare-based) standards from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 70 ppb after concluding that protecting public health and...

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...

Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers and the TAA Reauthorization Act of 2015

Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers (TAA) provides federal assistance to workers who have involuntarily lost their jobs due to foreign competition. It was last reauthorized by the Trade Adjustment Assistance Reauthorization Act of 2015 (TAARA; Title IV of P.L. 114-27). This report discusses the TAA program as enacted by TAARA.

To be eligible for TAA, a group of workers must establish that they were separated from their employment either because their jobs moved outside the United States or because of an increase in directly competitive imports. Workers at firms that are suppliers to or...

The Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program

The Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program is a national network of centers established by the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act (P.L. 100-418). MEP centers provide custom services to small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) to improve production processes, upgrade technological capabilities, and facilitate product innovation. Operating under the auspices of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the MEP system includes centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

NIST provides funding to support MEP center operations, with matching funds...

Comparing DHS Component Funding, FY2019: In Brief

Generally, the homeland security appropriations bill includes all annual appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), providing resources to every departmental component. The Table and Figure show DHS’s new discretionary budget authority enacted for FY2018 and requested by the Administration for FY2019, as well as the House and Senate committee-reported response, broken down by component—from largest to smallest FY2018 appropriation.

(TO BE SUPPRESSED) Department of Homeland Security DHS budget Appropriations FY2018, FY2019 funding analysis components

Legislative Branch: FY2019 Appropriations

The legislative branch appropriations bill provides funding for the Senate; House of Representatives; Joint Items; Capitol Police; Office of Compliance; Congressional Budget Office (CBO); Architect of the Capitol (AOC); Library of Congress (LOC), including the Congressional Research Service (CRS); Government Publishing Office (GPO); Government Accountability Office (GAO); Open World Leadership Center; and the John C. Stennis Center.

The FY2019 legislative branch budget request of $4.960 billion was submitted on February 12, 2018. The budget request levels were developed prior to the...

Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) in the United States

Carbon capture and sequestration (or storage)—known as CCS—is a process that involves capturing man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) at its source and storing it permanently underground. (CCS is sometimes referred to as CCUS—carbon capture, utilization, and storage.) CCS could reduce the amount of CO2—an important greenhouse gas—emitted to the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels at power plants and other large industrial facilities. The concept of carbon utilization has gained interest within Congress and in the private sector as a means for capturing CO2 and converting it into...

Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs: FY2019 Budget and Appropriations

The Trump Administration submitted to Congress its FY2019 budget request on February 12, 2018. The proposal includes $41.86 billion for the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS). Of that amount, $13.26 billion would be for State Department operations, international broadcasting, and related agencies, and $28.60 billion for foreign operations. With the enactment of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA; P.L. 115-123, February 9, 2018), which raised discretionary spending limits set by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA; P.L. 112-25), the Administration’s...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) FY2019 Appropriations and Financial Regulatory Reform

Background

On July 19, 2018, the House passed H.R. 6147, which included an FY2019 Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill (originally H.R. 6258) as Division B. The Senate passed a substitute version of H.R. 6147 on August 1, 2018, with the Senate FY2019 FSGG bill (originally S. 3107) as Division B.

Although financial services are a focus of the FSGG bill, the bill does not include funding for most of the financial service regulators. Instead, this funding comes through a variety of sources, including fees or assessments on regulated institutions. (See CRS...

Trends in the Timing and Size of DHS Appropriations: In Brief

(TO BE SUPPRESSED) Department of Homeland Security DHS budget Appropriations FY2019, FY2018 funding analysis

The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Controversy

In December 2017, after years of preparation, most commercial trucks were required to be equipped with an electronic logging device (ELD) that would automatically record how long the driver had been driving. There had been little controversy about this requirement during its two-year phase-in period, but after it took effect, portions of the commercial trucking industry began to complain about its impact. Pending legislation would exempt certain drivers from the mandate through FY2019.

Most commercial drivers are paid by the mile, and so have an incentive to drive as much as possible....

Fees for Maintenance and Evaluation of Pesticide Registrations: Current Law and Legislation in the 115th Congress

Division G of Title II of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (P.L. 115-141) extended U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authority to collect fees from the pesticide industry for the maintenance and evaluation of pesticide registrations under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA; 7 U.S.C. 136 et seq.) until the end of FY2018. Two types of industry-paid fees supplement annual appropriations from the General Fund to support EPA’s pesticide regulatory program.

Without the extension, the authority to collect maintenance fees would have expired at the end...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2019 Appropriations

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

Agriculture appropriations include both mandatory and discretionary spending. Discretionary amounts, though, are the primary focus during the bill’s development, since mandatory amounts are generally set by authorizing laws such as the farm bill.

The largest discretionary spending items are the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women,...

Ebola: Democratic Republic of Congo

On August 1, 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that a new Ebola outbreak was detected in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), about one week after having declared that a separate outbreak had ended in the western part of the country. This new outbreak is occurring in North Kivu, a province experiencing its own humanitarian crisis with over 1 million displaced people. WHO will shift staff that had just completed working to contain the previous outbreak in the Equateur province to North Kivu. Health experts have reportedly determined that the strain in...

Federal Research and Development (R&D) Funding: FY2019

President Trump’s budget request for FY2019 includes approximately $131.0 billion for research and development (R&D), of which $118.056 billion is included in the President’s budget and an estimated additional $12.9 billion in nondefense discretionary R&D is requested as part of an addendum to the President’s budget. The additional funding requested in the addendum followed enactment of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-123), which raised defense and nondefense discretionary spending caps for FY2018 and FY2019. In April 2018, the Administration issued amendments to the...

Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding

The Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program, also known as fire grants or the FIRE Act grant program, was established by Title XVII of the FY2001 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 106-398). Currently administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the program provides federal grants directly to local fire departments and unaffiliated Emergency Medical Services (EMS) organizations to help address a variety of equipment, training, and other firefighter-related and EMS needs. A related program is the Staffing for Adequate...

United States Fire Administration: An Overview

The United States Fire Administration (USFA)—which includes the National Fire Academy (NFA)—is currently housed within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The objective of the USFA is to significantly reduce the nation’s loss of life from fire, while also achieving a reduction in property loss and nonfatal injury due to fire.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (P.L. 115-141) provided $44.4 million for USFA. This total included $1.5 million for the National Emergency Training Center. For FY2019, the Administration requested...

Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response: The SAFER Grant Program

In response to concerns over the adequacy of firefighter staffing, the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Act, known as the SAFER Act, was enacted by the 108th Congress as Section 1057 of the FY2004 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 108-136). The SAFER Act authorizes grants to career, volunteer, and combination local fire departments for the purpose of increasing the number of firefighters to help communities meet industry-minimum standards and attain 24-hour staffing to provide adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards. Also authorized are grants to...

Cambodian Election

The Cambodian National Assembly election, held on July 29, 2018, resulted in a victory for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). Critics viewed the election, in which the CPP likely won all 125 parliamentary seats, as neither free nor fair and the victory as “hollow” given that the CPP banned the largest opposition party in 2017. The Trump Administration stated that the poll “failed to represent the will of the Cambodian people” and represented “the most significant setback yet to the democratic system enshrined in Cambodia’s constitution...” Nearly 600,000 ballots, or roughly 9% of...

The Post-9/11 GI Bill: A Primer

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers several educational assistance programs (GI Bills®) that provide funds to or on behalf of veterans and servicemembers and their family members to facilitate their enrollment in and pursuit of approved programs of education. Participation and spending for the Post-9/11 GI Bill has represented approximately 80% or more of total GI Bill participation and spending in each year since FY2013. In FY2018, the program is estimated to benefit almost 800,000 individuals and expend over $12 billion. For a description of the other GI Bills, see CRS...

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

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent federal agency with its five members appointed by the President, subject to confirmation by the Senate. It was established by the Communications Act of 1934 (1934 Act) and is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. The mission of the FCC is to ensure that the American people have available—at reasonable cost and without discrimination—rapid, efficient, nation- and worldwide communication services, whether by radio, television, wire, satellite, or...

Water Infrastructure Financing: History of EPA Appropriations

The principal federal program to aid municipal wastewater treatment plant construction is authorized in the Clean Water Act (CWA). Established as a grant program in 1972, it now capitalizes state loan programs through the clean water state revolving loan fund (CWSRF) program. Since FY1972, appropriations have totaled $97 billion.

In 1996, Congress amended the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA, P.L. 104-182) to authorize a drinking water SRF program to help systems finance projects needed to comply with drinking water regulations and to protect public health. Since FY1997, appropriations for...

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

The Navy has been procuring Virginia (SSN-774) class nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) since FY1998. The two Virginia-class boats that the Navy has requested for procurement in FY2019 would be the 29th and 30th boats in the class, and the first two to be covered under a multiyear procurement (MYP) contract for at least 10 Virginia-class submarines to be procured in FY2019-FY2023.

The Navy estimates the combined procurement cost of the two Virginia-class boats requested for procurement in FY2019 at $6,502.3 million (i.e., about $6.5 billion). The second of these two boats is to be...

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

The current and planned size and composition of the Navy, the rate of Navy ship procurement, and the prospective affordability of the Navy’s shipbuilding plans have been oversight matters for the congressional defense committees for many years. The Navy’s FY2019 budget submission includes proposed increases in shipbuilding rates that are intended as initial steps for increasing the size of the Navy toward a goal of a fleet with 355 ships of certain types and numbers.

The Navy’s proposed FY2019 budget requests funding for the procurement of 10 new ships, including two Virginia-class attack...

Multiyear Procurement (MYP) and Block Buy Contracting in Defense Acquisition: Background and Issues for Congress

Multiyear procurement (MYP) and block buy contracting (BBC) are special contracting mechanisms that Congress permits the Department of Defense (DOD) to use for a limited number of defense acquisition programs. Compared to the standard or default approach of annual contracting, MYP and BBC have the potential for reducing weapon procurement costs by several percent.

Under annual contracting, DOD uses one or more contracts for each year’s worth of procurement of a given kind of item. Under MYP, DOD instead uses a single contract for two to five years’ worth of procurement of a given kind of...

Introduction to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

The NFIP was established by the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 (NFIA, 42 U.S.C. §4001 et seq.), and was most recently reauthorized to November 30, 2018, through a series of short-term reauthorizations. The general purpose of the NFIP is both to offer primary flood insurance to properties with significant flood risk, and to reduce flood risk through the adoption of floodplain management standards. Communities volunteer to participate in the NFIP in order to have access to federal flood insurance, and in return are required to adopt minimum standards.

FEMA manages a process, called...

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part C: Early Intervention for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a statute that authorizes grant programs that support special education services. Under the IDEA, a series of conditions are attached to the receipt of grant funds. These conditions aim to provide certain educational and procedural guarantees for students with disabilities and their families.

The grant programs authorized under the IDEA provide federal funding for special education and early intervention services for children with disabilities (birth to 21 years old) and require, as a condition for the receipt of such funds, the...

Child Welfare Funding in FY2018

Child welfare services are intended to prevent the abuse or neglect of children; ensure that children have safe, permanent homes; and promote the well-being of children and their families. For FY2018, an estimated $9.5 billion in federal support was made available for child welfare purposes. Comparable funding for FY2017 is estimated at $9.3 billion.

At least $100 million of the FY2018 increase was provided as discretionary appropriations intended to address the impact of parental substance abuse on children and the child welfare system and to help implement the Family First Prevention...

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B: Key Statutory and Regulatory Provisions

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a statute that authorizes grant programs that support special education services. Under the IDEA, a series of conditions are attached to the receipt of grant funds. These conditions aim to provide certain educational and procedural guarantees for students with disabilities and their families.

The grant programs authorized under the IDEA provide federal funding for special education and early intervention services for children with disabilities (birth to 21 years old) and require, as a condition for the receipt of such funds, the...

Honduras: Background and U.S. Relations

Honduras, a Central American nation of 9 million people, has had close ties with the United States for many years. The country served as a base for U.S. operations designed to counter Soviet influence in Central America during the 1980s, and it continues to host a U.S. military presence and cooperate on antidrug efforts today. Trade and investment linkages are also long-standing and have grown stronger since the implementation of the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) in 2006. In recent years, instability in Honduras—including a 2009 coup and...

Commodity Credit Corporation: Q&A

On July 24, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the use of up to $12 billion in funding authorized under the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to compensate agricultural producers for losses in response to retaliatory tariffs on certain U.S. agricultural commodities. This has raised general questions related to the CCC, its use, and authorities. In brief, CCC makes payments to producers and conducts other operations to support U.S. agriculture. Typically, Congress passes laws, such as omnibus farm bills, that specifically direct USDA on how to administer these...

Agricultural Disaster Assistance

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

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

OPIC, USAID, and Proposed Development Finance Reorganization

Members of Congress and Administrations have periodically considered reorganizing the federal government’s trade and development functions to advance various policy objectives. In its 2019 budget request, the Trump Administration included a proposal to consolidate the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and other agency development finance functions, specifically noting the Development Credit Authority (DCA) of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), into a new U.S. development finance agency. The policy objectives that the new agency would aim to support include...

Flood Resilience and Risk Reduction: Federal Assistance and Programs

Recent flood disasters have raised congressional and public interest in not only reducing flood risks, but also improving flood resilience, which is the ability to adapt to, withstand, and rapidly recover from floods. In the United States, flood-related responsibilities are shared. States and local governments have significant discretion in land use and development decisions, which can be major factors in determining the vulnerability to and consequence of hurricanes, storms, extreme rainfall, and other flood events. Congress has established various federal programs that may be available...

Debt-for-Nature Initiatives and the Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA): Status and Implementation

In the late 1980s, extensive foreign debt and degraded natural resources in developing nations led to the creation of debt-for-nature initiatives that reduced debt obligations, allowed for debt repayments in local currency as opposed to hard currency, and generated funds for the environment. These initiatives, called debt-for-nature swaps typically involved restructuring, reducing, or buying a portion of a developing country’s outstanding debt, with a percentage of proceeds (in local currency) being used to support conservation programs within the debtor country. Most early transactions...

Animal and Plant Export Health Certificates in U.S. Agricultural Trade

An agricultural export health certificate verifies that agricultural products are prepared or raised in accordance with requirements of the importing country. In the United States, export health certificates are issued primarily by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for live animals, raw fruits and vegetables, and some grain products. APHIS ensures that U.S. exporters have met animal and plant health requirements for export. Other federal agencies, not discussed here, have authority over agricultural products outside of APHIS’s...

Department of Homeland Security Appropriations: FY2019

This report provides an overview and analysis of FY2019 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. 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 specific component appropriations.

As part of an overall budget that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)...

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: An Overview

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), an agency within the Department of the Interior (DOI), is the principal federal agency tasked with the conservation, protection, and restoration of fish and wildlife resources across the United States and insular areas. This report summarizes the history, organizational structure, and selected functions of FWS and provides an overview of the agency’s appropriations structure. The report describes the actions Congress has taken to shape FWS’s structure and functions over time and notes selected issues of interest to Congress.

The current structure...

U.S. Army’s Initial Maneuver, Short-Range Air Defense (IM-SHORAD) System

The Current State of Army SHORAD The Army defines SHORAD as: Dedicated air defense artillery (ADA) and non-dedicated air defense capabilities that enable movement and maneuver by destroying, neutralizing or deterring low altitude air threats to defend critical fixed and semi-fixed assets and maneuver forces. The Army summarizes the recent history and current state of Army SHORAD in the following section: Short-range air defense artillery units were historically embedded in Army divisions, providing them with an organic capability to protect their critical assets against fixed-wing and...

Indian Water Rights Settlements

In the second half of the 19th century, the federal government pursued a policy of confining Indian tribes to reservations. These reservations were either a portion of a tribe’s aboriginal land or an area of land taken out of the public domain and set aside for a tribe. The federal statutes and treaties reserving such land for Indian reservations typically did not address the water needs of these reservations, a fact that has given rise to questions and disputes regarding Indian reserved water rights. Dating to a 1908 Supreme Court ruling, courts generally have held that many tribes have a...

Energy and Water Development: FY2019 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps); the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and Central Utah Project (CUP); the Department of Energy (DOE); the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC); and several other independent agencies. DOE typically accounts for about 80% of the bill’s total funding.

President Trump submitted his FY2019 budget proposal to Congress on February 12, 2018. The President’s budget requests for agencies included in the Energy and Water Development...

Older Americans Act: Overview and Funding

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

The Defense Budget and the Budget Control Act: Frequently Asked Questions

Enacted on August 2, 2011, the Budget Control Act of 2011 as amended (P.L. 112-25, P.L. 112-240, P.L. 113-67, P.L. 114-74, and P.L. 115-123) sets limits on defense and nondefense spending. As part of an agreement to increase the statutory limit on public debt, the BCA aimed to reduce annual federal budget deficits by a total of at least $2.1 trillion from FY2012 through FY2021, with approximately half of the savings to come from defense.

The spending limits (or caps) apply separately to defense and nondefense discretionary budget authority. Budget authority is authority provided by law to...

Energy Provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill (P.L. 113-79): Status and Funding

Title IX, the energy title of the 2014 farm bill (Agricultural Act of 2014; P.L. 113-79), contains authority for the energy programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). USDA energy programs have incentivized research, development, and adoption of renewable energy projects, including solar, wind, and anaerobic digesters. However, the primary focus of USDA energy programs has been to promote U.S. biofuels production and use—including corn starch-based ethanol (the predominant biofuel produced and consumed in the United States), cellulosic ethanol, and soybean-based...

National Park Service Appropriations: Ten-Year Trends

The National Park Service (NPS) generally receives appropriations in the annual Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. This report examines trends in NPS appropriations over the past decade (FY2009-FY2018), as well as changes during the decade in the size of the National Park System, numbers of recreational visits to the parks, and NPS staffing levels.

NPS’s appropriations fluctuated during the decade, mainly declining in the first part of the decade and then increasing during the second part. In the first and last years of the decade (FY2009 and FY2018), as well...

Puerto Rico—Status of Electric Power Recovery

On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm with sustained wind speeds of over 155 miles per hour. At that time, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico was already in recovery mode following the glancing blow struck by Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017, which left 70% of electricity customers without power. Puerto Rico’s office of emergency management reported that Hurricane Maria had incapacitated the central electric power system, leaving the entire island without power as the island’s grid was essentially destroyed. Even before the 2017 hurricane...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) FY2018 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...

U.S. Global Health Assistance: FY2001-FY2019 Request

Congressional interest in and support for global health programs has remained strong for several years. In FY2018, Congress provided $8.7 billion for global health programs through State, Foreign Operations appropriations and $488.6 million through Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS) appropriations. These funds are managed by several U.S. agencies and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund)—a multilateral organization aimed at combating the three diseases worldwide. Concern about infectious diseases, especially HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis,...

Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity

Industrial hemp is an agricultural commodity that is cultivated for use in the production of a wide range of products, including foods and beverages, cosmetics and personal care products, nutritional supplements, fabrics and textiles, yarns and spun fibers, paper, construction and insulation materials, and other manufactured goods. Hemp can be grown as a fiber, seed, or other dual-purpose crop. However, hemp is also from the same species of plant, Cannabis sativa, as marijuana. As a result, production in the United States is restricted due to hemp’s association with marijuana, and the U.S....

Multilateral Development Banks: Overview and Issues for Congress

Multilateral development banks (MDBs) provide financial assistance to developing countries in order to promote economic and social development. The United States is a member, and donor, to five major MDBs: the World Bank and four regional development banks, including the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Inter-American Development Bank.

The MDBs primarily fund large infrastructure and other development projects and provide loans tied to policy reforms by the government. The MDBs provide non-concessional...

Broadband Loan and Grant Programs in the USDA’s Rural Utilities Service

Given the large potential impact broadband access may have on the economic development of rural America, concern has been raised over a “digital divide” between rural and urban or suburban areas with respect to broadband deployment. While there are many examples of rural communities with state-of-the-art telecommunications facilities, recent surveys and studies have indicated that, in general, rural areas tend to lag behind urban and suburban areas in broadband deployment.

According to the FCC’s 2018 Broadband Deployment Report, 30.7% of Americans in rural areas and 35.4% of Americans in...

The Community Health Center Fund: In Brief

The Health Center Program, which is administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services, awards grants to outpatient health care facilities that provide care to medically underserved populations. The program’s annual funding has more than tripled between FY2002 and FY2018, which has, in turn, increased the number of centers operating, the number of patients they see, and the volume and type of services available.

The program’s funding increase occurred partially because of the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF), a mandatory...

Tunisia: In Brief

Tunisia has taken key steps toward democracy since its 2011 “Jasmine Revolution,” and has so far avoided the violent chaos and/or authoritarian resurrection seen elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa region. Tunisians adopted a new constitution in 2014 and held national elections the same year, marking the completion of a four-year transitional period. In May 2018, Tunisia held elections for newly created local government posts, a move toward political decentralization that activists and donors have long advocated. The government has also pursued gender equality reforms and enacted...

Medicare Primer

Medicare is a federal program that pays for covered health care services of qualified beneficiaries. It was established in 1965 under Title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide health insurance to individuals 65 and older, and has been expanded over the years to include permanently disabled individuals under the age of 65. Medicare, which consists of four parts (A-D), covers hospitalizations, physician services, prescription drugs, skilled nursing facility care, home health visits, and hospice care, among other services. Generally, individuals are eligible for Medicare if they or...

Mexico: Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking Organizations

Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) pose the greatest crime threat to the United States, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) National Drug Threat Assessment published in October 2017. These organizations have for years been identified for their strong links to drug trafficking, money laundering, and other violent crimes. These criminal groups have trafficked heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, and, increasingly, the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl. U.S. overdoses due to opioid consumption sharply increased to a record level in 2016,...

Broadband Data and Mapping

Improving the quality of broadband deployment data has become an issue of congressional interest, as policymakers recognize that more accurate broadband availability maps could help ensure that federal broadband programs target unserved areas of the country that are most in need of assistance.

Since the initial deployment of broadband in the late 1990s, two federal agencies have implemented broadband availability data collection and mapping initiatives: the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) at the Department of Commerce (DOC) and the Federal Communications...

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 March...

Venezuela: Background and U.S. Relations

Venezuela remains in a deep political crisis under the authoritarian rule of President Nicolás Maduro of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). On May 20, 2018, Maduro defeated Henri Falcón, a former governor, in a presidential election boycotted by the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) of opposition parties and dismissed by the United States, the European Union, and 18 Western Hemisphere countries as illegitimate. Maduro, who was narrowly elected in 2013 after the death of President Hugo Chávez (1999-2013), is unpopular. Nevertheless, he has used the courts, security forces, and...

The Trump Administration’s Reform Plan and Reorganization Recommendations

On June 21, 2018, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century: Reform Plan and Reorganization Recommendations (the Reform Plan). The Reform Plan followed from Executive Order 13781, “Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch,” issued by President Donald J. Trump on March 13, 2017, and an OMB memorandum, M-17-22, “Comprehensive Plan for Reforming the Federal Government and Reducing the Federal Civilian Workforce,” issued on April 12, 2017. Federal agencies were required to submit initial agency reform plans to OMB in...

Department of Defense Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E): Appropriations Structure

The Department of Defense (DOD) conducts research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) in support of its mission requirements. The work funded by these appropriations plays a central role in the nation’s security and an important role in U.S. global leadership in science and technology. DOD alone accounts for nearly 40% of all federal R&D appropriations ($49.2 billion of $125.3 billion, or 39.3%, in FY2017).

In its annual congressional budget requests, DOD presents its RDT&E requests by organization and by its own unique taxonomy aligned to the character of the work to be...

LIHEAP: Program and Funding

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), established in 1981 as part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (P.L. 97-35), is a program through which the federal government makes annual grants to states, tribes, and territories to operate home energy assistance programs for low-income households. The LIHEAP statute authorizes two types of funds: regular funds (sometimes referred to as formula or block grant funds), which are allocated to all states using a statutory formula, and emergency contingency funds, which are allocated to one or more states at the discretion of the...

Overview of FY2019 Appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS)

This report describes actions taken by the Trump Administration and Congress to provide FY2019 funding for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) accounts. It also provides an overview of enacted FY2018 funding for agencies and bureaus funded as part of annual CJS appropriations acts.

For FY2018, Congress and the President provided a total of $72.119 billion in funding for CJS. This included $70.921 billion in regular funding provided in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (P.L. 115-141) and $1.198 billion in emergency-designated funding provided in the Further...

Economic and Fiscal Conditions in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Fiscal and economic challenges facing the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) government raise several issues for Congress. Congress may choose to maintain oversight of federal policies that could affect the USVI’s long-term fiscal stability. Congress also may consider further legislation that would extend or restructure long-range disaster assistance programs to mitigate those challenges and promote greater resiliency of infrastructure and public programs. Federal responses to the USVI’s fiscal distress could conceivably affect municipal debt markets more broadly.

The USVI, like many other...

Intelligence Community Spending: Trends and Issues

Total intelligence spending is usually understood as the combination of the National Intelligence Program (NIP), which supports strategic planning and policymaking, and the Military Intelligence Program (MIP), which supports military operational and tactical levels of planning and operations. There are 4 defense NIP programs, 8 nondefense NIP programs, and 10 MIP programs. Six U.S. intelligence community (IC) components have both MIP and NIP funding sources.

Funding associated with the 17 components of the IC is significant. In fiscal year FY2017 alone, the aggregate amount (base and...

HUD FY2018 Appropriations: In Brief

Most of the funding for the activities of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) comes from discretionary appropriations provided each year in the annual appropriations acts, typically as a part of the Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies appropriations bill (THUD). HUD’s programs are designed primarily to address housing problems faced by households with very low incomes or other special housing needs.

Three rental assistance programs—Public Housing, Section 8 tenant-based rental assistance (which funds Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers), and Section 8 project-based...

The National Institute of Standards and Technology: An Appropriations Overview

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

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education: An Overview

The term STEM education refers to teaching and learning in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It typically includes educational activities across all grade levels—from pre-school to post-doctorate—in both formal (e.g., classrooms) and informal (e.g., afterschool programs) settings. Federal policymakers have an active and enduring interest in STEM education, and the topic is frequently raised in federal science, education, workforce, national security, and immigration policy debates.

Various attempts to assess the federal STEM education effort have produced...

Water Infrastructure Financing: The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) Program

The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program provides financial assistance for water infrastructure projects, including projects to build and upgrade wastewater and drinking water treatment systems. Congress established the WIFIA program in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA 2014, P.L. 113-121).

The WIFIA concept is modeled after a similar program that finances transportation projects, the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program. Proponents of the WIFIA approach, including water utility organizations, cite...

FHA Single-Family Mortgage Insurance: Financial Status of the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund (MMI Fund)

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insures private lenders against losses on home mortgages that meet certain eligibility criteria. If the mortgage borrower defaults (that is, does not repay the mortgage as promised) and the home goes to foreclosure, FHA pays the lender the remaining principal amount owed. By insuring lenders against the possibility of borrower default, FHA is intended to expand access to mortgage credit to some households who might not otherwise be able to obtain affordable mortgages, such as those with small down payments.

When an FHA-insured mortgage goes to...

Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations

This report provides an overview of the key issues for Congress related to Egypt and U.S. foreign aid to Egypt.

Historically, Egypt has been an important country for U.S. national security interests based on its geography, demography, and diplomatic posture. The United States has provided significant military and economic assistance to Egypt since the late 1970s. Successive U.S. Administrations have justified aid to Egypt as an investment in regional stability, built primarily on long-running cooperation with the Egyptian military and on sustaining the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty....

Forest Service Assistance Programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has numerous programs to support the management of state and private forests. These programs are under the jurisdiction of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees and are often examined in the periodic legislation to reauthorize agricultural programs, commonly known as farm bills. For example, the 2014 farm bill repealed, reauthorized, or modified many of these programs. The House version of the 2018 farm bill, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2), contains a forestry title (Title VIII) that would reauthorize, modify, and...

FY2018 Military Construction Authorizations and Appropriations

On May 23, 2017, the Trump Administration delivered its first full budget proposal to the 115th Congress, a request that included $10.4 billion for military construction activities. Of this amount, the Administration requested $9.8 billion for military construction and family housing in the base budget, and $0.6 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funds.

House and Senate negotiations on the annual National Defense Authorization Act, which authorizes funding for military construction projects for the Department of Defense, concluded early in November 2017. The final bill, H.R. 2810,...

Electronic Employment Eligibility Verification

Unauthorized immigration and unauthorized employment continue to be key issues in the ongoing debate over immigration policy. Today’s discussions about these issues build on the work of prior Congresses. In 1986, following many years of debate about unauthorized immigration to the United States, Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). This law sought to address unauthorized immigration, in part, by requiring all employers to examine documents presented by new hires to verify identity and work authorization and to complete and retain employment eligibility...

Former Speakers of the House: Office Allowances, Franking Privileges, and Staff Assistance

Since 1970, former Speakers of the House of Representatives have been provided with an allowance after their departure from the House. The allowance was established to assist retiring Speakers in concluding any official business arising from their tenure in the House. Currently, the statutorily authorized allowance is available to former Speakers for office space and furnishings, office operations, franked mail, and staff assistance. Use of the allowance is limited to five years, beginning the day of expiration of a Speaker’s tenure as a Representative. Allowances are to be used solely for...

FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act

The Trump Administration’s initial FY2018 budget request, released on May 23, 2017, included a total of $677.1 billion for the national defense budget function (Budget Function 050), which encompasses all defense-related activities of the federal government. Of that amount, $659.8 billion was for appropriation accounts for which authorization is provided in the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The remainder of the request was either for mandatory funds not requiring annual authorization or for discretionary funds outside the scope of the NDAA.

That initial Administration...

Education Policy: Resources for Congressional Staff

Education; elementary education; elementary and secondary education; higher education; postsecondary education; Department of Education; education budget; education appropriations; education resources; education statistics; federal education policy; Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; House Committee on Education and the Workforce; education spending; early childhood education; Head Start; IDEA; Individuals with Disabilities Education; Preschool Development Grants; student financial assistance; higher education tax benefits; GI Bill; federal support for institutions...

Grants Work in a Congressional Office

Members of Congress receive frequent requests from grant seekers needing funds for projects in districts and states. The congressional office should first determine its priorities regarding the appropriate assistance to give constituents, from providing information on grants programs to active advocacy of projects. Congressional grants staff can best help grant seekers by first themselves gaining some understanding of the grants process.

Each office handles grants requests in its own way, depending upon the Member’s legislative agenda and overall organization and workload. There may be a...

Army Corps of Engineers: Water Resource Authorization and Project Delivery Processes

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in the Department of Defense undertakes water resources development activities. Its projects primarily are to maintain navigable channels, reduce flood and storm damage, and restore aquatic ecosystems. Congress directs USACE through authorizations and appropriations legislation. This report summarizes authorization legislation, the standard project delivery process, authorities for alternative water resource project delivery, and other USACE authorities.

Authorization Legislation. Congress generally authorizes USACE water resource activities in...

The Role of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)

ONDCP Mission and Responsibilities

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is responsible for creating, implementing, and evaluating U.S. drug control policies to reduce the use, manufacturing, and trafficking of illicit drugs as well as drug-related health consequences, crime, and violence. ONDCP is located in the Executive Office of the President. It was created by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 and most recently reauthorized by the Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 2006. Authorization of appropriations for ONDCP expired at the end of FY2010, but...

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...

Prioritizing Waterway Lock Projects: Barge Traffic Changes

Congress faces decisions about prioritizing new lock construction projects on the inland waterway system. As both houses debate differing versions of water resources and development bills (S. 2800, H.R. 8) and the FY2019 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill (S. 2975, H.R. 5895), the decision about which of these projects could be undertaken first will likely be among the most controversial issues.

The inland waterway system supports barge transportation of heavy raw materials such as grain, coal, petroleum, and construction aggregates. The new locks are needed, according to the...

Department of State, Foreign Operations Appropriations: A Guide to Component Accounts

The Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations legislation provides annual funding for almost all of the international affairs programs generally considered as part of the 150 International Affairs Budget Function (the major exception being food assistance). The legislation has also served as a vehicle for Congress to place conditions on the expenditure of those funds, and express its views regarding certain foreign policy issues.

This report briefly discusses the legislation generally and then provides a short description of the various funding accounts...

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Issues and Debate in the 115th Congress

On April 27, 2018, the House of Representatives passed the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 4), a six-year Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization measure that does not include a controversial proposal to privatize air traffic control laid (ATC) out in an earlier bill, H.R. 2997. On May 9, 2018, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation reported a four-year FAA reauthorization bill (S. 1405, S.Rept. 115-243) that does not address ATC privatization. The enactment of either bill would be the first long-term FAA reauthorization act since the FAA...

Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs

In the midst of national concern over the opioid epidemic, federal and state officials are paying greater attention to the manner in which opioids are prescribed. Nearly all prescription drugs involved in overdoses are originally prescribed by a physician (rather than, for example, being stolen from pharmacies). Thus, attention has been directed toward better understanding how opioids are being prescribed and preventing the diversion of prescription drugs after the prescriptions are dispensed.

Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) maintain statewide electronic databases of...

The International Monetary Fund

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), conceived at the Bretton Woods conference in July 1944, is the multilateral organization focused on the international monetary system. Created in 1946 with 46 members, it has grown to include 189 countries. The IMF has six purposes that are outlined in Article I of the IMF Articles of Agreement: promoting international monetary cooperation; expanding the balanced growth of international trade; facilitating exchange rate stability; eliminating restrictions on the international flow of capital; ensuring confidence by making the general resources of the...

Discharge Petitions and the House Discharge Rule

Recent media reports have discussed an effort by some Representatives to use a discharge petition to schedule a floor vote on a resolution (a “special rule”) providing for House consideration of immigration legislation under a "Queen-of-the-Hill" amendment structure. This Insight discusses the principal features of the House discharge rule and links to additional reading material on the subject.

The House discharge rule, clause 2 of Rule XV, establishes a parliamentary mechanism whereby 218 Members of the House of Representatives—a majority of the chamber—can bring a bill or resolution to...

Cybersecurity: Legislation, Hearings, and Executive Branch Documents

Cybersecurity vulnerabilities challenge governments, businesses, and individuals worldwide. Attacks have been initiated against individuals, corporations, and countries. Targets have included government networks, companies, and political organizations, depending upon whether the attacker was seeking military intelligence, conducting diplomatic or industrial espionage, engaging in cybercrime, or intimidating political activists. In addition, national borders mean little or nothing to cyberattackers, and attributing an attack to a specific location can be difficult, which may make responding...

Federal Financing for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a means-tested program that provides health coverage to targeted low-income children and pregnant women in families that have annual income above Medicaid eligibility levels but have no health insurance. CHIP is jointly financed by the federal government and the states, and the states are responsible for administering CHIP.

The federal government’s share of CHIP expenditures (including both services and administration) is determined by the enhanced federal medical assistance percentage (E-FMAP) rate. The E-FMAP varies by state;...

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. 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 specific component appropriations.

As part of an overall budget that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)...

Wastewater Infrastructure: Overview, Funding, and Legislative Developments

The collection and treatment of wastewater remains among the most important public health interventions in human history and has contributed to a significant decrease in waterborne diseases during the past century. Nevertheless, waste discharges from municipal sewage treatment plants into rivers and streams, lakes, and estuaries and coastal waters remain a significant source of water quality problems throughout the country.

The Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes performance levels to be attained by municipal sewage treatment plants in order to prevent the discharge of harmful wastes into...

The Federal Budget: Overview and Issues for FY2019 and Beyond

The federal budget is a central component of the congressional “power of the purse.” Each fiscal year, Congress and the President engage in a number of activities that influence short- and long-run revenue and expenditure trends. This report offers context for the current budget debate and tracks legislative events related to the federal budget.

After a decline in budget deficits over the past several years, the deficit is projected to increase significantly in FY2019. Enactment of the 2017 tax revision (P.L. 115-97) and the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA 2018; P.L. 115-123) are...

U.S. Department of State Personnel: Background and Selected Issues for Congress

Current Context and Recent Developments

Shortly after his confirmation as Secretary of State in April 2018, Secretary Mike Pompeo lifted the hiring freeze that former Secretary Rex Tillerson left in place for over a year. Guidance issued after Secretary Pompeo’s action indicates that the department intends to increase Foreign and Civil Service personnel levels in a manner consistent with the language and funding Congress included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (P.L. 115-141). The Trump Administration has taken additional actions affecting Department of State personnel,...

Indian Health Service (IHS) FY2019 Budget Request and Funding History: A Fact Sheet

The Indian Health Service (IHS) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the lead federal agency charged with improving the health of American Indians and Alaska Natives. IHS provides health care for approximately 2.2 million eligible American Indians/Alaska Natives through a system of programs and facilities located on or near Indian reservations, and through contractors in certain urban areas. IHS provides services to members of 573 federally recognized tribes. It provides services either directly or through facilities and programs operated by Indian tribes or tribal...

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...

Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155) and House Legislation: Common Issue Areas

The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155) passed the Senate on March 14, 2018. The bill generally aims to provide regulatory relief to banks, relax mortgage lending and capital formation rules, and provide additional consumer financial protections. The bill addresses a number of policy issues that are also addressed by the Financial CHOICE Act (H.R. 10), which was passed by the House on June 8, 2017, and other House bills that have been passed by the House or otherwise seen legislative action in the 115th Congress. The table below matches the policy...

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI): Eligibility, Benefits, and Financing

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is responsible for administering two federal entitlement programs established under the Social Security Act that provide income support to individuals with severe, long-term disabilities: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI is a work-related social insurance program authorized under Title II of the act that provides monthly cash benefits to nonelderly disabled workers and their eligible dependents, provided the workers accrued a sufficient number of earnings credits during their careers in jobs...

NASA Appropriations and Authorizations: A Fact Sheet

National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA budget appropriations authorization reauthorization funding FY2018 FY2019 NASA congressional budget justification NASA budget request NASA operating plan Commerce-Justice-Science CJS appropriations P.L. 115-31 P.L. 115-141 NASA Authorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 5503)

Covert Action and Clandestine Activities of the Intelligence Community: Framework for Congressional Oversight In Brief

Since 9/11, a number of factors have complicated Congress’s efforts to improve oversight of covert and clandestine activities of the intelligence community. Greater integration of military operations and intelligence activities has resulted in a blurring of authorities associated with Title 10 and Title 50 of the United States Code. In addition, Congress has expressed concern that DOD’s overuse of terms that are not defined in statute, such as traditional military activities and operational preparation of the environment (OPE), has allowed DOD to circumvent the more stringent oversight...

Energy and Water Development: FY2018 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps); the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and Central Utah Project (CUP); the Department of Energy (DOE); the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC); and several other independent agencies. DOE typically accounts for about 80% of the bill’s total funding.

President Trump submitted his FY2018 budget proposal to Congress on May 23, 2017. The budget requests for agencies included in the Energy and Water Development appropriations bill...

Lebanon’s 2018 Elections

On May 6, 2018, Lebanon held its first legislative elections in nine years. The results showed that parties allied with Hezbollah increased their share of seats from roughly 44% to 53%. However, as in past Lebanese governments, rival parliamentary blocs will likely need to reach consensus in order to secure the passage of major policy initiatives.

The 128 seats in Lebanon’s parliament, known formally as the Chamber of Deputies, are divided evenly between Christians and Muslims. This reflects Lebanon’s broader political system in which power is divided among the country’s various religious...

Proposed CHIP Rescissions in the Trump Administration’s Rescission Request

On Tuesday, May 8, 2018, the Trump Administration submitted to Congress a proposal for 38 rescissions of budget authority, totaling $15.4 billion. In their transmission, the Office of Management and Budget stated that these rescissions were transmitted pursuant to Section 1012 of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (2 U.S.C. 683). The proposal includes $7.0 billion in rescissions from the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which is a means-tested program that provides health coverage to targeted low-income children and pregnant women in families that...

The Enactment of Appropriations Measures During Lame Duck Sessions

Eleven of the past 12 Congresses, covering the 103rd Congress through the 114th 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...

Generalized System of Preferences (GSP): Overview and Issues for Congress

The U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program provides nonreciprocal, duty-free tariff treatment to certain products imported from designated beneficiary developing countries (BDCs). The United States, the European Union, and other developed countries have implemented similar programs since the 1970s. Congress first authorized the U.S. program in Title V of the Trade Act of 1974, and most recently extended it until December 31, 2020 in Division M, Title V of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (P.L. 115-141).

The GSP program was also retroactively renewed for all...

U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: FY2018 Appropriations

The United States provides foreign assistance to the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean to support development and other U.S. objectives. U.S. policymakers have emphasized different strategic interests in the region at different times, from combating Soviet influence during the Cold War to promoting democracy and open markets since the 1990s. Over the past year, the Trump Administration has sought to reduce foreign aid significantly and refocus U.S. assistance efforts in the region to address U.S. domestic concerns, such as irregular migration and transnational crime.

FY2018...

National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System Legislation in the 115th Congress

In the 115th Congress, two bills authorizing a National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System (NVEWS) have been reported out of committee (H.R. 4475, reported out of the House Natural Resources Committee and S. 346, reported out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee). Legislation nearly identical to S. 346 is included as Title X, Subtitle A, of S. 1460, the Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017. (A hearing has been held on this bill.) The activities authorized in these bills include directing the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to establish a nationwide volcano early...

FY2018 Appropriations for Department of Justice Grant Programs

Each year, Congress and the Administration provide funding for a variety of grant programs through the Department of Justice (DOJ). These programs are used to fund state, local, and tribal governments and nonprofit organizations for a variety of criminal justice-related purposes, such as efforts to combat violence against women, reduce backlogs of DNA evidence, support community policing, assist crime victims, promote prisoner reentry, and improve the functioning of the juvenile justice system. These programs are funded through five accounts in the annual Commerce, Justice, Science, and...

Congressional Debate on FAA Reauthorization Charts New Legislative Path

On April 27, 2018, the House passed the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 4), a six-year reauthorization measure that does not include a controversial proposal laid out in an earlier bill, H.R. 2997, to privatize air traffic control. The measure now proceeds to the Senate, where the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee ordered to be reported a four-year Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization (S. 1405) that does not address air traffic control privatization. Despite similarities, there are also differences in the two bills, including the length of...

Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) FY2018 Appropriations: Trade-Related Agencies

This report tracks and provides an overview of actions taken by the Administration and Congress to provide FY2018 appropriations for the International Trade Administration (ITA), the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), and the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). These three trade-related agencies are funded through the annual Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations act. This report also provides an overview of three trade-related programs administered by ITA, USITC, and USTR.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 (P.L....

NIH Funding: FY1994-FY2019

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the primary federal agency charged with conducting and supporting biomedical and behavioral research. About 81% of the NIH budget funds extramural research through grants, contracts, and other awards. Almost all of NIH’s funding is provided in the annual Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies appropriations act.

[Key terms: National Institutes of Health, NIH, NIH budget, NIH funding,]

FY2018 Appropriations for the Department of Justice

The Department of Justice (DOJ) was established in 1870 with the Attorney General as its leader. Since its creation, DOJ has added additional agencies, offices, boards, and divisions to its organizational structure. DOJ, along with the judicial branch, operates the federal criminal justice system. The department enforces federal criminal and civil laws, including antitrust, civil rights, environmental, and tax laws. Through agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives...

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.

Though the storms happened over a decade ago, Congress has remained interested in the types and amounts of federal assistance that were provided to the Gulf Coast for several reasons. This includes how the money has been spent, what resources have been provided to...

Overview of FY2018 Appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS)

This report describes actions taken by the Administration and Congress to provide FY2018 appropriations for the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) accounts. It also provides an overview of FY2017 appropriations for agencies and bureaus funded as part of annual CJS appropriations.

Division B of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 (P.L. 115-31) provided a total of $66.360 billion (which includes $109 million in emergency-designated funding) for CJS. Under the act, the Department of Commerce received $9.237 billion, the Department of Justice received $28.962 billion,...

Juvenile Justice Funding Trends

Although juvenile justice has always been administered by the states, the federal government has played a role in this area through the administration of grant programs. Congress has influenced juvenile justice by funding grant programs administered by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP).

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA; P.L. 93-415), enacted in 1974, was the first comprehensive juvenile justice legislation passed by Congress. The JJDPA authorized a series of grant programs designed to support state...

Fatherhood Initiatives: Connecting Fathers to Their Children

Long-standing research indicates that children raised in one-parent homes are more likely than children raised in homes with both biological parents to do poorly in school, have emotional and behavioral problems, become teenage parents, and have poverty-level incomes as adults. In an effort to improve the long-term outlook for children in one-parent homes, federal, state, and local governments, along with public and private organizations, have supported programs and activities that promote the financial and personal responsibility of noncustodial parents to their children and reduce the...

Teen Pregnancy: Federal Prevention Programs

Congress has an interest in preventing pregnancy among teenagers because of the long-term consequences for the families of teen parents and society more generally. Since the 1980s, Congress has authorized—and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has administered—programs with a focus on teen pregnancy prevention. This report intends to assist Congress with tracking developments in four teen pregnancy prevention programs that are currently funded. The report provides detailed information about each program and includes a table that can illustrate the ways in which the...

Unemployment and Employment Programs Available to Workers Affected by Disasters

The federal government supports several programs that can provide assistance to workers who lose their jobs as a result of a natural or other disaster. In many cases, disaster-affected workers will be served by permanent programs and systems that generally provide assistance to workers who involuntarily lose their jobs. In some cases, disaster-triggered federal supports may be made available to provide additional assistance or aid to workers who do not qualify for assistance under the permanent programs.

This report discusses two income support programs and two workforce service programs....

Family Planning Program Under Title X of the Public Health Service Act

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). Title X, enacted in 1970, is the only domestic federal program devoted solely to family planning and related preventive health services. In 2016, Title X-funded clinics served 4 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 in FY1985, funding for the program has...

The Peace Corps: Current Issues

Founded in 1961, the Peace Corps has sought to meet its legislative mandate of promoting world peace and friendship by sending American volunteers to serve at the grassroots level in villages and towns in all corners of the globe. As of the end of September 2017, about 7,376 volunteers were serving in 65 nations.

In 2018, the 115th Congress may consider the President’s annual funding request for the Peace Corps, changes to the Peace Corps authorization legislation, and related issues.

On March 23, 2018, the Consolidated Appropriations, 2018 (P.L. 115-141), was signed into law, providing...

The National Health Service Corps

The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) provides scholarships and loan repayments to health care providers in exchange for a period of service in a health professional shortage area (HPSA). The program places clinicians at facilities—generally not-for-profit or government-operated—that might otherwise have difficulties recruiting and retaining providers.

The NHSC is administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Congress created the NHSC in the Emergency Health Personnel Act of 1970 (P.L. 91-623), and its...

Federally Supported Water Supply and Wastewater Treatment Programs

For more than four decades, Congress has authorized and refined several programs to help communities address water supply and wastewater problems. The agencies that administer these programs differ in multiple ways. In terms of funding mechanisms, projects developed by the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers typically require direct, individual project authorizations from Congress.

In contrast, standing program authorizations provide project funding for other agencies, including

the Department of Agriculture (USDA),

the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency...

Runaway and Homeless Youth: Demographics and Programs

This report discusses runaway and homeless youth, and the federal response to support this population. There is no single definition of the terms “runaway youth” or “homeless youth.” However, both groups of youth share the risk of not having adequate shelter and other provisions, and may engage in harmful behaviors while away from a permanent home. These two groups also include “thrownaway” youth who are asked to leave their homes, and may include other vulnerable youth populations, such as current and former foster youth and youth with mental health or other issues. The term...

U.S. Funding to the United Nations System: Overview and Selected Policy Issues

Members of Congress are responsible for authorizing and appropriating U.S. funding to the United Nations (U.N.) system. Over the years, congressional interest in U.N. funding has largely focused on three key questions: What are appropriate levels of U.S. funding to U.N. entities? Are U.S. contributions used as efficiently and effectively as possible? How, if at all, should the United States leverage U.S. contributions to achieve its policy priorities in U.N. bodies? U.N. System Funding The U.N. system is made up of interconnected entities including specialized agencies, funds and...

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

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

Broadband Internet Access and the Digital Divide: Federal Assistance Programs

The “digital divide” is a term that has been used to characterize a gap between “information haves and have-nots,” or in other words, between those Americans who use or have access to telecommunications and information technologies and those who do not. One important subset of the digital divide debate concerns high-speed internet access and advanced telecommunications services, also known as broadband. Broadband is provided by a series of technologies (e.g., cable, telephone wire, fiber, satellite, mobile and fixed wireless) that give users the ability to send and receive data at volumes...

Health Insurance Premium Tax Credits and Cost-Sharing Subsidies

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

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

Cambodia: Background and U.S. Relations

Following a gradual improvement of bilateral ties since the mid-2000s, U.S. relations with the Kingdom of Cambodia have become strained in recent years in light of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s suppression of political opponents and growing embrace of China. The Trump Administration and Congress have imposed and considered further sanctions in order to pressure Hun Sen into restoring democracy and conducting free and fair national elections in 2018.

While the U.S. government has criticized Hun Sen’s backtracking on democracy, it also has sought to remain engaged with Cambodia. During the past...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) FY2018 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 Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is funded through the Agriculture appropriations bill in the House and the FSGG bill in the Senate.

President Trump submitted his FY2018 budget request on May 23, 2017. The request included a total of $45.2...

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program

The largest procurement program in the Department of Defense (DOD), the F-35 Lightning II is a strike fighter aircraft being procured in different versions for the United States Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy. Current DOD plans call for acquiring a total of 2,456 F-35s. Allies are expected to purchase hundreds of additional F-35s, and eight nations are cost-sharing partners in the program with the United States.

The F-35 promises significant advances in military capability. Like many high-technology programs before it, reaching that capability has put the program above its original...

The Senate “Two-Hour Rule” Governing Committee Meeting Times

Paragraph 5(a) of Senate Rule XXVI, sometimes referred to as the “two-hour rule,” restricts the times that most Senate committees and subcommittees can meet when the full Senate is in session. The rule is intended to help balance the Senate’s committee and floor work and to minimize the logistical conflicts that Senators face between participating in committee hearings and markups and attending to their duties on the chamber floor.

Under the terms of the rule, no Senate committee or subcommittee (except the Committees on Appropriations and Budget and their subcommittees) can meet after...

Defense Authorization and Appropriations Bills: FY1961-FY2018

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

This report is a research aid that lists the DOD authorization bills (Table 1 and Table 2) and...

The Commodity Credit Corporation: In Brief

The Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) has served as a mandatory funding mechanism for agricultural programs since 1933. The CCC Charter Act enables the CCC to broadly support the U.S. agriculture industry through authorized programs including commodity and income support, natural resources conservation, export promotion, international food aid, disaster assistance, agricultural research, and bioenergy development.

While CCC is authorized to carry out a number of activities, it has no staff of its own. CCC is overseen by the Secretary of Agriculture and a board of directors, which are...

Legislative Branch: FY2018 Appropriations

The legislative branch appropriations bill provides funding for the Senate; House of Representatives; Joint Items; Capitol Police; Office of Compliance; Congressional Budget Office (CBO); Architect of the Capitol (AOC); Library of Congress (LOC), including the Congressional Research Service (CRS); Government Publishing Office (GPO); Government Accountability Office (GAO); Open World Leadership Center; and the John C. Stennis Center.

The FY2018 legislative branch budget request of $4.865 billion was submitted on May 23, 2017. In general, FY2018 legislative branch budget requests were...

Energy and Water Development Appropriations: Nuclear Weapons Activities

The annual Energy and Water Development appropriations bill funds civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of Energy (DOE), and several independent agencies.

The DOE budget includes funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a separately organized agency within DOE. NNSA operates three programs: Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, which secures nuclear materials worldwide, conducts research and development (R&D) into nonproliferation and verification, and operates the Nuclear...

Millennium Challenge Corporation

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) provides economic assistance through a competitive selection process to developing nations that demonstrate positive performance in three areas: ruling justly, investing in people, and fostering economic freedom. Established in 2004, the MCC differs in several respects from past and current U.S. aid practices: the competitive process that rewards countries for past actions measured by objective performance indicators; its mandate to seek poverty reduction through economic growth, not encumbered with multiple sector objectives; the requirement to...

Comparing DHS Component Funding, FY2018: In Brief

Generally, the homeland security appropriations bill includes all annual appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), providing resources to every departmental component. Table 1 and Figure 1 show DHS’s new discretionary budget authority enacted for FY2017 and requested by the Administration for FY2018, as well as the House committee-reported response, broken down by component—from largest to smallest appropriations request.

(TO BE SUPPRESSED) Department of Homeland Security DHS budget Appropriations FY2017, FY2018 funding analysis H.R. 3355 H.Rept. 115-239 H.R. 3354 P.L....

Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2018 Budget and Appropriations

Nearly six months after the start of FY2018, the 115th Congress enacted the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (H.R. 1625; P.L. 115-141, signed March 23, 2018), which provided FY2018 funding for the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS). Division K of the actState, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) provided a total of $54.18 billion, including Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds and rescissions. This represented a decrease of 6.1% from the FY2017 actual funding level. Of the total, $16.22 billion (not including rescissions) was for...

Multilateral Development Banks: U.S. Contributions FY2000-FY2019

This report shows in tabular form how much the Administration requested and how much Congress appropriated for U.S. payments to the multilateral development banks (MDBs) since 2000.

Multilateral development banks provide financial assistance to developing countries in order to promote economic and social development. The United States belongs to several multilateral development banks, including the World Bank and four regional development banks (the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and...

Salaries of Members of Congress: Congressional Votes, 1990-2018

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...

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...

U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel

This report provides an overview of U.S. foreign assistance to Israel. It includes a review of past aid programs, data on annual assistance, and analysis of current issues. For general information on Israel, see CRS Report RL33476, Israel: Background and U.S. Relations, by Jim Zanotti.

Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $134.7 billion (current, or noninflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding. Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of...

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....

Lame Duck Sessions of Congress, 1935-2016 (74th-114th Congresses)

A “lame duck” session of Congress occurs whenever one Congress meets after its successor is elected but before the end of its own constitutional term. Under present conditions, any meeting of Congress between election day in November and 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 primarily used for any portion of a regular session that falls after an election.

Congress has held 21 lame duck...

Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis: Recent Developments and Issues for Congress

Tensions have grown in western Cameroon since the government’s suppression of a protest movement led by members of the country’s minority Anglophone community in late 2016. In 2017, the situation escalated as one Anglophone faction symbolically declared the secession of the region and some Anglophone groups took up arms. While granting minor concessions, the government has arrested dozens of activists and deployed the military to put down unrest. The crisis has heightened historic fissures in Cameroon’s diverse society and adds to the country’s political and security challenges. (See CRS...

The Corporation for National and Community Service: Overview of Programs and Funding

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is an independent federal agency that administers the programs authorized by two statutes: the National and Community Service Act of 1990 (NCSA; P.L. 101-610), as amended, and the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973 (DVSA; P.L. 93-113), as amended. NCSA and DVSA programs were most recently reauthorized by the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act (P.L. 111-13). This report describes programs authorized by these laws and compares CNCS funding for FY2015, FY2016, FY2017, and FY2018.

The NCSA is designed to meet unmet human,...

Title I of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA): A Summary of the Statute

In 1976, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA; P.L. 94-469) was enacted to direct the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to obtain information relevant to evaluating the lifecycle (i.e., manufacture, importation, processing, distribution, use, and disposal) of industrial and commercial chemicals for “unreasonable risks” and, if warranted, to regulate such chemicals. Concerns that EPA lacked sufficient authority to take such actions, among other concerns, led to the enactment of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (P.L. 114-182), which amended TSCA, in...

DHS Budget v. DHS Appropriations: Fact Sheet

(TO BE SUPPRESSED) Department of Homeland Security DHS budget Appropriations FY2004, FY2005, FY2006, FY2007, FY2008, FY2009, FY2010, FY2010, FY2011, FY2012, FY2013, FY2014, FY2015, FY2016, FY2017, FY2018 funding analysis non-appropriated funding adjustments under the Budget Control Act supplemental mandatory user fee trust fund

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 and anticipated expenditures for comparative purposes.

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

Venture Capital Funds: Proposals to Expand Investor Thresholds Required for Registration (Section 504 of S. 2155, Section 471 of H.R. 10, H.R. 1219, S. 444, and Section 914 of H.R. 3280)

Introduction

To help restore confidence in the securities markets after the stock market crash of 1929, Congress passed the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which authorized the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC is an independent, nonpartisan regulatory agency responsible for administering federal securities laws. It has broad regulatory authority over significant parts of the securities industry, including stock exchanges, mutual funds, investment advisers, and brokerage firms.

Among the major federal securities statutes that the SEC enforces is the...

Multiemployer Defined Benefit (DB) Pension Plans: A Primer and Analysis of Policy Options

Multiemployer defined benefit (DB) pension plans are pensions sponsored by more than one employer and maintained as part of a collective bargaining agreement. About 3.2% of all DB pension plans, covering 25% of all DB pension plan participants, are multiemployer plans. Nearly all of the remaining DB pension plans are maintained by a single employer. A few DB pension plans are maintained by more than one employer but are not maintained under a collective bargaining agreement. In DB pension plans, participants receive a monthly benefit in retirement that is based on a formula. In...

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 anticipates...

An Introduction to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit

The low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) program is one of the federal government’s primary policy tools for encouraging the development and rehabilitation of affordable rental housing. These nonrefundable federal housing tax credits are awarded to developers of qualified rental projects via a competitive application process administered by state housing finance authorities. Developers typically sell their tax credits to outside investors in exchange for equity. Selling the tax credits reduces the debt developers would otherwise have to incur and the equity they would otherwise have to...

Guatemala: Political and Socioeconomic Conditions and U.S. Relations

Guatemala, the most populous Central American country, with a population of 16.3 million, has been consolidating its transition to democracy since the 1980s. Guatemala has a long history of internal conflict, including a 36-year civil war (1960-1996) during which the Guatemalan military held power and over 200,000 people were killed or disappeared. A democratic constitution was adopted in 1985, and a democratically elected government was inaugurated in 1986.

President Jimmy Morales, a political newcomer, took office in January 2016, having campaigned on an anti-corruption platform. The...

Federal Funding Gaps: A Brief Overview

The Antideficiency Act (31 U.S.C. 1341-1342, 1511-1519) generally bars the obligation of funds in the absence of appropriations. Exceptions are made under the act, including for activities involving “the safety of human life or the protection of property.” The interval during the fiscal year when appropriations for a particular project or activity are not enacted into law, either in the form of a regular appropriations act or a continuing resolution (CR), is referred to as a funding gap. Although funding gaps may occur at the start of the fiscal year, they may also occur any time a CR...

Agricultural Credit: Institutions and Issues

The federal government provides credit assistance to farmers to help assure adequate and reliable lending in rural areas, particularly for farmers who cannot obtain loans elsewhere. Federal farm loan programs also target credit to beginning farmers and socially disadvantaged groups.

The primary federal lender to farmers, though with a small share of the market, is the Farm Service Agency (FSA) in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Congress funds FSA loans with annual discretionary appropriations—about $90 million of budget authority and $317 million for salaries—to support $8...

The Holman Rule (House Rule XXI, Clause 2(b))

Although congressional rules establish a general division of responsibility under which questions of policy are kept separate from questions of funding, House rules provide for exceptions in certain circumstances. One such circumstance allows for the inclusion of legislative language in general appropriations bills or amendments thereto for “germane provisions that retrench expenditures by the reduction of amounts of money covered by the bill.” This exception appears in clause 2(b) of House Rule XXI and is known as the Holman rule, after Representative William Holman of Indiana, who first...

FY2018 Appropriations Overview: Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis

This report discusses FY2018 appropriations (discretionary budget authority) for the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and Bureau of the Census (Census Bureau), historic components of the Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) in the U.S. Department of Commerce. This report will be updated as legislative developments warrant.

The Administration’s FY2018 budget request assumes the termination of ESA and proposes $97.0 million for BEA, $6.8 million (6.6%) less than the $103.8 million enacted for FY2017.

The FY2018 request for the Census Bureau is $1,497.0 million, $27.0 million...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2018 Appropriations

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

Agriculture appropriations include both mandatory and discretionary spending. Discretionary amounts, though, are the primary focus during the bill’s development, since mandatory amounts are generally set by authorizing laws such as the farm bill.

The largest discretionary spending items are the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women,...

Department of Health and Human Services: FY2019 Budget Request

This report provides information about the FY2019 budget request for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The report begins by reviewing the department’s mission and structure. Next, the report offers a brief explanation of the conventions used for the FY2018 estimates and FY2019 request levels in the budget documents released by the HHS and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The report also discusses the concept of the HHS budget as a whole, in comparison to how funding is provided to HHS through the annual appropriations process. The report concludes with a...

Federal Reserve: Legislation in the 115th Congress

The Federal Reserve (Fed) is the subject of legislation being considered in the 115th Congress. This report analyzes Fed bills that have seen committee or floor action and the policy debate surrounding them. The bills contain wide-ranging changes that can be grouped into five broad categories

Fed governance. Some proposals would change the Fed’s institutional structure. H.R. 10 as passed and H.R. 4757 would increase the voting weight of regional Fed presidents on the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) at the expense of the Fed’s Board of Governors and the New York Fed. H.R. 10 would also...

2017 Disaster Supplemental Appropriations: Overview

According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2017 was “a historic year of weather and climate disasters” for the United States. A combination of deadly hurricanes and wildfires were among the 57 major disasters declared under the Stafford Act in 2017. The series of supplemental appropriations requested and provided in the wake of 2017’s hurricanes and wildfires are the latest exercise of one congressional role in disaster situations—to exercise “the power of the purse” to provide relief to state and local governments overwhelmed by disaster response and...

Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-123): CHIP, Public Health, Home Visiting, and Medicaid Provisions in Division E

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA 2018, P.L. 115-123), which was enacted on February 9, 2018, addresses a number of issues that were before Congress. For example, appropriations for most federal agencies and programs were to expire on February 8, 2018, and BBA 2018 extends continuing appropriations for these agencies and programs through March 23, 2018. In addition, BBA 2018 includes FY2018 supplemental appropriations, an increase to the debt limit, increases to the statutory spending limits for FY2018 and FY2019, tax provisions, and numerous provisions extending or making changes to...

Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA): 2017 Reauthorization as PDUFA VI

The Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA, now called PDUFA I) was reauthorized as PDUFA VI by the Food and Drug Administration Reauthorization Act of 2017 (FDARA, P.L. 115-52). First passed by Congress in 1992, PDUFA gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to collect fees from the pharmaceutical industry and to use the revenue to support “the process for the review of human drug applications.” FDA regulates the safety and effectiveness of drug and biological products sold in the United States. Prior to marketing a drug, a manufacturer must submit to FDA a new drug...

Organization of American States: Background and Issues for Congress

The Organization of American States (OAS) is a regional multilateral organization that includes all 35 independent countries of the Western Hemisphere (though Cuba currently does not participate). It was established in 1948 as a forum in which the nations of the hemisphere could engage one another and address issues of mutual concern. Today, the OAS concentrates on four broad objectives: democracy promotion, human rights protection, economic and social development, and regional security cooperation. It carries out a variety of activities to advance these goals, often providing policy...

Nuclear Negotiations with North Korea

This report summarizes past nuclear and missile negotiations between the United States and North Korea, also known by its formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), and highlights some of the lessons and implications from these efforts. Some analysts have suggested that, in response to the accelerated pace of North Korea’s nuclear and missile testing programs and its continued threats against the United States and U.S. allies, the United States might engage in an aggressive negotiation strategy with Pyongyang. In March 2018, President Trump agreed to hold a summit with...

Latin America and the Caribbean: Issues in the 115th Congress

Geographic proximity has ensured strong linkages between the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean, based on diverse U.S. interests, including economic, political, and security concerns. The United States is a major trading partner and the largest source of foreign investment for many countries in the region, with free-trade agreements enhancing economic linkages with 11 countries. The region is a large source of U.S. immigration, both legal and illegal; geographic proximity and economic and security conditions are major factors driving migration trends. Curbing the flow of...

Department of Veterans Affairs FY2018 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 and traumatic injury protection insurance for servicemembers, and death benefits that cover burial expenses. The VA is funded through the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies...

Financial Regulation: FY2018 Appropriations and the Financial CHOICE Act (H.R. 10)

Background

On September 14, 2017, the House passed H.R. 3354, which included the FY2018 Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Appropriations bill in Division D. The Senate Appropriations Committee released an FY2018 FSGG chairmen’s mark on November 20, 2017, but further action has yet to occur on the bill. Much of the federal government, including agencies covered by FSGG appropriations, has been operating for the first part of FY2018 under successive continuing resolutions (P.L. 115-56, P.L. 115-90, P.L. 115-96, P.L. 115-120, and P.L. 115-123), now effective through March 23,...

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

Even though the United States has reduced the number of warheads deployed on its long-range missiles and bombers, consistent with the terms of the 2010 New START Treaty, it also plans to develop new delivery systems for deployment over the next 10-30 years. The 115th Congress will continue to review these programs, and the funding requested for them, during the annual authorization and appropriations process.

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

Education-Related Regulatory Flexibilities, Waivers, and Federal Assistance in Response to Disasters and National Emergencies

The 21st century has seen the operation of elementary, secondary, and postsecondary educational institutions and the education of the students they enroll disrupted by natural disasters, such as hurricanes and floods, and by national emergencies, such as the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. This report is intended to inform Congress of existing statutory and regulatory provisions that may aid in responding to future disasters and national emergencies that may affect the provision of or access to education and highlight the actions of previous Congresses to provide additional...

The Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-123), signed into law on February 9, 2018, creates a new joint select committee of the House and Senate. The Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform, made up of 16 Members from the House and Senate—four chosen by each of the chambers’ party leaders—is intended to formulate recommendations and legislative language that will “significantly reform the budget and appropriations process.” The law directs the committee to make a report no later than November 30, 2018, which will be submitted along with legislative language to...

Defense Spending Under an Interim Continuing Resolution: In Brief

This report provides a basic overview of interim continuing resolutions (CRs) and highlights some specific issues pertaining to operations of the Department of Defense (DOD) under a CR.

As with regular appropriations bills, Congress can draft a CR to provide funding in many different ways. Under current practice, a CR is an appropriation that provides either interim or full-year funding by referencing a set of established funding levels for the projects and activities that it funds (or covers). Such funding may be provided for a period of days, weeks, or months and may be extended through...

Vulnerable Youth: Federal Mentoring Programs and Issues

Youth mentoring refers to a relationship between youth—particularly those most at risk of experiencing negative outcomes in adolescence and adulthood—and the adults who support and guide them. The origin of the modern youth mentoring concept is credited to the efforts of charity groups that formed during the Progressive era of the early 1900s to provide practical assistance to poor and juvenile justice-involved youth, including help with finding employment.

Approximately 4.5 million youth today are involved in formal mentoring relationships through organizations such as Big Brothers Big...

Campus-Based Student Financial Aid Programs Under the Higher Education Act

Three Higher Education Act (HEA) student financial aid programs—the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) program, the Federal Work-Study (FWS) program, and the Federal Perkins Loan program—collectively are referred to as the campus-based programs. The campus-based programs were reauthorized under the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA; P.L. 110-315), which amended and extended authorization for programs funded under the HEA. The campus-based programs’ authorizations of appropriations, along with many other provisions under the HEA, were set to expire at the end of...

The Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) Program: Increased Funding and Policy Changes in BBA2018

Teaching health centers (THCs) are outpatient facilities that receive federal funds directly to train medical and dental residents. These facilities are operated by federal health centers, rural health clinics, and tribal health programs, among others. THCs typically provide care to low-income and otherwise underserved populations and are generally located in federally designated health professional shortage areas (HPSAs). The federal government created the teaching health center graduate medical education program (THCGME) in 2010 to pay THCs for the expenses they incur when training...

Discretionary Spending Levels Under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018

On February 9, 2018, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA 2018) was signed into law as P.L. 115-123. Among other things, it raised the discretionary spending caps for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 originally implemented by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA; P.L. 112-25). BBA 2018 reverses $80 billion of the $97 billion of discretionary spending cuts enacted by the BCA as amended for FY2018.

The BCA and Discretionary Spending

The BCA affected discretionary spending in two ways: (1) caps on discretionary budget authority, divided between defense and nondefense programs, which went into...

Commemorative Commissions: Overview, Structure, and Funding

Commemorative commissions are entities established to oversee the commemoration of a person or event. These commissions typically coordinate celebrations, scholarly events, public gatherings, and other activities, often to coincide with a milestone anniversary. For example, the Christopher Columbus Quincentenary Jubilee Commission was created “to prepare a comprehensive program for commemorating the quincentennial of the voyages of discovery of Christopher Columbus, and to plan, encourage, coordinate, and conduct observances and activities commemorating the historic events associated with...

Two-Year Extension of the Community Health Center Fund

The Affordable Care Act (ACA, P.L. 111-148, as amended), enacted in 2010, appropriated billions of dollars of mandatory funds to support two programs that focus on expanding access to primary care services for populations that are typically underserved: the Health Centers program and the National Health Service Corps (NHSC).

The Health Centers and NHSC programs are cornerstones of the federal government’s efforts to expand access to primary care. The Health Centers program helps support more than 1,400 community-based health centers operating more than 10,400 delivery sites across the...

Hunting and Fishing on Federal Lands and Waters: Overview and Issues for Congress

This report provides an overview of issues related to hunting and fishing on federal lands. Each year millions of individuals participate in hunting and fishing activities, bringing in billions of dollars for regional and national economies. Due to their popularity, economic value, constituent appeal, and nexus to federal land management issues, hunting and fishing issues are perennially addressed by Congress. Congress addresses these issues through oversight, legislation, and appropriations, which target issues such as access to federal lands and waters for sportsperson activities, and...

Emergency Assistance for Agricultural Land Rehabilitation

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

Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC): Structure and Activities

The Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) and its Office of Financial Research (OFR) were established by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (P.L. 111-203) to address several potential sources of systemic risk. Some observers argue that communication and coordination of financial regulators was insufficient to prevent the financial crisis of 2008. To foster coordination and communication, the FSOC assembles the heads of federal financial regulators, representatives from state regulatory bodies, and an independent insurance expert in a single venue. The OFR...

The Missing and Exploited Children’s (MEC) Program: Background and Policies

Beginning in the late 1970s, highly publicized cases of children who were abducted, sexually abused, and sometimes murdered prompted policymakers and child advocates to declare a missing children problem. At that time, about 1.8 million children annually were reported to the police as missing. More recent data indicate that the number and rate at which children go missing has declined. A survey from 2013 provides the most recent and comprehensive information on missing children. The data show that about 238,000 children (3.1 per 1,000 children) were reported to law enforcement by their...

Rwanda: In Brief

Rwanda, a small landlocked country in central Africa’s Great Lakes region, has become known for its rapid development gains in the wake of the 1994 genocide, in which some 800,000 people were killed. Since then, efforts by the Rwandan Patriotic Front-led government to improve health outcomes, boost agricultural output, promote investment, and increase women’s participation in politics have been lauded internationally. Yet, analysts debate whether Rwanda’s authoritarian political system—and its government’s periodic support for rebel movements in neighboring countries—could jeopardize this...

Al Qaeda and U.S. Policy: Middle East and Africa

After a more than a decade and a half of combating Al Qaeda (AQ) in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the United States faces a diverse array of threats from Al Qaeda affiliates in the Middle East and Africa. While senior Al Qaeda figures reportedly remain based in Pakistan, the network includes a number of affiliates across the Middle East and Africa including Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and Al Shabaab. Al Qaeda also retains a small but possibly growing presence in Afghanistan. U.S. officials have stated that Al Qaeda still maintains a...

Nutrition Labeling of Restaurant Menu and Vending Machine Items

High rates of obesity and chronic diseases have prompted various federal, state, and local nutrition labeling initiatives. The 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (P.L. 101-535) required nutrition labeling of most foods and dietary supplements, but it did not require labeling of food sold in restaurants. However, consumption data indicate that Americans consume more than one-third of their calories outside the home, and frequent eating out is associated with increased caloric intake.

In 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, P.L. 111-148)...

New Nuclear Warheads: Legislative Provisions

The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) identifies a plan to “modify a small number of [submarine-launched ballistic missile] warheads to provide a low-yield option” so that the United States could respond promptly and penetrate an adversary’s defenses after a nuclear attack. The NPR contends that this capability would strengthen nuclear deterrence, while critics argue it would lower the nuclear threshold and increase the risk of nuclear war.

This Insight reviews legislation addressing research and development on new or low-yield nuclear weapons and notes that under current law, an...

Trespassing: The Leading Cause of Rail-Related Fatalities

Train derailments or collisions are often well-publicized events and receive significant attention from policymakers seeking to reduce their reoccurrence. Less attention has been devoted to trespassing, although it is a much greater cause of rail-related fatalities than derailments and collisions combined. Since 2005, over three-fifths of deaths in rail incidents have been pedestrian trespassers, and vehicle-train accidents at railroad grade crossings account for nearly one-third (see Figure 1; note that the trespassing deaths in the figure do not include suicides).

Figure 1. Rail-Related...

U.S. Security Assistance and Security Cooperation Programs: Overview of Funding Trends

Since FY2006, the United States government has provided more than $200 billion for programs providing security assistance and security cooperation to foreign countries. The Departments of State (DOS) and Defense (DOD) are the primary U.S. government agencies involved in providing security sector assistance and related support to foreign governments, militaries, and international organizations and groups.

Congress has authorized security assistance programs through the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA, P.L. 87-195) and the Arms Export Control Act of 1976 (AECA, P.L. 90-629), as amended....

The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP): Issues in Brief

Under the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP), four federal agencies have responsibility for long-term earthquake risk reduction: the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). These agencies assess U.S. earthquake hazards, deliver notifications of seismic events, develop measures to reduce earthquake hazards, and conduct research to help reduce overall U.S. vulnerability to earthquakes. Congressional oversight of the NEHRP program...

Wildfire Management Funding: Background, Issues, and FY2018 Appropriations

The federal government’s wildfire (or wildland fire) management responsibilities are fulfilled primarily by the Forest Service (FS, in the U.S. Department of Agriculture) and the Department of the Interior (DOI). These responsibilities include prevention, detection, response, and recovery related to fires that begin on federal lands. These responsibilities are accomplished through activities such as preparedness, suppression, fuel reduction, and site rehabilitation, among others. There are several ongoing concerns regarding federal wildfire management. These concerns include the total...

Mexico: Background and U.S. Relations

Congress has maintained significant interest in Mexico, an ally and top trade partner. In recent decades, U.S.-Mexican relations have been strengthened through cooperative management of the 2,000-mile border, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and security cooperation under the Mérida Initiative. Relations have recently been tested, however, by President Donald J. Trump’s shifts in U.S. immigration and trade policies.

President Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) is in the final year of his six-year term. During 2013, Peña Nieto shepherded...

Appropriations for the Bureau of Prisons (BOP): In Brief

The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is the largest correctional agency in the country in terms of the number of prisoners under its jurisdiction. BOP must confine any offender convicted and sentenced to a term of imprisonment in a federal court.

Changes in federal criminal justice policy since the early 1980s spurred growth in the federal prison population. The total number of inmates under BOP’s jurisdiction increased from approximately 25,000 in FY1980 to over 192,000 in FY2016. While the federal prison population in FY2016 is nearly 7 times larger than what it was in FY1980, the number of...

Abortion: Judicial History and Legislative Response

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded in Roe v. Wade that the U.S. Constitution protects a woman’s decision to terminate her pregnancy. In Doe v. Bolton, a companion decision, the Court found that a state may not unduly burden the exercise of that fundamental right with regulations that prohibit or substantially limit access to the means of effectuating the decision to have an abortion. Rather than settle the issue, the Court’s rulings since Roe and Doe have continued to generate debate and have precipitated a variety of governmental actions at the national, state, and local levels...

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund: Programs and Policy Issues

As communities face a variety of economic challenges, some are looking to local banks and financial institutions for solutions that address the specific development needs of low-income and distressed communities. Community development financial institutions (CDFIs) provide financial products and services, such as mortgage financing for homebuyers and not-for-profit developers; underwriting and risk capital for community facilities; technical assistance; and commercial loans and investments to small, start-up, or expanding businesses. CDFIs include regulated institutions, such as community...

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2018

President Trump’s budget request for FY2018 includes $117.697 billion for research and development (R&D). This represents a $30.605 billion (20.6%) decrease from the FY2016 actual level of $148.302 billion (FY2017 enacted levels were not available at the time of publication). Adjusted for inflation, the President’s FY2018 R&D request represents a constant dollar decrease of 23.6% from the FY2016 actual level.

However, in 2016 the Office of Management and Budget changed the definition used for “development” to “experimental development.” This new definition was used in calculating R&D in...

Community Services Block Grants (CSBG): Background and Funding

Community Services Block Grants (CSBG) provide federal funds to states, territories, and tribes for distribution to local agencies to support a wide range of community-based activities to reduce poverty. These include activities to help families and individuals achieve self-sufficiency, find and retain meaningful employment, attain an adequate education, make better use of available income, obtain adequate housing, and achieve greater participation in community affairs. In addition, many local agencies receive federal funds from other sources and may administer other federal...

Comparison of the Bills to Extend State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Funding

The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a means-tested program that provides health coverage to targeted low-income children and pregnant women in families that have annual income above Medicaid eligibility levels but have no health insurance. CHIP is jointly financed by the federal government and the states, and the states are responsible for administering CHIP.

In statute, FY2017 was the last year a federal CHIP appropriation was provided. Federal CHIP funding was not extended before the beginning of FY2018. As a result, states do not currently have full-year FY2018 CHIP...

Animal Drug User Fee Programs

The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) review of brand-name and generic animal drug applications is funded through a combination of annual discretionary appropriations from Congress and user fees collected from the regulated industry.

The Animal Drug User Fee Act of 2003 (ADUFA I, P.L. 108-130) gave FDA initial authority to collect user fees from sponsors to improve the timeliness of review of animal drug applications. ADUFA I did not cover generic animal drugs. In 2008, in response to concerns regarding generic drug application review times and a backlog of applications, Congress...

Introduction to the Legislative Process in the U.S. Congress

This report introduces the main steps through which a bill (or other item of business) may travel in the legislative process—from introduction to committee and floor consideration to possible presidential consideration. However, the process by which a bill can become law is rarely predictable and can vary significantly from bill to bill. In fact, for many bills, the process will not follow the sequence of congressional stages that are often understood to make up the legislative process. This report presents a look at each of the common stages through which a bill may move, but...

Army Corps Supplemental Appropriations: History, Trends, and Policy Issues

Congress directs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to plan and build water resource facilities through the agency’s civil works program. The Corps also has a prominent role in responding to natural disasters, especially floods, in U.S. states and territories. In recent years through supplemental appropriations, Congress also has funded the agency to study and construct projects that reduce flood risks in areas recently affected by some hurricanes and floods. The 115th Congress is considering possible responses to various natural disasters in 2017. H.R. 4667—Further Additional...

Child Welfare: An Overview of Federal Programs and Their Current Funding

Child welfare services are intended to prevent the abuse or neglect of children; ensure that children have safe, permanent homes; and promote the well-being of children and their families. As the U.S. Constitution has been interpreted, states bear the primary authority for ensuring the welfare of children and their families. The federal government has shown long-standing interest in helping states improve their services to children and families and, through the provision of federal support, requires states to meet certain child welfare requirements. For FY2017, an estimated $8.9 billion in...

Policy Options to Increase Physician Training Education in Proper Opioid Prescribing

Among the recommendations of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis (President’s Commission) is to mandate “medical education and prescriber education initiatives in proper opioid prescribing and risks of developing an SUD [Substance Use Disorder].”

This Insight focuses on physician efforts because physicians can prescribe in every state but not all states permit advanced practice nurses or physician assistants to prescribe opioids. Many of the policy options discussed in this Insight could also be applied to other provider types (e.g., nonphysicians)...

Supplemental Appropriations Proposed for Agriculture

Crop and livestock losses from the 2017 hurricane season and wildfires in the West have created a demand for agricultural disaster assistance. To date, Congress has enacted two supplemental appropriations, but neither included funding for agricultural-related losses.

On November 17, 2017, the Administration made a third supplemental appropriations request. Overall, it included $44 billion of additional appropriations, offset by $59 billion of reductions. For analysis of the request see CRS Insight IN10832, Proposed Offsets Exceed Spending for Agriculture in the Administration’s Disaster...

Division A of H.R. 3922: The CHAMPIONING HEALTHY KIDS Act

On October 30, 2017, the House Rules Committee posted an amendment in the nature of a substitute for the Community Health And Medical Professionals Improve Our Nation Act of 2017 (CHAMPION Act, H.R. 3922). The amendment considered by the House struck the text of the CHAMPION Act and replaced it with the text of the amendment in the nature of the substitute.

The amendment in the nature of a substitute is entitled the Continuing Community Health And Medical Professional Programs to Improve Our Nation, Increase National Gains, and Help Ensure Access for Little Ones, Toddlers, and Hopeful...

Short-Term FAA Extension in Place, but Legislative Debate Continues

Both the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation acted favorably on bills to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other aviation programs in June 2017. The two bills, H.R. 2997 and S. 1405, have significant differences, many of them related to provisions in the House bill that would create a not-for-profit private corporation to take over responsibility for running the national air traffic control system. The Senate bill contains no similar provisions, and the passage of long-term...

The National Science Foundation: FY2018 Appropriations and Funding History

The National Science Foundation (NSF) supports basic research and education in the non-medical sciences and engineering. NSF is a major source of federal support for U.S. university research, especially in certain fields such as computer science. It is also responsible for significant shares of the federal science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education program portfolio and federal STEM student aid and support.

Overall, the Trump Administration is seeking $6.653 billion for NSF in FY2018, an $819 million decrease (-11%) from the FY2017 enacted level of $7.472 billion....

FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Issues

Military personnel issues typically generate significant interest from many Members of Congress and their staffs. This report provides a brief synopsis of selected sections in the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2018 (H.R. 2810), as passed by the House on July 14, 2017, and the Senate on September 18, 2017. The FY2018 NDAA conference report was passed by the House on November 14, 2017, and the Senate on November 16, 2017. On December 12, President Donald J. Trump signed the bill into law (P.L. 115-91). Issues include military end-strengths, pay and benefits, and other personnel...

Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy

The United States, partner countries, and the Afghan government are attempting to reverse recent gains made by the resilient Taliban-led insurgency since the December 2014 transition to a smaller international mission consisting primarily of training and advising the Afghanistan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). The Afghan government has come under increasing domestic criticism not only for failing to prevent insurgent gains but also for its internal divisions that have spurred the establishment of new political opposition coalitions. In September 2014, the United States...

Taylor Force Act: Palestinian Terrorism-Related Payments and U.S. Aid

Some Members of Congress have increased their scrutiny of the Palestinian practice of providing payments to some Palestinians (and/or their families) who have been imprisoned for or accused of terrorism by Israel. Critics have asserted that because money is fungible, any aid that directly benefits the Palestinian Authority (PA) could indirectly support such payments. Congress may consider legislation—most of the bills are known as the Taylor Force Act—that could supersede existing provisions on the subject in annual appropriations legislation. The impact that the legislation could have on...

Natural Disasters of 2017: Congressional Considerations Related to FEMA Assistance

This Insight provides a short overview of issues Congress may consider in its oversight of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) federal assistance during the 2017 hurricane season (e.g., Harvey, Irma, and Maria) and other disasters (e.g., fires in California). For the current status of response efforts, see official government sources and news media. For additional support, please contact CRS experts.

Stafford Act Declarations and Response

Under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (the Stafford Act), the President may declare an emergency or...

Senate Rules Affecting Committees

The Senate imposes some general procedural requirements and prohibitions on its committees, but, in general, the Senate’s rules allow each of its standing committees to decide how to conduct business. Most of the chamber’s requirements for committees are found in Senate Rule XXVI. Because the committees are agents of the Senate, they are obligated to comply with all Senate directives that apply to them.

This report identifies and summarizes the provisions of the Senate’s standing rules, standing orders, precedents, and other directives that relate to legislative activity in the Senate’s...

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.

Winter Fuels Outlook 2017-2018

The Energy Information Administration (EIA), in its Short-Term Energy and Winter Fuels Outlook (STEWFO) for the 2017-2018 winter heating season, projects that American consumers should expect to see heating expenditures that will be higher than last winter. However, the winter of 2016-2017 was relatively warm. Average expenditures for those heating with natural gas are projected to increase by 12%, while those heating with electricity are projected to see an increase of about 8%. These two fuels serve as the heating source for about 87% of all U.S. household heating. Propane and home...

FEMA’s Firefighter Assistance Grants: Reauthorization or Sunset?

Under current law (15 U.S.C. 2229(r) and 15 U.S.C. 2229a(k)), sunset provisions for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) programs will go into effect on January 2, 2018, unless the 115th Congress enacts AFG and SAFER reauthorization legislation. On August 2, 2017, the Senate passed the AFG and SAFER Program Reauthorization Act of 2017 (S. 829) by unanimous consent. S. 829 would repeal the sunset provisions for AFG and SAFER, as well as reauthorize appropriations for both programs through FY2023. The House has not...

Supplemental Appropriations and the 2017 Hurricane Season

The 2017 hurricane season was the fifth-most active on record in the Atlantic Basin, in terms of accumulated storm strength. Four named storms made landfall on U.S. soil from mid-August to mid-October, causing extensive damage. Concurrently, a series of deadly wildfires struck California.

Enacted 2017 Hurricane Season Supplemental Appropriations

Congress has passed two supplemental appropriations bills in response to Administration requests made in September and October 2017 in the wake of these incidents. Table 1 outlines the two requests and enacted appropriations.

Table 1. Enacted...

Proposed Offsets Exceed Spending for Agriculture in the Administration’s Disaster Assistance Request

On November 17, 2017, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the Administration’s request for a third round of supplemental funding in response to natural disasters in 2017. The total request includes $44 billion of additional appropriations for disasters during 2017, offset by $59 billion of reductions to budget authority for previous appropriations ($15 billion) and a two-year extension of sequestration on mandatory spending ($44 billion) from FY2025 to FY2027.

Accounts in the jurisdiction of Agriculture appropriations would receive an additional of $992 million for...

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...

Missing Adults: Background, Federal Programs, and Issues for Congress

Adults may go missing due to personal choice, an abduction, foul play, a mental or physical disability, or a natural catastrophe, among other reasons. Although no accurate estimates exist of the number of missing adults, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that as of December 31, 2016, approximately 54,000 cases of missing adults (age 18 and older) were pending in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system, a federal computerized index with data on crimes and locator files for missing and unidentified persons. Certain adults are particularly vulnerable to missing...

Reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the 115th Congress

Funding authorization for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), included in the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 (P.L. 114-190), expired at the end of FY2017. A subsequent six-month extension (P.L. 115-63) is set to expire at the end of March 2018. Long-term FAA reauthorization measures (H.R. 2997 and S. 1405) are currently under consideration. In addition to setting spending levels, FAA authorization acts typically set policy on a wide range of issues related to civil aviation. This report considers prominent topics in the 115th Congress reauthorization debate.

Most...

Zimbabwe’s Political Transition: Issues for Congress

In mid-November 2017, spurred by an intraparty rivalry within the ruling Zimbabwe National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party to succeed then-President Robert Mugabe (age 93), the Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF) seized control of key national political and military facilities. The ZDF then reportedly pressed Mugabe—head of state since independence in 1980—to resign, reverse his recent dismissal of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in favor of Mugabe’s wife, Grace Mugabe, and halt a ZANU-PF purge of Mnangagwa’s supporters. (See CRS Insight IN10819, Zimbabwe: A Military-Compelled...

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...

Egypt: Terrorist Attack in the Sinai Peninsula

Background

Terrorists based in the Sinai Peninsula have been waging an insurgency against the Egyptian government for more than six years. While the terrorist landscape in Egypt is evolving and encompasses several groups, Sinai Province (SP) is known as the most lethal. Since its affiliation with the Islamic State in 2014, SP has attacked the Egyptian military continually, targeted Coptic Christian individuals and places of worship, and occasionally fired rockets into Israel. In October 2015, SP targeted Russian tourists departing the Sinai by allegedly planting a bomb aboard Metrojet...

Senate Rules Restricting the Content of Conference Reports

Two Senate rules affect the authority of conferees to include in their report matter that was not passed by the House or Senate before the conference committee was appointed. Colloquially, such provisions are sometimes said to have been “airdropped” into the conference report. First, Rule XXVIII precludes conference agreements from including policy provisions that were not sufficiently related to either the House or the Senate version of the legislation sent to conference. Such provisions are considered to be “out of scope” under long-standing Senate rules and precedents. Second, Paragraph...

The Campus-Based Financial Aid Programs: Background and Issues

Three need-based student financial aid programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA)—Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) program, the Federal Work-Study (FWS) program, and the Federal Perkins Loan program—are collectively referred to as the “campus-based” programs. These programs are considered campus-based because federal funds are awarded directly to institutions of higher education (IHEs) that administer the programs and provide institutional funds to match the federal funds they receive for them.

The campus-based programs are among...

Iraq: Background and U.S. Policy

The 115th Congress and the Trump Administration are considering options for U.S. engagement with Iraq as Iraqis look beyond the immediate security challenges posed by their intense three-year battle with the insurgent terrorists of the Islamic State organization (IS, aka ISIL/ISIS). While Iraq’s military victory over Islamic State forces is now virtually complete, Iraq’s underlying political and economic challenges are daunting and cooperation among the forces arrayed to defeat IS extremists has already begun to fray. The future of volunteer Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and the terms...

Impact of the Budget Control Act Discretionary Spending Caps on a Continuing Resolution

What are the requirements of the BCA for FY2018 appropriations?

Appropriations enacted for FY2018 are subject to two statutory discretionary spending limits established by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA): One applies to defense discretionary spending, and the other applies to nondefense discretionary spending. The defense spending limit for FY2018 is $549 billion and applies to discretionary spending in budget function 050 (national defense) only. The nondefense spending limit for FY2018 is $516 billion and applies to discretionary spending in all other budget functions. The BCA...

Colombia: Background and U.S. Relations

Colombia is the third most populous country in Latin America, with roughly 49 million inhabitants. A key U.S. ally in the region, Colombia endured an internal armed conflict for half a century. Drug trafficking has fueled the violence by funding both left-wing and right-wing armed groups. In the late 1990s, some analysts feared Colombia—threatened by a multisided, violent conflict—would become a failed state. The Colombian government defied those predictions, however, through an evolving security strategy known as Plan Colombia. Originally designed as a six-year program, Plan Colombia...

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD): FY2018 Appropriations

The House and Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittees are charged with providing annual appropriations for the Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and related agencies. THUD programs receive both discretionary and mandatory budget authority; HUD’s budget generally accounts for the largest share of discretionary appropriations in the THUD bill, but when mandatory funding is taken into account, DOT’s budget is larger than HUD’s budget. Mandatory funding typically accounts...

New Zealand: Background and Bilateral Relations with the United States

New Zealand is a close partner of the United States and welcomes a U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific region. New Zealand and the United States engage each other across a broad spectrum of policy areas, including Islamist extremism, South Pacific regional issues, intelligence cooperation, and Antarctica. Issues for Congress related to New Zealand include oversight and appropriations related to international security cooperation, counterterrorism (CT) and countering violent extremism (CVE), and intelligence cooperation among the so-called “Five Eyes” nations, which include New Zealand. U.S.-...

Minority Business Development Agency: An Overview of its History and Current Issues

The Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is the lead federal agency dedicated to supporting the development and expansion of the minority business community. President Richard Nixon originally established this agency as the Office of Minority Business Enterprises (OMBE), with the signing of Executive Order 11458. The MBDA’s mission is to assist medium and large-scale minority businesses, specifically, but not exclusively, in overcoming social and economic disadvantages that have limited their participation in the nation’s free enterprise system. Through a...

Wildfire Suppression Spending: Background, Issues, and Legislation in the 115th Congress

Congress has directed that the federal government is responsible for managing wildfires that begin on federal lands, such as national forests or national parks. 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 preparedness, prevention,...

Comprehensive Energy Planning for Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands

Background

Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused extensive damage in the Caribbean and destroyed much of the electric power systems of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). Congress has recognized that electric power systems in insular areas are vulnerable to hurricanes and typhoons and dependent on imported fuel (P.L. 109-58, title II, §251; P.L. 96-597, title VI, §604). Under 48 U.S.C. §1492, Congress authorized comprehensive energy planning, demonstration of cost-effective renewable energy technologies, and financial assistance for projects in insular areas related to energy...

El Salvador: Background and U.S. Relations

Congress has significant interest in El Salvador, a small Central American country that has had a large percentage of its population living in the United States since the country’s civil conflict (1980-1992). During the 1980s, the U.S. government spent billions of dollars supporting the Salvadoran government’s efforts against an insurgency led by the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN). Three decades later, the United States is working with the country’s second democratically elected FMLN Administration.

President Salvador Sánchez Cerén, a former guerrilla commander...

Taiwan: Issues for Congress

Taiwan, which officially calls itself the Republic of China (ROC), is an island democracy of 23 million people located across the Taiwan Strait from mainland China. It is the United States’ tenth-largest trading partner. Since January 1, 1979, the U.S. relationship with Taiwan has been unofficial, a consequence of the Carter Administration’s decision to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and break formal diplomatic ties with self-ruled Taiwan, over which the PRC claims sovereignty. The Taiwan Relations Act (TRA, P.L. 96-8; 22 U.S.C. 3301 et seq.),...

Niger: Frequently Asked Questions About the October 2017 Attack on U.S. Soldiers

A deadly attack on U.S. soldiers in Niger and their local counterparts on October 4, 2017, has prompted many questions from Members of Congress about the incident. It has also highlighted a range of broader issues for Congress pertaining to oversight and authorization of U.S. military deployments, evolving U.S. global counterterrorism activities and strategy, interagency security assistance and cooperation efforts, and U.S. engagement with countries historically considered peripheral to core U.S. national security interests. This report provides background information in response to the...

Payments for Affordable Care Act (ACA) Cost-Sharing Reductions

Funding for the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments established under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been the subject of hearings about the individual insurance market, numerous press articles, and analyses from actuaries to consultants. Insurers have warned that they may leave the market or raise premiums without a commitment to sustained funding.

On October 13, the Trump Administration filed a notice announcing it would terminate payments for CSRs beginning with the payment that was scheduled for October 18, potentially affecting 2017 and 2018 plan options...

Human Trafficking: New Global Estimates of Forced Labor and Modern Slavery

Introduction

As part of long-standing congressional interest in global human trafficking, some Members have consistently sought greater fidelity in quantifying human trafficking’s prevalence. In September, the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the advocacy organization Walk Free Foundation, in partnership with the International Organization of Migration (IOM), released a new report on the global prevalence of modern slavery (including forced marriage) and forced labor (including sex trafficking and government-imposed forced labor). The report estimated that 40.3 million people...

The Opioid Epidemic and Federal Efforts to Address It: Frequently Asked Questions

Over the last several years, there has been growing concern among the public and lawmakers in the United States about rising drug overdose deaths, which more than tripled from 1999 to 2014. In 2015, more than 52,000 people died from drug overdoses, and approximately 63% of those deaths involved an opioid.

Many federal agencies are involved in efforts to combat opioid abuse. The primary federal agency involved in drug enforcement, including diversion control efforts for prescription opioids, is the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The primary agency supporting drug treatment and...

Department of Homeland Security Appropriations, FY2018: Current Action

The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to mark up its version of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations Act, 2018 the week of October 23, 2017.

The House of Representatives passed its version of the act as Division E and Division M of H.R. 3354, a consolidated appropriations act that now contains all 12 annual appropriations bills. H.R. 3354 passed the House by a vote of 211-198 (Roll No. 528) on September 14, 2017. The appropriations usually included in the annual appropriations bill for DHS were split between the two divisions because of how those bills were...

USDA Export Market Development and Export Credit Programs: Selected Issues

Agricultural exports are important to both farmers and the U.S. economy. With the productivity of U.S. agriculture growing faster than domestic demand, farmers and agriculturally oriented firms rely heavily on export markets to sustain prices and revenue. The 2014 farm bill (Agricultural Act of 2014, P.L. 113-79) authorizes a number of programs to promote farm exports that are administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). There are two main types of agricultural trade and export promotion programs:

Export market development programs assist efforts to build, maintain, and...

Army Corps of Engineers: Water Resource Authorizations, Appropriations, and Activities

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) undertakes activities to maintain navigable channels, reduce flood and storm damage, and restore aquatic ecosystems. The agency’s water resource projects can have significant local and regional economic benefits and environmental effects. Congress directs the Corps through authorizations; appropriations; and oversight of its studies, construction projects, and the ongoing operations of Corps infrastructure. This report summarizes congressional project authorization and annual appropriations processes for the Corps.

Authorizations. Congress...

Status of Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations at the Start of FY2018

Congress has begun to consider the FY2018 Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) appropriations bill. This is the largest ($934 billion in FY2017) of the 12 annual appropriations bills when accounting for both mandatory and discretionary funding. Full-year FY2018 LHHS appropriations were not enacted before the start of the fiscal year (October 1), but a continuing resolution (P.L. 115-56; CR) has provided temporary LHHS funding through December 8.

Scope of the Bill

The LHHS bill provides annually appropriated budget authority for the...

Comparing DHS Component Funding, FY2017: Fact Sheet

Generally, the homeland security appropriations bill includes all annual appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), providing resources to every departmental component. Table 1 and Figure 1 show DHS’s new discretionary budget authority enacted for FY2016 and requested by the Administration for FY2017, as well as the House and Senate committee-reported responses, broken down by component—from largest to smallest appropriations request.

(TO BE SUPPRESSED) Department of Homeland Security DHS budget Appropriations FY2017, FY2016 funding analysis

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...

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE): Appropriations Status

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) administers renewable energy and end-use energy efficiency technology programs in research, development, and implementation. EERE works with industry, academia, national laboratories, and others to support research and development (R&D). EERE also works with state and local governments to assist in technology implementation and deployment. EERE supports nearly a dozen offices and programs including vehicle technologies, solar energy, advanced manufacturing, and weatherization and...

PILT (Payments in Lieu of Taxes): Somewhat Simplified

Under federal law, local governments (usually counties) are compensated through various programs for reductions to their property tax bases due to the presence of most federally owned land. Federal lands cannot be taxed but may create a demand for services such as fire protection, police cooperation, or longer roads to skirt the federal property. Some compensation programs are run by a specific agency and apply only to that agency’s land. This report addresses only the most widely applicable program, which is called Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT; 31 U.S.C. §§6901-6907) and is...

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...

Kurds in Iraq Hold Controversial Referendum on Independence

The question of self-determination for the Kurds of Iraq and neighboring Syria, Turkey, and Iran has remained unresolved since the delineation of national borders in the Middle East in the wake of World War I. U.S. intervention in Iraq since the 1990s has contributed to the emergence and protection of autonomous political institutions in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) and the development of the region’s economy and security forces. Today, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is recognized in Iraq’s constitution and exercises devolved and shared powers. Kurds and other Iraqis differ...

Recent Developments in U.S. Aid to Egypt

Overview

In recent months, the Trump Administration and Congress have taken various steps toward reducing U.S. foreign military and economic assistance to Egypt. Although lawmakers have debated the merits of U.S. foreign aid to Egypt for years, executive and legislative branch action may be tied to specific U.S. concern over Egypt’s new legal restrictions on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and its reported ties to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea). For more, see CRS Report RL33003, Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations.

Congressional Concern over...

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...

Commodity Futures Trading Commission: Proposed Reauthorization in the 115th Congress

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), created in 1974, regulates futures, most options, and swaps markets. The CFTC administers the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA; P.L. 74-765, 7 U.S.C. §§1 et seq.), enacted in 1936, to monitor trading in certain derivatives markets. The CFTC was last reauthorized in 2008 as part of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act (P.L. 110-246), which included authorization of appropriations through FY2013. Although the underlying authority in the statute to administer programs does not have an explicit expiration, the authorization of appropriations only...

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...

Hurricanes Irma and Maria: Impact on Caribbean Countries and Foreign Territories

In addition to causing massive destruction to the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean, Hurricanes Irma and Maria severely affected several Caribbean countries and foreign territories. Between September 5 and 9, 2017, Hurricane Irma caused widespread damage to Barbuda, part of the independent country of Antigua and Barbuda; the island of St. Martin/St. Maarten, split between French and Dutch rule (St. Martin is a French overseas collectivity while St. Maarten is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands); several southeastern and...

Amtrak: Overview

Amtrak is the nation’s primary provider of intercity passenger rail service. It was created by Congress in 1970 to preserve some level of intercity passenger rail service while enabling private rail companies to exit the money-losing passenger rail business. It is a quasi-governmental entity, a corporation whose stock is almost entirely owned by the federal government. It runs a deficit each year, and relies on congressional appropriations to continue operations. Amtrak was last authorized in the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015 (Title XI of the Fixing America’s Surface...

2017 Hurricanes and Army Corps of Engineers: Background for Flood Response and Recovery

In addition to damage from high winds, hurricanes can produce damaging storm surge and flooding from rainfall. This Insight summarizes flood-management activities of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE, or Corps) related to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. USACE has three roles relevant to hurricanes: emergency responder with flood-fighting and post-disaster recovery, owner and operator of flood-risk-reduction projects, and provider of assistance to repair certain nonfederal flood-control infrastructure. Congress may have interest in these roles as it responds to...

Members’ Representational Allowance: History and Usage

Members of the House of Representatives have one consolidated allowance, the Members’ Representational Allowance (MRA), with which to operate their offices. The MRA was first authorized in 1996 and was made subject to regulations and adjustments of the Committee on House Administration. Representatives have a high degree of flexibility to use the MRA to operate their offices in a way that supports their congressional duties and responsibilities, and individual office spending may be as varied as the districts Members represent.

The appropriation for the MRA decreased from a high in FY2010...

Pesticide Registration Fees: Reauthorization and Proposed Amendments

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) capacity to evaluate pesticide registrations within statutory time frames is generally dependent on sufficient resources and requisite scientific information to inform evaluations. Pursuant to the Pesticide Registration Improvement Extension Act of 2012 (PRIA 3, P.L. 112-177), Congress reauthorized EPA to collect two categories of fees to support the agency’s pesticide regulatory program and related activities through September 30, 2017. The Continuing Appropriations Act, 2018, and Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief...

FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017 (FDARA, P.L. 115-52)

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review of medical products (human drugs and devices) is funded through a combination of annual discretionary appropriations from Congress (budget authority) and user fees collected from industry. The human medical product user fee programs require reauthorization every five years to continue uninterrupted. Prior to the passage of the Food and Drug Administration Reauthorization Act of 2017 (FDARA, P.L. 115-52), these programs were set to expire on September 30, 2017. The reauthorization legislation typically includes additional provisions related to FDA,...

The State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report: Scope, Aid Restrictions, and Methodology

The State Department’s annual release of the Trafficking in Persons report (commonly referred to as the TIP Report) has been closely monitored by Congress, foreign governments, the media, advocacy groups, and other foreign policy observers. The 109th Congress first mandated the report’s publication in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA; Div. A of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, P.L. 106-386).

Over time, the number of countries covered by the TIP Report has grown, peaking at 188 countries, including the United States. In the 2017 TIP Report,...

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,...

The Financial CHOICE Act in the 115th Congress: Selected Policy Issues

The Financial CHOICE Act (FCA; H.R. 10) was introduced on April 26, 2017, by Representative Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services. It passed the House on June 8, 2017. Selected provisions of H.R. 10 were then added to the appropriations bill passed by the House (H.R. 3354).

H.R. 10, as passed, is a wide-ranging proposal with 12 titles that would alter many parts of the financial regulatory system. Much of the FCA is in response to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act; P.L. 111-203), a broad package of regulatory...

State Department Special Envoy, Representative, and Coordinator Positions: Background and Congressional Actions

The 115th Congress has expressed interest in monitoring the use of special envoys, representatives, and coordinator positions by the Department of State, as well as any changes to their status. Special, temporary diplomatic appointments originated during the presidency of George Washington, and the number of special representatives has expanded and contracted since then. Tabulating the precise number of these positions is difficult, however, because some special positions have fallen into disuse over time and were never officially eliminated.

Administration Action on Special Positions

It...

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...

CRISPR Gene Editing Research in Embryos Generates Scientific and Ethics Debate

A recent experiment in the United States using the gene modification tool CRISPR to target a disease gene in human embryos has raised optimism about promising medical advances, generated scientific debate, and renewed debate about long-standing ethical issues.

Since 1996, Congress has prohibited the use of funds appropriated in the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill for “the creation of a human embryo or embryos for research purposes” or for “research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death greater than that...

Programs for Minority-Serving Institutions Under the Higher Education Act

Minority-serving institutions (MSIs) are institutions of higher education that serve high concentrations of minority students who, historically, have been underrepresented in higher education. Many MSIs have faced challenges in securing adequate financial support, thus affecting their ability to develop and enhance their academic offerings and ultimately serve their students. Federal higher education policy recognizes the importance of such institutions and targets financial resources to them. Funding for MSIs is channeled through numerous federal agencies, and several of these funding...

Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education: FY2017 Appropriations

This report provides an overview of actions taken by Congress and the President to provide FY2017 appropriations for accounts funded by the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) appropriations bill. This bill provides funding for all accounts funded through the annual appropriations process at the Departments of Labor (DOL) and Education (ED). It provides annual appropriations for most agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with certain exceptions (e.g., the Food and Drug Administration is funded via the...

Federal Agricultural Recovery Resources for Hurricane-Related Losses

Following the destruction of Hurricane Harvey, which hit the Texas coast on August 25, 2017, many in the agriculture industry are facing large-scale production losses as well as extensive damage to land and facilities. Hurricane Irma now poses a similar threat to Florida, other southeastern states, and several U.S. territories. Crops such as rice, cotton, soybeans, and cattle appear to be among the hardest hit areas of agricultural production from Hurricane Harvey. However, to date no official loss estimates have been released. Sugar, citrus, cotton, specialty crops, and livestock are just...

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...

Congressional Action on the FY2013 Disaster Supplemental

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 major disaster declarations for 12 states plus the District of Columbia. The Obama 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...

Judiciary Appropriations, FY2018

Funds for the judicial branch are included annually in the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill. The bill provides funding for the Supreme Court; the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit; the U.S. Court of International Trade; the U.S. Courts of Appeals and District Courts; Defender Services; Court Security; Fees of Jurors and Commissioners; the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts; the Federal Judicial Center; the U.S. Sentencing Commission; and Judicial Retirement Funds.

The judiciary’s FY2018 budget request of $7.86 billion, including $7.23...

Allowances and Office Staff for Former Presidents, FY2016-FY2018 Appropriations

Introduction

The Former Presidents Act (FPA), enacted on August 25, 1958 (3 U.S.C. §102 note), “was designed to maintain the dignity’ of the office of the President by providing former Presidents—and their spouses—a pension and other benefits to help them respond to post-presidency mail and speaking requests, among other informal public duties often required.” (See CRS Report RL34631, Former Presidents: Pensions, Office Allowances, and Other Federal Benefits.) The General Services Administration (GSA) administers the law. Five former Presidents receive pensions and benefits under the FPA:...

Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant: Background and Funding

The Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Services Block Grant is a federal-state partnership program that aims to improve the health of low-income pregnant women, mothers, and children. In addition, the program aims to connect low-income families with other services and programs, such as Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This federal-state partnership is composed of three programs. First, formula-based block grants are provided to states and territories (collectively referred to as states in this report). Second, competitive grants are available through the...

Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Systems: DOE Programs

While physical threats to the U.S. power grid and pipelines have long worried policymakers, cyber threats to the computer systems that operate this critical infrastructure are an increasing concern. Cybersecurity risks against the power and pipeline sectors are similar, as both use similar control systems, and there appears to be a broad consensus that cyber threats to this infrastructure are on the rise. Furthermore, with ever-greater physical interdependency between electricity generators and the natural gas pipelines that supply their fuel, many in Congress recognize that grid and...

The Higher Education Act (HEA): A Primer

The Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA; P.L. 89-329) authorizes numerous federal aid programs that provide support to both individuals pursuing a postsecondary education and institutions of higher education (IHEs). Title IV of the HEA authorizes the federal government’s major student aid programs, which are the primary source of direct federal support to students pursuing postsecondary education. Titles II, III, and V of the HEA provide institutional aid and support. Additionally, the HEA authorizes services and support for less-advantaged students (select Title IV programs), students...

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....

Past Government Shutdowns: Key Resources

When federal government agencies and programs lack budget authority after the expiration of either full-year or interim appropriations, they experience a “funding gap.” Under the Antideficiency Act (31 U.S.C. §§1341 et seq.), they must cease operations, except in certain circumstances when continued activities are authorized by law. When there is a funding gap that affects many federal entities, the situation is often referred to as a government shutdown. In the past, there have occasionally been funding gaps that led to government shutdowns, the longest of which lasted 21 full days, from...

The National Park Service’s Maintenance Backlog: Frequently Asked Questions

This report addresses frequently asked questions about the National Park Service’s (NPS’s) backlog of deferred maintenance—maintenance that was not performed as scheduled or as needed and was put off to a future time. NPS’s deferred maintenance, also known as the maintenance backlog, was estimated for FY2016 at $11.332 billion. More than half of the NPS backlog is in transportation-related assets. Other federal land management agencies also have maintenance backlogs, but NPS’s is the largest and has drawn the most congressional attention.

During the past decade (FY2007-FY2016), NPS’s...

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...

H.R. 79, Section 452 of H.R. 10, and Section 913 of H.R. 3280: Helping Angels Lead Our Startups

The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 (JOBS Act; P.L. 112-106) was broadly aimed at stimulating corporate capital formation, particularly for emerging and smaller firms, largely through regulatory relief from various disclosure-based requirements in federal securities laws administered by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

In recent years, Congress has considered legislation extending the JOBS Act’s focus on corporate regulatory relief. In the 115th Congress, such legislation includes H.R. 79, Helping Angels Lead Our Startups, which passed the House on January 10,...

Public Health Service Agencies: Overview and Funding (FY2016-FY2018)

Within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), eight agencies are designated components of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS). The PHS agencies are funded primarily with annual discretionary appropriations. They also receive significant amounts of funding from other sources, including mandatory funds from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148, as amended), user fees, and third-party reimbursements (collections).

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) funds research on improving the quality and delivery of health care. For more than a...

In Brief: Highlights of the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act

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The President’s FY2018 budget request, submitted to Congress on May 23, 2017, seeks $677.1 billion in budget authority for national defense-related activities (budget function 050). Of the national defense total, $667.6 billion is discretionary spending. The remaining $9.6 billion is mandatory spending that not provided by annual appropriations acts .

H.R. 2810, the version of the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed by the House on July 14, 2017, would authorize $689.0 billion in discretionary funding for defense activities within the...

FY2018 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations: Status and Issues

Congress has begun consideration of the 12 annual appropriations bills for FY2018, including the bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS), which is one of the largest and most controversial of the bills. When taking into account both mandatory and discretionary funding, the bill typically receives about $900 billion annually. Most recently, the House Appropriations Committee reported the FY2018 LHHS bill to the House on July 24, 2017 (H.R. 3358; H.Rept. 115-244). The report accompanying the House bill includes a detailed table...

Status of FY2017 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations

This report provides a brief summary of the general scope of the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) appropriations bill. The report also provides a high-level overview of congressional action with regard to the FY2017 LHHS bill (S. 3040 and H.R. 5926), FY2017 continuing resolutions (CRs; P.L. 114-223, P.L. 114-254, and P.L. 115-30), and LHHS components of the FY2017 omnibus (P.L. 115-31). The report concludes with a list of additional resources.

Legislative Branch Appropriations: Frequently Asked Questions

This report responds to frequently asked questions about legislative branch appropriations. Frequently asked questions include the items that are funded within this bill; development, presentation, and consideration of the legislative branch budget requests; the legislative branch budget in historical perspective; and recent actions.

The FY2018 legislative branch budget request of $4.865 billion was submitted on May 23, 2017.

On June 29, 2017, the House Appropriations Committee ordered reported by voice vote the FY2018 legislative branch appropriations bill (H.R. 3162). It would provide...

Gun Control: FY2017 Appropriations for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Other Initiatives

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is the lead federal agency charged with administering and enforcing federal laws related to firearms and explosives commerce. ATF is also responsible for investigating arson cases with a federal nexus, and criminal cases involving the diversion of alcohol and tobacco from legal channels of commerce. As an agency within the Department of Justice (DOJ), ATF is funded through an annual appropriation in the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Act. For FY2017, Congress has...

The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act: S. 385 and H.R. 1443

Energy efficiency—providing the same or an improved level of service with less energy—has been of interest to some Members of Congress. Proponents of increased energy efficiency see an untapped “resource” that can mitigate the demand for additional energy supplies. Perceived benefits of energy efficiency include lowered energy bills, reduced demand for energy, improved energy security and independence, and reduced air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Challenges to energy efficiency include market barriers that do not incentivize builders or developers to invest in energy efficiency,...

Updated Standards for SNAP-Authorized Retailers

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the largest of the U.S Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) domestic food assistance programs, provides benefits to eligible participants; these benefits are redeemable for SNAP-eligible foods at SNAP-authorized retailers. SNAP-authorized retailers are stores and other food sellers that are allowed to accept SNAP benefits. In FY2015, the vast majority of benefits were redeemed at “super stores” and supermarkets.

On December 15, 2016, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) published in the Federal Register a final rule, “Enhancing...

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....

In Brief: Highlights of FY2018 Defense Appropriations Actions

On July 27, 2017, by a vote of 235-192, the House passed H.R. 3219, “The Defense, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, Legislative Branch, and Energy and Water Development National Security Appropriations Act, 2018,” also referred to as the “Make America Secure Appropriations Act, 2018.” Division A of that bill would appropriate $650.4 billion in discretionary funding for national defense activities within the jurisdiction of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. This would amount to a 4.5% increase over the Administration’s $622.1 billion request.

As reported by the House...

Rwanda’s August 4 Presidential Election

Politics and the 2017 Presidential Election

The circumstances of Rwanda’s August 4 presidential election highlight some of the policy challenges in approaching a country that arguably combines effective governance with political repression. President Paul Kagame, in office since 2000, is campaigning for a third term. A constitutional referendum in 2015 changed the presidential term from seven to five years but exempted the sitting President from the shortened term and from a two-term limit until 2024 (Article 101, Article 172).

The referendum was scheduled following “national...

Tax Provisions that Expired in 2016 (“Tax Extenders”)

In the past, Congress has regularly acted to extend expired or expiring temporary tax provisions. Collectively, these temporary tax provisions are often referred to as “tax extenders.” Most recently, in December 2015, Congress addressed tax extenders in the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act), enacted as Division Q of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (P.L. 114-113). This legislation extended all of the 52 provisions that had expired at the end of 2014. Unlike past tax extenders legislation, however, a number of provisions that had expired at the end of 2014...

Federal Assistance for Wildfire Response and Recovery: In Brief

Wildfires can destroy homes and force thousands of people to evacuate. Over the last 10 years, wildfires in the United States have burned nearly 7.0 million acres annually on average. In 2015, 68,200 wildfires burned 10.1 million acres, making 2015 the largest fire year on record. In 2016, more than 67,700 wildfires burned 5.5 million acres. Through July 26, 2017, approximately 37,200 wildfires have burned 5.2 million acres, surpassing the 3.1 million acres burned through July 26 last year.

The federal government has programs to assist state and local efforts to control wildfires and...

The Renewable Electricity Production Tax Credit: In Brief

The renewable electricity production tax credit (PTC) is a per-kilowatt-hour tax (kWh) credit for electricity generated using qualified energy resources. For nonwind technologies, the credit expired at the end of 2016, so that only projects that began construction before the end of 2016 qualify for tax credits. After 2016, the PTC for wind remains available, at reduced rates, for wind facilities that begin construction before the end of 2019. Since the PTC is available for the first 10 years of production at a qualified facility, PTCs will continue to be claimed after the PTC’s stated...

Aviation Bills Take Flight, but Legislative Path Remains Unclear

Both the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation acted favorably on bills to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other aviation programs during the last week of June. The two bills, H.R. 2997 and S. 1405, have significant differences, many of them related to provisions in the House bill that would create a not-for-profit private corporation to take over responsibility for running the national air traffic control system. The Senate bill contains no similar provisions, and the path forward for...

Gulf Coast Restoration: RESTORE Act and Related Efforts

The Gulf of Mexico coastal environment (Gulf Coast) stretches over approximately 600,000 square miles across five U.S. states: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. It is home to more than 22 million people and more than 15,000 species of sea life. Efforts are ongoing to restore this environment, which has been damaged by specific events such as the Deepwater Horizon spill and hurricanes as well as by disturbances to wetlands and water quality from human alterations and other impacts. The issue for Congress is the implementation, funding, and performance of congressionally...

Indian Health Service (IHS) Funding: Fact Sheet

The Indian Health Service (IHS) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the lead federal agency charged with improving the health of American Indians and Alaska Natives. IHS provides health care for approximately 2.2 million eligible American Indians/Alaska Natives through a system of programs and facilities located on or near Indian reservations, and through contractors in certain urban areas. IHS provides services to members of 566 federally recognized tribes. It provides services either directly or through facilities and programs operated by Indian Tribes or Tribal...

History of the ESEA Title I-A Formulas

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is the primary source of federal aid to K-12 education. The ESEA was last reauthorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA; P.L. 114-95) in 2015. The Title I-A program has always been the largest grant program authorized under the ESEA. Title I-A grants provide supplementary educational and related services to low-achieving and other students attending elementary and secondary schools with relatively high concentrations of students from low-income families.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) determines Title I-A grants to local...

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...

Overview of U.S. Sanctions Regimes on Russia

Background

On December 29, 2016, President Barack Obama imposed sanctions on Russia for malicious cyber activity. These were the latest in a series of U.S. sanctions regimes that have been imposed on Russia over the last several years in response to activities that are state-sponsored or allegedly conducted by government officials. In addition, a number of Russian individuals and entities are subject to sanctions for terrorism, transnational crime, and weapons proliferation.

The United States’ use of economic sanctions in furtherance of national security or foreign policy is implemented,...

Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS): In Brief

The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program was created by Title I of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (P.L. 103-322). The mission of the COPS program is to advance community policing in jurisdictions across the United States. The Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-162) reauthorized the COPS program for FY2006-FY2009 and changed it from a multi-grant program to a single-grant program. Even though the COPS grant program is not currently authorized, Congress has continued to appropriate funding for...

Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF): Program Overview and Issues

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) is the federal authority for regulating contaminants in public water supplies. It includes the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) program, established in 1996 to help public water systems finance infrastructure projects needed to comply with federal drinking water regulations and to meet the SDWA’s health objectives. Under this program, states receive annual capitalization grants to provide financial assistance (primarily subsidized loans) to public water systems for drinking water projects and other specified activities. Between FY1997 and...

Department of Health and Human Services: FY2018 Budget Request

This report provides information about the FY2018 budget request for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It begins by reviewing the department’s mission and structure. This is followed by an overview of the total FY2018 request for the department. Next, the report discusses the concept of the HHS budget as a whole, compared to funding provided to HHS through the annual appropriations process. This distinction is important because certain amounts shown in FY2018 HHS budget materials (including amounts for prior years) will not match amounts provided to HHS by annual...

The Education Sciences Reform Act

The Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA, Title I of P.L. 107-279) established the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) as an independent research arm of the Department of Education (ED). The IES Director, appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, serves a six-year term and is advised by a technical panel composed primarily of educational researchers, the National Board of Educational Sciences (NBES).

The IES consists of four research centers, the National Center for Education Research (NCER), the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the National...

U.S. Sanctions Relief for Sudan

The Trump Administration is expected to decide by July 12 whether to lift most of a 20-year-old sanctions regime against Sudan, continuing an Obama Administration strategy of conditional engagement with the country. By that date, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson must present an interagency report on Sudan’s compliance with benchmarks negotiated between the Obama Administration and the government of President Omar al Bashir. Bashir came to power in a 1989 coup and is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Successive...

The Federal Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Program: Background, Funding, and Activities

In the early 1990s, Congress recognized that several federal agencies had ongoing high-performance computing programs, but no central coordinating body existed to ensure long-term coordination and planning. To provide such a framework, Congress passed the High-Performance Computing and Communications Program Act of 1991 (P.L. 102-194) to enhance the effectiveness of the various programs. In conjunction with the passage of the act, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released Grand Challenges: High-Performance Computing and Communications. That document outlined a...

Executive Order to Expand Apprenticeships

On June 15, 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13801 (EO) with the stated goal of expanding apprenticeship programs as a workforce development strategy. The EO emphasized apprenticeship programs as a workforce-driven strategy that may come at a lower cost to students than traditional higher education. The EO also directed federal agencies to review existing workforce development programs.

Role of the Federal Government in Apprenticeship

Apprenticeship is a workforce development strategy for a specific occupation that combines on-the-job training and related instruction (often...

International Species Conservation Funds

International species conservation is addressed by several funds, including those under the Multinational Species Conservation Fund and the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Fund. These funds are implemented by relatively small programs within the Fish and Wildlife Service, yet generate enormous constituent interest, chiefly concerning their funding levels. This report describes the funds briefly, and summarizes recent and proposed appropriations levels.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting: Federal Funding and Issues

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) receives its funding through federal appropriations; overall, about 15% of public television and 10% of radio broadcasting funding comes from the federal appropriations that CPB distributes. CPB’s appropriation is allocated through a distribution formula established in its authorizing legislation and has historically received two-year advanced appropriations. Congressional policymakers are increasingly interested in the federal role in supporting CPB due to concerns over the federal debt, the role of the federal government funding for public...

The Federal Budget: Overview and Issues for FY2018 and Beyond

The federal budget is a central component of the congressional “power of the purse.” Each fiscal year, Congress and the President engage in a number of practices that influence short- and long-run revenue and expenditure trends. This report offers context for the current budget debate and tracks legislative events related to the federal budget.

In recent years, policies enacted to decrease spending along with a stronger economy have led to reduced budget deficits. The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA; P.L. 112-25) implemented several measures intended to reduce the deficit from FY2012...

U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond

Ten years after the Mexican government launched an aggressive, military-led campaign against drug trafficking and organized crime, violent crime continues to threaten citizen security and governance in parts of Mexico, including in cities along the U.S. southwest border. Organized crime-related violence in Mexico declined from 2011 to 2014 but rose in 2015 and again in 2016. Analysts estimate that the violence may have claimed more than 109,000 lives since December 2006. High-profile cases—particularly the enforced disappearance and murder of 43 students in Guerrero in September 2014—have...

Emergency Relief for Disaster-Damaged Roads and Transit Systems: In Brief

Major roads and bridges are part of the federal-aid highway system and are therefore eligible for assistance under the Emergency Relief Program (ER) of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Following a natural disaster (such as Hurricane Matthew in 2016, which damaged highways in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina), or catastrophic failure (such as the 2013 collapse of the Skagit River Bridge in Washington State) ER funds are made available for both emergency repairs and restoration of federal-aid highway facilities to conditions comparable to those before the...

Reauthorization of the Perkins Act in the 115th Congress: Comparison of Current Law and H.R. 2353

Since 1984, a number of acts named after former Congressman Carl D. Perkins have been the main federal laws authorized to support the development of career and technical education (CTE) programs aimed at students in secondary and postsecondary education. The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins Act; P.L. 109-270), the most recent reauthorization of the federal CTE law, was passed in 2006 and authorized appropriations through FY2012. The authorization of appropriations was extended through FY2013 under the General Education Provisions Act, and the Perkins Act...

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...

The Coast Guard’s Role in Safeguarding Maritime Transportation: Selected Issues

Congress has made the U.S. Coast Guard responsible for safeguarding vessel traffic on the nation’s coastal and inland waterways. Congress typically passes Coast Guard authorization bills every one to two years and appropriates funds to the agency annually under the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill. H.R. 2518, reported by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and S. 1129, reported by the Senate Commerce Committee, authorize appropriations for the Coast Guard for FY2018 and FY2019 and have provisions related to the agency’s safety mission.

The fleet of...

Defense: FY2017 Budget Request, Authorization, and Appropriations

This report discusses the Obama Administration’s FY2017 defense budget request and provides a summary of congressional action on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2017 (S. 2943/P.L. 114-328), and the FY2017 Defense Appropriations Act (H.R. 244/P.L. 115-31).

In February 2016, the Obama Administration requested $523.9 billion to cover the FY2017 discretionary base budget of the Department of Defense (DOD) and $58.8 billion in discretionary funding for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). The OCO budget category generally includes funding related to the incremental cost...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2017 Appropriations

The Agriculture appropriations bill funds the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) except for the Forest Service. It also funds the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and—in even-numbered fiscal years—the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). (For CFTC, the Agriculture appropriations subcommittee has jurisdiction in the House but not in the Senate.)

Agriculture appropriations include both mandatory and discretionary spending. Discretionary amounts, though, are the primary focus during the bill’s development, since mandatory amounts are generally set by authorizing laws such as the...

Deeming Resolutions: Budget Enforcement in the Absence of a Budget Resolution

The budget resolution reflects an agreement between the House and Senate on a budgetary plan for the upcoming fiscal year. When the House and Senate do not reach final agreement on this plan, it may be more difficult for Congress to reach agreement on subsequent budgetary legislation, both within each chamber and between the chambers.

In the absence of agreement on a budget resolution, Congress may employ alternative legislative tools to serve as a substitute for a budget resolution. These substitutes are typically referred to as “deeming resolutions,” because they are deemed to serve in...

Energy and Water Development: FY2017 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and Central Utah Project (CUP), and the Department of Energy (DOE), as well as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and several other independent agencies. DOE typically accounts for about 80% of the bill’s total funding.

FY2017 funding for energy and water development programs was provided by Division D of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 (P.L. 115-31), an omnibus funding...

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): FY2017 Appropriations

Most of the funding for the activities of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) comes from discretionary appropriations provided each year in the annual appropriations acts, typically as a part of the Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies appropriations bill (THUD). HUD’s programs are primarily designed to address housing problems faced by households with very low incomes or other special housing needs. This report tracks FY2017 appropriations for the department.

Full-Year Appropriations: On May 5, 2017, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 was signed into law...

Cuba: President Trump Partially Rolls Back Obama Engagement Policy

On June 16, 2017, President Trump unveiled his Administration’s policy on Cuba, which partially rolls back some of the Obama Administration’s efforts to normalize relations with Cuba. President Trump set forth his Administration’s policy in a speech in Miami, FL, where he signed a national security presidential memorandum on Cuba replacing President Obama’s October 2016 presidential policy directive, which had laid out objectives for the normalization process. The new policy leaves most of the Obama-era policy changes in place, including the reestablishment of diplomatic relations and a...

First Treasury Report on Regulatory Relief: Depository Institutions

On June 12, 2017, the Department of the Treasury issued a report, A Financial System That Creates Economic Opportunities: Banks and Credit Unions, which examines the regulation of banks and credit unions. The Treasury stated it would be the first in a series of reports written in accordance with Executive Order (E.O.) 13772 issued by President Donald Trump on February 3, 2017. E.O. 13772 identified “Core Principles” that should be adhered to in financial regulation and directed the Secretary of the Treasury to report on “the extent to which ... Government policies promote the Core...

Social Security Administration (SSA): FY2017 Appropriations and Recent Trends

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is responsible for administering a number of federal entitlement programs that provide income support (cash benefits) to qualified individuals. These programs are Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI), commonly known as Social Security; Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for the Aged, Blind, and Disabled; and Special Benefits for Certain World War II Veterans. In FY2017, SSA’s programs are projected to pay a combined $1 trillion in federal benefits to an estimated 68.4 million individuals. The cost to administer these programs is...

The President’s FY2018 Budget Request for the National Science Foundation

The Trump Administration released the FY2018 Budget Request to Congress for the National Science Foundation (NSF) on May 23, 2017, proposing significant funding reductions across the agency’s major research, education, and construction accounts. Overall, the request includes $6.653 billion for NSF, $819 million (11%) below the FY2017 enacted amount of $7.472 billion (P.L. 115-31). If funded at the requested level, NSF appropriations would be the lowest since FY2002 in inflation-adjusted (constant) dollars (Figure 1). Ultimately, Congress will determine FY2018 appropriations levels and may...

Legislative Branch: FY2017 Appropriations

The legislative branch appropriations bill provides funding for the Senate; House of Representatives; Joint Items; Capitol Police; Office of Compliance; Congressional Budget Office (CBO); Architect of the Capitol (AOC); Library of Congress (LOC), including the Congressional Research Service (CRS); Government Publishing Office (GPO); Government Accountability Office (GAO); Open World Leadership Center; and the John C. Stennis Center.

The FY2017 legislative branch budget request of $4.659 billion was submitted on February 9, 2016. By law, the President includes the legislative branch...

Congress Faces Calls to Address Expiring Funds for Primary Care

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), enacted in March 2010, appropriated billions of dollars of mandatory funds to support grant programs and other activities. Specifically, it provided support for three programs focused on expanding access to primary care services for populations that are typically underserved. These three programs are the Health Centers program, the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), and payments to support medical residents training at teaching health centers—outpatient health facilities that primarily provide care to underserved populations.

The ACA funds were initially...

The Financial CHOICE Act (H.R. 10) and the Dodd-Frank Act

Representative Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services, introduced the Financial CHOICE Act of 2017 (H.R. 10) on April 26, 2017. H.R. 10 was passed by the House on June 8, 2017. The bill as passed is a wide-ranging proposal with 12 titles that would alter many parts of the financial regulatory system. H.R. 10 is similar to, but has several major differences from, H.R. 5983 from the 114th Congress (called the Financial CHOICE Act of 2016).

The next section highlights major proposals included in the bill, as passed. It is not a comprehensive summary. For a more...

Energy and Water Development Appropriations for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation: In Brief

The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) nonproliferation and national security programs provide technical capabilities to support U.S. efforts to “prevent, counter, respond” to the proliferation of nuclear weapons worldwide, including by both states and non-state actors. These programs are administered by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a semi-autonomous agency established within DOE in 2000. NNSA is responsible for maintaining the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, providing nuclear fuel to the Navy, nuclear and radiological emergency response, and nonproliferation. NNSA...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) FY2017 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 Commodity 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 Appropriations.

On...

U.S. Foreign Aid to the Middle East and North Africa: The President’s FY2018 Request

As the largest regional recipient of U.S. economic and security assistance, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is perennially a major focus for Congress. Figure 1. FY2018 Foreign Operations Request, by Region / Source: Data for this figure is from FY2018 budget roll-out documents provided by the State Department. It does not include administrative funds, MCC, humanitarian assistance, or food aid. Note: WH = Western Hemisphere; SCA = South Central Asia; EE = Europe and Eurasia; EAP = East Asia and Pacific. For FY2018, the Trump Administration proposes to cut 12% of overall...

U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America: Policy Issues for Congress

Central America has received renewed attention from U.S. policymakers over the past few years as the region has become a major transit corridor for illicit drugs and a significant source of irregular migration to the United States. These narcotics and migrant flows are the latest symptoms of deep-rooted challenges in several countries in the region, including widespread insecurity, fragile political and judicial systems, and high levels of poverty and unemployment. Although the Obama Administration and governments in the region launched new initiatives designed to improve conditions in...

Discretionary Budget Authority by Subfunction: An Overview

This report provides a graphical overview of historical trends in discretionary budget authority (BA) from FY1977 through FY2016, preliminary estimates for FY2017 spending, and the levels reflecting the President’s proposals for FY2018 through FY2022 using data from the FY2018 budget submission released on May 23, 2017. This report, by illustrating trends in broad budgetary categories, provides a starting point for discussions about fiscal priorities. Other CRS products analyze spending trends in specific functional areas. Functional categories (e.g., national defense, agriculture, etc.)...

Implementation of Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Amendments (P.L. 114-182)

Since President Obama signed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (P.L. 114-182) on June 22, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been implementing the act’s amendments to Title I of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA; 15 U.S.C. 2601-2629). TSCA as amended establishes a framework to identify commercial chemicals that present unreasonable risks and to regulate the product life cycle of a chemical (i.e., manufacture or importation, processing, distribution, use, and disposal) so that it no longer presents unreasonable risk. Nearly one year...

When an Agency’s Budget Request Does Not Match the President’s Request: The FY2018 CFTC Request and “Budget Bypass”

Two Different Budget Requests for CFTC?

The Trump Administration released its first full budget request on May 23, 2017, for FY2018. Like other recent presidential budget requests, it includes an Appendix chapter for independent agencies such as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Notably, the Trump Administration’s budget request for CFTC does not equal the amount requested directly by the agency in its budget justification submitted to Congress. Specifically:

The Trump Administration’s FY2018 request for CFTC is $250 million.

CFTC’s Budget Justification submitted to Congress...

Child Welfare Funding in Brief: FY2017 Final Funding and the President’s FY2018 Request

Child welfare; President’s FY2018 budget; final FY2017 appropriations; H.R. 244, P.L. 115-31; Title IV-E, foster care, kinship guardianship assistance, adoption assistance; Title IV-B, Child Welfare Services, Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF), Court Improvement Program (CIP), Regional Partnership Grants (RPG); Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA); Adoption Opportunities; Adoption and Legal Guardianship Incentive Payments; Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP), Educational and Training Vouchers (ETVs), Victims of Child Abuse Act, Court Appointed Special...

Treasury Department Appropriations, FY2017

At its most basic level of organization, the Treasury Department is a collection of departmental offices and operating bureaus. The bureaus as a whole typically account for 95% of Treasury’s budget and workforce. Most bureaus and offices are funded through annual appropriations.

Treasury appropriations are distributed among 12 accounts in FY2017: (1) Departmental Offices (DO), (2) Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI), (3) Cybersecurity Enhancement Account (CEA), (4) Department-wide Systems and Capital Investments Program (DSCIP), (5) Office of Inspector General (OIG), (6)...

Reauthorizing the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000

Counties containing federal lands often receive payments from the federal government based on the presence of such lands. Counties containing National Forest System lands and certain Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands historically have received payments based on the revenue generated from those lands. Revenue-generating activities include recreation, grazing permits, and land use rentals, among other activities. Starting in the 1990s, federal timber sales began to decline substantially—by more than 90% in some areas—which led to substantially reduced payments to the counties. Thus,...

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2017

President Obama’s budget request for FY2017 included $152.333 billion for research and development (R&D), an increase of $6.195 billion (4.2%) over the estimated FY2016 enacted R&D funding level of $146.138 billion.

Funding for R&D is concentrated in a few departments and agencies. Under President Obama’s FY2017 budget request, seven federal agencies would have received 95.6% of total federal R&D funding, with the Department of Defense (47.8%) and the Department of Health and Human Services (21.5%) accounting for nearly 70% of all federal R&D funding.

In dollars, the largest increases in...

The President’s FY2018 Budget Request for the Department of Energy

Overview

The President’s fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget request, Budget of the U.S. Government: A New Foundation for American Greatness, includes $28.0 billion for the Department of Energy (DOE), $2.7 billion (8.8%) less than the FY2017 enacted appropriations of $30.7 billion (see P.L. 115-31 and Division D Explanatory Statement). While this request would reduce the total budget for DOE, it would increase overall funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and increase funding for cleanup programs within the Office of Environmental Management. The request would reduce...

SAMHSA FY2018 Budget Request and Funding History: A Fact Sheet

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is the lead federal agency for increasing access to behavioral health services. SAMHSA supports community-based mental health and substance abuse treatment and prevention services through formula grants to the states and U.S. territories and through competitive grant programs to states, territories, tribal organizations, local communities, and private entities. SAMHSA also engages in a range of other activities, such as technical assistance, data collection,...

The President’s FY2018 Budget Request for Agriculture Appropriations and the Farm Bill

Background

The Trump Administration released its first full budget request on May 23, 2017. It proposes specific amounts for the FY2018 Agriculture appropriation as well as legislative changes to various mandatory spending programs, including those in the farm bill.

The Administration’s budget outline, released on March 16, 2017, proposed an overall 21% reduction for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and it mentioned seven specific discretionary programs for elimination or reduction. It did not address any mandatory spending proposals. (See CRS Insight IN10675, The President’s FY2018...

The Crime Victims Fund: Federal Support for Victims of Crime

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

FY2017 Appropriations for the Department of Justice

The Department of Justice (DOJ) was established in 1870 with the Attorney General as its leader. Since its creation, DOJ has grown to add additional agencies, components, offices, boards, and divisions. DOJ, along with the judicial branch, operates the federal criminal justice system. Today, the department enforces federal criminal and civil laws, including antitrust, civil rights, environmental, and tax laws. DOJ, through agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives...

FY2017 Appropriations for the Department of Justice Grant Programs

Each year Congress provides funding for a variety of grant programs through the Department of Justice (DOJ). These programs are used to fund state, local, and tribal governments and nonprofit organizations for a variety of criminal justice-related purposes, such as efforts to combat violence against women, reduce backlogs of DNA evidence, support community policing, assist crime victims, promote prisoner reentry, and improve the functioning of the juvenile justice system. Congress funds these programs through five accounts in the annual Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies...

State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs: FY2017 Budget and Appropriations

On May 5, 2017, President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017, into law (P.L. 115-31). The law sets funding for the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) at $57.53 billion for the FY2017 full-year. This level represents an increase of 8.8% above the estimated FY2016 funding level, all due to a 40% increase in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds.

More than a year ago, on February 9, 2016, the Obama Administration submitted to Congress its original FY2017 budget request for SFOPS totaling $52.78 billion (-0.1% compared with the...

Overview of FY2017 Appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS)

This report describes actions taken by the Administration and Congress to provide FY2017 appropriations for the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) accounts. It also provides an overview of FY2016 appropriations for agencies and bureaus funded as part of annual CJS appropriations.

Division B of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (P.L. 114-113), provided $66.000 billion for CJS, which included $9.246 billion for the Department of Commerce, $29.090 billion for the Department of Justice (DOJ), $26.754 billion for the science agencies, and $910 million for the related...

President’s FY2018 Budget Proposes Cuts in Public Health Service (PHS) Agency Funding

The President’s FY2018 budget proposes significant reductions in funding for the Public Health Service (PHS) agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services. The budget reflects the PHS agency funding priorities outlined in the budget blueprint released in March. Among other things, the President’s budget would cut funding for medical research, public health prevention programs, and mental health services.

The proposed cuts are to discretionary funding, which is controlled through the annual appropriations process. PHS agencies also receive funding from various mandatory...

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...

Tracking the Next Child Nutrition Reauthorization: An Overview

The “child nutrition programs” (National School Lunch Program [NSLP] and certain other institutional food service programs) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) were last reauthorized by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA, P.L. 111-296). Some of the authorities created or extended in the last reauthorization law expired on September 30, 2015, but the vast majority of operations and activities continue because appropriations laws continued funding.

In the 114th Congress, both committees of jurisdiction—the Senate Committee on...

U.S. Restrictions on Relations with Burma

Major changes in Burma’s political situation since 2008 have raised issues for Congress concerning the appropriateness of U.S. restrictions on relations with Burma (Myanmar). These issues include whether Congress should reexamine U.S. policy toward Burma in general, what criteria are appropriate for analyzing the current situation in Burma, and whether it should make adjustments to current U.S. restrictions on relations with Burma.

On October 7, 2016, former President Obama revoked several executive orders pertaining to sanctions on Burma, and waived restrictions required by Section 5(b)...

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA): An Overview of Programs and Funding

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), an agency of the Department of Commerce, is the executive branch’s principal advisory office on domestic and international telecommunications and information policies. Its statutory mission includes providing greater access for all Americans to telecommunications services; supporting U.S. efforts to open foreign markets; advising the President on international telecommunications negotiations; and funding research for new technologies and their applications. It is also responsible for managing spectrum use by federal...

The Value of Energy Tax Incentives for Different Types of Energy Resources: In Brief

The U.S. tax code supports the energy sector by providing a number of targeted tax incentives, or tax incentives only available for the energy industry. As Congress evaluates the tax code and contemplates tax reform, there has been interest in understanding how energy tax benefits are distributed across different domestic energy resources. For example, what percentage of energy-related tax benefits support fossil fuels (or support renewables)? How much domestic energy is produced using fossil fuels (or produced using renewables)? And how do these figures compare?

In 2016, the value of...

Senate Committee Funding: Description of Process and Analysis of Disbursements

Funding for Senate committees (except for the Committee on Appropriations and the Select Committee on Ethics) follows a two-step process of authorization and appropriation. Operating budgets for all standing and select committees of the Senate (except for the Committee on Appropriations and the Select Committee on Ethics) are authorized pursuant to a simple resolution, and funding is provided in the Legislative Branch Appropriations bill and other appropriation acts.

On February 28, 2017, the Senate agreed by unanimous consent to S.Res. 62, which authorized a total of $198.2 million for...

The National Science Foundation: FY2017 Appropriations and Funding History

The National Science Foundation (NSF) supports both basic research and education in the non-medical sciences and engineering. NSF is a major source of federal support for U.S. university research, especially in certain fields such as mathematics and computer science. It is also responsible for significant shares of the federal science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education program portfolio and federal STEM student aid and support.

Overall, the Obama Administration sought $7.964 billion for NSF in FY2017, a $501 million (6.7%) increase over the FY2016 estimate of $7.463...

House Committee Funding: Description of Process and Analysis of Disbursements

Funding for House committees (except for the Committee on Appropriations) follows a two-step process of authorization and appropriation. Operating budgets for all standing and select committees of the House (except for the Committee on Appropriations) are authorized pursuant to a simple resolution, and funding is provided in the Legislative Branch Appropriations bill and other appropriations acts. Subsequent resolutions may change committee authorizations.

On March 17, 2017, the House adopted H.Res. 173, providing for the expenses of certain committees of the House of Representatives in...

Judiciary Appropriations, FY2017

Funds for the judicial branch are included annually in the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Appropriations bill. The bill provides funding for the Supreme Court; the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit; the U.S. Court of International Trade; the U.S. Courts of Appeals and District Courts; Defender Services; Court Security; Fees of Jurors and Commissioners; the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts; the Federal Judicial Center; the U.S. Sentencing Commission; and Judicial Retirement Funds.

The judiciary’s FY2017 budget request of $7.58 billion was submitted on...

Use of the Annual Appropriations Process to Block Implementation of the Affordable Care Act (FY2011-FY2017)

Congress is deeply divided over implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the health reform law enacted in March 2010. Since the ACA’s enactment, lawmakers opposed to specific provisions in the ACA or the entire law have repeatedly debated its implementation and considered bills to repeal, defund, delay, or otherwise amend the law.

In addition to considering ACA repeal or amendment in authorizing legislation, some lawmakers have used the annual appropriations process in an effort to eliminate funding for the ACA’s implementation and address other aspects of the law. ACA-related...

FY2017 Agriculture and Related Agencies Appropriations: In Brief

The Agriculture appropriations bill funds the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), except for the Forest Service. It also funds the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and—in even-numbered fiscal years—the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). (For CFTC, the Agriculture appropriations subcommittee has jurisdiction in the House but not in the Senate.)

Agriculture appropriations include both mandatory and discretionary spending. Discretionary amounts, though, are the primary focus during the bill’s development, since mandatory amounts are generally set by authorizing laws such as the...

Federal Deductibility of State and Local Taxes

Under current law, taxpayers who itemize can deduct state and local real estate taxes, personal property taxes, and income taxes from federal income when calculating taxable income. A deduction for sales taxes in lieu of income taxes is also available. The federal deduction for state and local taxes results in the federal government paying part of these state and local taxes through lower federal tax collections. Theory would suggest that taxpayers are willing to accept higher state and local tax rates and greater state and local public spending because of lower federal income taxes...

H-2A and H-2B Temporary Worker Visas: Policy and Related Issues

Under current law, certain foreign workers, sometimes referred to as guest workers, may be admitted to the United States to perform temporary service or labor under two temporary worker visas: the H-2A visa for agricultural workers and the H-2B visa for nonagricultural workers. Both programs are administered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL).

The H-2A and H-2B programs—and guest worker programs broadly—strive both to be responsive to legitimate employer needs for temporary labor and to provide adequate protections for U.S. and foreign temporary...

USDA Announces Plans to Modify School Meal Nutrition Standards: Background and Context

On May 1, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to make changes to nutrition standards for the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program; he also signed a proclamation to this effect. The proclamation describes plans to relax whole grain, sodium, and milk requirements but does not mention changes to other aspects of the meals’ nutrition standards. The current standards were largely finalized via regulation in 2012 in accordance with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-296) and were championed...

Emerging Infectious Disease: Yellow Fever in Brazil

Introduction

Yellow fever is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes endemic in 47 countries across sub-Saharan Africa and South America (see Figure 1). Roughly 90% of annual yellow fever cases typically occur in sub-Saharan Africa. An ongoing yellow fever outbreak in Brazil and the re-emergence of the disease across South America is the latest event highlighting the global threat of emerging infectious diseases (EID). All of the countries in South America that detected cases in 2016 (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Suriname) have contained the outbreaks except Brazil. As of May...

The U.S. Tsunami Program Reauthorization in P.L. 115-25: Section-by-Section Comparison to P.L. 109-479, Title VIII

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Weather Service (NWS) manages two tsunami warning centers, which monitor, detect, and issue warnings for tsunamis. The NWS operates the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) at Ford Island, HI, and the National Tsunami Warning Center (NTWC) at Palmer, AK. The tsunami warning centers monitor and evaluate data from seismic networks and determine if a tsunami is likely based on the location, magnitude, and depth of an earthquake. The centers monitor relevant water-level data, typically with tide-level gauges, and data...

Vulnerable Youth: Employment and Job Training Programs

In an increasingly global economy, and with retirement underway for the Baby Boomer generation, Congress has indicated a strong interest in ensuring that today’s young people have the educational attainment and employment experience needed to become highly skilled workers, contributing taxpayers, and successful participants in civic life. Challenges in the economy and among certain youth populations, however, have heightened concern among policymakers that some young people may not be prepared to fill these roles. The employment levels for youth under age 25 have declined markedly in...

Gun Control: Federal Law and Legislative Action in the 114th Congress

In the 114th Congress, the Senate debated several gun proposals following two high-fatality mass shootings in December 2015 and June 2016. After both shootings, Senate debate coalesced around the following issues:

Should the Attorney General be given the authority to deny firearms (and explosives) transfers to persons she determines to be “dangerous terrorists”?

Should federal background check requirements be expanded to include intrastate firearms transfers among private, unlicensed persons?

Should grants be provided or withheld to encourage state, local, municipal, tribal, and...

Fees Assessed on Pesticide Registrants: Reauthorization and Proposed Amendments

Pursuant to the Pesticide Registration Improvement Extension Act of 2012 (PRIA 3; P.L. 112-177), Congress authorized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to collect two categories of fees to support the agency’s pesticide regulatory program and related activities. EPA’s authority to collect one of these fees—pesticide maintenance fees—expires at the end of FY2017. The authority to collect the other fees—pesticide registration service fees—begins to phase out at the end of FY2017. The Pesticide Registration Enhancement Act of 2017 (H.R. 1029, H.Rept. 115-49), passed by the House...

The Revenue Baseline for Tax Reform

Tax reform remains an issue of interest in the 115th Congress. An open policy question is whether any proposed tax reform might increase the projected budget deficit, reduce the deficit, or leave the deficit unchanged (i.e., be revenue neutral). To inform this debate, this Insight provides information on the current revenue baseline as calculated by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). This Insight also discusses how the enactment of changes in tax policy can potentially change the baseline, and implications of these changes for subsequent legislation, such as tax reform. This Insight...

NASS and U.S. Crop Production Forecasts: Methods and Issues

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates agricultural production (including area and yield) and stocks for more than 120 crops and 45 livestock items. Traditionally NASS estimates have focused on state and national data, but in recent years county-level estimates have gained in importance. NASS crop production estimates are crucial to people in the U.S. agricultural sector involved in making marketing and investment decisions, policymakers who design farm support programs, USDA agents who implement those programs, and...

The Legislative Process on the Senate Floor: An Introduction

The standing rules of the Senate promote deliberation by permitting Senators to debate at length and by precluding a simple majority from ending debate when they are prepared to vote to approve a bill. This right of extended debate permits filibusters that can be brought to an end if the Senate invokes cloture, usually by a vote of three-fifths of all Senators. Even then, consideration can typically continue under cloture for an additional 30 hours. The possibility of filibusters encourages the Senate to seek consensus whenever possible and to conduct business under the terms of unanimous...

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...

The Value of Energy Tax Incentives Across Energy Resources: Trends over Time

Over time, the proportion of energy-specific tax incentives benefitting different energy resources has shifted. Figure 1 illustrates the value of energy-related tax incentives since 1978. Energy tax provisions are categorized as primarily benefitting fossil fuels, renewables, renewable fuels, efficiency, vehicles, or some other energy purpose. Earlier versions of Figure 1 have appeared in past Congressional Research Service reports (R41953 and R41227). Similar figures have also appeared in Congressional Budget Office (CBO) publications in 2012, 2015, and 2017. See these resources for...

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD): FY2017 Appropriations

The House and Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittees are charged with providing annual appropriations for the Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and related agencies. THUD programs receive both discretionary and mandatory budget authority; HUD’s budget generally accounts for the largest share of discretionary appropriations in the THUD bill, but when mandatory funding is taken into account, DOT’s budget is larger than HUD’s budget. Mandatory funding typically accounts...

Department of Transportation (DOT): FY2017 Appropriations

In February 2016, the Obama Administration proposed a $96.9 billion budget for the Department of Transportation (DOT) for FY2017. That is approximately $22 billion more than was provided for FY2016. The budget request reflected the Administration’s call for significant increases in funding for highway, transit, and rail programs.

The DOT appropriations bill funds federal programs covering aviation, highways and highway safety, public transit, intercity rail, maritime safety, pipelines, and related activities. Federal highway, transit, and rail programs were reauthorized in the fall of...

House Committee Funding Requests and Authorizations, 104th-115th Congresses

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

This report provides committee funding requests and authorizations as adopted pursuant to primary expense authorizations for House committees in the 104th through 115th Congresses. For further information on the committee funding...

Senate Committee Expenditures Resolutions, 115th Congress, and Funding Authorizations Since 1999

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

On February 28, 2017, the Senate adopted by unanimous consent S.Res. 62, authorizing expenditures by Senate committees for the period March 1, 2017, through September 30, 2017, the period October 1, 2017, through September 30, 2018, and for the...

The Hardest Hit Fund: Frequently Asked Questions

The Hardest Hit Fund (HHF), administered by the Department of the Treasury, is one of several temporary programs that were created to help prevent home foreclosures in the aftermath of housing and mortgage market turmoil that began around 2007-2008. It provided a total of $9.6 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds to 19 states (including the District of Columbia) that were deemed to be “hardest hit” by the housing market turmoil, as defined by factors such as house price declines or unemployment rates.

In 2010, a total of $7.6 billion was allocated to selected states...

Expiring Funds for Primary Care

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), enacted on March 23, 2010, appropriated billions of dollars of mandatory funds to support new and existing grant programs and other activities. Specifically, it provided support for three programs focused on expanding access to primary care services for populations that are typically underserved. The first two were existing programs—the Health Centers program and the National Health Service Corps (NHSC)—and they were funded through a new mandatory funding stream, the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF). The third program, created in the ACA, is the Teaching...

President’s Budget Blueprint Seeks Changes for Public Health Service Agencies

The White House has released a “budget blueprint” that outlines President Trump’s priorities for funding the federal government in FY2018. The document covers only discretionary spending, which is controlled through the annual appropriations process. It does not address mandatory spending—including spending on entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security—or interest payments on the federal debt. The complete FY2018 budget is expected to be released in May.

Although the budget blueprint provides limited details on the agency, account, or program level, it indicates Trump...

Essential Air Service (EAS)

The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 gave airlines almost total freedom to determine which domestic markets to serve and what airfares to charge. This raised the concern that communities with relatively low passenger levels would lose service as carriers shifted their operations to serve larger and often more profitable markets. To address this concern, Congress established the Essential Air Service (EAS) program to ensure that small communities that were served by certificated air carriers before deregulation would continue to receive scheduled passenger service, with subsidies if...

The President’s FY2018 Budget Request for the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Background

The Trump Administration released its first budget request on March 16, 2017. Titled “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” the request for FY2018 does not have the detail of a regular budget (see CRS Report RS20752, Submission of the President’s Budget in Transition Years).

The FY2018 Blueprint addresses discretionary spending only and primarily conveys information at the Cabinet level. While it highlights changes to some programs, the request remains vague about the effect on most agencies. A more detailed budget is expected in May 2017 and may...

FY2017 Defense Appropriations Fact Sheet: Selected Highlights of H.R. 5293, S. 3000, and H.R. 1301

This Fact Sheet summarizes selected highlights of the FY2017 Defense Appropriations Act passed by the House, in the 114th Congress, on June 16, 2016 (H.R. 5293), the version reported by the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 26, 2016 (S. 3000), and a third version agreed to March 2, 2017 by House and Senate negotiators.

Although the March 2017 legislation was introduced in the 115th Congress as a new bill, it is -- for practical purposes – equivalent to the product of an informal conference committee on the two earlier versions. The Senate did not complete action on the Senate...

Proposed Multiemployer Composite Plans: Background and Analysis

Multiemployer pension plans are sponsored by more than one employer in the same industry and are maintained as part of a collective bargaining agreement. The challenges facing one type of multiemployer plans—defined benefit (DB) plans, in which participants receive regular monthly benefit payments in retirement—have led stakeholders to seek alternative pension plan designs that could alleviate some of the concerns but retain some of the beneficial features.

On September 9, 2016, Representative John Kline, chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce in the 114th Congress,...

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2017 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for approximately 30 agencies and entities. They include most of the Department of the Interior (DOI) as well as agencies within other departments, such as the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service within the Department of Health and Human Services. The bill also provides funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), arts and cultural agencies, and other entities. At issue for Congress is determining the amount, terms, and conditions of funding for...

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE): Appropriations Status

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is the principal government agency responsible for renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency efforts. EERE works with industry, academia, national laboratories, and others to conduct research and development (R&D) and to issue grants to state governments. EERE oversees nearly a dozen technologies and programs—from vehicle technologies to solar energy to advanced manufacturing to weatherization and intergovernmental programs—each with its own respective mission and program goals.

EERE...

Sub-Saharan Africa: Key Issues, Challenges, and U.S. Responses

The 115th Congress and the Trump Administration are reviewing existing U.S. policies and programs in sub-Saharan Africa (henceforth, “Africa”) as they establish their budgetary and policy priorities toward the region while also responding to emerging crises. Africa-specific policy questions did not feature prominently in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, and the views of the Trump Administration on many U.S.-Africa policy issues remain unspecified. The Obama Administration’s Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa identified its policy priorities as strengthening democratic institutions;...

Tax Deductions for Individuals: A Summary

Every tax filer has the option to claim deductions when filing their income tax return. Deductions serve four main purposes in the tax code: (1) to account for large, unusual, and necessary personal expenditures, such as extraordinary medical expenses; (2) to encourage certain types of activities, such as homeownership and charitable contributions; (3) to ease the burden of taxes paid to state and local governments; and (4) to adjust for the expenses of earning income, such as unreimbursed employee expenses.

Some tax deductions can be taken by individuals even if they do not itemize. These...

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...

Ocean Energy Agency Appropriations, FY2017

This report discusses FY2017 appropriations for the Department of the Interior’s (DOI’s) Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), and Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR). The three agencies collectively administer federal ocean energy resources covering more than 1.7 billion acres on the U.S. outer continental shelf (OCS). BOEM administers offshore energy leasing, BSEE oversees offshore operational safety and environmental responsibility, and ONRR manages public revenues from federally regulated offshore and onshore energy...

The FDA Medical Device User Fee Program: MDUFA IV Reauthorization

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for regulating medical devices. Medical devices are a wide range of products that are used to diagnose, treat, monitor, or prevent a disease or condition in a patient. A medical device company must obtain FDA’s prior approval or clearance before marketing many medical devices in the United States. The Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) within FDA is primarily responsible for medical device review and regulation. CDRH activities are funded through a combination of annual discretionary appropriations from Congress and user...

S. 385: The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2017 (Portman-Shaheen Bill)

S. 385 Provisions

Also known as the Portman-Shaheen bill, S. 385 has four energy efficiency titles (buildings, industry, federal agencies, and regulatory measures) and one title on budget matters.

Title I would update model building energy codes and encourage adoption by state and local governments and American Indian Tribes (§101); authorize grants to universities to establish building training and assessment centers (§111); authorize matching grants to nonprofit organizations to train industry-certified installers of energy-efficient technologies (§112); and provide technical assistance...

Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA): A Summary of the Act and Its Major Requirements

This report summarizes the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and its major programs and regulatory requirements. It reviews revisions to the act since its enactment in 1974, including the drinking water security provisions added to the SDWA by the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-188) and lead reduction provisions as amended by P.L. 111-380 (including amendments made by P.L. 113-64 to explicitly exempt fire hydrants from coverage under the act’s lead plumbing restrictions). It also reviews P.L. 114-45, enacted August 7, 2015, directing...

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...

Appropriations Subcommittee Structure: History of Changes from 1920 to 2017

This report details the evolution of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees’ subcommittee structure from the 1920s to the present. In 1920, the House adopted a change in its rules to consolidate jurisdiction over all appropriations in the Appropriations Committee. After the enactment of the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, the House reorganized its Appropriations Committee by establishing for the first time a set of subcommittees to consider appropriations bills based on the administrative organization of the executive branch. The Senate followed suit in 1922, and the two...

Health Care-Related Expiring Provisions of the 115th Congress, First Session

This report provides descriptions of selected health care-related provisions that are scheduled to expire during the 115th Congress, first session (i.e., during calendar year [CY] 2017). For purposes of this report, expiring provisions are defined as portions of law that are time limited and will lapse once a statutory deadline is reached absent further legislative action. The expiring provisions included in this report are those related to Medicare, Medicaid, State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and private health insurance programs and activities. The report also includes...

Housing Issues in the 114th Congress

Housing and residential mortgage markets in the United States are continuing to recover from several years of turmoil that began in 2007-2008, though the recovery has been uneven across the country. Nationally, home prices have been consistently increasing since 2012. Negative equity and mortgage foreclosure rates have been steadily decreasing, though both remain elevated. Home sales have begun to increase, with sales of existing homes approaching levels that were common in the early 2000s, though sales of new homes and housing starts remain relatively low.

Mortgage originations have also...

The LIHEAP Formula

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides funds to states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and commonwealths, and Indian tribal organizations (collectively referred to as grantees) primarily to help low-income households pay home energy expenses. The LIHEAP statute provides for two types of funding: regular funds (sometimes referred to as block grant funds) and emergency contingency funds. Regular funds are allocated to grantees based on a formula, while emergency contingency funds may be released to one or more grantees at the discretion of the Secretary...

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,...

U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: Trends and FY2017 Appropriations

Geographic proximity has forged strong linkages between the United States and the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, with U.S. interests encompassing economic, political, and security concerns. U.S. policymakers have emphasized different strategic interests in the region at different times, from combating Soviet influence during the Cold War to advancing democracy and open markets since the 1990s. During the Obama Administration, U.S. policy toward the region chiefly sought to strengthen democratic governance, defend human rights, improve citizen security, enhance social inclusion...

Discretionary Spending Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) authorized many new discretionary grant programs and provided each one with an authorization of appropriations—typically through FY2014 or FY2015—to carry them out. The ACA also reauthorized funding for numerous existing programs with expired authorizations of appropriations, most of which were still receiving annual funding.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that fully funding the discretionary grant programs authorized (or reauthorized) by the ACA, based on the amounts specified in the authorizations of appropriations, would result in...

Appropriations and Fund Transfers in the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act, or ACA) is having a significant impact on federal mandatory—also known as direct—spending. Most of the projected spending under the law is for expanding health insurance coverage. This spending includes premium tax credits and other subsidies for individuals and families that purchase private insurance coverage through the health insurance exchanges established under the ACA, as well as federal matching funds for states that have expanded their Medicaid programs.

In addition, the ACA included numerous...

Legislative Actions in the 112th, 113th, and 114th Congresses to Repeal, Defund, or Delay the Affordable Care Act

Congress is deeply divided over implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the health reform law enacted in March 2010 during the 111th Congress. Since the ACA’s enactment, lawmakers opposed to specific provisions in the ACA or the entire law have repeatedly debated its implementation and considered bills to repeal, defund, delay, or otherwise amend the law.

During the 112th, 113th, and 114th Congresses, the Republican-led House passed numerous ACA-related bills, including legislation that would repeal the entire law. There was much less debate in the Senate, which remained under...

Overseas Contingency Operations Funding: Background and Status

The Department of Defense (DOD) estimates that through FY2016 Congress has appropriated $1.6 trillion for DOD war-related activities since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. When combined with an estimated $123.2 billion in related State Department and Foreign Operations appropriations, the DOD, Department of State (DOS), and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have received an estimated $1.7 trillion for activities and operations in support of the broad U.S. government response to the 9/11 attacks.

Funding for these activities has been largely provided through...

USDA Releases GIPSA Rules

On December 20, 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) released the Farmer Fair Practices Rules consisting of an interim final rule and two proposed rules that address marketing and competition issues for livestock and poultry markets. GIPSA initially proposed these rules in 2010 to implement 2008 farm bill (P.L. 110-246) provisions, and they are commonly referred to as the “GIPSA rule.”

The GIPSA rule was intended to ensure fair competition in livestock and poultry markets by clarifying what constituted a...

President Trump’s Executive Order on Suspending Entry of Select Foreign Nationals: The Seven Countries

On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order (EO) entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” Invoking Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) §212(f), the President barred citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days, with limited exceptions for those traveling on diplomatic and certain other types of visas. The action has given rise to the question of how these seven countries were selected.

The EO does not specifically mention the seven countries. Instead, the EO...

Foreign Assistance: The Mexico City Policy

On January 23, 2017, President Trump issued a memorandum reinstating the “Mexico City policy,” which requires foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) receiving certain types of U.S. assistance to certify that they will not perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning, even if such activities are conducted with non-U.S. funds.

Background and Context: Key Administration Actions

The Mexico City policy has remained a controversial issue in U.S. foreign assistance. Since it was first issued by President Reagan in 1984, the policy has been established and rescinded...

Present Trends and the Evolution of Mandatory Spending

Federal spending is divided into three broad categories: discretionary spending, mandatory spending, and net interest. Mandatory spending is composed of budget outlays controlled by laws other than appropriation acts, including federal spending on entitlement programs. Entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid make up the bulk of mandatory spending. Other mandatory spending funds various income support programs, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI), unemployment insurance, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), as well as federal...

The Airport and Airway Trust Fund (AATF): An Overview

The Airport and Airway Trust Fund (AATF), sometimes referred to as the aviation trust fund, has been the primary funding source for federal aviation programs since 1972. It provides all funding for three major accounts of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA): the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), Facilities and Equipment (F&E), and Research, Engineering, and Development (RE&D). It also pays for most spending from FAA’s Operations and Maintenance (O&M) account.

The trust fund is funded principally by a variety of taxes paid by users of the national aviation system. Revenue sources for...

The National Network for Manufacturing Innovation

Congress maintains a strong interest in the health of U.S. manufacturing due to its central role in the U.S. economy and national defense. In 2012, in his FY2013 budget, President Obama proposed the creation of a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) to help accelerate innovation by investing in industrially relevant manufacturing technologies with broad applications, and to support manufacturing technology commercialization by bridging the gap between the laboratory and the market. The proposal included a request for $1 billion in mandatory funding for the National...

U.S. Crude Oil Exports to International Destinations

On December 18, 2015, Congress passed H.R. 2029—the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016—which was signed into law as P.L. 114-113. A provision contained in P.L. 114-113 repealed a 40-year prohibition, with exceptions, on the export of crude oil produced in the United States. Removing this prohibition and its associated restrictions provides producers, shippers, and traders with options to market and sell crude oil internationally. Prior to the removal of export restrictions, exceptions resulted in approximately 500,000 barrels per day of crude oil exports—nearly all to Canada—during...

Barriers Along the U.S. Borders: Key Authorities and Requirements

Federal law authorizes the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to construct barriers along the U.S. borders to deter illegal crossings. DHS is also required to construct reinforced fencing along at least 700 miles of the land border with Mexico (a border that stretches 1,933 miles). Congress has not provided a deadline for DHS to meet this 700-mile requirement, and as of the date of this report, fencing would need to be deployed along nearly 50 additional miles to satisfy the 700-mile requirement. Nor has Congress provided guidelines regarding the specific characteristics of fencing or...

The First Responder Network (FirstNet) and Next-Generation Communications for Public Safety: Issues for Congress

Congress included provisions in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-96) for planning, building, and managing a new, nationwide, broadband network for public safety communications, by creating the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). The act allocated 10 MHz of additional radio frequency spectrum to accommodate the new network and required that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) assign a license to FirstNet, comprising the newly designated frequencies plus 10 MHz previously assigned to states by the FCC for public safety use. In addition, the...

Suspension of Scheduled Fee Decrease for FHA-Insured Mortgages

In the final weeks of the Obama Administration, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced that it planned to reduce fees charged to households who obtained new FHA-insured mortgages. However, on January 20, the first day of the Trump Administration, FHA announced that it was suspending the planned fee decrease before it went into effect. This Insight describes FHA mortgage insurance fees and common arguments for and against decreasing them.

Background

Most mortgage lenders require homebuyers with down payments below 20% to purchase some kind of mortgage insurance that protects...

The Elder Justice Act: Background and Issues for Congress

Elder abuse is a complex issue that often requires a multifaceted policy response that combines public health interventions, social services programs, and criminal law enforcement for abusive behavior. To address this complexity, the Elder Justice Act was enacted on March 23, 2010 as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, P.L. 111-148, as amended). The act attempts to provide a coordinated federal response by emphasizing various public health and social service approaches to the prevention, detection, and treatment of elder abuse. The Elder Justice Act also represents...

Venezuela: Issues for Congress, 2013-2016

Although historically the United States had close relations with Venezuela, a major oil supplier, friction in bilateral relations increased under the leftist, populist government of President Hugo Chávez (1999-2013), who died in 2013 after battling cancer. After Chávez’s death, Venezuela held presidential elections in which acting President Nicolás Maduro narrowly defeated Henrique Capriles of the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), with the opposition alleging significant irregularities. In 2014, the Maduro government violently suppressed protests and imprisoned a major...

FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Issues

Military personnel issues typically generate significant interest from many Members of Congress and their staffs. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has selected a number of the military personnel issues considered in deliberations on H.R. 4909 as passed by the House on May 26, 2016, S. 2943 as passed by the Senate on July 21, 2016, and the final enacted bill (P.L. 114-328) which was signed by the President on December 23, 2016. This report provides a brief synopsis of sections in each bill that pertain to selected personnel policies. These include issues such as military...

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...

Unaccompanied Alien Children: An Overview

In FY2014, the number of unaccompanied alien children (UAC, unaccompanied children) that were apprehended at the Southwest border while attempting to enter the United States without authorization reached a peak, straining the system put in place over the past decade to handle such cases. Prior to FY2014, UAC apprehensions were steadily increasing. For example, in FY2011, the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) apprehended 16,067 unaccompanied children at the Southwest border, whereas in FY2014 more than 68,500 unaccompanied children were apprehended. In FY2015, UAC apprehensions declined 42% to...

Water Resource Issues in the 115th Congress

The 115th Congress faces various water resource development, management, and protection issues. Water resource activities generally encompass navigation improvements, flood damage reduction measures, water supply augmentation, hydropower generation, and aquatic ecosystem restoration. Congressional actions shape reinvestment in aging federal infrastructure (e.g., dams, locks, and levees) and federal and nonfederal investment in new projects. The principal agencies involved in federal water resource infrastructure are the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the Department of the...

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Appropriations Process: A Brief Explanation

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) examines and approves applications for patents on claimed inventions and administers the registration of trademarks. It also assists other federal departments and agencies protect American intellectual property in the international marketplace. The USPTO is funded by user fees paid by customers that are designated as “offsetting collections” and subject to spending limits established by the Committee on Appropriations.

Until recently, appropriation measures limited USPTO use of all fees accumulated within a fiscal year. Critics of this approach...

The Excise Tax on High-Cost Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance: Estimated Economic and Market Effects

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148, as amended) included a provision to impose an excise tax on high-cost employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) coverage beginning in 2018 (recently delayed until 2020). This provision, popularly termed the Cadillac tax, imposes an excise tax on ESI coverage in excess of a predetermined threshold. The tax is imposed on the coverage provider, typically the health insurance provider or the entity that administers the plan benefits.

Currently, employers’ spending on ESI coverage and most employees’ contributions to ESI plans are...

Inauguration Security: Operations, Appropriations, and Issues for Congress

Every four years, on January 20, the President-elect is sworn in as President of the United States. Presidential inauguration ceremonies are unique public events in the District of Columbia. The inauguration ceremonies are public and, like the President’s State of the Union address, they are events in which a significant proportion of the American political leadership is in attendance. Consequently, the inauguration is designated as a National Special Security Event (NSSE) by the Department of Homeland Security. NSSEs are events that require significant security, in part because of the...

Biennial Budgeting: Issues, Options, and Congressional Actions

Difficulties in the timely enactment of budgetary legislation have long fueled interest in the idea that the congressional budget process could be better structured in a way that eases time constraints. The need for consideration of budget matters in the form of concurrent resolutions on the budget, reconciliation measures, tax measures, public debt measures, authorizations, regular appropriations, continuing appropriations, and supplemental appropriations has been criticized as time consuming, repetitive, and inefficient. One long-discussed reform proposal would change the budget cycle...

Statutory Restrictions on the Position of Secretary of Defense: Issues for Congress

The proposed nomination of General (Ret.) James Mattis, United States Marine Corps (hereinafter referred to as “General Mattis”), who retired from the military in 2013, to be Secretary of Defense requires both houses of Congress to consider whether and how to suspend—or remove—a provision contained in Title 10 U.S.C. §113 that states,

A person may not be appointed as Secretary of Defense within seven years after relief from active duty as a commissioned officer of a regular component of an armed force.

This provision was originally contained in the 1947 National Security Act (P.L. 80-253),...

Transportation Spending Under an Earmark Ban

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

Currently, about 92% of federal highway funds and more than 75% of transit funds are distributed by statutory formulas. The use of...

Latin America and the Caribbean: Key Issues and Actions in the 114th Congress

U.S. Interests and Policy

Geographic proximity has ensured strong linkages between the United States and the Latin American and Caribbean region, based on diverse U.S. interests, including economic, political, and security concerns. U.S. policy toward the region under the Obama Administration focused on four priorities: promoting economic and social opportunity; ensuring citizen security; strengthening effective democratic institutions; and securing a clean energy future. There was substantial continuity in U.S. policy toward the region during the first six years of the Obama...

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...

Inspectors General in and Beyond the Presidential Transition Period

Much of the federal government is in transition, as a new Congress convenes and a new Administration prepares to assume leadership of the executive branch. In the coming months, Members will join congressional committees with jurisdictions and responsibilities that may be new to them, and they might seek resources to assist their oversight responsibilities. The 73 federal inspectors general (IGs) are among the resources from which Members might choose to help them in learning about the operations of government agencies. An IG’s knowledge of his or her affiliated agency may be of assistance...

The “Waters of the United States” Rule: Legislative Options and 114th Congress Responses

On May 27, 2015, the Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule revising regulations that define the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Discharges to waters under CWA jurisdiction, such as the addition of pollutants from factories or sewage treatment plants and the dredging and filling of spoil material through mining or excavation, require a CWA permit. The rule was proposed in 2014 in light of Supreme Court rulings that created uncertainty about the geographic limits of waters that are and are not protected...

Expedited Procedures Governing Senate Consideration of Legislation Waiving a Restriction Related to the Military Service of the Secretary of Defense

Section 179 of the Further Continuing and Security Assistance Appropriations Act, 2017 (P.L. 114-254), establishes expedited or “fast track” parliamentary procedures governing Senate consideration of legislation that would waive a legal restriction related to the prior military service of the Secretary of Defense. Section 113(a) of Title 10 of the U.S. Code establishes that an individual “may not be appointed as Secretary of Defense within seven years after relief from active duty as a commissioned officer of a regular component of an armed force.” Unless waived, this restriction could be...

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation: Background and Legislative Issues

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a wholly owned U.S. government corporation, is referred to as the U.S. development finance institution (DFI). It provides political risk insurance, project and investment funds financing, and other services to promote U.S. direct investment in developing countries and emerging economies that will have a development impact. It operates under the foreign policy guidance of the Secretary of State. OPIC’s governing legislation is the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (22 U.S.C. §2191 et seq.).

Congress periodically has extended...

The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Reform Act of 2016 (Division B of P.L. 114-255)

This report summarizes the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Reform Act of 2016, enacted on December 13, 2016, as Division B of the 21st Century Cures Act (P.L. 114-255). Division B comprises Title VI through Title XIV. The first five titles in Division B (Title VI – Title X) deal primarily with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). SAMHSA is the federal agency with primary responsibility for increasing access to community-based services to prevent and treat mental disorders and substance use...

Legal Services Corporation: Background and Funding

The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is a private, nonprofit, federally funded corporation that helps provide legal assistance to low-income people in civil (i.e., noncriminal) matters. The primary responsibility of the LSC is to manage and oversee the congressionally appropriated federal funds that it distributes in the form of grants to local legal services providers, which in turn give legal assistance to low-income clients in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories of Guam and the Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and Micronesia (which includes the...

NASA: FY2017 Budget and Appropriations

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was created in 1958 by the National Aeronautics and Space Act (P.L. 85-568) to conduct civilian space and aeronautics activities. It has four mission directorates. The Science Mission Directorate manages robotic science missions, such as the Hubble Space Telescope, the Mars rover Curiosity, and satellites for Earth science research. The Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate conducts research and development on aircraft and aviation systems. The Space Technology Mission Directorate develops technologies for use in future space...

OSM Finalizes the Stream Protection Rule

On December 19, 2016, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) of the Department of the Interior promulgated a rule to improve implementation of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) and reduce impacts of coal mining operations on groundwater and surface water, fish, wildlife, and related environmental values. The rule, called the Stream Protection Rule, was published in the Federal Register on December 20. It is effective on January 19, 2017.

Development of the Stream Protection Rule has been underway since 2009 and has been contentious throughout...

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...

DHS Appropriations FY2017: Research and Development, Training, and Services

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 fourth title of the homeland security appropriations bill—in past years, this has comprised U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Services, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, the Science and Technology Directorate, and the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO). In FY2017, the Administration proposed moving the Domestic Nuclear Detection office into a new Chemical,...

State Management of Federal Lands: Frequently Asked Questions

The federal government owns roughly 640 million acres of land, about 28% of the 2.27 billion acres in the United States. This land is managed by numerous agencies, but four agencies administer about 95% of federal land, with somewhat differing management emphases. These agencies are the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and National Park Service (NPS) in the Department of the Interior (DOI), and the Forest Service (FS) in the Department of Agriculture. Most federal land is in the West, including Alaska. The total amount of money the federal government spends...

Implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA, P.L. 111-353)

Congress passed comprehensive food safety legislation in December 2010 (FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, or FSMA, P.L. 111-353), representing the largest expansion and overhaul of U.S. food safety authorities since the 1930s. FSMA greatly expanded food safety oversight authority at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Among its many provisions, FSMA expanded FDA’s authority to conduct a mandatory recall of contaminated food products; enhanced surveillance systems to investigate foodborne illness outbreaks; established new...

Pesticide Use and Water Quality: Are the Laws Complementary or in Conflict?

This report provides background on the emerging conflict over interpretation and implementation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA). For the more than 30 years since they were enacted, there had been little apparent conflict between them. But their relationship has recently been challenged in several arenas, including the federal courts and regulatory proceedings of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In this report, a brief discussion of the two laws is followed by a review of the major litigation of interest. EPA’s...

Water Quality Issues in the 114th Congress: An Overview

Much progress has been made in achieving the ambitious goals that Congress established in 1972 in the Clean Water Act (CWA) to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters. However, long-standing problems persist, and new problems have emerged. Water quality problems are diverse, ranging from pollution runoff from farms and ranches, city streets, and other diffuse or “nonpoint” sources, to toxic substances discharged from factories and sewage treatment plants.

There is little agreement among stakeholders about what solutions are needed,...

DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE): A Primer, with Appropriations for FY2017

The nation’s energy infrastructure is undergoing a major transformation. For example, new technologies and changes in electricity flows place increasing demands on the electric power grid. These changes include increased use of distributed (mostly renewable energy) resources, Internet-enabled demand response technologies, growing loads from electric vehicle use, continued expansion of natural gas use, and integration of energy storage devices.

The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE) has the lead role in addressing those infrastructure...

Industry Divided over Biodiesel Tax Credit

The federal biodiesel tax incentive of $1 per gallon (26 U.S.C. 40A), expires at the end of 2016. The credit was created by the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-357) and has been renewed a number of times since then, most recently in December 2015 in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (P.L. 114-113). On more than one occasion, the credit has been extended retroactively, as it was for 2015. The credit—and whether it should be repositioned to incentivize domestic production only—is of particular interest to many because in recent years biodiesel imports have increased at a...

The Central African Republic: Background and U.S. Policy

The Central African Republic (CAR) is emerging from a crisis that began when rebels overthrew the national government in 2013, ushering in a chaotic and violent period. A new president, Faustin Archange Touadéra, was elected in 2016, but gains remain fragile. Militias that have targeted civilians on the basis of religious and ethnic identity continue to operate in much of the country, posing challenges to governance, reconciliation, and accountability. Violence has caused large population displacements, weakening an already tiny economy and placing strains on finite international aid and...

Limitations in Appropriations Measures: An Overview of Procedural Issues

Both the House and Senate have internal rules encouraging the separation of money and policy decisions. These rules bar legislative provisions from being included in general appropriations measures under most circumstances. Limitations within appropriations measures are provisions that negatively restrict the amount, purpose, or availability of funds without changing existing law. The effect of these provisions is to limit the actions for which funds may be used through the capping or outright denial of funds. Limitations are distinct from legislative provisions, which have the effect of...

The Congressional Appropriations Process: An Introduction

Congress annually considers several appropriations measures, which provide discretionary funding for numerous activities—for example, national defense, education, and homeland security—as well as general government operations. Congress has developed certain rules and practices for the consideration of appropriations measures, referred to as the congressional appropriations process. The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of this process.

Appropriations measures are under the jurisdiction of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. In recent years these measures have...

House Offset Amendments to Appropriations Bills: Procedural Considerations

One of the most common methods for changing spending priorities in appropriations bills on the House floor is through offset amendments. House offset amendments may generally change spending priorities in a pending appropriations measure by increasing spending for certain activities (or creating spending for new activities not previously included in the bill) and offsetting the increase with funding decreases in other activities in the bill. Offset amendments are needed to avoid points of order under Sections 302(f) and 311(a) of the Congressional Budget Act, enforcing certain spending...

Authorization of Appropriations: Procedural and Legal Issues

To provide funding for discretionary spending programs of the government, Congress generally uses an annual appropriations process. Under congressional rules, when making decisions about the funding of individual items or programs, however, Congress may be constrained by the terms of previously enacted legislation. The way in which the House and Senate interpret and apply this concept under their respective rules and precedents creates a distinction between authorized and unauthorized appropriations. This report provides a brief explanation of this distinction, and its significance for...

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...

Work Requirements, Time Limits, and Work Incentives in TANF, SNAP, and Housing Assistance

Congress is again debating work requirements in the context of programs to aid poor and low-income individuals and families. The last major debate in the 1990s both significantly expanded financial supports for working poor families with children and led to the enactment of the 1996 welfare reform law. That law created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, which time-limited federally funded aid and required work for families receiving cash assistance. Work requirements, time limits, and work incentives are intended to offset work disincentives in social...

Foreign Aid and the Education Sector: Programs and Priorities

Education has long been considered an important part of the U.S. foreign assistance strategy. There is general agreement that education is crucial to bettering livelihoods and improving economic stability in developing countries. According to the World Bank, an increase of one standard deviation in student reading and math scores is associated with an increase of two percentage points in annual gross domestic product (GDP) per capita growth.

Access to and quality of education continues to pose a challenge to foreign aid donors. Approximately 263 million children and youth worldwide do not...

Social Services Block Grant: Background and Funding

The Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) is a flexible source of funds that states use to support a wide variety of social services activities. States have broad discretion over the use of these funds. In FY2014, the most recent year for which expenditure data are available, the largest expenditures for services under the SSBG were for foster care, child protective services, child care, and special services for the disabled.

Since FY2002, annual appropriations laws have funded the SSBG at its authorized level of $1.700 billion. However, starting in FY2013, SSBG appropriations have been...

Selected Recently Expired Individual Tax Provisions (“Tax Extenders”): In Brief

The Protecting Americans From Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, considered as an amendment to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016 (P.L. 114-113), was signed into law on December 18, 2015. That legislation made some tax provisions that had expired at the end of 2014 permanent, and extended others through the 2016 tax year. This report briefly summarizes and discusses selected items categorized as individual tax provisions. These and other temporary tax provisions that have been regularly extended for one or two years are often referred to as “tax...

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway Navigation System: Options for Growth

Congress faces infrastructure funding decisions that would support shipping on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway (GLSLS). In the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (H.R. 5303, S. 2848), Congress may decide whether to permanently allocate 10% of certain harbor maintenance funds both to small ports and to Great Lakes ports. On the horizon are debates over construction of a second lock at Sault Ste. Marie, MI, and a second Great Lakes heavy icebreaker vessel. These projects would likely cost several hundred million dollars and take several years to complete.

These funding decisions...

Federal Reserve: Legislation in the 114th Congress

The Federal Reserve (Fed) is the subject of legislation being considered in the 114th Congress. These bills contain wide-ranging provisions that can be grouped into four broad categories:

Changes to Fed governance. Some proposals would change the Fed’s institutional structure. H.R. 22 (P.L. 114-94) reduced the dividend paid by the Fed to large commercial banks that hold stock in the Fed and permanently capped the Fed’s surplus at $10 billion. H.R. 3189 would permanently eliminate the Fed’s surplus. H.R. 26 (P.L. 114-1) required at least one nominee for the Fed’s board of governors to have...

Teenage Pregnancy Prevention: Statistics and Programs

In 2015, U.S. teen births accounted for 5.8% of all births and 12.9% of all nonmarital births. The birth rate for U.S. teenagers (ages 15 through 19) increased in 2006 and 2007 after a steady decline since 1991. However, in each of 2008 through 2015, the teen birth rate dropped below the 2006 teen birth rate, reversing the two-year upward trend. Although the birth rate for U.S. teens has dropped in 22 of the past 24 years, it remains higher than the teen birth rate of most industrialized nations. Preventing teen pregnancy is generally considered a priority among policymakers and the public...

The Precision Medicine Initiative

On February 25, 2016, the White House hosted a Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) Summit to mark the one year anniversary of the initiative’s launch, first announced in last year’s State of the Union address. The mission of the PMI is “(t)o enable a new era of medicine through research, technology, and policies that empower patients, researchers, and providers to work together toward development of individualized care.” The PMI primarily involves three federal agencies—the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Office of the National...

Primer on Disability Benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is responsible for administering two federal entitlement programs that provide income support to individuals with severe, long-term disabilities: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI is a social insurance program that provides monthly cash benefits to nonelderly disabled workers who paid Social Security taxes for a sufficient number of years in jobs covered by Social Security and to their eligible dependents. In contrast, SSI is a public assistance program that provides monthly cash benefits to...

President Obama Ends Economic Sanctions on Burma

President Obama ended two decades of U.S. economic sanctions on Burma on October 7, 2016, when he issued Executive Order (E.O.) 13742, “Termination of Emergency with Respect to the Actions and Policies of the Government of Burma.” E.O. 13742 ended the national emergency with respect to Burma that had been in effect since 1997, and revoked that order and five other Executive Orders that imposed, enforced, or waived economic sanctions on Burma. In addition, E.O. 13742 waived the economic sanctions authorized by Section 5(b) of the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE (Junta’s Anti-Democratic...

The High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) Grant Program: Overview

Since 1964, when Japan opened the first rail line allowing trains to travel safely at speeds greater than 150 miles per hour, several European and Asian countries have built high-speed rail lines. There have been frequent calls for the United States to develop similar high-speed rail services, but none have been built. The financial challenge of building high-speed rail lines, which requires many billions of dollars to be spent over a lengthy period before service opens and revenues begin to be collected, makes government financial support unavoidable. Governments in other countries have...

The Help America Vote Act and Election Administration: Overview and Selected Issues for the 2016 Election

The deadlocked November 2000 presidential election focused national attention on previously obscure details of election administration. Congress responded with the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA; P.L. 107-252). HAVA created the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), established a set of election administration requirements, and provided federal funding, but it did not supplant state and local control over election administration. Several issues have arisen or persisted in the years since HAVA was enacted.

Some observers have criticized the EAC for being obtrusive, slow, ineffectual,...

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Budget: Fact Sheet

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is the federal agency charged with supporting research designed to improve the quality of health care, increase the efficiency of its delivery, and broaden access to health services. In addition, AHRQ is required to disseminate its research findings to health care providers, payers, and consumers, among others. The agency collects data on health care expenditures and utilization through the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) and the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project...

Farm and Food Support Under USDA’s Section 32 Program

“Section 32” is a permanent appropriation that since 1935 has set aside the equivalent of 30% of annual customs receipts to support the farm sector through the purchase of surplus commodities and a variety of other activities. The appropriation has totaled nearly $10 billion annually in recent years. Today, most of the appropriation (about $8.4 billion) is transferred to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) child nutrition account, with a separate amount (about $144 million) transferred to the Department of Commerce for fisheries activities. The Secretary of Agriculture, acting...

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...

Trafficking in Persons in Latin America and the Caribbean

Countries in Latin America serve as source, transit, and destination countries for trafficking in persons (TIP). Victims are exploited within their own countries and trafficked to other countries in the region. Latin America is also a primary source region for people trafficked to the United States, including by transnational organized crime groups. In FY2015, Mexico was the primary country of origin for foreign trafficking victims certified as eligible to receive U.S. assistance. Recent victims identified in the United States also have originated in Brazil and Central America. Smaller...

President Waives Restrictions on Relations with Burma’s Military under Child Soldier Prevention Act of 2008

On September 28, 2016, President Obama issued Presidential Determination 2016-14 waiving for the first time the military assistance restrictions that are mandated by the Child Solider Prevention Act of 2008 (CSPA; 22 U.S.C. 2370c et seq.) with respect to Burma. Other restrictions on military assistance to Burma for FY2017 remain in effect. The accompanying memorandum of justification indicated that the waiver was in the national interest of the United States to support and strengthen Burma’s democratic transition, and that the new Burmese government is “a willing partner that will work to...

Tax Credit Bonds: Overview and Analysis

Nearly all state and local governments sell bonds to finance public projects and certain qualified private activities. The federal government subsidizes state and local bond issuances through a number of policies. One such policy is the Tax Credit Bond (TCB), which provides a tax credit or direct payment to the issuer or investor that is proportional to the bond’s face value. TCBs represent an alternative to tax-exempt bonds, which exclude interest earnings from the investor’s federal taxable income. This report explains the tax credit mechanism and describes the market for TCBs.

The...

Water Resources Development Act of 2016: Army Corps of Engineers Provisions in H.R. 5303 and S. 2848

Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) provisions typically relate directly to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) or more broadly to water resource infrastructure, such as dams and levees.

The House version of WRDA 2016 (H.R. 5303) continues the traditional focus on the Corps. The House passed H.R. 5303 on September 28, 2016.

The Senate version (S. 2848) is an omnibus water bill that addresses a variety of water issues and the activities of multiple departments and agencies. The Senate passed S. 2848 on September 15, 2016.

For a brief description of the two bills, including their...

Water Resources Development Act of 2016: H.R. 5303 and S. 2848

The House and Senate versions of the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA 2016) have different scopes. The House version of WRDA 2016 (H.R. 5303) continues the traditional focus of WRDAs on the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). The House passed H.R. 5303 on September 28, 2016. The Senate bill (S. 2848) is an omnibus water bill addressing a variety of water issues and activities of multiple federal agencies; the Senate passed S. 2848 on September 15, 2016. The provisions below illustrate the scope and potential effects of the two bills. Corps Authorizations and Funding Senate and...

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...

Military Construction: FY2017 Appropriations

Military construction for active and reserve components of the Armed Forces, military family housing construction and operations, the U.S. contribution to the NATO Security Investment Program, military base closures and realignment actions, and the military housing privatization initiative will be funded through Title I and Title IV of the FY2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The act is associated with three separate bill numbers: H.R. 4974, S. 2806, and H.R. 2577.

For FY2017, the President requested $7.44 billion in new budget authority...

Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education: FY2016 Appropriations

This report provides an overview of actions taken by Congress and the President to provide FY2016 appropriations for accounts funded by the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) appropriations bill. This bill provides funding for all accounts funded through the annual appropriations process at the Departments of Labor (DOL) and Education (ED). It provides annual appropriations for most agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with certain exceptions (e.g., the Food and Drug Administration is funded via 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...

Energy Policy: 114th Congress Issues

Energy policy in the United States has focused on three major goals: assuring a secure supply of energy, keeping energy costs low, and protecting the environment. In pursuit of those goals, government programs have been developed to improve the efficiency with which energy is utilized, to promote the domestic production of conventional energy sources, and to develop new energy sources, particularly renewable sources.

Implementing these programs has been controversial because of varying importance given to different aspects of energy policy. For some, dependence on imports of foreign...

Housing for Persons Living with HIV/AIDS

Since the beginning of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic in the early 1980s, many individuals living with the disease have had difficulty finding affordable, stable housing. In the earlier years of the epidemic, as individuals became ill, they found themselves unable to work, while at the same time facing health care expenses that left few resources to pay for housing. In more recent years, HIV and AIDS have become more prevalent among low income populations who struggled to afford housing even before being diagnosed with the disease. The financial vulnerability...

CHIP and the ACA Maintenance of Effort (MOE) Requirement: In Brief

The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a means-tested program that provides health coverage to targeted low-income children and pregnant women in families that have annual income above Medicaid eligibility levels but do not have health insurance. CHIP is jointly financed by the federal government and the states and administered by the states. The federal government sets basic requirements for CHIP, but states have the flexibility to design their own version of CHIP within the federal government’s basic framework. States may design their CHIP programs in three ways: a CHIP...

Saudi Military Campaign in Yemen Draws Congressional Attention to U.S. Arms Sales

Some lawmakers have introduced legislation seeking to condition or prohibit the sale or transfer of certain weapons and the provision of some U.S. foreign assistance to Saudi Arabia. These proposals have come amid reports of Yemeni civilian casualties resulting from Saudi-led coalition military operations in Yemen, which resumed in August 2016. Some lawmakers suggest that U.S. arms sales and military support to Saudi Arabia are enabling alleged Saudi violations of international humanitarian law. Human rights organizations seek further investigations into the alleged Saudi violations, and...

The Financial CHOICE Act

This Insight highlights some of the major policy proposals included in H.R. 5983, the Financial CHOICE Act (FCA). The FCA was ordered to be reported by the House Financial Services Committee on September 13, 2016 and is part of the House Republicans’ “A Better Way” policy agenda. The FCA encompasses a broad package of reforms to the financial regulatory system, including significant changes to the Dodd-Frank Act (DFA; P.L. 111-203). The FCA incorporates many bills that have previously received committee or floor consideration. For more on the FCA, see CRS Report R44631, The Financial...

Ex-Im Bank: No Quorum, No Problem?

The Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) is operating on a limited basis despite a renewal of its general statutory charter through FY2019 (P.L. 114-94, Division E, enacted December 4, 2015). The absence of a Board of Directors quorum constrains Ex-Im Bank’s ability to approve medium- and long-term export financing above $10 million. The Board’s status is of congressional interest because nominations to the Board are subject to Senate approval, and debate over it relates to broader issues for Congress over Ex-Im Bank (see CRS In Focus IF10017, Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im...

Department of State and Foreign Operations Appropriations: History of Legislation and Funding in Brief

Congress currently appropriates foreign affairs funding through annual Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPs) appropriations. This was not always the case, however. Prior to FY2008, Congress provided funding for the Department of State, international broadcasting, and related programs within the Commerce, Justice, State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies appropriations. In those years, Congress separately appropriated funding for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and foreign aid within the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and...

Reauthorization of the Perkins Act in the 114th Congress: Comparison of Current Law and H.R. 5587

The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins IV; P.L. 109-270) is the main federal law supporting the development of career and technical skills among students in secondary and postsecondary education. Perkins IV, the most recent reauthorization of federal law targeting career and technical education (CTE), was passed in 2006 and authorized through FY2012. The authorization was extended through FY2013 under the General Education Provisions Act, and Perkins IV has continued to receive fairly constant appropriations through FY2016.

During the 114th Congress, the...

Nanotechnology: A Policy Primer

Nanoscale science, engineering, and technology—commonly referred to collectively as “nanotechnology”—is believed by many to offer extraordinary economic and societal benefits. Congress has demonstrated continuing support for nanotechnology and has directed its attention particularly to three topics that may affect the realization of this hoped for potential: federal research and development (R&D) in nanotechnology; U.S. competitiveness in the field; and environmental, health, and safety (EHS) concerns. This report provides an overview of these topics and two others: nanomanufacturing and...

Zimbabwe: Current Issues and U.S. Policy

Zimbabwe, a southern African country of about 14 million people, gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1980 after a lengthy armed struggle against white minority rule. The armed struggle, and the enduring effects of land allocations that favored whites, have profoundly shaped post-independence politics, as have the nationalist economic policies of the ruling Zimbabwe National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), led by long-time president Robert Mugabe. Land seizures, state-centric economic policies, and persistent political turmoil under Mugabe led to a severe economic contraction...

The Financial CHOICE Act in the 114th Congress: Policy Issues

The Financial CHOICE Act (FCA; H.R. 5983), sponsored by Chairman Jeb Hensarling, was ordered to be reported by the House Committee on Financial Services on September 13, 2016. The bill is a wide-ranging proposal with 11 titles that would alter many parts of the financial regulatory system. Much of the FCA is in response to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank Act; P.L. 111-203), a broad package of regulatory reform legislation that initiated the largest change to the financial regulatory system since at least 1999. Many of the provisions of the...

FDA Regulation of Medical Devices

Prior to and since the passage of the Medical Device Amendments of 1976, Congress has debated how best to ensure that consumers have access, as quickly as possible, to new and improved medical devices and, at the same time, prevent devices that are not safe and effective from entering or remaining on the market. Medical device regulation is complex, in part, because of the wide variety of items that are categorized as medical devices; examples range from a simple tongue depressor to a life-sustaining heart valve. The regulation of medical devices can affect their cost, quality, and...

Immigration Legislation and Issues in the 114th Congress

The House and the Senate have considered immigration measures on a variety of issues in the 114th Congress. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (P.L. 114-113) extends four immigration programs through September 30, 2016: the EB-5 immigrant investor Regional Center Pilot Program, the E-Verify employment eligibility verification system, the Conrad State program for foreign medical graduates, and the special immigrant religious worker program. P.L. 114-113 also contains provisions on the Visa Waiver Program and certain nonimmigrant visa categories.

Other enacted immigration-related...

Interior Immigration Enforcement: Criminal Alien Programs

Congress has long supported efforts to identify, detain, and remove criminal aliens, defined as noncitizens who have been convicted of crimes in the United States. The apprehension and expeditious removal of criminal aliens has been a statutory priority since 1986, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and one of its predecessor agencies have operated programs targeting criminal aliens since 1988. Investments in DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) interior enforcement programs since 2004 have increased the number of potentially removable aliens identified within the...

The Endangered Species Act: A Primer

The Endangered Species Act (ESA; P.L. 93-205, 87 Stat. 884. 16 U.S.C. §§1531-1544) has a stated purpose of conserving species identified as endangered or threatened with extinction and conserving ecosystems on which these species depend. The ESA is perennially controversial because the protections provided can make it the visible policy focal point for underlying situations involving the allocation of scarce or diminishing lands or resources, especially in instances where societal values may be changing or traditional land use patterns are affected. As a result, the act often becomes...

FY2016 Appropriations: District of Columbia

On February 2, 2015, the Obama Administration released its budget request for FY2016. The Administration’s proposed budget included $474 million in special federal payments to the District of Columbia government. An additional $286 million was requested for the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) and the Public Defender Service, two federally chartered, independent agencies that work exclusively on behalf of the District criminal justice system. The combined budget requests totaled $760 million in special federal payments.

On April 2, 2015, the mayor of the District of...

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Funding: A Primer

Since the enactment of P.L. 94-142, the predecessor legislation to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), in 1975, the federal government has played a prominent role in encouraging the principle of educational equality for children with disabilities through a permanent, broad-scale federal assistance program. The IDEA is a grants statute that provides federal funding for the education of children with disabilities and requires, as a condition for the receipt of such funds, that states agree to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE; i.e., specially designed...

Leadership Succession in Uzbekistan

Background

On August 28, 2016, Uzbekistan announced its President, Islam Karimov, had been hospitalized, but officials gave few details about his condition. On September 2 after a week of conflicting reports, the government confirmed that Karimov had died and the following day a funeral was held in his hometown of Samarkand.

The 78-year-old Karimov served as Uzbekistan’s only President from the time of its independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991. Prior to his death, his deteriorating health caused observers to speculate about the insular country’s process for choosing a new...

Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty: Background and Current Developments

A ban on all nuclear tests is the oldest item on the nuclear arms control agenda. Three treaties that entered into force between 1963 and 1990 limit, but do not ban, such tests. In 1996, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which would ban all nuclear explosions. In 1997, President Clinton sent the CTBT to the Senate, which rejected it in October 1999. In a speech in Prague in April 2009, President Obama said, “My administration will immediately and aggressively pursue U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.” However,...

The Future of Internet Governance: Should the United States Relinquish Its Authority over ICANN?

Currently, the U.S. government retains limited authority over the Internet’s domain name system, primarily through the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions contract between the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). By virtue of the IANA functions contract, the NTIA exerts a legacy authority and stewardship over ICANN, and arguably has more influence over ICANN and the domain name system (DNS) than other national governments. Currently the IANA functions contract with NTIA...

Display of the Confederate Flag at Federal Cemeteries in the United States

The National Park Service (NPS), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Department of the Army all administer federal cemeteries that sometimes display the Confederate flag. There are 147 national cemeteries in the United States. Fourteen are maintained by the NPS, in the Department of the Interior. The VA, through its National Cemetery Administration (NCA), administers 131 cemeteries. The Army, in the Department of Defense (DOD), administers 2 national cemeteries. In addition, the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) operates 25 American military cemeteries in 16 foreign...

EPA’s Clean Energy Incentive Program: Background and Legal Developments

In 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP) as a voluntary complement to its regulatory program known as the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The goal of the CPP is to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing fossil-fuel-fired electric power plants, which produced 30% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2014. The CEIP would support that objective by promoting CO2 emission reductions before the CPP is scheduled to take effect in 2022.

The CEIP is a voluntary program that would encourage states to develop energy...

Tolling U.S. Highways

Toll roads have a long history in the United States going back to the early days of the republic. During the 18th century, most were local roads or bridges that could not be built or improved with local appropriations alone. During the tolling boom of the late 1940s and early 1950s, the prospect of toll revenues allowed states to build thousands of miles of limited-access highways much sooner than would have been the case with traditional funding. The imposition of tolls on existing federal-aid highways is restricted under federal law, and while new toll facilities have opened in several...

Fact Sheet: Selected Highlights of the FY2017 Military Construction Appropriations Bills

This fact sheet summarizes selected highlights of the military construction and military family housing portions of the FY2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The act is associated with three separate bill numbers: H.R. 4974, S. 2806, and H.R. 2577.

Congressional action on FY2017 military construction appropriations legislation has been heavily influenced by the statutorily mandated discretionary spending caps established by P.L. 114-74, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (BBA). A significant issue before Congress is the extent to which...

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...

Evolution of the Meaning of “Waters of the United States” in the Clean Water Act

The scope of waters that are properly the subject of federal water pollution legislation has been the subject of long-standing consideration by all three branches of the federal government, particularly in the aftermath of the 1972 amendments to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, commonly referred to as the Clean Water Act. In a shift from early water pollution legislation, those amendments eliminated the requirement that the federally regulated waters—known as jurisdictional waters—must be navigable in the traditional sense, meaning that they are capable of being used by vessels in...

Role of the National Weather Service and Selected Legislation in the 114th Congress

The mission of the National Weather Service (NWS) is to provide weather forecasts and warnings for the protection of life and property. Apart from the budget for procuring weather satellites, NWS received the most funding (about $1.1 billion) of any office or program within the FY2016 budget for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The largest fraction of the NWS budget has been devoted to local forecasts and warnings, suggesting that short-term weather prediction and warning is a high priority for NWS and for NOAA, in accord with NOAA’s statutory authority....

Trafficking in Persons and U.S. Foreign Policy Responses in the 114th Congress

Trafficking in persons, or human trafficking, refers to the subjection of men, women, and children to exploitative conditions that may be tantamount to slavery. Reports suggest that human trafficking is a global phenomenon, victimizing millions of people each year and contributing to a multi-billion dollar criminal industry. Common forms of human trafficking include trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, and debt bondage. Other forms of human trafficking include trafficking for domestic servitude and the use of children in armed conflict (e.g., child soldiers).

Human...

Overview of Funding Mechanisms in the Federal Budget Process, and Selected Examples

Every year, Congress considers numerous pieces of legislation that would create or modify federal government programs and activities. The variety of approaches used across the federal budget to fund these programs and activities involve different timelines for budgetary decisionmaking, and different processes (and committees) within Congress to make those decisions. How a particular funding mechanism is structured requires tradeoffs between the frequency of congressional review and the predictability of funding for the program. The purpose of this report is to explain these approaches,...

A New Aid Package for Israel

Overview

As the United States and Israel continue to discuss the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on U.S. assistance for the period FY2019-FY2028, Members of Congress are considering legislation that could impact the contours of such an agreement. Lawmakers in both chambers are working on foreign operations and defense appropriations bills that contain proposed increases for various types of aid to Israel. The Administration has objected to some proposed increases, perhaps out of concern that congressional action during MOU discussions might affect the U.S. negotiating...

Federal Assistance for Victims of Terrorism or Mass Violence: In Brief

Following incidents of terrorism or mass violence in the United States, jurisdictions and individuals may be eligible to receive various types of victim assistance both directly from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and indirectly from DOJ through their respective state victim assistance agencies or other programs. While circumstances in some incidents may result in a jurisdiction’s eligibility for assistance from other federal departments, such as Department of Education grants awarded to Newtown Public School District in recovery efforts from the Newtown, CT, elementary school shooting,...

Commodity Futures Trading Commission: Proposed Reauthorization in the 114th Congress

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), created in 1974, regulates futures, most options, and swaps markets. The CFTC administers the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA; P.L. 74-765, 7 U.S.C. §1 et seq) enacted in 1936 to monitor trading in certain derivatives markets. The CEA contains a sunset provision, meaning Congress periodically reauthorizes appropriations to carry out the CEA. If an explicit authorization of appropriations for a program or activity is present—as in the CEA—and it expires, the underlying authority in the statute to administer such a program does not, however. Thus,...

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...

Wildfire Management Appropriations: Data, Trends, and Issues

The Forest Service (FS, in the U.S. Department of Agriculture) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) are the two primary federal entities tasked with wildland fire management activities. Federal wildland fire management includes activities such as preparedness, suppression, fuel reduction, and site rehabilitation, among others. Approximately 10.1 million acres burned during the 2015 wildfire season, which was more than the acreage burned in 2014 (3.6 million acres) and 2013 (4.3 million acres) combined and represents the largest acreage burned since modern record-keeping began in 1960....

Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers

The Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers (TAAF) program provides technical assistance and cash benefits to producers of farm commodities and fishermen who experience adverse economic effects from increased imports. Congress first authorized this program in 2002, and made significant changes to it in the 2009 economic stimulus package (P.L. 111-5). The 2009 revisions were aimed at making it easier for farmers and fishermen to qualify for program benefits, and provided over $200 million in funding through December 2010. Subsequently, P.L. 112-40 (enacted in October 2011) authorized $202.5...

Visa Waiver Program

The terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015 and in Belgium in March 2016, which were perpetrated mainly by French and Belgian citizens, have increased focus on the potential security risks posed by the visa waiver program (VWP). The VWP allows nationals from certain countries, many of which are in Europe, to enter the United States as temporary visitors (nonimmigrants) for business or pleasure without first obtaining a visa from a U.S. consulate abroad. Temporary visitors for business or pleasure from non-VWP countries must obtain a visa from Department of State (DOS) officers at a...

Economic Development Administration: FY2016 Appropriations

The Economic Development Administration was created pursuant to the enactment of the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965, with the objective of fostering growth in economically distressed areas characterized by high levels of unemployment and low per-capita income levels. EDA, an agency within the Department of Commerce, is the primary federal agency charged with implementing and coordinating federal economic development policy.

For FY2016, the Obama Administration requested significant increases in funding for EDA activities and salaries and expenses. Under the...

Federal Benefits and Services for People with Low Income: Overview of Spending Trends, FY2008-FY2015

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) regularly receives requests about the number, size, and programmatic details of federal benefits and services targeted toward low-income populations. This report is the most recent in a series that attempts to identify and discuss such programs, focusing on aggregate spending trends. The report looks at federal low-income spending from FY2008 (at the onset of the 2007-2009 recession) through FY2015 (after implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or ACA).

Programs discussed here provide health care, cash aid, food...

Security Cooperation and the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

Introduction

Provisions in the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) have elevated ongoing debates over U.S. security sector assistance to foreign countries—and raised questions over whether the policy architecture is suited to meet current and emerging requirements. The State Department has historically served as the lead agency for overarching policy in this area, with primary security assistance authorities outlined in Title 22 (Foreign Relations) of the U.S. Code. Over time, Congress has granted the Department of Defense (DOD) new mechanisms under Title 10 (Armed Services)...

New Bureau Consolidates Transportation Finance Programs

Many proposals to create a national infrastructure bank have failed to win approval in recent sessions of Congress. A national infrastructure bank is often conceived as an independent federal agency with financing and project expertise that would provide low-cost long-term loans to infrastructure projects on flexible terms. A reorganization at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), announced on July 20, appears to achieve some of the objectives of national infrastructure bank proponents, at least with respect to transportation projects.

The reorganization, mandated in the Fixing...

U.S. Electronic Attack Aircraft

Electronic warfare (EW) has been an important component of military air operations since the earliest days of radar. The advent of the airplane enabled the United States to project power faster than land and naval forces had ever done. It also spurred the development of technologies, such as radar, that could detect and track enemy aircraft, thereby protecting military forces, infrastructure, and populations from aerial threats.

Department of Defense EW Activities

The Department of Defense (DOD) is engaged in numerous developmental EW activities. These activities include research and...

“Greening” EPA’s Water Infrastructure Programs through the Green Project Reserve

The largest sources of federal financial assistance for wastewater and drinking water infrastructure projects are the State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs of the Clean Water Act (CWA; 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.) and Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA; 42 U.S.C. 300f-300j-26). Traditionally, these programs have focused on so-called “gray” infrastructure solutions to water quality problems, that is, engineered solutions that often involve concrete and steel. Increasingly, however, the SRF programs have also embraced approaches utilizing green or soft-path practices to complement and augment hard or...

The Obama Administration’s Feed the Future Initiative

The Obama Administration’s Feed the Future (FTF) Initiative is a U.S. international development program launched in 2010 that invests in food security and agricultural development activities in a select group of developing countries in an effort to reduce hunger, malnutrition, poverty, and food insecurity. The bulk of FTF funding supports 19 “focus countries” selected based on country ownership potential, needs, and opportunities to achieve success. FTF supports additional countries under aligned and regional programs and through assistance to three “strategic partners”—Brazil, India, and...

Does Foreign Aid Work? Efforts to Evaluate U.S. Foreign Assistance

In most cases, the success or failure of U.S. foreign aid programs is not entirely clear, in part because historically, most aid programs have not been evaluated for the purpose of determining their actual impact. Many programs are not even evaluated on basic performance. The purpose and methodologies of foreign aid evaluation have varied over the decades, responding to political and fiscal circumstances. Aid evaluation practices and policies have variously focused on meeting program management needs, building institutional learning, accounting for resources, informing policymakers, and...

National Park System: Establishing New Units

The National Park System includes 412 diverse units administered by the National Park Service (NPS) in the Department of the Interior. Units generally are added to the National Park System by acts of Congress, although the President may proclaim national monuments for inclusion in the system on land that is federally managed. An act of Congress creating a National Park System unit may explain the unit’s purpose; set its boundaries; provide specific directions for land acquisition, planning, uses, and operations; and authorize appropriations for acquisition and development. Today, there are...

Burma’s Political Prisoners and U.S. Sanctions

The release of all Burma’s political prisoners is one of the fundamental goals of U.S. policy towards the nation. Several of the laws imposing sanctions on Burma—including the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003 (BFDA, P.L. 108-61) and the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE (Junta’s Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act of 2008 (JADE Act, P.L. 110-286)—require the release of all political prisoners before the sanctions contained in those laws can be terminated.

Although the outgoing President Thein Sein provided pardons or amnesty for more than 1,000 alleged political prisoners, security forces...

U.S. Crude Oil Exports to International Destinations

On December 18, 2015, Congress passed H.R. 2029—the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016—which was enacted and became P.L. 114-113. A provision contained in P.L. 114-113 repealed a 40-year prohibition, with exceptions, on the export of crude oil produced in the United States. Removing this prohibition and its associated restrictions provides producers, shippers, and traders with options to market and sell crude oil to international markets when market conditions support such transactions. Prior to the removal of the export restrictions, exceptions resulted in approximately 500,000 barrels...

Supplemental Appropriations for Zika Response: The FY2016 Conference Agreement in Brief

This report presents funding proposals for response to the Zika outbreak, including proposals in Division B of the conference report, and, where applicable, associated proposed rescissions, including those in Division D of the conference report.

The Department of the Interior’s Final Rule on Offshore Well Control

On April 29, 2016, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) released final regulations concerning blowout preventer systems and well control for oil and gas operations on the U.S. outer continental shelf (81 Fed. Reg. 25887). The regulations aim to reduce the risk of an offshore oil or gas blowout that could jeopardize human safety and harm the environment.

The regulations draw on findings about the causes of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Building on previous regulatory reforms implemented after the 2010 spill,...

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA): Overview and Recent Tax Revisions

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 (P.L. 114-13) made several changes to the tax treatment of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA, enacted in the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1980, P.L. 96-499) as it relates to REITs. REITs are corporations that issue shares of stock, are largely invested in real property, and do not generally pay corporate tax. REITs distribute and deduct most income as dividends to shareholders. U.S. individual shareholders pay tax at ordinary individual income tax rates on those dividends (rather...

DOT’s Federal Pipeline Safety Program: Background and Key Issues for Congress

The U.S. energy pipeline network is composed of over 2.9 million miles of pipeline transporting natural gas, oil, and other hazardous liquids. Recent accidents in Michigan, Arkansas, and California have drawn criticism from the National Transportation Safety Board and have raised congressional concern about pipeline risks. The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Quadrennial Energy Review also highlighted pipeline safety as an issue for the nation’s energy infrastructure. Trends in pipeline accidents suggest there continues to be opportunity for safety improvement.

The federal pipeline safety...

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...

Derivatives: Introduction and Legislation in the 114th Congress

Derivatives are financial instruments that come in several different forms, including futures, options, and swaps. A derivative is a contract that derives its value from some underlying asset at a designated point in time. The derivative may be tied to a physical commodity, a stock index, an interest rate, or some other asset.

Derivatives played a role in the 2008 financial crisis in a variety of ways. The unmonitored buildup of derivatives positions in the largely unregulated “over-the-counter” (OTC) market led many major financial institutions into large financial losses. Possibly the...

Zika Virus in Latin America and the Caribbean: U.S. Policy Considerations

Congress is debating how to respond to an ongoing outbreak of Zika virus, a mosquito-borne illness that has no treatment or vaccine and can cause microcephaly—a severe birth defect—and other neurological complications. As of June 16, 2016, 60 countries and territories had reported mosquito-borne transmission of the virus, 39 of which are in Latin America and the Caribbean and are reporting cases of Zika for the first time. Brazil, which has registered the most confirmed cases of Zika in Latin America, will host the summer Olympics in August 2016. Scientists expect that travel destinations...

P.L. 114-182: Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Amendments

On June 22, 2016, President Obama signed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (P.L. 114-182). The act primarily amends Title I of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA; 15 U.S.C. 2601-2629) but also amends other existing law with regard to the long-term management and storage of elemental mercury, the federal authority to investigate potential cancer clusters, and the eligibility of skilled nursing facilities in rural communities for telecommunications services program funding. Previously, the Executive Office of the President published a statement of...

Midnight Rules: Congressional Oversight and Options

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 observers of the federal regulatory process have documented evidence of midnight rulemaking by recent outgoing administrations, and many expect a similar trend to reoccur in the final months of the Obama Administration.

Midnight rulemaking likely occurs because the outgoing presidential administration wants to...

Financing U.S. Agricultural Exports to Cuba

In December 2014, President Obama announced a new policy approach toward Cuba that in part seeks to reduce the role of long-standing U.S. sanctions on commercial relations with Cuba while also promoting greater engagement and normal relations with the island nation. For U.S. agriculture, the most significant change to emerge from the altered U.S. policy stance toward Cuba has been a revised interpretation of the definition of “payment of cash in advance” that conditions sales of agricultural commodities to Cuba under the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (TSRA,...

Catfish Inspection and S.J.Res. 28

On May 25, 2016, the Senate passed S.J.Res. 28, which would disapprove the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) rule on catfish inspection. The rule transferred catfish inspection from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The joint resolution passed 55-43 and is now before the House for consideration. If the House passes the joint resolution, it will be sent to the President for his consideration. If the joint resolution is approved, the responsibility for catfish inspection would return to FDA. Failure to take up the Senate joint...

Proposed Boeing Aircraft Sale to Iran

The Pending Sale and Implications

A potential sale of Boeing passenger aircraft to Iran’s large state-owned airline, Iran Air, raises significant questions for Congress as it oversees implementation of the Iran nuclear agreement, including some sanctions relief. On June 21, 2016, Iran Air announced an intent to purchase 80 and lease 29 of The Boeing Company’s passenger aircraft, at an estimated total cost of about $25 billion. In February 2016, Iran Air agreed to buy 118 commercial aircraft from Airbus, Boeing’s main commercial competitor, at an estimated value of $27 billion....

Orlando Nightclub Mass Shooting: Gun Checks and Terrorist Watchlists

On June 12, 2016, an armed assailant killed 49 people and wounded over 50 others in an Orlando, FL, nightclub. After a three-hour standoff with police, the assailant was killed by police. It is unknown at this time whether any of the victims may have been killed in the crossfire between the police and the assailant during a hostage rescue operation. The deceased assailant was armed with a 5.56 caliber Sig Sauer rifle and a 9mm Glock semiautomatic pistol.

Assailant’s Gun Check

The alleged assailant, 29-year-old Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, acquired these firearms from a federally licensed gun...

Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006: An Overview

The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins IV; P.L. 109-270) is the main federal law supporting the development of career and technical skills among students in secondary and postsecondary education. Perkins IV aims to improve academic outcomes and preparedness for higher education or the labor market among students enrolled in career and technical education (CTE) programs, previously known as vocational education programs.

The federal government has a long history of supporting programs to develop students’ career and technical skills, dating back to the 19th...

Trends in Child Care Spending from the CCDF and TANF

The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) is the main source of federal funding dedicated primarily to child care subsidies for low-income working families. The term “CCDF” was coined in regulation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to encompass multiple child care funding streams, including

federal discretionary child care funds authorized by the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act,

federal mandatory child care funds authorized by Section 418 of the Social Security Act (sometimes referred to as the “Child Care Entitlement to States”),

state...

Energy Tax Policy: Issues in the 114th Congress

Current U.S. energy tax policy is a combination of long-standing provisions and relatively new incentives. Provisions supporting the oil and gas sector reflect desires for domestic energy production and energy security, long-standing cornerstones of U.S. energy policy. Incentives for renewable energy reflect the desire to have a diverse energy supply, also consistent with a desire for domestic energy security. Incentives for energy efficiency are designed to reduce use of energy from all energy sources. Incentives for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and alternative technology vehicles...

Western Drought Legislation

Several western states are experiencing severe, and in some cases exceptional, drought. Conditions in California (which has been in a drought since 2012) have been particularly severe and have garnered national attention. California’s drought has decreased from its peak levels in 2015, but the drought’s persistence and intensity have driven ongoing interest in federally managed water supplies (in particular those supplies managed by the federal Bureau of Reclamation, or Reclamation), support for state and local water projects and programs, and conservation of fish species.

Although no...

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...

GIPSA Rule Revived

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has said that it would finalize a livestock and poultry marketing rule that had originally been proposed by its Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) in June 2010 and commonly referred to as the “GIPSA rule.” In a speech to the National Farmers Union (NFU) on March 7, 2016, and as reported by Agri-Pulse, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack indicated that a rule would be proposed in late spring or early summer and finalized before the end of the Obama Administration. The GIPSA rule was proposed to implement provisions in...

Allocation of Wastewater Treatment Assistance: Formula and Other Changes

Congress established a statutory formula governing distribution of financial aid for municipal wastewater treatment in the Clean Water Act (CWA) in 1972. Since then, Congress has modified the formula and incorporated other eligibility changes five times. Federal funds are provided to states through annual appropriations according to the statutory formula to assist local governments in constructing wastewater treatment projects in compliance with federal standards. The most recent formula change, enacted in 1987, continues to apply to distribution of federal grants to capitalize state...

DOD’s Rotation to the Philippines

The United States has long maintained a significant military presence in the Pacific, with permanent garrisons and regular deployments by ground, naval, and air forces and routine exercises with their local counterparts. In 2011-2012, the Department of Defense (DOD) announced its intention to “rebalance” by focusing more of its attention and activity on Asia. One goal is to influence the development of regional norms and rules, particularly as China exerts greater influence.

On March 18, 2016, the United States and the Republic of the Philippines announced the selection of five military...

Offsets, Supplemental Appropriations, and the Disaster Relief Fund: FY1990-FY2013

This report discusses the history of the use of offsetting rescissions to pay for supplemental appropriations to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) from FY1990 through FY2013.

As Congress debated the growing size of the budget deficit and national debt, efforts intensified to control spending and offset the costs of legislation. Several times between FY1990 and FY2013, the question of offsetting disaster relief spending became a focus of congressional debate.

Usually, in the time reviewed, supplemental disaster relief funding was treated as emergency...

Status of the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa: Overview and Issues for Congress

The 2014-2015 outbreak and spread of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD, or Ebola) in West Africa became an international public health emergency that, in no small part due to international intervention, abated significantly by the end of 2015 and early 2016. The issue remains of interest toward the end of the 114th Congress for a number of reasons, including ongoing concerns about the status of disease and risks of future outbreaks, and interest in the disposition of funds appropriated by Congress in response to Ebola, especially in view of the more recent health challenge posed by the Zika virus....

Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS)

A Flood Resilience Standard for Federally Funded Projects

The Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS) is the principal mechanism for accomplishing the flood risk management policies established by President Obama in Executive Order (E.O.) 13690. E.O. 13690 aims to improve the resilience of communities and federal assets against the impacts of flooding. The FFRMS is a flood resilience standard that is required for “federally funded projects.” The October 2015 FFRMS defines federally funded projects as “actions where Federal funds are used for new construction, substantial...

The Housing Trust Fund: Background and Issues

The Housing Trust Fund (HTF) was established by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA, P.L. 110-289) to provide funds to states to use for affordable housing activities, with a focus on producing rental housing for extremely low-income households. It is administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and funded through contributions from two government-sponsored enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, rather than through appropriations. Due to concerns about Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s financial position, their contributions to the HTF were suspended...

The Federal Prison Population Buildup: Options for Congress

Since the early 1980s, there has been a historically unprecedented increase in the federal prison population. The total number of inmates under the Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) jurisdiction increased from approximately 25,000 in FY1980 to over 205,000 in FY2015. Between FY1980 and FY2013, the federal prison population increased, on average, by approximately 5,900 inmates annually. However, the number of inmates in the federal prison system has decreased from FY2013 to FY2015.

Some of the growth is attributable to changes in federal criminal justice policy during the previous three decades....

Public Health Service Agencies: Overview and Funding (FY2015-FY2017)

Within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), eight agencies are designated components of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS). The PHS agencies are funded primarily with annual discretionary appropriations. They also receive significant amounts of funding from other sources including mandatory funds from the Affordable Care Act (ACA), user fees, and third-party reimbursements (collections).

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) funds research on improving the quality and delivery of health care. For several years prior to FY2015, AHRQ did not receive its own...

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): FY2016 Appropriations

Enacted on December 18, 2015, Title II of Division G of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (P.L. 114-113; H.R. 2029) provided $8.14 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for FY2016. The act appropriated funding for the full fiscal year through September 30, 2016, for the 12 regular appropriations acts, including “Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies,” under which EPA is funded. The total FY2016 enacted appropriations of $8.14 billion for EPA was the same as enacted for FY2015 but $451.8 million (5.3%) below the President’s FY2016 request of $8.59 billion. No...

U.S. Department of the Treasury Denial of Benefit Reductions in the Central States Pension Plan

On May 6, 2016, the U.S. Department of the Treasury denied an application submitted by the Central States, Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Plan (Central States) that would have reduced benefits to about 270,000 of the nearly 400,000 participants in the plan. The total amount of benefit reductions would have been about $11.0 billion (see page 13.2.1 of Checklist 13: Equitably Distributed). The application was submitted under the authority of The Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 (MPRA enacted as Division O in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015...

Waiting in Queue: Options for Addressing the Airport Screening Line Conundrum

It has been widely reported that airport passenger screening checkpoint lines are getting longer, leading to long wait times and missed flights, although reliable wait time data are generally lacking. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is currently facing a screener staffing shortage. Screener attrition has more than doubled over the past six years, rising to about 13% in FY2015. Shortages may also be partly attributable to overestimation of enrollment in TSA’s PreCheck program, which allows travelers who have completed security checks to use expedited screening lanes....

Farm Credit System

The Farm Credit System (FCS) is a nationwide financial cooperative lending to agricultural and aquatic producers, rural homeowners, and certain agriculture-related businesses and cooperatives. Established in 1916, this government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) has a statutory mandate to serve agriculture. It receives tax benefits but no federal appropriations or guarantees. FCS is the only direct lender among the GSEs. Farmer Mac, a separate GSE but regulated under the umbrella of FCS, is a secondary market for farm loans. Federal oversight by the Farm Credit Administration (FCA) provides for...

Early Childhood Care and Education Programs: Background and Funding

The federal government has a long history of investing in early childhood care and education. As early as the 1930s, the government was supporting nursery schools for low-income children. Over time, the federal role in early childhood care and education has evolved, and today’s federal investments in this area come in many forms. For instance, such investments

Stretch across multiple federal agencies and congressional committee jurisdictions. Agencies include the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Education (ED), the Department of the Interior (DOI), the...

Federal Prison Industries: Background, Debate, Legislative History, and Policy Options

The Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (FPI), is a government-owned corporation that employs offenders incarcerated in correctional facilities under the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The FPI manufactures products and provides services that are sold to executive agencies in the federal government. The FPI was created to serve as a means for managing, training, and rehabilitating inmates in the federal prison system through employment in one of its industries.

The FPI is intended to be economically self-sustaining and it does not receive funding through congressional appropriations. In...

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...

Congressional Franking Privilege: Background and Recent Legislation

The congressional franking privilege, which dates from 1775, allows Members of Congress to transmit mail matter under their signature without postage. Congress, through legislative branch appropriations, reimburses the U.S. Postal Service for the franked mail it handles. Use of the frank is regulated by federal law, House and Senate rules, and committee regulations.

Reform efforts during the past 30 years have reduced overall franking expenditures in both election and non-election years. Even-numbered-year franking expenditures have been reduced by over 85% from $113.4 million in FY1988...

DHS Appropriations FY2016: Security, Enforcement and Investigations

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 second title of the homeland security appropriations bill—Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), and the U.S. Secret Service (USSS). Collectively, Congress has labeled these components in recent years as “Security, Enforcement, and Investigations.”

The report provides...

Older Americans Act: 2016 Reauthorization

First enacted in 1965, the Older Americans Act (OAA) was created in response to concern by policymakers about a lack of community social services for older individuals. Since then, the OAA has been reauthorized and amended numerous times. The last OAA reauthorization occurred in 2006, when the Older Americans Act Amendments of 2006 (P.L. 109-365) was enacted, which extended the act’s authorizations of appropriations through FY2011 (authorizations of appropriations for most OAA programs expired on September 30, 2011). OAA-authorized activities have continued to receive funding for FY2012...

Older Americans Act: Funding Formulas

The Older Americans Act (OAA) is the major vehicle for the delivery of social and nutrition services for older persons. The act’s statutory funding formulas determine allotments to states and other entities under the following OAA Titles: Title III, Grants for State and Community Programs; Title V, the Community Service Senior Opportunities Act; Title VI, Grants for Older Native Americans; and Title VII, Vulnerable Elder Rights Protection Activities.

Title III accounts for 71% of the act’s total FY2016 discretionary appropriations ($1.353 billion out of $1.915 billion). States receive...

Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015: Adjustments to the Budget Control Act of 2011

The Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2015 (BBA 2015; P.L. 114-74) includes a number of provisions that alter the budget parameters established by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA; P.L. 112-25). These provisions (1) increase the discretionary spending caps for FY2016 and FY2017; (2) extend automatic direct spending reductions to FY2025; (3) establish non-binding targets for spending designated for Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism (OCO/GWOT) services; (4) change limits to budget authority adjustment for certain program integrity activities from FY2017 to FY2021; and...

The Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant: Background and Funding

The Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Services Block Grant program, authorized under Title V of the Social Security Act, is a flexible source of funds that states use to support maternal and child health programs. The program provides grants to states and territories to enable them to coordinate programs, develop systems, and provide a broad range of direct health services. In addition to block grants to states, the MCH Services Block Grant includes a set-aside for Special Projects of Regional and National Significance (SPRANS), and another set-aside for the Community Integrated Service...

Department of Education Funding: Key Concepts and FAQ

Like most federal agencies, the Department of Education (ED) receives funds in support of its mission through various federal budget and appropriations processes. However, the processes by which ED receives and expends funds can be complicated. For example, ED receives both mandatory and discretionary appropriations, expends funds through formula and competitive grants, forward funds some accounts while providing appropriations at the start of the fiscal year to others, and subsidizes student loan costs (direct loans and loan guarantees).

As such, analyzing ED’s budget requires an...

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...

Reauthorization of Federal Aviation Programs: Action in the 114th Congress

On April 19, the Senate passed H.R. 636 to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), other civil aviation programs, and Airport and Airway Trust Fund (AATF) revenues through September 30, 2017. The legislation now moves to the House of Representatives, where a six-year FAA reauthorization bill, H.R. 4441, and a related bill on aviation research, H.R. 4489, were marked up and ordered reported by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, respectively, on February 11. Proposed authorization amounts and comparisons to FY2016...

Border Security: Immigration Enforcement Between Ports of Entry

Border enforcement is a core element of the Department of Homeland Security’s effort to control unauthorized migration, with the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) within the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as the lead agency along most of the border. Border enforcement has been an ongoing subject of congressional interest since the 1970s, when unauthorized immigration to the United States first registered as a serious national problem; and border security has received additional attention in the years since the terrorist attacks of 2001.

Since the 1990s, migration control at the border...

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...

Zika Virus: Global Health Considerations

Background

Zika is a virus that is primarily spread by Aedes mosquitoes—the same mosquitoes that transmit dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever. Zika transmission has also been documented from mother to child during pregnancy, as well as through sexual intercourse, blood transfusions, and laboratory exposure. Scientists first identified the virus in 1947 among monkeys living in the Ugandan Zika forest. Five years later, human cases were detected in Uganda and Tanzania. The first human cases outside of Africa were diagnosed in the Pacific in 2007 and in Latin America in 2015. From January...

Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems: Issues for Congress

The current research and future deployment of lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) is actively under discussion throughout the military, nongovernmental, and international communities. This discussion is focused, to various degrees, on the military advantage to be gained from current and future systems, the risks and potential benefits inherent in the research and deployment of autonomous weapon systems, and the ethics of their use. Restrictions, if any, in treaty and domestic law, as well as the specific rules governing procurement and use of LAWS by the military, will all rely to...

Unaccompanied Children from Central America: Foreign Policy Considerations

Since FY2011, the number of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) traveling to the United States from the “northern triangle” nations of Central America—El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—has increased sharply. U.S. authorities encountered more than 52,000 unaccompanied minors from the region at the U.S. border in FY2014, a more than 1,200% increase compared to FY2011. This unexpected surge of children strained U.S. government resources and created a complex crisis with humanitarian implications. U.S. apprehensions of unaccompanied minors from the northern triangle declined by 45% in...

The Financial Stability Oversight Council Reform Act (H.R. 3340)

The House Committee on Financial Services reported the Financial Stability Oversight Council Reform Act (H.R. 3340; H.Rept. 114-473) on March 23, 2016. Sponsored by Representative Tom Emmer, this act would (1) make the budget of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) and its permanent staff (called the Office of Financial Research, or OFR) subject to the appropriations process, (2) increase the frequency of required annual reports of the OFR, and (3) require notice and comment procedures before OFR issuance of proposed rules, proposed regulations, and research reports.

The FSOC...

The Social Security Administration (SSA): Budget Request and Appropriations

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is responsible for administering a number of federal entitlement programs that provide income support (cash benefits) to qualified individuals. These programs are Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI), commonly known as Social Security; Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for the Aged, Blind, and Disabled; and Special Benefits for Certain World War II Veterans. In FY2017, SSA’s programs are projected to pay a combined $1.0 trillion in federal benefits to 68.4 million recipients. Spending on administrative costs for these programs is...

U.S. Crude Oil Exports to International Destinations

On December 18, 2015, Congress passed H.R. 2029—the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016—which was enacted and became P.L. 114-113. A provision contained in P.L. 114-113 repealed a 40-year prohibition on the export of crude oil produced in the United States. (See CRS Report R44403, Crude Oil Exports and Related Provisions in P.L. 114-113: In Brief.) Removing this prohibition and its associated restrictions provides producers, shippers, and traders with more options to market and sell crude oil to international markets when market conditions support such transactions. Prior to removing...

Department of Labor’s 2015 Proposed Fiduciary Rule: Background and Issues

On April 20, 2015, the Department of Labor (DOL) proposed redefining the term investment advice within pension and retirement plans. Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA; P.L. 93-406), a person who provides investment advice has a fiduciary obligation, which means that the person must provide the advice in the sole interest of plan participants. Thus, redefining the term investment advice could affect who is subject to this fiduciary standard.

Regulations issued in 1975 define investment advice using a five-part test. To be held to ERISA’s fiduciary standard...

Offender Reentry: Correctional Statistics, Reintegration into the Community, and Recidivism

The number of people incarcerated in the United States grew steadily for nearly 30 years. That number has been slowly decreasing since 2008, but as of 2014 there were still over 2 million people incarcerated in prisons and jails across the country. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reports that between 1990 and 2014 an average of 594,600 inmates have been released annually from state and federal prisons and almost 5 million ex-offenders are under some form of community-based supervision.

Nearly all prisoners will return to their communities as some point. Offender reentry can include...

Tax Provisions that Expired in 2014 (“Tax Extenders”)

In the past, Congress has regularly acted to extend expired or expiring temporary tax provisions. Collectively, these temporary tax provisions are often referred to as “tax extenders.” Fifty-two temporary tax provisions expired at the end of 2014. All of these provisions were either temporarily or permanently extended as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (P.L. 114-113), signed into law on December 18, 2015. Unlike previous tax extenders legislation, P.L. 114-113 made a number of provisions permanent, and provided longer-term extensions for other provisions. This report...

Burma’s 2015 Parliamentary Elections: Issues for Congress

The landslide victory of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) in Burma’s November 2015 parliamentary elections may prove to be a major step in the nation’s potential transition to a more democratic government. Having won nearly 80% of the contested seats in the election, the NLD has a majority in both chambers of the Union Parliament, which gave it the ability to select the President-elect, as well as control of most of the nation’s Regional and State Parliaments.

Burma’s 2008 constitution, however, grants the Burmese military, or Tatmadaw, widespread powers in the...

DHS Appropriations FY2016: Research and Development, Training, and Services

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 fourth title of the homeland security appropriations bill—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), the Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), and the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO). Collectively, Congress has labeled these components in appropriations acts in recent years as “Research and Development,...

Excise Tax on High-Cost Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage: In Brief

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148, as amended) includes a 40% excise tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health coverage. This excise tax is often called the Cadillac tax. Under the ACA, the excise tax was to be implemented beginning in 2018; however, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 (P.L. 114-113) delays implementation until 2020.

The excise tax applies to the aggregate cost of an employee’s applicable coverage that exceeds a dollar limit. Applicable coverage includes, but is not limited to, the employer’s and the employee’s contribution to...

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): Funding Trends Since FY2002

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers a number of programs and activities that are primarily designed to address housing problems faced by households with very low incomes or other special housing needs. Most of the funding for HUD’s programs and activities comes from discretionary appropriations provided each year in the annual appropriations acts enacted by Congress.

HUD’s appropriations are generally made up of several components, including regular annual appropriations, which fund HUD’s regular programs and activities; emergency appropriations, which are...

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...

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...

Wartime Detention Provisions in Recent Defense Authorization Legislation

In recent years, Congress has included provisions in annual defense authorization bills addressing issues related to detainees at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and, more broadly, the disposition of persons captured in the course of hostilities against Al Qaeda and associated forces. The National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012 (2012 NDAA; P.L. 112-81) arguably constituted the most significant legislation informing wartime detention policy since the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF; P.L. 107-40), which serves as the primary legal authority for...

Veterans’ Medical Care: FY2016 Appropriations

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides benefits to veterans who meet certain eligibility criteria. Benefits to veterans range from disability compensation and pensions to hospital and medical care. The VA provides these benefits through three major operating units: the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and the National Cemetery Administration (NCA). This report focuses on funding for the VHA.

The President submitted his FY2016 budget request to Congress on February 2, 2015. The President’s request for the VHA is approximately $60.6...

The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program: Overview and Impact of the Affordable Care Act

The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program makes federal funds available to eligible metropolitan areas, states, and local community-based organizations to assist with health care costs and support services for individuals and families affected by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program reports that in 2014 it served 512,214 low-income people with HIV/AIDS in the United States, 25.4% of whom were uninsured and 64.2% of whom were living at or below 100% of the federal poverty level.

The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program is...

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

Since the final rule to implement country-of-origin labeling (COOL) took effect in March 2009, most retail food stores have been required to inform consumers about the country of origin of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, shellfish, peanuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, ginseng, and ground and muscle cuts of beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and goat. The rules were required by the 2002 farm bill (P.L. 107-171) as amended by the 2008 farm bill (P.L. 110-246). COOL for beef and pork resulted in a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement case with Canada and Mexico that started in 2009 and...

Section 202 and Other HUD Rental Housing Programs for Low-Income Elderly Residents

The population of persons age 65 and older in the United States is expected to grow both in numbers and as a percentage of the total population over the coming years, through 2030. In 2002, a bipartisan commission created by Congress issued a report, A Quiet Crisis in America, that detailed the need for affordable assisted housing and supportive services for elderly persons and the shortage the country will likely face as the population ages. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) operates a number of programs that provide assisted housing and supportive services for...

ESEA Title I-A Formulas: In Brief

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was comprehensively reauthorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA; P.L. 114-95) on December 10, 2015. The Title I-A program is the largest grant program authorized under the ESEA and is funded at $14.9 billion for FY2016. It is designed to provide supplementary educational and related services to low-achieving and other students attending pre-kindergarten through grade 12 schools with relatively high concentrations of students from low-income families. Under current law, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) determines Title I-A...

Senators’ Official Personnel and Office Expense Account (SOPOEA): History and Usage

The Senators’ Official Personnel and Office Expense Account (SOPOEA) is available to assist Senators in their official duties. The allowance is provided on a fiscal year basis (i.e., October 1-September 30). Funding is provided in the annual legislative branch appropriations bills.

Senators have a high degree of flexibility to use the SOPOEA to operate their offices in a way that supports their congressional duties and responsibilities, and individual office spending may be as varied as the states from which the Senators are elected.

This appropriations account has decreased in recent...

Department of Veterans Affairs FY2016 Appropriations: In Brief

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides benefits to veterans who meet certain eligibility criteria. Benefits range from disability compensation and pensions to hospital and medical care. The VA provides these benefits through three major operating units: the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and the National Cemetery Administration (NCA).

The President submitted his FY2016 budget request to Congress on February 2, 2015. The President requested $164.6 billion for VA. This amount includes $70.1 billion for VA discretionary programs...

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...

FY2016 Agriculture and Related Agencies Appropriations: In Brief

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

Agriculture appropriations include both mandatory and discretionary spending. Discretionary amounts, though, are the primary focus during the bill’s development since mandatory amounts generally are set by authorizing laws such as the farm bill.

The largest discretionary spending items are the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women,...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2016 Appropriations

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

Agriculture appropriations include both mandatory and discretionary spending. Discretionary amounts, though, are the primary focus during the bill’s development since mandatory amounts generally are set by authorizing laws such as the farm bill.

The largest discretionary spending items are the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women,...

Crude Oil Exports and Related Provisions in P.L. 114-113: In Brief

On December 18, 2015, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (H.R. 2029), which was signed by the President and became P.L. 114-113. Included in P.L. 114-113 is a provision that repeals Section 103 of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA; P.L. 94-163), which directs the President to promulgate a rule prohibiting crude oil exports. For nearly four decades, repeal of EPCA was generally not a policy issue since oil production was declining and imports were rising. However, increasing U.S. light oil production starting in the 2010/2011 timeframe, projected...

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2016

President Obama’s budget request for FY2016 included $145.694 billion for research and development (R&D), an increase of $7.625 billion (5.5%) over the estimated FY2015 R&D funding level of $138.069 billion. The request represented the President’s R&D priorities.

Funding for R&D is concentrated in a few departments and agencies. Under President Obama’s FY2016 budget request, seven federal agencies would have received 95.6% of total federal R&D funding, with the Department of Defense (DOD, 49.5%) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS, 21.3%) accounting for more than 70% of...

Forest Service Appropriations: Five-Year Data and Trends and FY2017 Budget Request

The Forest Service (FS) is responsible for managing 193 million acres of the National Forest System, as well as for conducting forestry research and providing assistance to state, local, private, and international forest owners. Funding to complete such work is provided through both discretionary and mandatory appropriations.

For FY2016, the FS received $7.065 billion in discretionary and mandatory appropriations. This figure includes funding provided under a $700 million emergency supplemental appropriation for wildfire suppression activities from FY2015. The FY2016 discretionary...

IAEA Budget and U.S. Contributions: In Brief

The United States, along with European Union and the P5+1 partners and Iran, agreed on July 14, 2015 to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that is intended to end decades of economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program. The accord designates the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to monitor and verify Iranian compliance with the JCPOA and report on these activities regularly. With this in mind, the second session of the 114th Congress may be interested in the funding of the IAEA.

The IAEA is an autonomous intergovernmental...

Department of Housing and Urban Development: FY2016 Appropriations

Most of the funding for the activities of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) comes from discretionary appropriations provided each year in the annual appropriations acts, typically as a part of the Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies appropriations bill (THUD). HUD’s programs are primarily designed to address housing problems faced by households with very low incomes or other special housing needs.

Following enactment of a series of continuing resolutions, on December 18, 2015, President Obama signed the FY2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act into law (P.L....

Department of Health and Human Services: FY2017 Budget Request

This report provides information about the FY2017 budget request for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It begins by reviewing the department’s mission and structure. This is followed by an overview of the total FY2017 request for the department. Next, the report discusses the concept of the HHS budget as a whole, compared to funding provided to HHS through the annual appropriations process. This distinction is important because certain amounts shown in FY2017 HHS budget materials (including amounts for prior years) will not match amounts provided to HHS by annual...

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...

SAMHSA FY2017 Budget Request and Funding History: A Fact Sheet

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is the lead federal agency for increasing access to behavioral health services. SAMHSA supports community-based mental health and substance abuse treatment and prevention services through formula grants to the states and U.S. territories and through competitive grant programs to states, territories, tribal organizations, local communities, and private entities. SAMHSA also engages in a range of other activities, such as technical assistance, data collection,...

Heritage Areas: Background, Proposals, and Current Issues

Over more than 30 years, Congress has established 49 national heritage areas (NHAs) to commemorate, conserve, and promote areas that include important natural, scenic, historic, cultural, and recreational resources. NHAs are partnerships among the National Park Service (NPS), states, and local communities, in which the NPS supports state and local conservation through federal recognition, seed money, and technical assistance. NHAs are not part of the National Park System, in which lands are federally owned and managed. Rather, lands within heritage areas typically remain in state, local,...

Brazil: Background and U.S. Relations

The United States traditionally has enjoyed robust economic and political relations with Brazil, which is the fifth most populous country and ninth-largest economy in the world. Brazil is recognized by the Obama Administration as a “major global player” and an “indispensable partner” on issues ranging from international development to climate change. Administration officials have often highlighted Brazil’s status as a multicultural democracy, referring to the country as a natural partner that shares values and goals with the United States. Bilateral ties have been strained from time to...

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: FY2016 Appropriations

Since 2005, the Energy and Water Development (E&W) appropriations bill has funded all Department of Energy (DOE) programs, including those operated by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). That office conducts two types of programs: research and development (R&D), usually conducted in partnership with private sector firms, and grant funds that are distributed to state governments. EERE administers a wide range of R&D programs, each with its own set of goals and objectives.

President Obama has declared energy efficiency and renewable energy to be a high priority,...

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...

National Forest System Management: Overview, Appropriations, and Issues for Congress

The 193 million acres of the National Forest System (NFS) comprise 154 national forests, 20 national grasslands, and several other federal land designations. Management of the NFS is one of the three principal responsibilities of the Forest Service (FS), an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The other two principal responsibilities are providing assistance to nonfederal forest owners and conducting forestry research. Most NFS lands are concentrated in the western United States, although the Forest Service administers more federal land in the East than all other...

FY2016 Appropriations for the Department of Justice (DOJ)

The mission of the Department of Justice (DOJ) is to “enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.” DOJ carries out its mission through the activities of agencies and bureaus such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the U.S. Marshals Service; the...

Dietary Guidelines for Americans: Frequently Asked Questions

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) is a policy document that provides federally developed, nutrition-based recommendations for Americans two years of age and older. The guidelines are statutorily mandated under the 1990 National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act (P.L. 101-445), which requires the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture (USDA) to jointly publish the DGA policy document at least once every five years.

The DGA forms the basis for all federal nutrition policies, including the National School Lunch Program and the Special Supplemental...

Legislative Branch: FY2016 Appropriations

The legislative branch appropriations bill provides funding for the Senate; House of Representatives; Joint Items; Capitol Police; Office of Compliance; Congressional Budget Office (CBO); Architect of the Capitol (AOC); Library of Congress (LOC), including the Congressional Research Service (CRS); Government Publishing Office (GPO); Government Accountability Office (GAO); the Open World Leadership Center; and the John C. Stennis Center.

The legislative branch FY2016 budget request of $4.528 billion was submitted on February 2, 2015. By law, the President includes the legislative branch...

Overview of FY2016 Appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS)

This report tracks and describes actions taken by the Administration and Congress to provide FY2016 appropriations for the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) accounts. It also provides an overview of FY2015 appropriations for agencies and bureaus funded as part of the annual appropriation for CJS.

The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (P.L. 113-235) provided a total of $61.753 billion for the agencies and bureaus funded by the annual CJS appropriations act, including $8.467 billion for the Department of Commerce, $27.030 billion for the...

Body Armor for Law Enforcement Officers: In Brief

Firearms are one of the leading causes of deaths for law enforcement officers feloniously killed in the line of duty. Since FY1999, Congress has provided funding to state and local law enforcement agencies to help them purchase armor vests for their officers. The Matching Grant Program for Law Enforcement Armor Vests (hereinafter, “BPV program”) provides grants to state, local, and tribal governments to purchase armor vests for use by law enforcement officers and court officers. The BPV program was first authorized by the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-181). It...

Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program: In Brief

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program was created by the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-162), which collapsed both the Edward Byrne Memorial Formula (Byrne Formula) Grant and the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant (LLEBG) into a single program. This report provides a brief overview of JAG and its funding.

JAG funds are awarded to state and local governments based on a statutorily defined formula. Each state’s allocation is based on its proportion of the country’s population and the state’s proportion of the...

Federal Pell Grant Program of the Higher Education Act: How the Program Works and Recent Legislative Changes

The federal Pell Grant program, authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA; P.L. 89-329), is the single largest source of federal grant aid supporting postsecondary education students. The program provided approximately $31 billion to approximately 8.2 million undergraduate students in FY2015. For FY2015, the total maximum Pell Grant was funded at $5,775. The program is funded primarily through annual discretionary appropriations, although in recent years mandatory appropriations have played a smaller yet increasing role in the program. The statutory...

Benefit Reductions in the Central States Multiemployer DB Pension Plan: Frequently Asked Questions

Under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (MPRA), enacted as Division O in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (P.L. 113-235) on December 16, 2014, certain multiemployer defined benefit (DB) pension plans that are projected to become insolvent and therefore have insufficient funds from which to pay benefits may apply to the U.S. Department of the Treasury to reduce participants’ benefits. The benefit reductions can apply to both retirees who are currently receiving benefits from a plan and current workers who have earned the right to future benefits.

On...

FY2016 Extension of the Higher Education Act: An Overview

The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA; P.L. 89-329), authorizes the operation of numerous federal aid programs that provide support both to individuals pursuing a postsecondary education and to institutions of higher education (IHEs). It also authorizes certain activities and functions. The HEA was first enacted in 1965. It has since been amended and extended numerous times, and it has been comprehensively reauthorized eight times. The most recent comprehensive reauthorization occurred in 2008 under the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA; P.L. 110-315), which authorized...

Energy and Water Development: FY2016 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) civil works projects, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), and the Department of Energy (DOE), as well as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and several other independent agencies. DOE typically accounts for about 80% of the bill’s total funding.

President Obama’s FY2016 budget request was released February 2, 2015. Including adjustments, the request for Energy and Water Development agencies totaled $36.04 billion, compared with a total of $34.78...

Trends in the Timing and Size of DHS Appropriations: In Brief

(TO BE SUPPRESSED) Department of Homeland Security DHS budget Appropriations FY2016, FY2015 funding analysis

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2016 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for most of the Department of the Interior (DOI) and for agencies within other departments—including the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service within the Department of Health and Human Services. It also provides funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), arts and cultural agencies, and numerous other entities.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (P.L. 114-113), provided $32.23 billion for FY2016 for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies....

Comparing DHS Appropriations by Component, FY2016: Fact Sheet

Generally, the homeland security appropriations bill includes all annual appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), providing resources to every departmental component. Table 1 and Figure 1 show DHS’s new discretionary budget authority enacted for FY2015 and requested by the Administration for FY2016, as well as the House and Senate committee-reported responses, broken down by component—from largest to smallest appropriations request.

(TO BE SUPPRESSED) Department of Homeland Security DHS budget Appropriations FY2016, FY2015 funding analysis

Treasury Department Appropriations, FY2016

At its most basic level of organization, the Treasury Department is a collection of departmental offices and operating bureaus. The bureaus as a whole account for 95% of Treasury’s budget and workforce. Most bureaus and offices are funded through annual appropriations.

Treasury appropriations were distributed among 10 accounts in FY2015: (1) Departmental Offices (DO), (2) Departmentwide Systems and Capital Investments Program (DSCIP), (3) Office of Inspector General (OIG), (4) Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), (5) Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset...

Recently Expired Charitable Tax Provisions (“Tax Extenders”): In Brief

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, enacted as Division Q in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (P.L. 114-113), made permanent several temporary charitable tax provisions. Previously, these charitable tax provisions had been a part of the “tax extenders.” Most recently before P.L. 114-113, “tax extenders” were extended in The Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-295). Under P.L. 113-295, provisions that had expired at the end of 2013 were extended, for one year, through 2014. This report briefly summarizes the temporary charitable tax provisions that were...

Continuing Resolutions: Overview of Components and Recent Practices

Congress uses an annual appropriations process to fund the routine activities of most federal agencies. This process anticipates the completion of 12 regular appropriations bills to fund these activities before the beginning of the fiscal year. Over the past half century, the timing of congressional action on regular appropriations bills has varied considerably, but enactment after the start of the fiscal year has been a recurring issue. Until regular appropriations for a fiscal year are enacted, one or more continuing appropriations acts (commonly known as continuing resolutions or CRs)...

FY2016 Appropriations: Selected Federal Food Safety Agencies

The Subcommittees on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees oversee the budgets of two principal federal food safety agencies at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). FDA, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, is responsible for ensuring the safety of the majority of all domestic and imported food products (except for meat and poultry products). FSIS, an agency at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, regulates most meat,...

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...

The Federal Perkins Loan Program Extension Act of 2015: In Brief

Prior to December 18, 2015, the Federal Perkins Loan program authorized the allocation of federal funds to institutions of higher education to assist them in capitalizing revolving loan funds for the purpose of making low-interest loans to students with exceptional financial need.

The authorization of appropriations for federal capital contributions to institutions’ revolving loan funds and the authority to make Perkins Loans to new students expired on September 30, 2015. For approximately two and one-half months thereafter, the operation of the Perkins Loan program was curtailed and...

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...

The Indian Health Service (IHS): An Overview

The IHS provides an array of medical services, including inpatient, ambulatory, emergency, dental, public health nursing, and preventive health care. The IHS does not have a defined medical benefit package that includes or excludes specific health services or health conditions. The majority of IHS facilities provide outpatient care, focusing on primary and preventive care including preventive screenings and health education. IHS provides services directly when possible; when needed services are not available, IHS beneficiaries may be referred to private providers for care. This is called...

U.S. International Family Planning Programs: Issues for Congress

For the past several decades, U.S. policymakers have debated the most appropriate and effective funding levels for U.S. international family planning programs. In the mid-1980s, controversy arose over U.S. family planning assistance when the Ronald Reagan Administration introduced restrictions that became known as the “Mexico City policy.” The Mexico City policy required foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to certify that they would not perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning—even if the activities were undertaken with non-U.S. funds. Presidents Reagan...

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 Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016: Effects on Budgetary Trends

This report discusses recent changes to the federal budget outlook and the effects of these amendments on recent budgetary trends using the CBO and JCT cost estimates for the legislation, the CBO budget forecast released in August 2015, and OMB historical data.

Juvenile Justice Funding Trends

Although juvenile justice has always been administered by the states, Congress has had significant influence in the area through funding for grant programs administered by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) of 1974, P.L. 93-415, was the first comprehensive juvenile justice legislation passed by Congress. Since 1974, the act has undergone several key amendments, including a significant reorganization enacted by P.L. 107-273 in 2002. The juvenile justice appropriation...

Selected Recently Expired Business Tax Provisions (“Tax Extenders”)

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 (P.L. 114-113), signed into law on December 18, 2015, made permanent, extended through 2019, or extended through 2016 some tax provisions that had expired at the end of 2014. Previous legislation had extended these provisions for a year (or in some cases two years) at a time. Several bills had been considered in the 114th Congress to make some provisions permanent, including the R&E tax credit (H.R. 880), expensing of investments (H.R. 636, S. 1399), and treatment of built-in gains for Subchapter S corporations (H.R. 636). The Senate Finance...

Judiciary Appropriations FY2016

Funds for the judicial branch are included annually in the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Appropriations bill. The bill provides funding for the Supreme Court; the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit; the U.S. Court of International Trade; the U.S. Courts of Appeals and District Courts; Defender Services; Court Security; Fees of Jurors and Commissioners; the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts; the Federal Judicial Center; the U.S. Sentencing Commission; and Judicial Retirement Funds.

The judiciary’s FY2016 budget request of $7.533 billion was submitted on...

USDA’s “GIPSA Rule” on Livestock and Poultry Marketing Practices

The 2008 farm bill (P.L. 110-246) included new provisions that amended the Packers and Stockyards Act (P&S Act) to give poultry and swine growers the right to cancel contracts, to require that poultry processors clearly disclose to growers additional required capital investments, to set the choice of law and venue in contract disputes, and to give poultry and swine growers the right to decline an arbitration clause that requires arbitration to resolve contract disputes. The farm bill required USDA to propose rules to implement these provisions.

On June 22, 2010, the U.S. Department of...

U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: Recent Trends and FY2016 Appropriations

Geographic proximity has forged strong linkages between the United States and the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, with critical U.S. interests encompassing economic, political, and security concerns. U.S. policymakers have emphasized different strategic interests in the region at different times, from combating Soviet influence during the Cold War to advancing democracy and open markets since the 1990s. Current U.S. policy is designed to promote economic and social opportunity, ensure the safety of the region’s citizens, strengthen effective democratic institutions, and secure...

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

This report tracks and describes actions taken by the Administration and Congress to provide FY2016 appropriations for the International Trade Administration (ITA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), and the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). These three trade-related agencies are part of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations process. The report also provides an overview of three trade-related programs that are administered by ITA, USITC, and USTR.

The Consolidated and Further...

Minding the Data Gap: NOAA’s Polar-Orbiting Weather Satellites and Strategies for Data Continuity

Concerns have been raised in Congress about the possibility of a “data gap” in the polar-orbiting weather satellite coverage. A near-term data gap could occur if the currently operating polar-orbiting weather satellite, the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi-NPP), fails before its successor, the first Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS-1), is launched and operational sometime in 2017. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has reported that a polar-orbiting weather satellite data gap would result in less accurate and timely weather forecasts and warnings of extreme...

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2016 Budget and Appropriations

On February 2, 2015, the Obama Administration submitted to Congress its budget request for FY2016. The request for State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) totals $54.08 billion, or a 4% increase from FY2015-estimated levels. Within that amount

$47.04 billion is requested for enduring or core funding and $7.05 billion is designated as Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding, excluding add-ons and rescissions;

$17.55 billion of the total request is for State Department Operations and related agencies (10.6% increase over FY2015 estimates);

$36.53 billion is for Foreign...

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...

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF): FY2016 Appropriations

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is the lead federal law enforcement agency charged with administering and enforcing federal laws related to firearms and explosives commerce. ATF is also responsible for investigating arson cases with a federal nexus, and criminal cases involving the diversion of alcohol and tobacco from legal channels of commerce. Congress funds the ATF through an annual appropriation in the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS), and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, because it is a component of the Department of Justice (DOJ). For FY2016,...

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...

Energy and Water Development: FY2016 Appropriations for Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Stewardship

The annual Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of Energy (DOE), and several independent agencies.

The DOE budget includes funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a separately organized agency within DOE. NNSA operates three programs: Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, which secures nuclear materials worldwide, conducts R&D into nonproliferation and verification, and operates the Nuclear Counterterrorism and...

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...

Genetically Engineered Salmon

On November 19, 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved AquaBounty Technologies’ application to produce AquAdvantage Salmon, a genetically engineered (GE) Atlantic salmon, for human consumption. This is the first GE animal that has been approved for human consumption in the United States. FDA also has proposed voluntary guidelines for using labels that indicate whether food products are derived from GE salmon.

Genetic engineering techniques are used by scientists to insert genetic material from one organism into the genome of another organism. Genetically engineered salmon...

Immigration: Noncitizen Eligibility for Needs-Based Housing Programs

The issue of noncitizen eligibility for federally funded programs, including needs-based housing programs, is a perennial issue in Congress. Noncitizen eligibility varies among the needs-based housing programs administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), such as Public Housing, Section 8 vouchers and project-based rental assistance, homeless assistance programs, housing for the elderly (§202) and the disabled (§811), the HOME program, and the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) program. Two laws govern noncitizen eligibility for housing programs: Title...

Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act: Highlights of the Every Student Succeeds Act

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was last comprehensively amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB; P.L. 107-110). Appropriations for most programs authorized by the ESEA were authorized through FY2007. As Congress has not reauthorized the ESEA, appropriations for ESEA programs are currently not explicitly authorized. However, because the programs continue to receive annual appropriations, appropriations are considered implicitly authorized.

Congress has actively considered reauthorization of the ESEA during the 114th Congress, passing comprehensive ESEA...

The National Nanotechnology Initiative: Overview, Reauthorization, and Appropriations Issues

Nanotechnology—a term encompassing the science, engineering, and applications of submicron materials—involves the harnessing of unique physical, chemical, and biological properties of nanoscale substances in fundamentally new and useful ways. The economic and societal promise of nanotechnology has led to investments by governments and companies around the world. In 2000, the United States launched the world’s first national nanotechnology program. From FY2001 through FY2015, the federal government invested approximately $20.9 billion in nanoscale science, engineering, and technology...

Multilateral Development Banks: How the United States Makes and Implements Policy

This report analyzes how the United States makes policy towards the multilateral development banks (MDBs) and identifies ways by which Congress can shape U.S. policy and influence the activities of the banks themselves.

The executive branch and Congress share responsibility for U.S. policy towards the MDBs and each has primary control over a different part of the policy process. The Administration is responsible for negotiating with other countries and for managing day-to-day U.S. participation in the MDBs. Congress has ultimate authority over the level of U.S. financial commitments and...

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE): Authorizations of Appropriations Proposed by the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 (S. 2012)

Search terms: S. 2012, H.R. 8, energy efficiency, renewable energy, Department of Energy, EISA, P.L. 110-140 (Hide summary)

Congressional Action on FY2016 Appropriations Measures

This report provides information on the congressional consideration of the FY2016 regular appropriations bills and the FY2016 continuing resolution (CR). It also discusses the statutory and procedural budget enforcement framework for FY2016 appropriations. It will address the congressional consideration of FY2016 supplemental appropriations if any such consideration occurs.

For all types of appropriations measures, discretionary spending budget enforcement under the congressional budget process has two primary sources. The first is the discretionary spending limits that are derived from...

The U.S. Tsunami Program: A Brief Overview

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Weather Service (NWS) manages two tsunami warning centers that monitor, detect, and issue warnings for tsunamis. The NWS operates the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) at Ford Island, Hawaii, and the National Tsunami Warning Center (NTWC) at Palmer, Alaska.

The tsunami warning centers monitor and evaluate data from seismic networks and determine if a tsunami is likely based on the location, magnitude, and depth of an earthquake. The centers monitor relevant water-level data, typically with tide-level gauges, and...

Reauthorization of the Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) Act in the 114th Congress

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA's) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) collected livestock and meat price and related market information from meat packers on a voluntary basis under the authority of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 (7 U.S.C. §1621 et seq.). However, as the livestock industry became increasingly concentrated in the 1990s, fewer animals were sold through negotiated (cash; or “spot”) purchases and more frequently sold under alternative marketing arrangements that were not publicly disclosed under voluntary reporting. Some livestock producers, believing such...

Policy Issues Related to Credit Union Lending

Credit unions make loans to their members, to other credit unions, and to corporate credit unions that provide financial services to individual credit unions. There are statutory restrictions on their business lending activities, which the credit union industry has long advocated should be lifted. Specific restrictions on business lending include an aggregate limit on an individual credit union’s member business loan balances and on the amount that can be loaned to one member. Industry spokespersons have argued that easing the restrictions on member business lending could increase the...

Department of Transportation (DOT): FY2016 Appropriations

On February 2, 2015, the Obama Administration proposed a $93.7 billion budget for the Department of Transportation (DOT) for FY2016. That is about $22 billion (31%) more than was provided in FY2015. The budget request for DOT reflected the Administration’s call for significant increases in funding for highway, transit, and rail programs. Neither the surface transportation reauthorization legislation (H.R. 22) that the House and Senate are currently negotiating nor the DOT appropriations bill as passed by the House or reported out by the Senate Committee on Appropriations (H.R. 2577) would...

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD): FY2016 Appropriations

The House and Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) appropriations subcommittees are charged with providing annual appropriations for the Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and related agencies. THUD programs receive both discretionary and mandatory budget authority; HUD’s budget generally accounts for the largest share of discretionary appropriations in the THUD bill, but when mandatory funding is taken into account, DOT’s budget is larger than HUD’s budget. Mandatory funding typically accounts...

School Construction and Renovation: A Review of Federal Programs

By some measures, the United States spent over $50 billion on new construction, additions, and alterations in public elementary and secondary schools and public and private postsecondary institutions in 2012. Although state and local governments are traditionally responsible for the majority of facilities in public K-12 schools and postsecondary institutions, the federal government also provides some direct and indirect support for school infrastructure. Facilities at private institutions are funded primarily by donations, tuition, private foundations, endowments, and governments. The...

U.S. Grain Standards Act: Reauthorization in the 114th Congress

Under the United States Grain Standards Act (USGSA) of 1916, the federal government is authorized to establish official marketing standards (not health and safety standards) for grains and oilseeds, and to provide procedures for grain inspection and weighing. To encourage the marketing of high-quality grain for an agriculture sector that is highly dependent on export demand, the USGSA requires that exported grains and oilseeds be officially inspected (if sold by grade) and weighed. Domestic shipments do not require official inspection and weighing, but the service is available and is often...

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and the One-Stop Delivery System

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA; P.L. 113-128), which succeeded the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-220) as the primary federal workforce development legislation, was enacted in July 2014 to bring about increased coordination among federal workforce development and related programs. Most of WIOA’s provisions went into effect July 1, 2015. WIOA authorizes appropriations for each of FY2015 through FY2020 to carry out the programs and activities authorized in the legislation.

Workforce development programs provide a combination of education and training services...

U.S. Foreign Assistance to the Middle East: Historical Background, Recent Trends, and the FY2016 Request

This report is an overview of U.S. foreign assistance to the Middle East and North Africa. It includes a review of the President’s FY2016 request for the region, a description of selected country programs, and an analysis of current foreign aid issues. We anticipate updating it annually.

Since 1946, the United States has provided an estimated total of between $282 billion to $292 billion (obligations in current dollars) in foreign assistance to the region. For FY2016, overall non-humanitarian bilateral aid requested for Middle East and North Africa countries amounts to $7.14 billion, or...

Public Health Service Agencies: Overview and Funding (FY2010-FY2016)

Within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), eight agencies are designated components of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS). The PHS agencies are funded primarily with annual discretionary appropriations. They also receive significant amounts of funding from other sources including mandatory funds from the Affordable Care Act (ACA), user fees, and third-party reimbursements (collections).

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) funds research on improving the quality and delivery of health care. For several years prior to FY2015, AHRQ did not receive a direct...

Meat Animal Research Center: The Animal Welfare Act and Farm Animal Research

On January 19, 2015, the New York Times (NYT) published an exposé of research activities at the Roman L. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal Research Center located near Clay Center, Nebraska. The Center is a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) facility overseen by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS). A veterinarian, who had worked at the Center for 24 years, approached the newspaper after his concerns about animal welfare conditions apparently went unanswered by the Center. The news article described “unsanitary housing and brutal treatment of pigs; violent forced mating between bulls and...

Impact Aid, Title VIII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act: A Primer

The Impact Aid program, administered by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and authorized by Title VIII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is one of the oldest federal education programs, dating from 1950. Impact Aid compensates local educational agencies (LEAs) for “substantial and continuing financial burden” resulting from federal activities. These activities include federal ownership of certain lands, as well as the enrollments in LEAs of children whose parents work or live on federal land and children living on Indian lands. The federal government provides...

Advance Appropriations, Forward Funding, and Advance Funding: Concepts, Practice, and Budget Process Considerations

Federal programs that are funded through the annual appropriations process in regular appropriations acts may typically obligate those funds during a period that starts at the beginning of that fiscal year. For certain programs, however, the period of availability for some or all of their funds may be delayed until after the start of the fiscal year or even until a future fiscal year. Three types of delayed periods of availability are discussed in this report: “advance appropriations,” “forward funding,” and “advance funding.”

Advance appropriations become available for obligation one or...

Allocation of Funds Under Title I-A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act: Formula Changes Under S. 1177 and H.R. 5

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was last comprehensively reauthorized by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB; P.L. 107-110). During the 114th Congress, the House Education and the Workforce Committee reported the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), which would provide for a comprehensive reauthorization of the ESEA. The bill was subsequently passed on the House floor on July 7, 2015. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee reported the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (ECAA; S. 1177), which was subsequently passed on the Senate floor on July...

Integrated Mortgage Disclosure Forms and H.R. 3192 and S. 1484/S. 1910: In Brief

On November 20, 2013, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) Final Rule that would require mortgage lenders to use more easily understood and streamlined mortgage disclosure forms. The Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) have long required lenders to provide consumers disclosures about the estimated and actual real estate settlement costs and financial terms of the mortgages they offer. These disclosures are intended to help consumers compare the terms and make informed decisions...

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 Lord’s Resistance Army: The U.S. Response

The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), led by Joseph Kony, is a small, dispersed armed group active in remote areas of Central Africa. The LRA’s infliction of widespread human suffering and its potential threat to regional stability have drawn significant attention in recent years, including in Congress. Campaigns by U.S.-based advocacy groups have contributed to policymakers’ interest.

Since 2008, the United States has provided support to Ugandan-led military operations to capture or kill LRA commanders, which since 2012 have been integrated into an African Union (AU) “Regional Task Force”...

The FY2016 Continuing Resolution (H.R. 719)

This report discusses a resolution which would provide temporary funding to continue federal government operations through the beginning of the fiscal year, until annual appropriations acts could be enacted.

The Amending Process in the Senate

A bill is subject to amendment as soon as the Senate begins to consider it. Committee amendments are considered first; then Senators can offer amendments to any part of the bill, generally, in any order. Senators may debate each amendment without limit unless the Senate (1) agrees to a motion to table (kill) the amendment, (2) agrees to a unanimous consent request to limit debate on the amendment, or (3) invokes cloture, limiting debate on the amendment or on the bill and all amendments to it.

There are several different types of amendments. A first-degree amendment proposes to change the...

The Amending Process in the House of Representatives

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov 98-995 Summary Most amendments that Representatives propose to legislation on the House floor are offered in the Committee of the Whole. Measures considered under suspension of the rules are not subject to floor amendments, and few amendments are proposed to bills and resolutions considered in the House or in the House as in Committee of the Whole. The House’s procedures recognize distinctions between first- and second-degree amendments, between perfecting and substitute amendments, and among amendments in the forms of motions to strike, to...

The FY2014 Government Shutdown: Economic Effects

The federal government experienced a funding gap beginning on October 1, 2013, which ended when the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014 (P.L. 113-46) was signed into law on October 17, 2013. This funding gap resulted in a “government shutdown” and the furlough of federal employees who were not excepted. The Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014 also temporarily suspended the statutory debt limit through February 7, 2014. This report discusses the effects of the FY2014 government shutdown on the economy.

The government shutdown had both direct and indirect effects on economic growth. It...

An Analysis of Efforts to Double Federal Funding for Physical Sciences and Engineering Research

Federal funding of physical sciences and engineering (PS&E) research has played a substantial role in U.S. economic growth and job creation by creating the underlying knowledge that supports technological innovation. Some Members of Congress and leaders in industry and academia have expressed concern that recent public investments in these disciplines have been inadequate in light of the emergence of new global competitors and the science and technology-focused investments of other nations. A 2005 National Academies report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America...

The National Science Foundation: Background and Selected Policy Issues

The National Science Foundation (NSF) supports both basic research and education in the non-medical sciences and engineering. Congress established the foundation in 1950 and directed it to “promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense; and for other purposes.” The NSF is a major source of federal support for U.S. university research, especially in certain fields such as mathematics and computer science. It is also responsible for significant shares of the federal science, technology, engineering, and mathematics...

Across-the-Board Rescissions in Appropriations Acts: Overview and Recent Practices

As the annual appropriations process draws to a close each fiscal year, Congress and the President must often come to an agreement not only on the level of funding for individual items or accounts but also with regard to the total amount of discretionary budget authority that will be provided for that fiscal year. If that agreed-upon amount requires a reduction in budget authority and sufficient reductions are not associated with individual programs, an alternative method to reduce that amount is an “across-the-board rescission.”

A rescission is a provision of law that cancels budget...

Recent Developments in the Job Corps Program: Frequently Asked Questions

The Job Corps program is a job training and academic program for youth ages 16 to 24 who are low-income and have a barrier to employment, such as having dropped out of high school. It is administered by the Employment and Training Administration’s (ETA’s) Office of Job Corps in the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Job Corps seeks to provide disadvantaged youth with the skills needed to obtain and hold jobs, enter the Armed Forces, or enroll in advanced training or higher education. The program was established under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 (P.L. 88-452), and was most recently...

Senate Committee Hearings: The “Minority Witness Rule”

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov RS22649 Summary When a Senate committee other than the Appropriations Committee holds a hearing, the minority party members of the panel have the right to call witnesses of their choosing to testify during at least one day of that hearing. Paragraph 4(d) of Senate Rule XXVI—known as the “minority witness rule”—states: Whenever any hearing is conducted by a committee (except the Committee on Appropriations) upon any measure or matter, the minority on the committee shall be entitled, upon request made by a majority of the minority members to...

Proxy Voting and Polling in Senate Committee

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov RS22952 Summary In an effort to operate efficiently despite the competing scheduling demands placed on its members, all Senate standing committees permit “proxy voting” in some instances, and many of them permit certain questions to be “polled.” Proxy voting is a practice whereby an absent Senator authorizes a second, present Senator to cast a vote in addition to his or her own during a committee markup meeting. When polling, a committee or subcommittee asks its members to approve questions relating to legislation or internal committee...

The National Science Foundation: FY2016 Budget Request and Funding History

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R44170 Summary The National Science Foundation (NSF) supports both basic research and education in the non-medical sciences and engineering. Congress established the foundation in 1950 and directed it to “promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense; and for other purposes.” The NSF is a major source of federal support for U.S. university research, especially in certain fields such as mathematics and computer science. It is also responsible for significant shares of...

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...

District of Columbia: A Brief Review of Provisions in District of Columbia Appropriations Acts Restricting the Funding of Abortion Services

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R41772 Summary The public funding of abortion services for District of Columbia residents is a perennial issue debated by Congress during its annual deliberations on District of Columbia appropriations. District officials have cited the prohibition on the use of District funds as another example of congressional intrusion into local matters. Since 1979, with the passage of the District of Columbia Appropriations Act of 1980, P.L. 96-93 (93 Stat. 719), Congress has placed some limitation or prohibition on the use of public (federal or...

The International Labor Organization (ILO): Background in Brief

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R44165 Summary This report is intended as a primer on the International Labor Organization (ILO). The ILO was founded in 1919 under the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I, and became the first independent agency of the United Nations in 1946. It is a tripartite organization composed of member governments, labor, and employer representatives. The United States helped found the ILO and contributes more to the ILO regular budget (22%) than any other country. The ILO and its activities are of ongoing interest to Congress, particularly...

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...

Financial Regulatory Improvement Act Included in Senate Appropriations Bill

This report highlights some of the major policy proposals included in S. 1484, as reported by the Senate Banking Committee on June 2, 2015. The text of the bill was among the financial regulatory changes included in the FY2016 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act (S. 1910). S. 1484 encompasses a broad package of reforms to the financial regulatory system, including some changes to the Dodd-Frank Act (P.L. 111-203).

House Rules and Precedents Affecting Committee Markup Procedures

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov 97-1045 Summary Markup procedures in standing committees of the House of Representatives generally conform to guidelines the House follows when it conducts business on the floor under a set of procedures known as consideration by the “House as in Committee of the Whole.” Consideration by the “House as in Committee of the Whole” is not the same as the more common practice of the House “resolving itself into Committee of the Whole House” but is, instead, a more rarely used set of procedures that combines elements of both procedures used in...

General Debate in Committee of the Whole

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov RS20200 Summary The House considers most important bills (and resolutions) on the floor by resolving into the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union. This is a committee on which all Representatives serve and which meets on the House floor. The House acts on a measure by resolving into Committee of the Whole (as it usually is called) first to debate the bill as a whole and subsequently to debate and vote on any amendments to the bill. At the end of this process, the committee “rises” and reports the bill back to the House...

Automatic Continuing Resolutions: Background and Overview of Recent Proposals

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R41948 Summary Currently, 12 regular appropriations acts fund the activities of most federal government agencies. When these acts are not completed prior to the beginning of the fiscal year, Congress uses a continuing appropriations act, also known as a “continuing resolution” (CR), to provide interim funding until the annual appropriations process is complete. Some Members of Congress have proposed legislation to establish an automatic continuing resolution (ACR) mechanism that would ensure a source of funding for discretionary spending...

California Drought: Hydrological and Regulatory Water Supply Issues

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R40979 Summary California is in its fourth year of drought. As of late July 2015, 47% of California was experiencing exceptional drought—the most severe U.S. federal drought classification—and approximately 71% of the state was experiencing extreme drought. The 2014 water year (October 2013 through September 2014) was the third driest on record. Water users that receive water supplies from the state of California and federal water projects are experiencing unprecedented water supply shortages due to the drought. Severe water supply...

Lobbying Congress with Appropriated Funds: Restrictions on Federal Agencies and Officials

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R44154 Summary Congress, under its authority to direct and control the use and expenditure of the funds that it appropriates from the U.S. Treasury, has enacted several specific and express limitations on the expenditure of federal appropriations. Some of these restrictions and prohibitions apply specifically to using federal appropriations for what is generally called “lobbying” of the Congress (or in some cases other government officials). Although these restrictions exist in both federal statutory laws as well as in yearly appropriations...

Trafficking in Persons: International Dimensions and Foreign Policy Issues for Congress

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R42497 Summary Trafficking in persons, or human trafficking, refers to the subjection of men, women, and children to exploitative conditions that can be tantamount to slavery. Reports suggest that human trafficking is a global phenomenon, victimizing millions of people each year and contributing to a multi-billion dollar criminal industry. It is a centuries-old problem that, despite international and U.S. efforts to eliminate it, continues to occur in virtually every country in the world. Human trafficking is also an international and...

Guinea: In Brief

Guinea is one of three countries most affected by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which has affected the country’s economy, social relations, food security, and politics. A former French colony on West Africa’s Atlantic coast with a population of about 11 million, Guinea is rich in natural resources, but poverty is widespread. President Alpha Condé, a former opposition leader, was voted into office in 2010 in Guinea’s first ever presidential election organized by an independent electoral commission and without an incumbent candidate. His inauguration brought an end to a turbulent period...

Background and Issues for Congressional Oversight of ARRA Broadband Awards

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, P.L. 111-5) provided an unprecedented level of federal funding for broadband projects across the nation. These projects are intended to expand broadband availability and adoption in unserved and underserved areas, which in turn is believed to contribute to increased future economic development in those areas.

The ARRA provided nearly $7 billion for broadband grant and loan programs to be administered by two separate agencies: the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the Department of Commerce (DOC) and the...

Appropriations Report Language: Overview of Development, Components, and Issues for Congress

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R44124 Summary In general, congressional reports may accompany appropriations measures as part of either the committee stage or the resolving differences stage of the legislative process. Although this language is not considered binding in the same manner as language in the statute, the congressional understanding of an appropriations measure is closely related to its development. There are appropriations-specific components and practices related to report language that have been developed by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees...

Older Americans Act: Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

Quality of care in long-term care settings has been, and continues to be, a concern for federal policymakers. The Long-Term Care (LTC) Ombudsman Program is a consumer advocacy program that aims to improve the quality of care, as well as the quality of life, for residents in LTC settings by investigating and resolving complaints made by, or on behalf of, such residents. Established under Title VII of the Older Americans Act (OAA), the Administration on Aging (AoA) within the Administration for Community Living in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) administers the nationwide...

War Funding and the Budget Control Act: In Brief

In the FY2016 debate on the level of defense spending, Congress is considering how to stay within the spending limits, or caps, set by the Budget Control Act (BCA). Under the BCA, all defense spending for the defense base budget—excluding amounts designated for “Overseas Contingency Operations” (OCO) or emergencies—is subject to annual BCA caps.

For funds to be counted as OCO funding that is essentially exempt from BCA caps, Congress must first designate funds in law on an account-by-account basis, and the President must subsequently do the same. The OCO designation therefore requires a...

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID): Background, Operations, and Issues

This report provides background information on the institutional makeup and operations of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the leading international humanitarian and development arm of the U.S. government. The report then discusses in greater depth several aspects of the agency that might be of particular congressional interest.

In FY2015, USAID is responsible for more than $20 billion in appropriations, representing more than one-third of the International Affairs 150 budget function and more than half of total foreign assistance encompassed by the State, Foreign...

Takings Decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court: A Chronology

This report is a reverse chronological listing of U.S. Supreme Court decisions addressing claims that a government entity has “taken” private property, as that term is used in the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. The Takings Clause states: “[N]or shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” A scattering of related, substantive due process decisions is also included.

Under the Takings Clause, courts allow two distinct types of suit. Condemnation (also “formal condemnation”) occurs when a government or private entity formally invokes its power of eminent...

U.S. Command and Control and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Aircraft

The fleet of manned aircraft accomplishing the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) Command and Control (C2) and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions for the joint military community (E-8, E-3, RC-135, WC-135, OC-135, and E-6) is primarily based on Boeing 707 aircraft procured from the 1960s to the early 1990s. As the age of these legacy C2ISR aircraft increases, understanding the Air Force and Navy modernization and recapitalization plans is likely important for Congress. This report examines the Air Force’s and Navy’s current sustainment, modernization, and...

Juvenile Justice: Legislative History and Current Legislative Issues

Juvenile justice in the United States has predominantly been the province of the states and their localities. The first juvenile court in America was founded in 1899 in Cook County, Illinois, and, by 1925, all but two states had established juvenile court systems. The mission of these early juvenile courts was to rehabilitate young delinquents instead of just punishing them for their crimes; in practice, this led to marked procedural and substantive differences between the adult and juvenile court systems in the states, including a focus on the offenders and not the offenses, and...

Hydraulic Fracturing and Safe Drinking Water Act Regulatory Issues

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R41760 Summary Hydraulic fracturing is a technique developed initially to stimulate oil production from wells in declining oil reservoirs. With technological advances, hydraulic fracturing is now widely used to initiate oil and gas production in unconventional (low-permeability) oil and gas formations that were previously uneconomical to produce. Nationwide, this process is now used in more than 90% of new oil and gas wells and in many existing wells to stimulate production. Hydraulic fracturing is done after a well is drilled and involves...

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...

The Tibetan Policy Act of 2002: Background and Implementation

The Tibetan Policy Act of 2002 (TPA) is a core legislative measure guiding U.S. policy toward Tibet. Its stated purpose is “to support the aspirations of the Tibetan people to safeguard their distinct identity.” Among other provisions, the TPA establishes in statute the State Department position of Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues and defines the Special Coordinator’s “central objective” as being “to promote substantive dialogue” between the government of the People’s Republic of China and Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, or his representatives. The Special...

Hydropower: Federal and Nonfederal Investment

Congress continues to look at various fuel contributions to the electricity market and federal involvement with these fuel sources. Hydropower, the use of flowing water to produce electricity, is one such contribution. Conventional hydropower accounted for approximately 6% of total U.S. net electricity generation in 2014.

Hydropower has advantages and disadvantages as an energy source. Its advantages include its ability to be a continuous, or baseload, power source that releases minimal air pollutants during power generation relative to fossil fuels. Some of its disadvantages, depending...

District of Columbia: Issues in the 114th Congress

In the coming weeks and months the 114th Congress will debate a number of funding, governance, and constitutional issues affecting the District of Columbia, including budget and legislative autonomy, voting representation in the national legislature, federal appropriations, and congressionally supported education initiatives. In addition, Congress may consider measures intended to void or otherwise modify acts and initiatives approved by District citizens and their elected representatives. The mechanisms available to Congress in carrying out its oversight of District affairs include...

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Budget for FY2016

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) conducts scientific research in areas such as ecosystems, climate, global climate change, weather, and oceans; supplies information and data on the oceans and atmosphere; and manages coastal and marine organisms and environments. In 1970, Reorganization Plan No. 4 created NOAA in the Department of Commerce. Reorganization Plan No. 4 brought together environmental agencies from within the Department of Commerce, such as the National Weather Service, and from other departments and agencies, such as the Department of the Interior’s...

Prospects for Democracy in Hong Kong: The 2017 Election Reforms (Update)

The United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 (P.L. 102-383) declares that, “Support for democratization is a fundamental principle of U.S. foreign policy. As such, it naturally applies to United States policy toward Hong Kong.” China’s law establishing the Hong Kong Special Administration Region (HKSAR), commonly referred to as the “Basic Law,” declares that “the ultimate aim” is the selection of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive (CE) and Legislative Council (Legco) by universal suffrage. The year 2015 may be a pivotal year for making progress toward the objectives of both of these laws. It...

Comparison of Post-9/11 GI Bill® and Pell Grant Administration

This report compares and contrasts the administration of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 (Post-9/11 GI Bill®)—enacted as Title V of the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008 (P.L. 110-252)—and Federal Pell Grants, as authorized by Title IV-A-1 of the Higher Education Act (HEA). The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides educational assistance payments to eligible servicemembers and veterans, and their dependents. One of its primary objectives is readjustment of veterans to civilian life and the workforce. The federal Pell Grant program provides grant aid payments to eligible...

Medigap: A Primer

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R42745 Summary Medicare is a nationwide health insurance program for individuals aged 65 and over and certain disabled individuals. The basic Medicare benefit package (termed “original Medicare” in this report) provides broad protection against the costs of many health care services. However, Medicare beneficiaries may still have significant additional costs, including co-payments, coinsurance, deductibles, and the full cost of services that are not covered by Medicare. To decrease their potential financial liability, some Medicare...

ARPA-E and the FY2016 Budget Request

The Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy, or ARPA-E, was established within the Department of Energy to “overcome the long-term and high-risk technological barriers in the development of energy technologies” (P.L. 110-69, §5012). Patterned after the widely lauded Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)—which played a key role in the development of critical technologies such as satellite navigation and the Internet—ARPA-E has supported more than 400 energy technology research projects since Congress first funded it in FY2009.

This budget and appropriations tracking report...

DOE’s Office of Science and the FY2016 Budget Request

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science conducts basic research in six overarching program areas: advanced scientific computing research, basic energy sciences, biological and environmental research, fusion energy sciences, high-energy physics, and nuclear physics. Through primarily these programs, the Department of Energy was the third-largest federal funder of basic research and the largest federal funder of research in the physical sciences in FY2014.

This budget and appropriations tracking report describes selected major items from the Administration’s FY2016 budget request for...

Fact Sheet: Selected Highlights of the FY2016 Defense Appropriations Bills (H.R. 2685 and S. 1558)

This fact sheet summarizes selected highlights of the version of the FY2016 Defense Appropriations Bill passed by the House on June 11, 2015 (H.R. 2685) and the version reported by the Senate Appropriations Committee the same day (S. 1558).

Intelligence Authorization Legislation for FY2016: Selected Provisions

This report briefly highlights key provisions of H.R. 2596, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (IAA for FY2016), which provides guidance to, and authorizes appropriations for, components of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC).

Train and Equip Program for Syria: Authorities, Funding, and Issues for Congress

In 2014, Congress for the first time provided the President with authority and funds to overtly train and lethally equip vetted members of the Syrian opposition for select purposes. These purposes include supporting U.S. efforts to combat the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations in Syria and setting the conditions for a negotiated settlement to Syria’s civil war. The FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, P.L. 113-291) and the FY2015 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (P.L. 113-235) provided that up to $500 million could be transferred from...

Ending Cash Flow Financing to Egypt: Issues for Congress

On March 31, 2015, after a phone call between President Obama and Egyptian President Abdelfattah al Sisi, the White House announced that beginning in FY2018, the United States would stop providing cash flow financing (CFF) to Egypt. Cash flow financing is the financial mechanism that enables foreign governments to pay for U.S. defense equipment in partial installments over time rather than all at once; successive Administrations have authorized CFF for Egypt since 1979.

In recent years, as public scrutiny of U.S. military aid to Egypt has increased, some observers have criticized the...

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...

The Violence Against Women Act: Overview, Legislation, and Federal Funding

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been of ongoing interest to Congress since its enactment in 1994 (P.L. 103-322). The original act was intended to change attitudes toward domestic violence, foster awareness of domestic violence, improve services and provisions for victims, and revise the manner in which the criminal justice system responds to domestic violence and sex crimes. The legislation created new programs within the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Health and Human Services (HHS) that aimed to reduce domestic violence and improve response to and recovery from domestic...

Earmark Disclosure Rules in the House: Member and Committee Requirements

Earmark disclosure rules in both the House and Senate establish certain administrative responsibilities that vary by chamber. Under House rules, a Member requesting that an earmark be included in legislation is responsible for providing specific written information, such as the purpose and recipient of the earmark, to the committee of jurisdiction. Further, House committees are responsible for compiling, presenting, and maintaining such requests in accord with House rules. In the House, disclosure rules apply to any congressional earmark, limited tax benefit, or limited tariff benefit...

Earmark Disclosure Rules in the Senate: Member and Committee Requirements

Earmark disclosure rules in both the House and the Senate establish certain administrative responsibilities that vary by chamber. Under Senate rules, a Senator requesting that an earmark be included in legislation is responsible for providing specific written information, such as the purpose and recipient of the earmark, to the committee of jurisdiction. Further, Senate committees are responsible for compiling and presenting such information in accord with Senate rules. In the Senate, disclosure rules apply to any congressional earmark, limited tax benefit, or limited tariff benefit...

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Functions and Funding

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), performs multiple functions including the adjudication of immigration and naturalization petitions, consideration of refugee and asylum claims and related humanitarian and international concerns, and a range of immigration-related services, such as issuing employment authorizations and processing nonimmigrant change-of-status petitions. Processing immigrant petitions remains USCIS’s leading function. In FY2014, it handled roughly 6 million petitions for immigration-related...

Deployable Federal Assets Supporting Domestic Disaster Response Operations: Summary and Considerations for Congress

For most disasters across the nation, the affected local, state, or tribal governments have sufficient capabilities to respond to the incident. However, for disasters with consequences that require unique capabilities or that overwhelm the existing capabilities of a respective state or tribal government, Congress has authorized and appropriated a suite of deployable federal assets to support domestic disaster response operations. This report reviews several key concepts about these federal assets, and highlights possible issues Congress may consider when evaluating their authorization and...

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies: FY2015 Appropriations

The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies appropriations bill provides funding for the planning, design, construction, alteration, and improvement of facilities used by active and reserve military components worldwide. It capitalizes military family housing and the U.S. share of the NATO Security Investment Program and finances the implementation of installation closures and realignments. It underwrites veterans benefit and health care programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), provides for the creation and maintenance of U.S. cemeteries and...

Carbon Capture and Sequestration: Research, Development, and Demonstration at the U.S. Department of Energy

Carbon capture and sequestration (or storage)—known as CCS—is a physical process that involves capturing manmade carbon dioxide (CO2) at its source and storing it before its release to the atmosphere. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has pursued research and development (R&D) of aspects of the three main steps leading to an integrated CCS system since 1997. Congress has appropriated nearly $7 billion in total since FY2008 for CCS research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) at DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy: nearly $3.5 billion in total annual appropriations (including FY2015) and...

FY2016 Military Construction Appropriations: President's Request and House Markup Compared

This report briefly discusses the financing of military construction. Military construction is normally funded through Title I of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies appropriations bill and provides funding for the planning, design, construction, alteration, and improvement of facilities used by active and reserve military components worldwide.

State Children’s Health Insurance Program: An Overview

The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a means-tested program that provides health coverage to targeted low-income children and pregnant women in families that have annual income above Medicaid eligibility levels but have no health insurance. CHIP is jointly financed by the federal government and states, and the states are responsible for administering CHIP. In FY2013, CHIP enrollment totaled 8.4 million individuals and CHIP expenditures totaled $13.2 billion.

Under the CHIP program, the federal government sets basic requirements for CHIP, but states have the flexibility...

Older Americans Act: FY2015 Appropriations Overview

The Older Americans Act (OAA) is the major federal vehicle for the delivery of social and nutrition services for individuals aged 60 and older. These include supportive services, congregate nutrition services (i.e., meals served at group sites such as senior centers, schools, churches, or senior housing complexes), home-delivered nutrition services, family caregiver support, community service employment, the long-term care ombudsman program, and services to prevent the abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older persons. The OAA also supports grants to older Native Americans and research,...

The National Institutes of Health (NIH): Background and Congressional Issues

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the focal point for federal health research. An agency of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), it uses its $30 billion budget to support more than 300,000 scientists and research personnel working at over 2,500 institutions across the United States and abroad, as well as to conduct biomedical and behavioral research and research training at its own facilities. The agency consists of the Office of the Director, in charge of overall policy and program coordination, and 27 institutes and centers, each of which focuses on particular...

Locate an Agency or Program Within Appropriations Bills

This report provides an alphabetical listing of federal agencies and programs, and it is an aid to identify the major source of their appropriated funding. A listing of House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees is provided. Finding an agency.

IMF Reforms: Issues for Congress

In December 2010, the Board of Governors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF, the Fund), the institution’s highest governing body, agreed to a reform package that addresses two major concerns about the institution: (1) that the size of the IMF’s resources has not kept pace with increased economic activity in the global economy; and (2) that the representation of emerging and developing economies at the IMF does not reflect their growing importance in the global economy. Key parts of the reform package cannot go into effect until a number of IMF countries formally approve the reforms....

Ballistic Missile Defense in the Asia-Pacific Region: Cooperation and Opposition

The growing number and modernization of ballistic missiles in the Asia-Pacific region poses a security challenge for the United States and its allies and is thus a concern for many in Congress. The United States has made ballistic missile defense (BMD) a central component of protection for forward-deployed U.S. forces and extended deterrence for allied security. The configuration of sensors, command-and-control centers, and BMD assets in the region has slowly evolved with contributions from treaty allies, primarily Japan, Australia, and South Korea.

Observers believe that North Korea has...

SAMHSA FY2016 Budget Request and Funding History: A Fact Sheet

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is the lead federal agency for increasing access to behavioral health services. SAMHSA supports community-based mental health and substance abuse treatment and prevention services through formula grants to the states and U.S. territories and through competitive grant programs to states, territories, tribal organizations, local communities, and private entities. SAMHSA also engages in a range of other activities, such as technical assistance, data collection,...

Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education: FY2015 Appropriations

This report provides an overview of actions taken by Congress and the President to provide FY2015 appropriations for accounts funded by the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED) appropriations bill. This bill provides funding for all accounts subject to the annual appropriations process at the Departments of Labor (DOL) and Education (ED). It provides annual appropriations for most agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with certain exceptions (e.g., the Food and Drug Administration is funded via the...

Reaching the Debt Limit: Background and Potential Effects on Government Operations

The gross federal debt, which represents the federal government’s total outstanding debt, consists of (1) debt held by the public and (2) debt held in government accounts, also known as intragovernmental debt. Federal government borrowing increases for two primary reasons: (1) budget deficits and (2) investments of any federal government account surpluses in Treasury securities, as required by law. Nearly all of this debt is subject to the statutory limit.

Treasury has yet to face a situation in which it was unable to pay its obligations as a result of reaching the debt limit. In the...

Status of the Federal Perkins Loan Program: Frequently Asked Questions

The Federal Perkins Loan program authorizes the allocation of federal funds to institutions of higher education to assist them in capitalizing revolving loan funds for the purpose of making low-interest loans to students with exceptional financial need. Institutions participating in the program are required to provide matching funds equal to one-third of the federal funds they receive. Authorization of appropriations for the Perkins Loan program is due to expire at the end of FY2015, and the future operation of the program is uncertain. This report answers several frequently asked...

Export-Import Bank: Overview and Reauthorization Issues

The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank or the Bank), a wholly owned U.S. government corporation, is the official export credit agency (ECA) of the United States. Its mission is to assist in the financing of U.S. exports of goods and services to support U.S. employment. The FY2015 continuing resolution (§147 of P.L. 113-164) extends its general statutory charter (Export-Import Bank Act of 1945, as amended, 12 U.S.C. §635 et seq.) through June 30, 2015. The 114th Congress may debate whether to renew Ex-Im Bank’s authority; if so, for how long and under what terms; and if...

The Budget Control Act of 2011: Legislative Changes to the Law and Their Budgetary Effects

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R43411 Summary Following a lengthy debate over raising the debt limit, the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA; P.L. 112-25) was signed into law by President Obama on August 2, 2011. In addition to including a mechanism to increase the debt limit, the BCA contained provisions intended to reduce the budget deficit through spending limits and reductions. The savings in the BCA are achieved mainly through two mechanisms: (1) statutory discretionary spending caps covering 10 years that came into effect in 2012 and (2) a requirement for an...

Department of State and Foreign Operations Appropriations: A Fact Sheet on Legislation, FY1995-FY2015

Congress currently appropriates foreign affairs funding through annual Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations. Prior to FY2008, however, Congress provided funds for the Department of State and international broadcasting within the Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies appropriations (CJS) and separately provided foreign aid funds within Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs appropriations. The transition between the different alignments occurred in the 109th Congress with a change in appropriations...

FY2015 Funding to Counter Ebola and the Islamic State (IS)

In 2014, two major global threats—the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the Islamic State (IS) in the Middle East—caused serious concern within the Obama Administration and among Members of Congress. In November 2014, the President requested a total of $11.7 billion for responding to the Ebola crisis and combatting the Islamic State.

On November 5, 2014, the President requested $6.18 billion in FY2015 emergency appropriations for Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of State and international assistance programs, and DOD to address the Ebola crisis domestically and overseas. The...

Mandatory Spending Since 1962

Federal spending is divided into three broad categories: discretionary spending, mandatory spending, and net interest. Mandatory spending is composed of budget outlays controlled by laws other than appropriation acts, including federal spending on entitlement programs. Entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare make up the bulk of mandatory spending. Other mandatory spending programs include Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), unemployment insurance, some veterans’ benefits, federal employee retirement and disability, and...

Increased Campaign Contribution Limits in the FY2015 Omnibus Appropriations Law: Frequently Asked Questions

This report provides brief answers to frequently asked questions about increased campaign contribution limits in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (H.R. 83; P.L. 113-235), enacted and signed into law in December 2014. The relevant language increases certain contribution limits to national political party committees. This language changes the amounts the two major parties may solicit and collect.

Most notably, three units within each of the national Democratic and Republican parties could be affected. These include a headquarters committee (e.g., the...

Homeland Security Appropriations: FY2015 Action in the 114th Congress

This report provides a brief outline of the FY2015 annual appropriations measure for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its enactment by the 114th Congress. It serves as a complement to CRS Report R43796, Department of Homeland Security: FY2015 Appropriations.

The Administration requested $38.3 billion in adjusted net discretionary budget authority for DHS for FY2015. In the 113th Congress, the House Appropriations Committee reported an annual appropriations measure (H.R. 4903) that would have provided $39.2 billion in adjusted net discretionary budget authority, and the Senate...

Issues in the Reauthorization of Amtrak

Amtrak is the nation’s primary provider of intercity passenger rail service. It was created by Congress in 1970 to preserve some level of intercity passenger rail service while enabling private rail companies to exit the money-losing passenger rail business. It is a quasi-governmental entity, a corporation whose stock is almost entirely owned by the federal government. It runs a deficit each year. Congressional appropriations cover about half its total loss, and represent essentially all of its funding for capital maintenance and improvements.

Amtrak can be divided into three parts. There...

Community Development Block Grants: Funding Issues in the 113th Congress

On March 4, 2014, the Obama Administration released its FY2015 budget request, which included $2.870 billion for activities under the Community Development Fund (CDF) administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), including $2.8 billion for formula grants. On June 5, 2014, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported S. 2438, its version of the Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Bill for FY2015 (THUD), which recommended $3.090 billion for activities funded under the Community Development Fund...

Veterans’ Medical Care: FY2015 Appropriations

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides benefits to veterans who meet certain eligibility criteria. Benefits to veterans range from disability compensation and pensions to hospital and medical care. The VA provides these benefits through three major operating units: the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and the National Cemetery Administration (NCA). This report focuses on funding for the VHA. The VHA is primarily a direct service provider of primary care, specialized care, and related medical and social support services to veterans...

Paraprofessional Quality and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act: Background and Issues in Brief

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) established minimum qualifications for paraprofessionals (also known as instructional aides) employed in Title I, Part A-funded schools. NCLB required that paraprofessionals must complete two years of college, obtain an associate’s degree, or demonstrate content knowledge and an ability to assist in classroom instruction. Prior to the NCLB, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) required only that paraprofessionals possess a high school diploma.

These requirements, as enacted through NCLB, apply to all paraprofessionals...

Commemorative Works in the District of Columbia: Background and Practice

In 1783, the Continental Congress authorized the first memorial in American history, an equestrian statue to honor George Washington that was to be constructed by the “best artist” in Europe. Since that time, Congress has authorized more than 100 commemorative works in the District of Columbia. Even with multiple authorized works, however, no specific process existed for the creation of commemorative works for almost two centuries. While Congress has long been responsible for authorizing memorials on federal land, the process for approving site locations, memorial design plans, and funding...

Congressional Action on FY2015 Appropriations Measures

The congressional appropriations process, which provides discretionary spending for federal government agencies, assumes the annual enactment of 12 regular appropriations bills prior to the beginning of the fiscal year (October 1). One or more continuing resolutions (CRs) may be enacted if all regular appropriations bills are not completed by that time. This report provides information on the budget enforcement framework for the consideration of FY2015 appropriations measures, the status of the FY2015 regular appropriations bills as of the beginning of the fiscal year, and the enactment of...

Internet Domain Names: Background and Policy Issues

Navigating the Internet requires using addresses and corresponding names that identify the location of individual computers. The Domain Name System (DNS) is the distributed set of databases residing in computers around the world that contain address numbers mapped to corresponding domain names, making it possible to send and receive messages and to access information from computers anywhere on the Internet. Many of the technical, operational, and management decisions regarding the DNS can have significant impacts on Internet-related policy issues such as intellectual property, privacy,...

The Federal Budget: Overview and Issues for FY2016 and Beyond

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R43933 Summary The federal budget is central to Congress’s ability to exercise its “power of the purse.” Each fiscal year Congress and the President undertake a variety of steps intended to set levels of spending and revenue and to make policy decisions. The purpose of this report is to provide an overview and background on the current budget debate. This report will track legislative events related to the federal budget and will be updated as budgetary legislation moves through Congress. In recent years, policies enacted to restrain...

Regular Appropriations Bills: Terms of Initial Consideration and Amendment in the House, FY1996-FY2015

Each year, Congress considers appropriations measures that provide funding for various federal government activities. Such measures are commonly referred to as “regular” appropriations bills. In recent years, the House has typically considered a regular appropriations bill after first reaching agreement on the procedural terms of its consideration, most frequently through the adoption of a special rule or occasionally through a unanimous consent agreement (UCA). Rarely have regular appropriations bills been considered as privileged business.

This report examines the terms under which the...

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): FY2015 Appropriations

Enacted on December 16, 2014, Title II of Division F of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (P.L. 113-235; H.R. 83) provided $8.14 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for FY2015. The act appropriated funding for the full fiscal year through September 30, 2015, for 11 of the 12 regular appropriations acts, including “Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies,” under which EPA is funded. Total discretionary appropriations available in FY2015 for all federal departments and agencies were based on a cap of $1.014 trillion set in the Bipartisan...

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...

Water Resource Issues in the 114th Congress

The 114th Congress faces many water resource development, management, and protection issues. Congressional actions shape reinvestment in aging federal infrastructure (e.g., dams, locks, and levees) and federal and nonfederal investment in new infrastructure, such as water supply augmentation, hydropower projects, navigation improvements, and efforts to restore aquatic ecosystems. These issues often arise at the regional or local levels but frequently have a federal connection. Ongoing issues include competition over water, drought and flood responses and policies, competitiveness and...

Yemen: Background and U.S. Relations

This report provides an overview and analysis of U.S.-Yemeni relations amidst evolving political change in Yemeni leadership, ongoing U.S. counterterrorism operations against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operatives in Yemen’s hinterlands, and international efforts to bolster the country’s stability despite an array of daunting socio-economic problems. Along with determining how best to counter terrorist threats emanating from Yemen, Congress and U.S. policy makers also may consider the priority level and resources that should be accorded to attempts to stabilize Yemen and to...

Department of Housing and Urban Development: FY2015 Appropriations

In FY2015, the Department of Housing and Urban Development was funded as part of the FY2015 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (P.L. 113-235), enacted on December 16, 2014, following funding through three short-term continuing resolutions. The bill provides $45.4 billion in gross discretionary appropriations, not accounting for savings from offsets and other sources, about $90 million less than in FY2014 ($45.5 billion). However, net budget authority is higher than in FY2014, approximately $35.6 billion in FY2015 compared to $32.8 billion in FY2014. Net budget authority...

The Global Climate Change Initiative (GCCI): Budget Authority and Request, FY2010-FY2016

The United States supports international financial assistance for global climate change initiatives in developing countries. Under the Obama Administration, this assistance has been articulated primarily as the Global Climate Change Initiative (GCCI), a platform within the President’s 2010 Policy Directive on Global Development. The GCCI aims to integrate climate change considerations into U.S. foreign assistance through a range of bilateral, multilateral, and private sector mechanisms to promote sustainable and climate-resilient societies, foster low-carbon economic growth, and reduce...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2015 Appropriations

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

The FY2015 Agriculture and Related Agencies appropriation was enacted as Division A of the FY2015 Consolidated Appropriations Act, P.L. 113-235 (December 16, 2014), an omnibus appropriation that included 11 of the 12 appropriations subcommittee bills. Although the fiscal year began under a continuing resolution, the...

Dependent Care: Current Tax Benefits and Legislative Issues

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov RS21466 Summary There are two tax benefits for families who pay for the care of dependents: the child and dependent care tax credit (CDCTC) and the exclusion from income for employer-provided dependent care assistance programs (DCAPs). The CDCTC directly reduces a taxpayer’s income tax liability by the amount of the credit. The CDCTC is calculated as a percentage (a credit rate) of qualifying dependent care expenses. The credit rate is 35% for taxpayers with income of $15,000 or less, but it declines as income increases, to 20% for...

U.S. Travel and Tourism: Industry Trends and Policy Issues for Congress

The U.S. travel and tourism industry accounted for 2.6% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012 and directly employed nearly 5.4 million people in 2013. Tourism exports reached a record $215 billion in 2013, representing almost a third of total U.S. services exports. The sector has posted an annual trade surplus with the world for more than two decades. The Department of Commerce forecasts foreign visitor volume in the United States will reach nearly 90 million in 2019.

In 1996, Congress stopped funding the United States Travel and Tourism Administration (USTTA), which for 35 years...

Biennial Budgeting: Options, Issues, and Previous Congressional Action

Difficulties in the timely enactment of budgetary legislation have long fueled interest in ways to structure the congressional budget process to ease time constraints. One long-discussed reform proposal would attempt to remedy this by changing the budget cycle from one to two years.

Biennial budgeting is a concept that may involve several variations, including two-year budget resolutions, two-year appropriations, and other changes in the timing of legislation related to revenue or spending. Biennial budgeting proposals may focus on enacting budgetary legislation for either a two-year...

International Climate Change Financing: The Green Climate Fund (GCF)

Over the past several decades, the United States has delivered financial and technical assistance for climate change activities in the developing world through a variety of bilateral and multilateral programs. The United States and other industrialized countries committed to such assistance through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, Treaty Number: 102-38, 1992), the Copenhagen Accord (2009), and the UNFCCC Cancun Agreements (2010), wherein the higher-income countries pledged jointly up to $30 billion in “fast start” climate financing for lower-income...

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2015

President Obama’s budget request for FY2015 included $135.352 billion for research and development (R&D), a $1.670 billion (1.2%) increase from the FY2014 level of $133.682 billion.

Funding for R&D is concentrated in a few departments and agencies. Under President Obama’s FY2015 budget request, seven federal agencies would have received 95.4% of total federal R&D funding, with the Department of Defense (DOD, 47.6%) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS, 23.0%) accounting for more than two-thirds of all federal R&D funding.

In addition to the FY2015 base budget request, the...

Energy and Water Development: FY2015 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), for the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), and the Department of Energy (DOE), as well as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and several other independent agencies.

President Obama’s FY2015 budget request for Energy and Water Development was released in March 2014. Including adjustments, the request totaled $34.26 billion, compared with a total of $34.13 billion appropriated for FY2014. The House approved the Energy and...

Issues in the Reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

The funding authorization for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), included in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-95), expires on September 30, 2015. In addition to setting spending levels, FAA authorization acts typically set policy on a wide range of issues related to civil aviation. This report considers topics that are likely to arise as the 114th Congress debates reauthorization.

Most FAA programs are financed through the Airport and Airway Trust Fund (AATF), sometimes referred to as the Aviation Trust Fund. The financial health of the AATF, which is funded...

Medical Loss Ratio Requirements Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA): Issues for Congress

The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, P.L. 111-148) requires certain health insurers to provide consumer rebates if they do not meet a set financial target known as a medical loss ratio (MLR). At its most basic, a MLR measures the share of health care premium dollars spent on medical benefits, as opposed to company expenses such as overhead or profits. For example, if an insurer collects $100,000 in premiums and spends $85,000 on medical care, the MLR is 85%. In general, the higher the MLR, the more value a policyholder receives for his or her premium dollar. The ACA...

Defense: FY2015 Authorization and Appropriations

In contrast with the debate over the FY2014 defense budget, congressional action on the FY2015 Department of Defense (DOD) “base budget” (that is, the part of the budget not associated with operations in Afghanistan or other situations designated by the President as emergencies) was not complicated by disputes over the total amount at issue. For both the FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the FY2015 Defense Appropriations Act, President Obama’s request, and versions of the legislation that were passed by the House, approved by the relevant Senate committees, and finally...

Sex Trafficking of Children in the United States: Overview and Issues for Congress

The trafficking of individuals within U.S borders is commonly referred to as domestic human trafficking, and it occurs in every state of the nation. One form of domestic human trafficking is sex trafficking. Research indicates that most victims of sex trafficking into and within the United States are women and children, and the victims include U.S. citizens and noncitizens alike. Recently, Congress has focused attention on domestic sex trafficking, including the prostitution of children, which is the focus of this report.

Federal law does not define sex trafficking per se. However, the...

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2015 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for most of the Department of the Interior (DOI) and for agencies within other departments—including the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service within the Department of Health and Human Services. It also provides funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), arts and cultural agencies, and numerous other entities.

For FY2015, the President requested $30.69 billion for the approximately 30 agencies and entities typically funded in the annual Interior,...

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2015 Budget and Appropriations

On December 16, 2014, Congress presented the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (H.R. 83), to the President, who signed it into law (P.L. 113-235) that same day. In Division J of that act, Congress appropriated $51.98 billion for the Department of State and Foreign Operations, including $9.26 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) and $2.53 billion to address the Ebola crisis.

The annual State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill (also referred to here as “foreign affairs appropriations” or “foreign affairs funding”) is the...

Changes in the Purposes and Frequency of Authorizations of Appropriations

The congressional budget process distinguishes between “authorizations,” which establish or define the activities of the federal government, and “appropriations,” which finance those activities. The purpose of this report is to discuss the changes in the form and frequency of authorization laws that have occurred over the past century.

As the congressional approach to authorizations and appropriations developed over the nineteenth century, distinct roles for these types of laws were established. However, that approach began to shift in the early twentieth century as the size and scope of...

Federal Benefits and Services for People with Low Income: Programs and Spending, FY2008-FY2013

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) regularly receives requests about the number, size, and programmatic details of federal benefits and services targeted toward low-income populations, and the characteristics of people who participate. This report attempts to identify and provide information about such programs, including their federal spending during FY2008-FY2013. The report does not discuss social insurance programs such as Social Security, Medicare, or Unemployment Insurance, but includes only programs with an explicit focus on low-income people or communities. Tax provisions,...

The Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) Loan Program: Status and Issues

The Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) Loan Program is a Department of Energy (DOE) program designed to reduce petroleum use in vehicles and promote domestic manufacturing. It was established in 2007, when the Detroit 3 automakers—General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler—faced declining sales in a weakening economy at the same time that U.S. fuel economy standards were raised. It provides direct loans to automakers and parts suppliers to construct new U.S. factories or retrofit existing factories to produce vehicles that achieve at least 25% higher fuel economy than model year...

Morocco: Current Issues

Successive U.S. Administrations have viewed Morocco as an important regional ally, a partner in counterterrorism, and a free trade counterpart. Morocco receives substantial U.S. development aid, and bilateral trade and investment have increased following a 2006 Free Trade Agreement. Morocco also benefits from U.S. security assistance and military cooperation, and is a purchaser of U.S. defense articles, including F-16 jets. Some observers have placed greater emphasis on the U.S.-Morocco relationship amid regional turmoil and terrorist threats emanating from neighboring states in North...

Legislative Branch: FY2015 Appropriations

The legislative branch appropriations bill provides funding for the Senate; House of Representatives; Joint Items; Capitol Police; Office of Compliance; Congressional Budget Office (CBO); Architect of the Capitol (AOC); Library of Congress (LOC), including the Congressional Research Service (CRS); Government Publishing Office (GPO); Government Accountability Office (GAO); and Open World Leadership Center.

The legislative branch FY2015 budget request of $4.471 billion was submitted on March 4, 2014. By law, the President includes the requests submitted from the legislative branch in the...

The Workforce Investment Act and the One-Stop Delivery System

The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA; P.L. 105-220), which succeeded the Job Training Partnership Act (P.L. 97-300) as the main federal workforce development legislation, was enacted to bring about increased coordination among federal workforce development and related programs. WIA authorized the appropriation of “such sums as may be necessary” for each of FY1999 through FY2003 to carry out the programs and activities authorized in the legislation. Authorization of appropriations under WIA expired in FY2003 but has been extended annually through the Departments of Labor, Health and...

Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP): Status and Issues

The Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) is designed to assist the bioenergy industry to overcome the hurdle of continuous biomass availability—viewed as a critical deterrent to private sector investment in the cellulosic biofuels industry. To accomplish this, BCAP is charged with two tasks: (1) to support the establishment and production of eligible crops for conversion to bioenergy in selected areas, and (2) to assist agricultural and forest land owners and operators with collection, harvest, storage, and transportation (CHST) of eligible material for use in a biomass conversion...

Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers

Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers (TAA) provides federal assistance to workers who have been adversely affected by foreign trade. It was most recently authorized by the Trade Adjustment Assistance Extension Act of 2011 (TAAEA; Title II of P.L. 112-40). Under TAAEA, the program operated under one set of eligibility and benefit provisions through December 31, 2013, and then reverted to a more restrictive set of provisions on January 1, 2014. The TAA program was scheduled to be phased out beginning January 1, 2015, but the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015...

Contemporary Federal Museum Authorizations in the District of Columbia: Past Practices and Options for Congress

Congress has played a role in establishing museums that have become part of the Smithsonian Institution (e.g., the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of African American History and Culture) and museums that operate independently (e.g., the National Gallery of Art and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum). Historically, for most museums operated in whole or in part by the federal government, congressional authorization has been required.

Congressional action is likely required to authorize a new federal museum. In the 113th Congress (2013-2014),...

The Network for Manufacturing Innovation

In December 2014, Congress passed the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2014 (RAMIA), as Title VII of Division B of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (P.L. 113-235). President Obama signed the bill into law on December 16, 2014. RAMIA directs the Secretary of Commerce to establish a Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NMI) program within the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The act comes about two years after President Obama first proposed the establishment of a National Network for...

Water Quality Issues in the 113th Congress: An Overview

Much progress has been made in achieving the ambitious goals that Congress established 40 years ago in the Clean Water Act (CWA) to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters. However, long-standing problems persist, and new problems have emerged. Water quality problems are diverse, ranging from pollution runoff from farms and ranches, city streets, and other diffuse or “nonpoint” sources, to toxic substances discharged from factories and sewage treatment plants.

There is little agreement among stakeholders about what solutions are needed...

Gun Control Legislation in the 113th Congress

The December 2012 Newtown, CT, tragedy, along with other mass shootings in Aurora, CO, and Tucson, AZ, restarted the national gun control debate in the 113th Congress. The Senate considered a range of legislative proposals, including several that President Barack Obama supported as part of his national gun violence reduction plan. The most salient of these proposals would have (1) required background checks for intrastate firearms transfers between unlicensed persons at gun shows and nearly any other venue, otherwise known as the “universal background checks” proposal; (2) increased...

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...

U.S.-China Military Contacts: Issues for Congress

This CRS Report, updated through the 113th Congress, discusses policy issues regarding military-to-military (mil-to-mil) contacts with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and records major contacts and crises since 1993. The United States suspended military contacts with China and imposed sanctions on arms sales in response to the Tiananmen Crackdown in 1989. In 1993, President Clinton reengaged with the top PRC leadership, including China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Renewed military exchanges with the PLA have not regained the closeness reached in the 1980s, when...

FY2015 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies’ Appropriations: Fact Sheet

The annual Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (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 Trademark Office; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Appropriations for the Department of Justice provide funding for agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Prisons; the...

Rehabilitation Act: Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants

The federal government is authorized to make grants to state agencies for vocational rehabilitation (VR) services. These grants support services to help individuals with disabilities prepare for and engage in employment. VR state grants are administered at the federal level by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) in the Department of Education (ED).

The VR state grants program is authorized by Title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. The Rehabilitation Act was amended and the VR state grants program was reauthorized in July 2014 by Title IV of the Workforce...

Cuba: U.S. Policy and Issues for the 113th 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 February 2013, Castro was reappointed to a second five-year term as President (until 2018, when he would be 86 years old), and selected 52-year old former Education Minister Miguel Díaz-Canel as his First Vice President, making him the official successor in the event that Castro cannot serve out his term. Raúl Castro has implemented a number of gradual economic...

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...

U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: Recent Trends and FY2015 Appropriations

Geographic proximity has forged strong linkages between the United States and the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, with critical U.S. interests encompassing economic, political, and security concerns. U.S. policy makers have emphasized different strategic interests in the region at different times, from combating Soviet influence during the Cold War to advancing democracy and open markets since the 1990s. Current U.S. policy is designed to promote economic and social opportunity, ensure citizen security, strengthen effective democratic institutions, and secure a clean energy...

Securing U.S. Diplomatic Facilities and Personnel Abroad: Legislative and Executive Branch Initiatives

The September 11, 2012, attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, prompted sustained congressional attention on the specific circumstances of the events in question, as well as broader questions regarding how U.S. diplomatic personnel and facilities abroad are secured. Ensuring that the Department of State is better prepared for the possibility of similar attacks in the future has been a central congressional concern.

The Department of State undertook a number of measures in response to the attack, including immediate steps to bolster security at posts around the world; an...

NASA: Issues for Authorization, Appropriations, and Oversight in the 114th Congress

Spaceflight fascinates and inspires many Americans, but in a time of constrained federal budgets, it must compete with a multitude of other national priorities. As the 114th Congress conducts oversight and considers authorization and appropriations legislation for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), an overarching question will be how NASA should move forward within budget constraints.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-267) set a new direction for NASA’s human spaceflight programs. For access to low Earth orbit,...

FY2015 Department of Housing and Urban Development Appropriations: Fact Sheet

On December 13, 2014, the Senate passed H.R. 83, the FY2015 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, two days after it had been passed by the House. The President signed the bill on December 16, 2014, as P.L. 113-235. The bill funds nearly all agencies of the federal government, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), for FY2015. Prior to enactment of P.L. 113-235, three continuing resolutions funded the federal government: the first, P.L. 113-164, through December 11, 2014; the second, P.L. 113-202, through December 13, 2014; and P.L. 113-203...

Latin America and the Caribbean: Key Issues for the 113th Congress

Geographic proximity has ensured strong linkages between the United States and the Latin American and Caribbean region, with diverse U.S. interests, including economic, political, and security concerns. U.S. policy toward the region under the Obama Administration has focused on four priorities: promoting economic and social opportunity; ensuring citizen security; strengthening effective democratic institutions; and securing a clean energy future. There was substantial continuity in U.S. policy toward the region during the first six years of the Obama Administration, which pursued some of...

DHS Headquarters Consolidation Project: Issues for Congress

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was established in early 2003, bringing together existing parts of 22 different federal agencies and departments in a new framework of operations. In its first few years, the department was reorganized multiple times, and more focus was given to ensuring its components were addressing the perceived threats facing the country rather than to addressing the new organization’s management structure and headquarters needs. Therefore, the consolidation of physical infrastructure that one might expect in creating an operation of such size and breadth did...

Chemical Facility Security: Issues and Options for the 113th Congress

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has had statutory authority to regulate chemical facilities for security purposes since the 109th Congress. The 113th Congress extended this authority through December 13, 2014, and has passed H.R. 4007, which provides new statutory authority. Congressional policy makers have debated the scope and details of reauthorization and continue to consider establishing an authority with longer duration. Some Members of Congress support an extension, either short- or long-term, of the existing authority. Other Members call for revision and more extensive...

FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Issues

Military personnel issues typically generate significant interest from many Members of Congress and their staffs. Ongoing operations in Afghanistan, along with the regular use of the reserve component personnel for operational missions, further heighten interest in a wide range of military personnel policies and issues.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has selected a number of the military personnel issues considered in deliberations on H.R. 4435, the initial House-passed version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015; S. 2410, the version of the NDAA...

Fact Sheet: Some Highlights of H.R. 83, Division C, FY2015 Defense Appropriations Act

This Fact Sheet summarizes selected highlights of H.R. 83, Division C: the Department of Defense (DOD) Appropriations Act for FY2015.

Federal Land Management Agencies: Appropriations and Revenues

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R43822 Summary A perennial focus for Congress is on appropriations for management of federal lands and resources. Issues include the purposes for which appropriations are used, factors influencing their distribution among states, and the extent to which appropriations are used on nonfederal lands. Congress also continues to be interested in the revenues derived from federal lands and resources. Questions relate to the amount of revenue generated on federal lands, the sources of revenue, and factors affecting the variation among states in...

Addressing the Long-Run Budget Deficit: A Comparison of Approaches

A small share of federal spending is for direct provision of domestic government services, which many people may think of when considering federal spending. Because this spending is normally about 10% of total federal spending and about 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) and deficits are projected to be 2.8% of GDP and rising in the future, cutting this type of spending can make only a limited contribution to reducing the deficit. (Note that direct provision of domestic services by the federal government is smaller than the total of nondefense discretionary spending, about 17% of spending,...

The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11

With enactment of the FY2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act on January 1, 2014 (H.R. 3547/P.L. 113-73), Congress has approved appropriations for the past 13 years of war that total $1.6 trillion for military operations, base support, weapons maintenance, training of Afghan and Iraq security forces, reconstruction, foreign aid, embassy costs, and veterans’ health care for the war operations initiated since the 9/11 attacks.

Of this $1.6 trillion total, CRS estimates that the total is distributed as follows:

$686 billion (43%) for Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) for Afghanistan and other...

Fact Sheet: Selected Highlights of H.R. 3979, the Carl Levin and Howard “Buck” McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for FY2015

Following are selected highlights of S. 1847, the version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2015, agreed to on December 2, 2014, by negotiators for the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.

On May 22, 2014, by a vote of 325-98, the House passed H.R. 4435, a version of the FY2015 NDAA that had been reported by the House Armed Services Committee. On the same day, the Senate Armed Services Committee reported S. 2410, its version of the FY2015 NDAA. To expedite final action on the bill (since the Senate did not take up S. 2410), negotiators from the House and Senate...

The Budget Control Act and Trends in Discretionary Spending

Discretionary spending is provided and controlled through appropriations acts, which fund many of the activities commonly associated with such federal government functions as running executive branch agencies, congressional offices and agencies, and international operations of the government. Essentially all spending on federal wages and salaries is discretionary. Spending can be measured by budget authority (BA; what agencies can legally obligate the government to pay) or outlays (disbursements from the U.S. Treasury). This report mostly discusses trends in outlays.

Federal spending in...

U.S. Secret Service Protection Mission Funding and Staffing: Fact Sheet

U.S. Secret Service Presidential protection White House Security U.S. Secret Service appropriations U.S. Secret Service staffing U.S. Secret Service Police U.S. Secret Service Uniformed Division

Adult Education and Family Literacy Act: Major Statutory Provisions

The Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) is the primary federal legislation that supports basic education for out-of-school adults. Commonly called “adult education,” the programs and activities funded by AEFLA typically support educational services at the secondary level and below, as well as English language training. Actual educational services are typically provided by local entities.

AEFLA was created by Title II of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA; P.L. 105-220). The authorization of appropriations under WIA lapsed after FY2003, though the program continued to be...

FEMA’s Disaster Declaration Process: A Primer

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (referred to as the Stafford Act—42 U.S.C. 5721 et seq.) authorizes the President to issue “major disaster” or “emergency” declarations before or after catastrophes occur. Emergency declarations trigger aid that protects property, public health, and safety and lessens or averts the threat of an incident becoming a catastrophic event. Given their purpose, the emergency declarations may precede an event. A major disaster declaration is generally issued after catastrophes occur, and constitutes broader authority for federal...

U.S. Geological Survey: Background, Appropriations, and Issues for Congress

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) aims to provide unbiased scientific information to describe and understand the geological processes of the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources; and enhance and protect the nation’s quality of life. The USGS is a scientific agency that is housed within the Department of the Interior. Its primary mission is conducting science; it has no regulatory authority, nor does it manage any significant federal lands. The USGS also collects and stores scientific information that is...

The Federal Budget: Overview and Issues for FY2015 and Beyond

The federal budget is central to Congress’s ability to exercise its “power of the purse.” Each fiscal year Congress and the President undertake a variety of steps intended to set levels of spending and revenue and to make policy decisions. The purpose of this report is to provide an overview and background on the current budget debate. This report will track legislative events related to the federal budget and will be updated as budgetary legislation moves through Congress.

In recent years, policies enacted to restrain spending, along with a stronger economy, have led to reductions in the...

Immigration Legislation and Issues in the 113th Congress

Immigration reform was an active legislative issue in the first session of the 113th Congress. The Senate passed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744), a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes provisions on border security, interior enforcement, employment eligibility verification and worksite enforcement, legalization of unauthorized aliens, immigrant visas, nonimmigrant visas, and humanitarian admissions. For its part, the House took a different approach to immigration reform. Rather than considering a single comprehensive...

America COMPETES Acts: FY2008 to FY2013 Funding Tables

Changing economic, social, and political conditions at home and abroad have led some analysts to question whether the United States will remain globally competitive in the coming decades. In response to these and closely related concerns, Congress enacted the 2007 America COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69), as well as its successor, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-358). These acts were broadly designed to invest in innovation through research and development and to improve U.S. competitiveness. More specifically, the acts authorized increased funding for certain physical...

Water Infrastructure Projects Designated in EPA Appropriations: Trends and Policy Implications

Designating funds within appropriations legislation for specified projects or locations has been a way for Congress to help communities meet needs to build and upgrade water infrastructure systems, whose estimated future funding needs exceed $630 billion. Such legislative action has often been popularly referred to as earmarking. This report discusses appropriations for water infrastructure programs of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), focusing on such designations in the account that funds these programs. Information on the programmatic history of EPA involvement in assisting...

Federal Funding for Health Insurance Exchanges

Pursuant to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, P.L. 111-148, as amended), a health insurance exchange has been established in each state and the District of Columbia (DC). Exchanges are marketplaces where individuals and small businesses can “shop” for health insurance coverage.

The ACA instructed each state to establish its own state-based exchange (SBE). If a state elected not to create an exchange or if the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) determined a state was not prepared to operate an exchange, the law directed HHS to establish a federally facilitated...

Landsat: Overview and Issues for Congress

On February 11, 2013, NASA launched Landsat 8, a remote sensing satellite jointly operated by the U.S. Geological Survey and NASA. Landsat 8 is the latest in a series of Earth-observing satellites that began on July 23, 1972, with the launch of Landsat 1. Landsat has been used in a wide variety of applications, including land use planning, agriculture, forestry, natural resources management, public safety, homeland security, climate research, and natural disaster management, among others. A question for Congress is, should there be a Landsat 9? More generally, should Congress support the...

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

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

Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education: FY2014 Appropriations

This report provides an overview of actions taken by Congress to provide FY2014 appropriations for accounts funded by the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED) appropriations bill. The L-HHS-ED bill provides funding for all accounts subject to the annual appropriations process at the Departments of Labor (DOL) and Education (ED). It provides annual appropriations for most agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with certain exceptions (e.g., the Food and Drug Administration is funded via the Agriculture...

Nuclear Energy Policy

Nuclear energy issues facing Congress include reactor safety and regulation, radioactive waste management, research and development priorities, federal incentives for new commercial reactors, nuclear weapons proliferation, and security against terrorist attacks.

The earthquake and resulting tsunami that severely damaged Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on March 11, 2011, raised questions in Congress about the disaster’s possible implications for nuclear safety regulation, U.S. nuclear energy expansion, and radioactive waste policy. The tsunami knocked out electric power at the...

Western Sahara

Since the 1970s, Morocco and the independence-seeking Popular Front for the Liberation of Saqiat al Hamra and Rio de Oro (Polisario) have vied, at times violently, for control of the Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony. In 1991, the United Nations (U.N.) arranged a cease-fire and proposed a settlement plan calling for a referendum to allow the people of the Western Sahara to choose between independence and integration into Morocco. A long deadlock on determining the electorate for a referendum ensued. (The number of Sahrawis, as the indigenous people of Western Sahara are known, is...

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...

Reauthorizing the Office of National Drug Control Policy: Issues for Consideration

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is located in the Executive Office of the President and has the responsibility for creating policies, priorities, and objectives for the federal Drug Control Program. This national program is aimed at reducing the use, manufacturing, and trafficking of illicit drugs and the reduction of drug-related crime and violence and of drug-related health consequences. The director of ONDCP has primary responsibilities of developing a comprehensive National Drug Control Strategy (Strategy) to direct the nation’s anti-drug efforts; developing a...

U.S. Military Action Against the Islamic State: Answers to Frequently Asked Legal Questions

Ongoing U.S. military operations against the Islamic State (which formerly referred to itself as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and is also commonly referred to as IS, ISIS, or ISIL) raise issues concerning the allocation of war powers between Congress and the President, including whether such operations have been (or are required to be) authorized by an act of Congress. In August 2014, President Obama ordered U.S. forces to commence airstrikes against IS targets in Iraq to assist the Iraqi government in combating the insurgent force, protect U.S. military and nonmilitary...

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...

The Child Care and Development Block Grant: Background and Funding

The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) provides subsidies to assist low-income families in obtaining child care so that parents can work or participate in education or training activities. Discretionary funding for this program is authorized by the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990 (as amended), which is currently due for reauthorization. Mandatory funding for child care subsidies authorized in Section 418 of the Social Security Act (sometimes referred to as the “Child Care Entitlement to States”) is also due for reauthorization. In combination, these two...

Diplomatic and Embassy Security Funding Before and After the Benghazi Attacks

Congressional investigations into the September 11, 2012, attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, have focused on a number of issues, including the extent to which overall funding levels may have played a role in the security measures in place at that U.S. facility. While several factors may have been involved in the Benghazi situation, this report focuses only on funding for security of U.S. diplomatic personnel and facilities abroad, hereinafter referred to in this report as diplomatic/embassy security. (For other CRS reports on the Benghazi attacks and a list of CRS experts, go...

Aviation War Risk Insurance: Background and Options for Congress

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, coverage for such attacks, and for “war risks,” became difficult, if not impossible, for airlines to purchase from private insurers. In response, Congress passed expansions of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Aviation War Risk Insurance Program. The amended statute (49 U.S.C. §44301 et seq) requires that the FAA offer war risk insurance to U.S. airlines with the premiums based on the cost of such coverage prior to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The federal coverage under the program is relatively expansive, with coverage provided...

Rural Development Provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill (P.L. 113-79)

While many legislative proposals introduced in a given Congress may have implications for rural America, Congress has generally expressed concern with economic development of rural communities within the context of periodic omnibus farm bills, most recently in Title VI of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-79). Congress uses farm bills to address emerging rural issues as well as to reauthorize and/or amend a wide range of rural programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) three rural development mission agencies: Rural Housing Service, Rural Business-Cooperative...

Summary Report: FY2014 Supplemental Appropriations

On July 8, 2014, the Administration requested $4,346 million in FY2014 supplemental appropriations to address two issues: the surge in both unaccompanied and escorted children illegally crossing the southwest border, and a shortfall in federal funding to pay the costs of wildfires. The appropriations were requested to be designated as emergency funding, meaning the requested funds would not count against the discretionary budget caps for FY2014.

On July 23, 2014, the Senate introduced S. 2648, which includes $3,571 million in supplemental appropriations for the Administration’s requested...

FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program: Overview and Issues

Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM), as federal law and a program activity, began in 1997. Congress established a pilot program, within the Appropriations Act, which FEMA named Project Impact, to test the concept of investing prior to disasters to reduce the vulnerability of communities to future disasters. Several years later, P.L. 106-390, the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, authorized the PDM program in law as Section 203 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. However, unlike the rest of the Stafford Act which has a freestanding authorization, the PDM program...

Bills of Attainder: The Constitutional Implications of Congress Legislating Narrowly

On occasion, Congress exercises its legislative authority regarding a specified individual, entity, or identifiable group in such a way as to raise constitutional concerns. In particular, the United States Constitution expressly prohibits the federal government from enacting bills of attainder, defined by the Supreme Court as a “law that legislatively determines guilt and inflicts punishment upon an identifiable individual without provision of the protections of a judicial trial.” The basis for the prohibition arises from the separation of powers concern that the enforcement of a bill of...

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...

Overview of the Relationship between Federal Student Aid and Increases in College Prices

College affordability is an issue that has received considerable attention from federal policy makers in recent years as concerns have arisen that a college education may be out of reach for an increasing number of students and families. While there is little disagreement that escalating college prices pose a problem, there is not a consensus about the precise causes for these increases.

Among the possible explanations for price increases, one that has surfaced with some frequency in recent years is the notion that the availability of or increases in federal student aid may help to fuel...

Lighting Industry Trends

More than 4 billion incandescent light bulbs (sometimes referred to as “lamps”) are in use in the United States. The basic technology in these bulbs has not changed substantially in the past 125 years, despite the fact that they convert less than 10% of their energy input into light. Improving light bulb performance can reduce overall U.S. energy use. About 20% of electricity consumed in the United States is used for lighting homes, offices, stores, factories, and outdoor spaces. Lighting represents about 14% of residential electricity use.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007...

Clean Coal Loan Guarantees and Tax Incentives: Issues in Brief

Coal represents a major energy resource for the United States. Coal-fired power plants provided approximately 37% of U.S. generated electricity (about 1.5 billion megawatt-hours) in 2012, while consuming over 800 million tons of coal. Power plants that use coal are also a major source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, contributing approximately 28% of total U.S. CO2 emissions in 2012.

As part of federal efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, loan guarantees and tax incentives have been made available to support private sector investment in “clean coal.” Both loan...

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Appropriations for FY2014 in P.L. 113-76

Enacted on January 17, 2014, Title II of Division G of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (P.L. 113-76, H.R. 3547) provided $8.20 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for FY2014. The act appropriated funding for the full fiscal year through September 30, 2014, for all of the 12 regular appropriations acts, including EPA within Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. Total discretionary appropriations available in FY2014 for all federal departments and agencies were based on a cap of $1.012 trillion set in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (P.L. 113-67). The...

SAMHSA FY2015 Budget Request and Funding History: A Fact Sheet

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is the lead federal agency for increasing access to behavioral health services. SAMHSA supports community-based mental health and substance abuse treatment and prevention services through formula grants to the states and U.S. territories and through competitive grant programs to states, territories, tribal organizations, local communities, and private entities. SAMHSA also engages in a range of other activities such as technical assistance, data collection, and...

Congressional Action on FY2014 Appropriations Measures

This report provides background and analysis on congressional action relating to the FY2014 appropriations process. The annual appropriations process currently anticipates that 12 regular appropriations bills will be enacted prior to the beginning of the fiscal year (October 1) to provide discretionary spending for federal government agencies. If all regular appropriations bills are not enacted by that time, one or more continuing resolutions (CRs) may be enacted to provide interim or full-year funds until regular appropriations are completed, or the fiscal year ends. During the fiscal...

Fish and Wildlife Service: FY2015 Appropriations and Policy

The annual appropriation for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies provides funds for agencies and programs in three federal departments, as well as numerous related agencies and bureaus. Among the agencies represented is the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), in the Department of the Interior. Many of its programs are among the more controversial of those funded in the bill. On July 23, 2014, the House Committee on Appropriations reported H.R. 5171. The bill provided $1.40 billion for FWS, down 2.0% from the FY2014 level of $1.43 billion contained in P.L. 113-76. The President...

Funding for the Impact Aid Program: Options for Budget Year Appropriations, Forward Funding, and Advance Appropriations

Administered by the U.S. Department of Education (ED), the Impact Aid program is one of the oldest federal education programs, dating from 1950. Impact Aid, authorized under Title VIII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, P.L. 89-10, as amended), compensates local educational agencies (LEAs) for “substantial and continuing financial burden” resulting from federal activities. These activities include federal ownership of certain lands, as well as the enrollments in LEAs of children of parents who work or live on federal land (e.g., children of parents in the military and...

“Black Boxes” in Passenger Vehicles: Policy Issues

An event data recorder (EDR) is an electronic sensor installed in a motor vehicle that records certain technical information about a vehicle’s operational performance for a few seconds immediately prior to and during a crash. Although over 90% of all new cars and light trucks sold in the United States are equipped with them, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is proposing that all new light vehicles have EDRs installed in the future. Under previously adopted NHTSA rules, these devices have to capture at least 15 types of information related to the vehicle’s...

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...

Child Welfare: The Adoption Incentive Program and Its Reauthorization

Under the Adoption Incentive program (Section 473A of the Social Security Act), states earn federal incentive payments when they increase adoptions of children who are in need of new permanent families. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have earned a part of the $424 million in Adoption Incentive funds that have been awarded since the program was established as part of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA, P.L. 105-89). Discretionary funding authorized for this program has been extended twice since it was established, most recently in 2008 (P.L. 110-351)....

Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grants

Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grants are competitive grants to institutions of higher education to support the development, offering, and improvement of career training programs that can be completed in two years or less. The program targets workers who have been adversely affected by international trade, though non-trade-affected workers may also participate in TAACCCT-funded programs.

TAACCCT is administered by the Department of Labor (DOL). It was created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA; P.L. 111-5) and is...

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...

Inland Waterways: Recent Proposals and Issues for Congress

Inland waterways are a significant part of the nation’s transportation system. Because of the national economic benefits of maritime transport, the federal government has invested in navigation infrastructure for two centuries. Commercial barge shippers and other waterway users receive significant support through federal funding for operational costs, capital expenditures, and major rehabilitation on inland waterways. Since the Water Resources Development Act of 1986, expenditures for construction and major rehabilitation projects on inland waterways have been cost-shared on a 50/50 basis...

C-130 Hercules: Background, Sustainment, Modernization, Issues for Congress

The United States primary tactical airlift aircraft is the C-130. Nicknamed the Hercules, this venerable aircraft has been the workhorse of U.S. tactical airlift for the past 57 years. The majority of C-130s in the U.S. government are assigned to the U.S. Air Force, but the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard also operate sizeable C-130 fleets. The potential concerns for Congress include oversight of and appropriations for an aging C-130 fleet.

As the C-130 fleet ages, management issues arise with reduced reliability, obsolescence and reduced parts availability, and changing aviation...

Budgetary Treatment of Federal Credit (Direct Loans and Loan Guarantees): Concepts, History, and Issues for Congress

The U.S. government uses federal credit (direct loans and loan guarantees) to allocate financial capital to a range of areas, including home ownership, higher education, small business, agriculture, and energy. At the end of FY2013, outstanding federal credit totaled $3.2 trillion. This report explains the budgetary treatment of federal credit, examines proposed reforms, and describes recent legislation.

Title V of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-508), the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990 or FCRA, changed how the unified budget reports the cost of federal credit...

Advertising by the Federal Government: An Overview

Government advertising can be controversial if it conflicts with citizens’ views about the proper role of government. Yet some government advertising is accepted as a normal part of government information activities.

It is difficult to calculate the amount of funds spent by the federal government on advertising each year. The reasons for this include (1) there is no government-wide definition of what constitutes advertising and (2) there is no central authority to which agencies are required to report advertising expenses.

However, an estimate of the federal government’s expenditures on...

The Project BioShield Act: Issues for the 113th Congress

In 2004, Congress passed the Project BioShield Act (P.L. 108-276) to provide the federal government with new authorities related to the development, procurement, and use of medical countermeasures against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) terrorism agents. However, the government still lacks countermeasures against many of the CBRN terrorism agents determined by the government to pose the greatest threat. Congress is likely to consider whether modifications of these authorities or new authorities would help address remaining gaps.

The authority generally referred to...

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD): FY2015 Appropriations

The House and Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) appropriations subcommittees are charged with providing annual appropriations for the Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and related agencies. THUD programs receive both discretionary and mandatory budget authority; HUD’s budget generally accounts for the largest share of discretionary appropriations, but when mandatory funding is taken into account, DOT’s budget is larger than HUD’s budget. Mandatory funding typically accounts for around half...

U.S. Air Force Bomber Sustainment and Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress

The United States’ existing long-range bomber fleet of B-52s, B-1s, and B-2s are at a critical point in their operational life span. With the average age of each airframe being 50, 28, and 20 years old, respectively, military analysts are beginning to question just how long these aircraft can physically last and continue to be credible weapon systems. As potential adversaries acquire 21st century defense systems designed to prevent U.S. access to the global commons (sea, air, space, and cyberspace) and to limit U.S. forces’ freedom of action within an operational area, the ability of these...

Progress in Combating Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs): U.S. and Global Efforts from FY2006 to FY2015

The term “neglected tropical diseases” (NTDs) was coined by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2003 to describe a set of diseases that are ancient, worsen poverty, and typically impair health and productivity while carrying low death rates. While the use of the term “NTDs” has helped to raise awareness about these long-standing health challenges, its use risks simplifying a complicated health challenge. Some of the diseases are treatable with drugs that can be administered by lay health workers irrespective of disease status, while others require diagnosis and can be treated only by...

Reauthorization Issues for the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act

The 113th Congress is actively considering reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA). The MSFCMA governs the management and conservation of commercial and recreational fisheries in U.S. federal waters (3-200 nautical miles from shore). The MSFCMA was last reauthorized and extensively amended in 2006 (P.L. 109-479). Although the authorization of appropriations under the MSFCMA expired at the end of FY2013, the act’s requirements continue in effect and Congress has continued to appropriate funds to administer the act. Historically,...

Fish and Wildlife Service: Compensation to Local Governments

Many counties are compensated for the presence of federal lands within their boundaries because these lands are exempt from local taxes. Counties with lands under the primary jurisdiction of the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) are compensated through the National Wildlife Refuge Fund (NWRF). Counties have argued that the program is underfunded; in some instances, counties raise lack of funding as an argument against the establishment of new refuges. At the same time, some hold that budget constraints argue for a reduction in the program. Congress has begun to examine the program for...

The Republic of the Philippines and U.S. Interests—2014

The United States and the Republic of the Philippines maintain close ties stemming from the U.S. colonial period (1898-1946), the bilateral security alliance bound by the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951, and common strategic and economic interests. In the past decade, the Philippines has been one of the largest recipients of U.S. foreign assistance in Southeast Asia, including both military and development aid. Many observers say that U.S. public and private support to the Philippines following Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), which struck the central part of the country on November 8, 2013,...

CRS Resources on the FY2014 Funding Gap, Shutdown, and Status of Appropriations

When federal government agencies and programs lack budget authority, they experience a “funding gap.” Under the Antideficiency Act (31 U.S.C. §1341 et seq.), they must cease operations, except in certain circumstances. When there is a funding gap that affects many federal entities, the situation is often referred to as a government shutdown.

This report provides an annotated list of Congressional Research Service (CRS) resources and analyses relevant to the shutdown that commenced October 1, 2013, and terminated on October 17, 2013, funding gaps (sometimes referred to as lapses), and...

Afghanistan: Drug Trafficking and the 2014 Transition

Afghanistan is the world’s primary source of opium poppy cultivation and opium and heroin production, as well as a major global source of cannabis (marijuana) and cannabis resin (hashish). Drug trafficking, a long-standing feature of Afghanistan’s post-Taliban political economy, is linked to corruption and insecurity, and provides a source of illicit finance for non-state armed groups. Based on recent production and trafficking trends, the drug problem in Afghanistan appears to be worsening—just as the U.S. government finalizes plans for its future relationship with the government of...

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...

Charter School Programs Authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA Title V-B): A Primer

Charter schools are public schools of choice that are created in accordance with state laws and are publicly funded and tuition free. They are operated according to the terms of charters or contracts granted by public chartering agencies. The terms of charters typically provide charter school operators with increased autonomy over the operation of schools, often including exemptions from, or flexibility in the application of, many of the state or local regulations otherwise applicable to public schools. Enrollment in charter schools is normally open to applicants on a local educational...

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2013 and FY2014 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for most of the Department of the Interior (DOI) 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 provides funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), arts and cultural agencies, and numerous other entities.

For FY2014, $30.12 billion was appropriated for the approximately 30 agencies and entities typically funded in the annual Interior, Environment,...

Trafficking in Persons: U.S. Policy and Issues for Congress

Trafficking in persons (TIP) for the purposes of exploitation is believed to be one of the most prolific areas of contemporary international criminal activity and is of significant interest to the United States and the international community as a serious human rights concern. TIP is both an international and a domestic crime that involves violations of labor, public health, and human rights standards, and criminal law.

In general, the trafficking business feeds on conditions of vulnerability, such as youth, gender, poverty, ignorance, social exclusion, political instability, and ongoing...

Federal Deposit Insurance for Banks and Credit Unions

The federal deposit insurance system in the United States protects depositors from losses that would occur in the event that a financial institution becomes insolvent, meaning that the institutions lending activities did not generate enough revenue to repay depositors their principal and interest. By guaranteeing depositor accounts up to a set limit, deposit insurance may also help prevent runs, which occur when bank customers lose confidence in the ability of a financial institution to repay its depositors and rush to withdraw deposits. A bank run, or panic, can spread and threaten 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...

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...

Expiration and Extension of the 2008 Farm Bill

Farm bills, like many other pieces of legislation, have become more complicated and politically sensitive. They are taking longer to enact than in previous decades. Legislative delays have caused the past two farm bills (the 2002 and 2008 farm bills) to expire for short periods, and to be extended for months or a year while a new farm bill was developed.

The 2008 farm bill (the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, P.L. 110-246) expired twice; the first time was from October 1, 2012 through January 1, 2013, and the second time was from October 1, 2013, through February 6, 2014. Some...

Budget Issues That Shaped the 2014 Farm Bill

Congress returns to the farm bill about every five years to establish an omnibus policy for food and agriculture. Deficit reduction influenced the Agricultural Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-79; 2014 farm bill) throughout its legislative development. Related political dynamics sometimes forced Congress to make difficult choices concerning how much total support to provide for agriculture and nutrition, and how to allocate it among competing constituencies.

The farm bill authorizes programs in two spending categories: mandatory and discretionary. Mandatory programs generally operate as...

Global Security Contingency Fund: Summary and Issue Overview

The FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 112-81), Section 1207, created a new Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF) as a four-year pilot project to be jointly administered and funded by the Department of Defense (DOD) and the State Department. The purpose of the fund is to carry out security and counterterrorism training, and rule of law programs. (There also are three one-year transitional authorities for assistance to Africa and Yemen.) The GSCF is placed under the State Department budget. Although decisions are to be jointly made by the Secretaries of State and Defense, the...

Veterans’ Medical Care: FY2014 Appropriations

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides benefits to veterans who meet certain eligibility criteria. Benefits to veterans range from disability compensation and pensions to hospital and medical care. The VA provides these benefits through three major operating units: the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and the National Cemetery Administration (NCA). This report focuses on funding for the VHA. The VHA is primarily a direct service provider of primary care, specialized care, and related medical and social support services to veterans...

Federal Health Centers

The federal health center program is authorized in Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. §§201 et. seq.) and administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) within the Department of Health and Human Services. It awards grants to support outpatient primary care facilities that provide care to primarily low-income individuals or individuals located in areas with few health care providers. Federal health centers are required to provide health care to all individuals regardless of their ability to pay and are required to be located in geographic areas...

Authorization of General Services Administration Real Property Projects: Current Process and Proposed Legislation

The General Services Administration (GSA) controls more than 8,700 owned and leased buildings with 422 million square feet of floor space, which represents about 12.6% of the government’s 3.354 billion total building square footage .Sometimes referred to as the “government’s landlord,” GSA has the authority to acquire, operate, and dispose of real property on behalf of other federal agencies, including the judiciary. Its portfolio includes courthouses, land ports of entry, and federal office space.

Prior to seeking appropriations, GSA is required to obtain congressional authorization for...

Older Americans Act: Title III Nutrition Services Program

The elderly nutrition services program, authorized under Title III of the Older Americans Act (OAA), provides grants to state agencies on aging to support congregate and home-delivered meals (commonly referred to as “meals on wheels”) programs for people aged 60 and older. The program is designed to address problems of food insecurity, promote socialization, and promote the health and well-being of older persons through nutrition and nutrition-related services. In 2012, a reported 8.8% of U.S. households with one elderly member were food insecure, defined as households reporting low or...

Forestry Provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill (P.L. 113-79)

The Agricultural Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-79, the 2014 farm bill) was signed into law by President Obama on February 7, 2014, after both the House and Senate voted to approve a conference agreement. The 2014 farm bill establishes agricultural and food policy for the next several years, and also addresses several aspects of federal forestry policy.

Forestry provisions were included in the Forestry title (Title VIII) of the 2014 farm bill as well as in some of the other titles. The 2014 farm bill generally repeals, reauthorizes, and modifies existing forestry assistance programs and provisions...

The Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) Program: Background and Issues for Congress

In April 2009, then-Secretary of Defense Gates announced he intended to significantly restructure the Army’s Future Combat System (FCS) program. The FCS was a multiyear, multibillion dollar program that had been underway since 2000 and was at the heart of the Army’s transformation efforts. In lieu of the cancelled FCS manned ground vehicle (MGV), the Army was directed to develop a ground combat vehicle (GCV) that would be relevant across the entire spectrum of Army operations and would incorporate combat lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Army reissued a request for proposal (RFP) for...

Department of Homeland Security Appropriations: FY2014 Overview and Summary

This report provides a brief outline of the FY2014 appropriations legislation 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).

Congress did not enact annual FY2014 appropriations legislation prior to the beginning of the new fiscal year. From October 1, 2013, through October 16, 2013, the federal government (including DHS)...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2014 and FY2013 (Post-Sequestration) Appropriations

The annual Agriculture appropriations bill provides funding for all of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) except the Forest Service, plus the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and, in even-numbered fiscal years, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

The FY2014 Agriculture and Related Agencies appropriations bill was included as Division A of the FY2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act, an omnibus appropriation that was enacted on January 17, 2014 (P.L. 113-76). It provides $20.880 billion of discretionary funding for agricultural and related programs. This is $1.165...

Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006: Background and Performance

The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006 (Perkins IV; P.L. 109-270) supports the development of academic and career and technical skills among secondary education students and postsecondary education students who elect to enroll in career and technical education (CTE) programs, sometimes referred to as vocational education programs. Perkins IV was authorized through FY2012, which ended on September 30, 2012. The authorization was extended through FY2013 under the General Education Provisions Act, although the act continues to receive appropriations in...

Direct Overt U.S. Aid Appropriations for and Military Reimbursements to Pakistan, FY2002-FY2015

This report provides data regarding the direct overt U.S. aid appropriations and military reimbursements to Pakistan.

Efforts to Delay the Gradual Elimination of Flood Insurance Premium Subsidies

On July 6, 2012, President Barack Obama signed into law the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (Division F, Title II, P.L. 112-141; 126 Stat. 918) to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) through September 30, 2017, and make significant program changes designed to make the program more financially stable. To achieve long-term financial sustainability and ensure that flood insurance rates more accurately reflect the actuarial risk of flooding, the new law gradually phases out subsidized premiums and grandfathered policies for approximately 19% (or about 1.1...

The Obama Administration’s Proposal to Establish a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation

Manufacturing plays an important role in the nation’s economy, employment, and national defense. Accordingly, Congress has maintained a strong interest in the health of the U.S. manufacturing sector. Some analysts have expressed concerns about a decades-long decline in manufacturing employment punctuated by a steep drop from 2001 to 2010, as well as about the offshore outsourcing of production and related functions, such as research and development, by U.S. manufacturers. Others see the U.S. manufacturing sector as vibrant and healthy as evidenced by growth in output and productivity.

In...

Emergency Water Assistance During Drought: Federal Non-Agricultural Programs

Drought conditions often fuel congressional interest in federal assistance. While drought planning and preparedness are largely individual, business, local, and state responsibilities, some federal assistance is available to mitigate drought impacts. While much of the federal assistance is targeted at mitigating impacts on the agricultural economy, other federal programs are authorized to provide non-agricultural water assistance. Interest in these non-agricultural programs often increases as communities, households, and businesses experience shrinking and less reliable water supplies....

Energy and Water Development: FY2014 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), for the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), the Department of Energy (DOE), and several independent agencies.

FY2013 Energy and Water Development appropriations were considered in the context of the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA, P.L. 112-25), which established discretionary spending limits for FY2012-FY2021. On March 26, 2013, the President signed H.R. 933, the FY2013 Defense and Military Construction/VA, Full Year...

FY2014 Continuing Resolutions: Overview of Components

Four continuing resolutions (CRs) were enacted during the FY2014 appropriations process, to provide temporary funding until the Consolidated Appropriations Act, FY2014, was enacted on January 17, 2014 (P.L. 113-76).

The first two CRs were enacted before and during the FY2014 funding gap, which commenced on October 1, 2013, and terminated on October 17, 2013. Both of these were “narrow” CRs, in that they only funded certain prior year projects and activities. The first CR, the Pay Our Military Act (H.R. 3210; P.L. 113-39), was enacted on September 30, 2013. It provided funds for certain...

FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Issues

Military personnel issues typically generate significant interest from many Members of Congress and their staffs. Ongoing operations in Afghanistan, along with the operational role of the Reserve Components, further heighten interest in a wide range of military personnel policies and issues.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has selected a number of the military personnel issues considered in deliberations on the initial House-passed version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 and on the bill that was enacted and became law (P.L. 113-66). This report...

The Berry Amendment: Requiring Defense Procurement to Come from Domestic Sources

This report examines the original intent and purpose of the Berry Amendment and legislative proposals to amend the application of domestic source restrictions, as well as potential options for Congress. In order to protect the U.S. industrial base during periods of adversity and war, Congress passed domestic source restrictions as part of the 1941 Fifth Supplemental Department of Defense (DOD) Appropriations Act. These provisions later became known as the Berry Amendment. The Berry Amendment (Title 10 United States Code [U.S.C.] §2533a, Requirement to Buy Certain Articles from American...

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2014

Congress completed action on the FY2014 regular appropriations bills with enactment of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (P.L. 113-76), in January 2014. The act contains the 12 regular appropriations bills that fund federal departments and agencies and provide funding for most research and development (R&D) supported by the federal government. Prior to enactment of P.L. 113-76, FY2014 funding was provided by two continuing resolutions (P.L. 113-46 and P.L. 113-73). Where possible, CRS has identified and included in this report R&D funding in P.L. 113-76 for agencies and programs....

Introduction to Public Housing

“Public housing” is often used as a generic term to refer to all publicly assisted housing, but the term “public housing” actually refers to a specific federal program. Created in 1937, the low-rent public housing program was the first major federal rental housing assistance program. The program initially subsidized the construction, and later the ongoing operation and maintenance, of multifamily rental housing properties for low-income families. While public housing is a federally created and funded program, the properties are owned and managed at the local level by quasi-governmental...

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2014 Budget and Appropriations

On April 10, 2013, the Obama Administration submitted to Congress its budget request for FY2014. The request for State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs totaled $51.84 billion, which was about 2% below the FY2013 post-sequester estimated funding level of $52.88 billion. Within the request, $3.81 billion was designated as Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding, which was 68% below FY2013-estimated OCO funding of $11.92 billion. Of the total request, $16.88 billion was for State Department Operations and related agencies, a 5.8% decline from the FY2013 funding estimate of...

Community Development Block Grants: Recent Funding History

The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), under the Community Development Fund (CDF) account, was first authorized by Title I of the Housing and Community Development Act (HCDA) of 1974, P.L. 93-383. During the program’s nearly 40-year existence, Congress has allocated approximately $138 billion to help state and local governments undertake housing, economic development, neighborhood revitalization, and other community development activities. In addition to its annual appropriations, Congress, as events have...

Essential Air Service (EAS): Frequently Asked Questions

This report provides an overview of the Essential Air Service (EAS) program and discusses the changes introduced by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill and the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014.

Legislative Branch: FY2014 Appropriations

The legislative branch appropriations bill provides funding for the Senate; House of Representatives; Joint Items; Capitol Police; Office of Compliance; Congressional Budget Office (CBO); Architect of the Capitol (AOC); Library of Congress (LOC), including the Congressional Research Service (CRS); Government Printing Office (GPO); Government Accountability Office (GAO); and Open World Leadership Center.

The legislative branch FY2014 budget request of $4.512 billion was submitted on April 10, 2013. By law, the President includes the requests submitted from the legislative branch in the...

“Leahy Law” Human Rights Provisions and Security Assistance: Issue Overview

Congressional interest in the laws and processes involved in conditioning U.S. assistance to foreign security forces on human rights grounds has grown in recent years, especially as U.S. Administrations have increased emphasis on expanding U.S. partnerships and building partnership capacity with foreign military and other security forces. Congress has played an especially prominent role in initiating, amending, supporting with resources, and overseeing implementation of long-standing laws on human rights provisions affecting U.S. security assistance.

First sponsored in the late 1990s by...

FY2014 Appropriations: District of Columbia

On April 10, 2013, the Obama Administration released its budget request for FY2014. The Administration’s proposed budget included $676.3 million in special federal payments to the District of Columbia. Approximately 80% ($543.4 million) of the President’s proposed budget request for the District would be targeted to the courts and criminal justice system. The President’s budget request also includes $87.2 million in support of education initiatives.

On May 22, 2013, the District of Columbia Council approved an FY2014 budget that included $12.1 billion in total operating funds and $2.1...

Proposals to Change Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation’s (PBGC) Premium Structure: Issues for Congress

This report provides background and analysis of the premiums charged by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), which is a government-owned corporation that was created in 1974 to protect the retirement income of participants in private-sector, defined benefit (DB) pension plans. When a company terminates a DB pension plan that does not have enough assets to pay 100% of the promised benefits, PBGC pays, in accordance with statute and up to a maximum yearly dollar amount, the benefits to participants in the terminated plan. In FY2013, 901,000 individuals received $5.4 billion in...

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, enacted in 1974, is a needs-based program that provides cash benefits designed to ensure a minimum income to aged, blind, or disabled persons with limited income and assets. The SSI program is a means-tested program that does not have work or contribution requirements, but restricts benefits to those who meet asset and resource limitations. In December 2013, the SSI program had more than 8.3 million participants, who received over $4.6 billion in benefits. The costs for benefit payments and administrative expenses for the SSI program were...

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD): FY2013 Appropriations

The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) appropriations subcommittee is charged with providing annual appropriations for the Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and related agencies. The HUD budget generally accounts for the largest share of discretionary appropriations provided by the subcommittee. However, when mandatory funding is taken into account, DOT’s budget is larger than HUD’s budget, because it includes funding from transportation trust funds. Mandatory funding typically accounts for a...

Elementary and Secondary School Teachers: Policy Context, Federal Programs, and ESEA Reauthorization Issues

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) is the primary legislative vehicle for federal policymaking regarding teachers and instructional quality in the nation’s elementary and secondary schools. Authorization for ESEA programs and policies, enacted through the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), expired at the end of FY2008 and the 113th Congress is likely to consider whether to amend and extend the ESEA. Notable ESEA provisions concerning K-12 teaching include requirements for minimum teacher qualifications and authority for a teacher training and class size...

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act: Innovation Issues

Following several years of legislative discussion concerning patent reform, the Congress enacted P.L. 112-29, signed into law on September 16, 2011. The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or “AIA,” made significant changes to the patent system, including:

First-Inventor-to-File Priority System. The AIA shifted the U.S. patent priority rule from a “first-to-invent” system to the “first-inventor-to-file principle” while allowing for a one-year grace period.

Prior User Rights. The legislation established an infringement defense based upon an accused infringer’s prior commercial use of an...

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...

Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS): Current Legislative Issues

The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program was created by Title I of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (P.L. 103-322). The mission of the COPS program is to advance community policing in all jurisdictions across the United States. The Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-162) reauthorized the COPS program through FY2009 and changed the COPS program from a multi-grant program to a single-grant program.

The COPS program awards grants to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies throughout the...

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies: FY2013 Appropriations

The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies appropriations bill provides funding for the planning, design, construction, alteration, and improvement of facilities used by active and reserve military components worldwide. It capitalizes military family housing and the U.S. share of the NATO Security Investment Program and finances the implementation of installation closures and realignments. It underwrites veterans benefit and health care programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), provides for the creation and maintenance of U.S. cemeteries and...

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education: A Primer

The term “STEM education” refers to teaching and learning in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It typically includes educational activities across all grade levels—from pre-school to post-doctorate—in both formal (e.g., classrooms) and informal (e.g., afterschool programs) settings. Federal policy makers have an active and enduring interest in STEM education, and the topic is frequently raised in federal science, education, workforce, national security, and immigration policy debates. For example, more than 225 bills containing the term “science education”...

Indian Health Care: Impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law a comprehensive health care reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148). The law, among other things, reauthorizes the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (P.L. 94-437, IHCIA), which authorizes many programs and services provided by the Indian Health Service (IHS). In addition, it makes several changes that may affect American Indians and Alaska Natives enrolled in and receiving services from the Medicare, Medicaid, and State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)—also called Social Security Act (SSA)...

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...

Threats to U.S. National Security Interests in Space: Orbital Debris Mitigation and Removal

After decades of activities in space, Earth’s orbit is littered with man-made objects that no longer serve a useful purpose. This includes roughly 22,000 objects larger than the size of a softball and hundreds of thousands of smaller fragments. This population of space debris potentially threatens U.S. national security interests in space, both governmental (military, intelligence, and civil) and commercial. Congress has broadly supported the full range of these national security interests and has a vested concern in ensuring a strong and continued U.S. presence in space.

Two events in...

Forestry Assistance Programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has numerous programs to support management of state and private forests. These programs are under the jurisdiction of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees and are often examined in the periodic legislation to reauthorize agricultural programs, commonly known as farm bills. Both the House (H.R. 2642) and Senate (S. 954) versions of the 2014 farm bill contain a forestry title with provisions affecting forestry-specific assistance programs. Both versions of the farm bill propose to repeal, reauthorize, and modify some of these programs....

Next Steps in Nuclear Arms Control with Russia: Issues for Congress

In his 2013 State of the Union Address, President Obama stated that the United States would “engage Russia to seek further reductions in our nuclear arsenals.” These reductions could include limits on strategic, nonstrategic and nondeployed nuclear weapons. Yet, arms control negotiations between the United States and Russia have stalled, leading many observers to suggest that the United States reduce its nuclear forces unilaterally, or in parallel with Russia, without negotiating a new treaty. Many in Congress have expressed concerns about this possibility, both because they question the...

Head Start: Background and Funding

Head Start is a federal program that has provided comprehensive early childhood development services to low-income children since 1965. The program seeks to promote school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social, and other services. Head Start is administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Federal Head Start funds are provided directly to local grantees rather than through states. Programs are locally designed and are administered by a network of roughly 1,600...

America COMPETES 2010 and the FY2013 Budget

Signed on January 4, 2011, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (COMPETES 2010, P.L. 111-358) sought to improve U.S. competitiveness and innovation by authorizing, among other things, increased federal support for research in the physical sciences and engineering, as well as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Certain provisions of the law, including major funding authorizations, expired in FY2013. This report describes the President’s FY2013 budget request for selected COMPETES 2010 provisions and tracks the status of FY2013 funding for these...

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD): FY2014 Appropriations

The House and Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) appropriations subcommittees are charged with providing annual appropriations for the Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and related agencies. The HUD budget generally accounts for the largest share of discretionary appropriations provided by the subcommittee. However, when mandatory funding is taken into account, DOT’s budget is larger than HUD’s budget, because it includes funding from transportation trust funds.

The House and the Senate...

FY2013 Appropriations: District of Columbia

On February 13, 2012, the Obama Administration released its detailed budget request for FY2013. The Administration’s proposed budget included $677.8 million in special federal payments to the District of Columbia, which was $12.2 million more than the District’s FY2012 appropriation of $665.6 million in special federal payments. Approximately 78% ($526.7 million) of the President’s proposed budget request for the District would have been targeted to the courts and criminal justice system. The President’s budget request also included $95.6 million in support of education initiatives. This...

The Budget Control Act, Sequestration, and the Foreign Affairs Budget: Background and Possible Impacts

Congress has an interest in the cost and effectiveness of foreign affairs activities that promote U.S. interests overseas. The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA, P.L. 112-25), as amended by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-240/H.R. 8, signed into law on January 2, 2013) required across-the-board reductions (sequestration) in most federal defense and nondefense discretionary programs, projects, and activities including those in foreign affairs for FY2013, and additional spending reductions each year through FY2021. These automatic cuts for FY2013 were ordered on March 1,...

The Development of High Speed Rail in the United States: Issues and Recent Events

The provision of $8 billion for intercity passenger rail projects in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA; P.L. 111-5) reinvigorated efforts to expand intercity passenger rail transportation in the United States. The Obama Administration subsequently announced that it would ask Congress to provide $1 billion annually for high speed rail (HSR) projects. This initiative was reflected in the President’s budgets for FY2010 through FY2014. Congress approved $2.5 billion for high speed and intercity passenger rail in FY2010 (P.L. 111-117), but has provided no funding for the...

Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA): A Primer

Enacted in 1998, the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) is the primary federal legislation that supports basic education for out-of-school adults. Commonly called “adult education,” the programs funded by AEFLA typically support educational services at the secondary level and below, as well as English language training. Actual services are typically provided by local entities using a combination of federal and non-federal funds. Specific curricula vary based on the needs and objectives of the local student population.

In FY2013, approximately $575 million was appropriated for...

Wildfire Fuels and Fuel Reduction

Severe wildfires have been burning more acres and more structures in recent years. Some assert that climate change is at least partly to blame; others claim that the increasing number of homes in and near the forest (the wildland-urban interface) is a major cause. However, most observers agree that wildfire suppression and historic land management practices have led to unnaturally high accumulations of biomass in many forests, particularly in the intermountain West. While high-intensity conflagrations (wildfires that burn the forest canopy) occur naturally in some ecosystems (called...

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...

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): FY2013 Appropriations

The President’s FY2013 budget requested nearly $34 billion in net new budget authority for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in FY2013. This is about $4 billion less than was provided in FY2012. However, in terms of new appropriations for HUD’s programs and activities, the President’s budget actually requested an increase of more than $512 million compared to FY2012. The difference—a decrease in net budget authority versus an increase in new appropriations—is attributable to an estimated increase in the amount of excess receipts available from the FHA insurance fund,...

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2013

President Obama’s budget request for FY2013 included $140.820 billion for research and development (R&D), a $1.951 billion (1.4%) increase from the FY2012 estimated funding level of $138.869 billion. The FY2013 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (P.L. 113-6), signed into law on March 26, 2013, provided year-long appropriations to all agencies for FY2013. The law included divisions incorporating five of the regular appropriations bills—Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies;...

Environmental Policy: CRS Experts

The federal government, primarily the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), administers a number of laws, largely through states and local agencies, established by Congress to protect human health and the environment. Numerous congressional committees and subcommittees have jurisdiction over these environmental laws for purpose of authorization, appropriations, and oversight. Analysis of environmental policy issues requires an understanding of the impacts to, and from, various industries including coal, oil and gas, manufacturing, and agriculture resulting in overlapping policy issues...

Davis-Bacon Prevailing Wages and State Revolving Loan Programs Under the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act

The Davis-Bacon Act requires employers to pay workers on federal construction projects at least locally prevailing wages and fringe benefits. These wages and benefits are the minimum hourly wages and benefits that employers must pay workers. In order to hire and retain workers, employers may pay more than locally prevailing wages or benefits. Supporters of the Davis-Bacon Act maintain that it creates stability in local construction and labor markets and ensures that projects are built by the most skilled and experienced workers. Critics of the act argue that it impedes competition, raises...

The National Institute of Standards and Technology: An Appropriations Overview

This report examines the funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Regulations: Background and Legislation in the 113th Congress

In 1970, Congress enacted legislation directing the President to promulgate oil spill prevention and response regulations. This presidential authority was delegated to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by President Nixon in 1970. In 1973, EPA issued Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulations that require applicable facilities to prevent, prepare, and respond to oil discharges that may reach navigable waters of the United States or adjoining shorelines. Among other obligations, SPCC regulations require secondary containment (e.g., dikes or berms) for certain...

A U.S.-Centric Chronology of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

The November 2013 negotiations in Warsaw are the most recent in a series aimed at arranging multilateral cooperation to address climate change. The United Nations launched formal international negotiations in 1990 to respond to growing scientific and public concern about human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), principally carbon dioxide. This report chronicles the main milestones and issues in the United Nations process to address climate change.

The 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC): Governments agreed in 1992 to the United Nations Framework...

Postsecondary Education Issues in the 113th Congress

The 113th Congress may face an array of policy issues affecting postsecondary education. Many of these postsecondary education issues may be considered as part of efforts to reauthorize the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA). However, postsecondary education issues also may emerge as part of other legislative efforts such as comprehensive immigration reform (CIR), reform of the federal tax code, or the annual appropriations process.

This report identifies and briefly examines several postsecondary education policy issue areas that may be of general interest. For each of these...

Pesticide Registration and Tolerance Fees: An Overview

The Pesticide Registration Improvement Extension Act of 2012 (PRIA 3; P.L. 112-177), enacted September 28, 2012, amended the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) to reauthorize and revise, through FY2017, the collection and use of fees to enhance and accelerate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) pesticide licensing (registration) activities. Among other provisions, P.L. 112-177 increases the amounts of certain fees, revises the schedule for fee assessment and review deadlines for reviewing specific...

Georgia’s October 2013 Presidential Election: Outcome and Implications

This report discusses Georgia’s October 27, 2013, presidential election and its implications for U.S. interests. The election took place one year after a legislative election that witnessed the mostly peaceful shift of legislative and ministerial power from the ruling party, the United National Movement (UNM), to the Georgia Dream (GD) coalition bloc. The newly elected president, Giorgi Margvelashvili of the GD, will have fewer powers under recently approved constitutional changes.

Most observers have viewed the 2013 presidential election as marking Georgia’s further progress in...

Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Reauthorization Proposals in the 113th Congress: Comparison of Major Features of Current Law and S.1356

The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA; P.L. 105-220) is the primary federal program that supports workforce development activities, including job search assistance, career development, and job training. WIA established the One-Stop delivery system as a way to co-locate and coordinate the activities of multiple employment programs for adults, youth, and various targeted subpopulations. The delivery of these services occurs primarily through more than 3,000 One-Stop career centers nationwide.

WIA includes four main titles that cover employment and training services, adult education and...

Renewable Energy Programs and the Farm Bill: Status and Issues

Title IX, the energy title of the 2008 farm bill (P.L. 110-240), contains the bioenergy programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). USDA renewable energy programs have incentivized research, development, and adoption of renewable energy projects, including solar, wind, and anaerobic digesters. However, the primary focus of USDA renewable energy programs has been to promote U.S. biofuels production and use—including corn starch-based ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, and soybean-based biodiesel.

Cornstarch-based ethanol dominates the U.S. biofuels industry. The 2008 farm...

S. 1392, Shaheen-Portman Bill: Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013

S. 1392—the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013—was introduced on July 30, 2013. Often referred to as the Shaheen-Portman bill, it is a trimmed-down version of S. 761. It contains provisions for building energy codes, industrial energy efficiency, federal agencies, and budget offsets. The bill contains voluntary provisions and was designed to be deficit-neutral. To date, virtually all debate related to the bill has been focused on floor amendments.

The bill was reported by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (SENR) on a 19-3 vote. On August 1, 2013, a...

FY2014 Appropriations Lapse and the Department of Homeland Security: Impact and Legislation

Absent legislation providing appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for FY2014, the Department implemented a shutdown furlough on October 1, 2013. Operations of different components were affected to varying degrees by the shutdown. While an estimated 31,295 employees were furloughed, roughly 85% of the department’s workforce continued with their duties that day, due to exceptions identified in current interpretations of law. Some DHS employees were recalled to work after the furloughs began on the basis of unanticipated needs (such as disaster preparedness activities)...

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...

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...

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative: Background and Issues

The Great Lakes ecosystem is recognized by many as an international natural resource that has been altered by human activities and climate variability. These alterations have led to degraded water quality, diminished habitat, lower native fish and wildlife populations, and an altered ecosystem. In response, the federal governments of the United States and Canada and the state and provincial governments in the Great Lakes basin are implementing several restoration activities. These activities range from mitigating the harmful effects of toxic substances in lake waters to restoring fish...

The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), U.S. Global HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Programs: A Description of Permanent and Expiring Authorities

Fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria globally is a priority for Congress. The 108th and 110th Congresses enacted two pieces of legislation that have shaped U.S. responses to these diseases: P.L. 108-25, the United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003 (Leadership Act), and P.L. 110-293, the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008 (Lantos-Hyde Act). The Leadership Act authorized $15 billion to be spent from FY2004 through FY2008 on fighting HIV/AIDS,...

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Appropriations for FY2013: Debate During the 112th Congress

Preceding the March 26, 2013, enactment of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 (P.L. 113-6), during the 113th Congress, the Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2013 (P.L. 112-175, H.J.Res. 117), enacted September 28, 2012, provided appropriations for federal departments and agencies—including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—funded under each of the regular appropriations bills through March 27, 2013. The continuing resolution provided funding generally at FY2012 levels with an across-the-board increase of 0.612% unless otherwise specified....

Overview of Management and Restoration Activities in the Salton Sea

The Salton Sea is located in southern California and is considered the largest inland water body in the state. The Salton Basin, where the Salton Sea is located, has supported many lakes and water bodies throughout its geological history. The Salton Sea was created when a canal gate broke in 1905 allowing fresh Colorado River water into the Basin. The Salton Sea is now sustained by agricultural runoff from farmlands in the Imperial and Coachella valleys. It provides permanent and temporary habitat for many species of plants and animals, including several endangered species. It also serves...

Intelligence Spending and Appropriations: Issues for Congress

It is now publicly acknowledged that intelligence appropriations are a significant component of the federal budget, over $78 billion in FY2012 for both the national and military intelligence programs. Limited publicly available data suggest intelligence spending, measured in constant 2014 dollars, has roughly doubled since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and, before declines over the last three years, was almost double spending at its peak at the end of the Cold War. The recent disclosure by the Washington Post of details from the Administration’s FY2013 National Intelligence...

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Appropriations for FY2013 in P.L. 113-6

Enacted March 26, 2013, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 (P.L. 113-6), appropriated funding for the full fiscal year through September 30, 2013. Seven regular appropriations acts, including Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, which funds EPA, are covered by the full-year continuing appropriations provided in Division F of P.L. 113-6. The final level of appropriations ultimately available to EPA and other federal departments and agencies in FY2013 includes the application of an across-the-board rescission required by P.L. 113-6 and the executive...

Gas Hydrates: Resource and Hazard

Solid gas hydrates are a potentially huge source of natural gas for the United States. Gas hydrates occur naturally onshore in some permafrost regions, and at or below the seafloor in sediments where water and gas combine at low temperatures and high pressures to form an ice-like solid substance, in which frozen water molecules form a cage-like structure around high concentrations of natural gas, or methane. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management within the Department of the Interior estimated a mean value of over 51,000 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of in-place gas hydrates combined for the...

Uzbekistan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests

Uzbekistan gained independence at the end of 1991 with the breakup of the Soviet Union. The landlocked country is a potential Central Asian regional power by virtue of its population, the largest in the region, its substantial energy and other resources, and its location at the heart of regional trade and transport networks. The existing president, Islam Karimov, retained his post following the country’s independence, and was reelected in 2000 and 2007. He has pursued a policy of caution in economic and political reforms, and many observers have criticized Uzbekistan’s human rights...

Ocean Acidification

With increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, the extent of effects on the ocean and marine resources is an increasing concern. One aspect of this issue is the ongoing process (known as ocean acidification) whereby seawater becomes less alkaline as more CO2 dissolves in it, causing hydrogen ion concentration in seawater to increase. Scientists are concerned that increasing hydrogen ion concentration could reduce growth or even cause death of shell-forming animals (e.g., corals, mollusks, and certain planktonic organisms) as well as disrupt marine food webs and...

Immigration Provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) includes provisions to assist foreign nationals who have been victims of domestic abuse. These provisions, initially enacted by Congress with the Immigration Act of 1990 and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994, afford benefits to abused foreign nationals and allow them to self-petition for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status independently of the U.S. citizen or LPR relatives who originally sponsored them. Congress reauthorized VAWA with the Battered Immigrant Women Protection Act of 2000, which also created the U visa for foreign...

Ocean Acidification

With increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, the extent of effects on the ocean and marine resources is an increasing concern. One aspect of this issue is the ongoing process (known as ocean acidification) whereby seawater becomes less alkaline as more CO2 dissolves in it, causing hydrogen ion concentration in seawater to increase. Scientists are concerned that increasing hydrogen ion concentration could reduce growth or even cause death of shell-forming animals (e.g., corals, mollusks, and certain planktonic organisms) as well as disrupt marine food webs and...

Kazakhstan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests

Kazakhstan is an important power in Central Asia by virtue of its geographic location, large territory, ample natural resources, and economic growth, but it faces ethnic, political, and other challenges to stability. Kazakhstan gained independence at the end of 1991 after the break-up of the former Soviet Union. Kazakhstan’s president at the time, Nursultan Nazarbayev, was one of the top leaders of the former Soviet Union and was instrumental in forming the successor Commonwealth of Independent States. He has been reelected president of Kazakhstan several times and in June 2010 was...

Air Force F-22 Fighter Program

Procurement of Air Force F-22 Raptor fighters began in FY1999, and a total of 195 (177 production aircraft, 16 test aircraft, and 2 development aircraft) were procured through FY2009. In the FY2010 budget, the Administration proposed to end F-22 procurement at 187, and Congress approved that termination. The F-22 assembly line in Marietta, GA, has been shut down, with its tools and equipment placed in storage.

Since 2010, operational issues have arisen. Following a November 2010 fatal crash of an F-22 in Alaska, the Air Force recorded at least 25 “physiological incidents” of F-22 pilots...

Restrictions on the Speech of Recipients of Federal Funds Under the Leadership Act of 2003: United States Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society

Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution provides Congress with the explicit power to collect taxes. Implicit in that power to collect revenue is also the power to spend that revenue. This clause is known as the Taxing and Spending Clause of the Constitution, and the Supreme Court has found that it grants Congress wide latitude to promote social policy that the federal government supports.

One way that Congress may exercise its spending power to encourage the implementation of policies that the federal government supports is through appropriations. One common example of...

Pakistan: U.S. Foreign Assistance

In the post-2001 era, the United States has viewed Pakistan as a key ally, especially in the context of counterterrorism and Afghan and regional stability. Pakistan has been among the leading recipients of U.S. foreign assistance both historically and in recent years, although assistance levels have fluctuated considerably over the decades of Pakistani independence. In the wake of 9/11, however, aid to Pakistan increased steadily. Since 1948, the United States has pledged more than $30 billion in direct aid, about half for military assistance, and more than two-thirds appropriated in the...

Horse Slaughter Prevention Bills and Issues

In 2006, two Texas plants and one in Illinois slaughtered nearly 105,000 horses for human food, mainly for European and Asian consumers. In 2007, court action effectively closed the Texas plants, and a ban in Illinois closed the plant in that state. However, U.S. horses continue to be shipped to Mexico and Canada for slaughter. Several states have explored opening horse slaughtering facilities, and Oklahoma enacted to lift the state’s 50-year-old ban on processing horsemeat. Animal welfare activists and advocates for horses have continued to press Congress for a federal ban. The Prevention...

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...

Rural Broadband: The Roles of the Rural Utilities Service and the Universal Service Fund

Since the initial deployment of broadband in the late 1990s, Congress has viewed broadband infrastructure deployment as a means towards improving regional economic development, and in the long term, to create jobs. According to the National Broadband Plan, the lack of adequate broadband infrastructure is most pressing in rural America, where the costs of serving large geographical areas, coupled with low population densities, often reduce economic incentives for telecommunications providers to invest in and maintain broadband infrastructure and service.

Historically, the federal...

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission: Background and Current Issues

The 113th Congress is interested in an array of issues faced by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The congressional committees with oversight of the agency, the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, have begun to hold hearings related to various policy issues faced by the agency, as part of the CFTC reauthorization process. This process occurs roughly every five years and is currently underway, as the last authorization of appropriations for the agency expires September 30, 2013.

The CFTC witnessed a major expansion of its role in overseeing derivatives markets following...

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...

Senegal: Background and U.S. Relations

Successive U.S. Administrations have viewed Senegal as a democratic leader in Africa, an anchor of regional stability, and a partner in addressing development challenges and combating transnational security threats. Senegalese President Macky Sall met with President Barack Obama at the White House in March 2013, and President Obama is expected to visit Senegal in late June. A small, arid nation on West Africa’s Atlantic coast, Senegal has struggled with widespread poverty and a long-running, low-level separatist insurgency in its southern Casamance region. Still, the country’s democratic...

Veterans’ Medical Care: FY2013 Appropriations

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides benefits to veterans who meet certain eligibility criteria. Benefits to veterans range from disability compensation and pensions to hospital and medical care. The VA provides these benefits through three major operating units: the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and the National Cemetery Administration (NCA).

This report focuses on funding for the VHA. The VHA is primarily a direct service provider of primary care, specialized care, and related medical and social support services to veterans...

The “Deeming Resolution”: A Budget Enforcement Tool

“Deeming resolution” is a term that refers to legislation deemed to serve as an annual budget resolution for purposes of establishing enforceable budget levels for a budget cycle. A deeming resolution is used when the House and Senate have not agreed on a budget resolution.

The Congressional Budget Act of 1974 provides for the annual adoption of a budget resolution establishing aggregate levels of revenues, spending, the debt limit, and the surplus or deficit, as well as allocations of spending. Enforcement of the budget resolution relies primarily upon points of order and reconciliation...

Transfer and Reprogramming of Appropriations: An Overview of Authorities, Limitations, and Procedures

Enacted appropriations and other budgetary legislation may vary in the level of detail they provide regarding how agencies should spend the funds that have been provided. Even when the purpose of appropriations is specified in great detail, agencies may be provided with some flexibility to make budgetary adjustments throughout the fiscal year. These adjustments may be necessary due to changing or unforeseen circumstances. In some instances, agencies are provided with transfer authority (i.e., authority to shift funds from one appropriations or fund account to another). In addition,...

International Climate Change Financing: The Climate Investment Funds (CIFs)

The United States contributes funding to various international financial institutions to assist developing countries to address global climate change and other environmental concerns. Congress is responsible for several activities in this regard, including (1) authorizing periodic appropriations for U.S. financial contributions to the institutions, and (2) overseeing U.S. involvement in the programs. Issues of congressional interest include the overall development assistance strategy of the United States, U.S. leadership in global environmental and economic affairs, and U.S. commercial...

International Environmental Financing: The Global Environment Facility (GEF)

The United States contributes funding to various international financial institutions to assist developing countries to address global climate change and other environmental concerns. Congress is responsible for several activities in this regard, including (1) authorizing periodic appropriations for U.S. financial contributions to the institutions, and (2) overseeing U.S. involvement in the programs. Issues of congressional interest include the overall development assistance strategy of the United States, U.S. leadership in global environmental and economic affairs, and U.S. commercial...

Budget Control Act: Potential Impact of Sequestration on Health Reform Spending

The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) established new budget enforcement mechanisms for reducing the federal deficit over the 10-year period FY2012-FY2021. The BCA placed statutory limits, or caps, on discretionary spending for each of those 10 fiscal years, which will save an estimated $0.9 trillion during that period. In addition, it created a Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (Joint Committee) with instructions to develop legislation to reduce the federal deficit by at least another $1.5 trillion through FY2021. In the event that Congress and the President were unable to enact...

Federal Regulation of Chemicals in Commerce: An Overview of Issues for the 113th Congress

The useful properties of chemicals provide many benefits to consumers and bolster the U.S. economy, but these benefits may come with a price, as exposure to certain chemicals can lead to adverse effects on human health or the environment. This report briefly describes selected issues related to regulation of chemicals in commerce by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that are of potential interest to the 113th Congress.

Concerns about the complexity, cost, and delays in regulating chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) have prompted proposals (such as S. 1009...

Closing the Guantanamo Detention Center: Legal Issues

Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Congress passed the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), which granted the President the authority “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those ... [who] planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks” against the United States. Many persons subsequently captured during military operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere were transferred to the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for detention and possible prosecution. Although nearly 800 persons have been held at Guantanamo since early 2002, the...

Severe Thunderstorms and Tornadoes in the United States

Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes affect communities across the United States every year, causing fatalities, destroying property and crops, and disrupting businesses. Tornadoes are the most destructive products of severe thunderstorms, and second only to flash flooding as the cause for most thunderstorm-related fatalities. Damages from violent tornadoes seem to be increasing, similar to the trend for other natural hazards—in part due to changing population, demographics, and more weather-sensitive infrastructure—and some analysts indicate that losses of $1 billion or more from single...

Forest Fire/Wildfire Protection

Congress continues to face questions about forestry practices, funding levels, and the federal role in wildfire protection. Recent fire seasons have been, by most standards, among the worst in the past half century. National attention began to focus on wildfires when a prescribed burn in May 2000 escaped control and burned 239 homes in Los Alamos, NM. President Clinton responded by requesting a doubling of wildfire management funds, and Congress enacted much of this proposal in the FY2001 Interior appropriations act (P.L. 106-291). President Bush responded to the severe 2002 fires by...

Deregulating Genetically Engineered Alfalfa and Sugar Beets: Legal and Administrative Responses

Monsanto Corporation, the developer of herbicide-tolerant varieties of genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa and sugar beet (called Roundup Ready alfalfa and Roundup Ready sugar beet), petitioned USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for deregulation of the items. Deregulation of GE plants is the final step in the commercialization process. Monsanto filed a petition for deregulation of its GE alfalfa in 2004, and for GE sugar beets in 2005.

As part of the deregulation process, APHIS conducts an environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to...

Defense: FY2013 Authorization and Appropriations

President Obama requested $613.9 billion in discretionary budget authority for the Department of Defense in Fiscal Year 2013, which is $31.8 billion less than had been appropriated for the agency in FY2012. The end of U.S. combat in Iraq and the declining tempo of operations in Afghanistan accounted for the bulk of the overall reduction: The budget request for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO)—DOD activities in those two countries—was $88.5 billion, which is $26.6 billion less than was provided for those operations in FY2012.

However, the Administration’s $525.4 billion request for...

Air Force KC-46A Tanker Aircraft Program

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

The KC-46A acquisition program is a subject of intense interest because of the dollar value of the contract, the number of jobs it would create, the importance of tanker aircraft to U.S. military operations, and because DOD’s previous attempts to acquire a new tanker since 2001 had ultimately failed.

DOD’s...

Energy and Water Development: FY2014 Appropriations, Preliminary Tables

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), for the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and the Department of Energy (DOE), and for a number of independent agencies.

FY2013 Energy and Water Development appropriations were considered in the context of the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA, P.L. 112-25), which established discretionary spending limits for FY2012-FY2021. On March 26, 2013, the President signed H.R. 933, the FY2013 Defense and Military Construction, and...

Kosovo: Current Issues and U.S. Policy

On February 17, 2008, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia. The United States and 22 of the 27 European Union countries have recognized Kosovo’s independence. The Kosovo government claims that 98 countries in all have extended diplomatic recognition to it. EULEX, a European Union-led law-and-order mission, is tasked with improving the rule of law in Kosovo. KFOR, a NATO-led peacekeeping force that includes more than 700 U.S. soldiers, has the mission of providing a secure environment.

Serbia strongly objects to Kosovo’s declaration of independence. It has used diplomatic means to...

Legislative Branch: FY2013 Appropriations

The legislative branch appropriations bill provides funding for the Senate; House of Representatives; Joint Items; Capitol Police; Office of Compliance; Congressional Budget Office (CBO); Architect of the Capitol (AOC); Library of Congress, including the Congressional Research Service (CRS); Government Printing Office (GPO); Government Accountability Office (GAO); and Open World Leadership Center.

The legislative branch FY2013 budget request of $4.512 billion was submitted on February 13, 2012. The FY2013 request represented an increase of $205.5 million over the $4.307 billion in...

Agriculture-Based Biofuels: Overview and Emerging Issues

Since the late 1970s, U.S. policymakers at both the federal and state levels have authorized a variety of incentives, regulations, and programs to encourage the production and use of agriculture-based biofuels—i.e., any fuel produced from biological materials. Initially, federal biofuels policies were developed to help kick-start the biofuels industry during its early development, when neither production capacity nor a market for the finished product was widely available. Federal policy (e.g., tax credits, import tariffs, grants, loans, and loan guarantees) has played a key role in helping...

H.R. 1549: Helping Sick Americans Now Act

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. Among other provisions, ACA increases access to health insurance, expands private health insurance requirements regarding coverage and benefits, and requires the creation of health insurance exchanges to provide individuals and small employers with access to insurance. Many of ACA’s insurance market reforms are already in effect. Remaining reforms...

Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education: FY2013 Appropriations Overview

This report provides an overview of actions taken by Congress to provide FY2013 appropriations for the accounts funded by the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED) appropriations bill. The L-HHS-ED bill provides funding for all accounts subject to the annual appropriations process at the Departments of Labor (DOL) and Education (ED). It provides annual appropriations for most agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with certain exceptions (e.g., the Food and Drug Administration is funded via the...

Energy and Water Development: FY2013 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), for the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and the Department of Energy (DOE), and for a number of independent agencies.

President Obama’s FY2013 budget request for Energy and Water Development was released in February 2012.

For FY2013 the level of overall spending has been a major issue. The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA, P.L. 112-25) contained an overall discretionary spending cap for FY2013 of $1.047 trillion. On March 29,...

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,...

Department of Homeland Security Appropriations: A Summary of Congressional Action for FY2013

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations bill includes funding for all components and functions of DHS, including Customs and Border Protection (CBP); Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); the Transportation Security Administration (TSA); Coast Guard (USCG); Secret Service (USSS); the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), which includes Infrastructure Protection and Information Security (IPIS) and the Federal Protective Service (FPS); the Office of Health Affairs (OHA); the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); United States Citizenship and...

The Reclamation Fund: A Primer

The Reclamation Fund was established in 1902 to fund the development of irrigation projects on arid and semiarid lands of the 17 western states. It originated as a revolving fund for construction projects and was supported by the proceeds of the sale of land and water in the western United States. Over time, it was amended to receive proceeds from a number of other sources. It is currently derived from repayments and revenues associated with federal water resources development as well as the sales, rentals, and leases (including natural resource leasing) of federal land in the western...

The World Bank Group Energy Sector Strategy

One in five people worldwide lack access to electricity. This is among the many challenges that financial institutions face when providing assistance to lower-income countries in order to promote economic and social development. Access to modern energy sources has the potential to substantially increase worldwide economic growth, creating markets in the developing world for products from the developed world, and vice versa. Filling this need may also result in environmental problems that could threaten development, including an increase in pollution that damages fisheries, reduces farm...

DOD Alternative Fuels: Policy, Initiatives and Legislative Activity

This report provides background information and identifies issues for Congress regarding Department of Defense (DOD) alternative fuel initiatives, a subject of debate at congressional hearings on DOD’s proposed FY2013 budget. The services (the Army, Navy, and Air Force) have spent approximately $48 million to purchase alternative fuels, and the Navy has proposed a $170 million investment in biofuel production capacity. The services have also spent funds on testing, certification and demonstrations of alternative fuels. By comparison, DOD purchases of petroleum fuels totaled approximately...

FY2013 Continuing Resolutions: Analysis of Components and Congressional Action

This report provides analysis of the components of the two FY2013 continuing resolutions (CR) and congressional action on those CRs.

Prior to the beginning of the fiscal year, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees each reported 11 out of 12 regular appropriations bills. Seven regular appropriations bills were passed by the House; no regular appropriations bills were passed by the Senate. None of the regular appropriations bills were enacted into law. The first CR for FY2013 was signed into law on September 28, 2012 (H.J.Res. 117; P.L. 112-175). On March 26, 2013, H.R. 933 (P.L....

The Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program and Homeless Assistance

The Emergency Food and Shelter National Board (EFS) Program provides supplemental funding to homeless services providers across the nation. EFS was first authorized by P.L. 100-77, the Stewart B. McKinney-Bruce Vento Homeless Assistance Act (Title III, McKinney-Vento Act), which became law in 1987. Eligible services include the provision of overnight shelter and served meals, assistance to food banks and pantries, one month’s rental or mortgage assistance to prevent evictions, and one month’s utility payments to prevent service cut-offs.

Since its inception, the program’s recipient...

U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: Recent Trends and FY2013 Appropriations

Geographic proximity has forged strong linkages between the United States and the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, with critical U.S. interests in the region encompassing economic, political, and security concerns. U.S. policymakers have emphasized different strategic interests in the region at different times, from combating Soviet influence during the Cold War to advancing democracy and open markets since the 1990s. Current U.S. policy toward the region is designed to promote economic and social opportunity, ensure citizen security, strengthen effective democratic...

Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Reauthorization Proposals in the 113th Congress: Comparison of Major Features of Current Law and H.R. 803

The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA; P.L. 105-220) is the primary federal program that supports workforce development activities, including job search assistance, career development, and job training. WIA established the One-Stop delivery system as a way to co-locate and coordinate the activities of multiple employment programs for adults, youth, and various targeted subpopulations. The delivery of these services occurs primarily through more than 3,000 One-Stop career centers nationwide.

The authorizations for appropriations for most programs under the WIA expired at the end of...

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2013 Budget and Appropriations

International affairs expenditures typically amount to about 1.5% of the total federal budget. While some foreign policy and defense experts view that share as a small price to pay for a robust foreign affairs budget that they believe is essential to meeting national security and foreign policy objectives, others see international affairs spending, particularly foreign aid, as an attractive target for significant spending cuts in order to reduce deficit spending.

On February 13, 2012, the Obama Administration submitted its FY2013 budget proposal. The FY2013 request totaled $54.87 billion...

Intelligence Authorization Legislation: Status and Challenges

Since President Bush signed the FY2005 Intelligence Authorization Act (P.L. 108-487) in December 2004, no subsequent intelligence authorization legislation was enacted until the FY2010 bill was signed by President Obama in October 2010 (after the end of FY2010), becoming P.L. 111-259. Although the National Security Act requires intelligence activities to be specifically authorized, this requirement had been satisfied in previous years by one-sentence catchall provisions in defense appropriations acts authorizing intelligence activities. This procedure meets the statutory requirement but...

Analysis of the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013

Hurricane Sandy caused extensive human suffering and damage to public and private property. In response to this catastrophic event, Congress considered legislation to provide supplemental appropriations to federal disaster assistance programs. In addition, Congress considered revisions to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (the Stafford Act, P.L. 93-288 as amended), which is the primary source of authorities for disaster assistance programs for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). As a result, Congress passed the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of...

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...

Public Access to Data from Federally Funded Research: Provisions in OMB Circular A-110

The results of scientific studies are often used in making government policy decisions. While the studies are often published, traditional federal research funding policies did not require the data on which they are based to be made available publicly. Such policies did, however, generally require researchers to share data and physical samples with other scientists after publication of the research. A rider, often called the Shelby Amendment or Data Access Act, that was attached to the Omnibus Appropriations Act for FY1999, P.L. 105-277, mandated the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)...

Azerbaijan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests

Azerbaijan is an important power in the South Caucasus by reason of its geographic location and ample energy resources, but it faces challenges to its stability, including the unresolved separatist conflict involving Nagorno Karabakh (NK). Azerbaijan enjoyed a brief period of independence in 1918-1920, after the collapse of the Tsarist Russian Empire. However, it was re-conquered by Red Army forces and thereafter incorporated into the Soviet Union. It re-gained independence when the Soviet Union collapsed at the end of 1991. Upon independence, Azerbaijan continued to be ruled for a while...

Summary Report: Congressional Action on the FY2013 Disaster Supplemental

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 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 from...

Congressional Authority to Limit Military Operations

Controversy continues over the appropriate role that Congress should play in regulating U.S. military operations against foreign entities. U.S. action against Libya reignited consideration of long-standing questions concerning the President’s constitutional authority to use military force without congressional authorization, as well as congressional authority to regulate or limit the use of such force. There may be a renewed focus in the 113th Congress on whether or to what extent Congress has the constitutional authority to legislate limits on the President’s authority to conduct military...

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...

Animal Agriculture: Selected Issues in the 113th Congress

Animal agriculture is an important part of the U.S. agricultural economy, and consequently is important to U.S. policymakers. The farm value of animal production is estimated at $169 billion in 2012, nearly 44% of the total value of U.S. agricultural production. In addition, the value of animal product exports and imports grew to about $43 billion in 2012. Approximately 1.1 million of the nation’s more than 2.2 million farms were classified in the 2007 Census of Agriculture as primarily animal production operations. These included cattle farms and ranches; cattle feedlots; dairies;...

The FDA Medical Device User Fee Program

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the agency responsible for the regulation of medical devices. These are a wide range of products that are used to diagnose, treat, monitor, or prevent a disease or condition in a patient. A medical device company must obtain FDA’s prior approval or clearance before marketing many medical devices in the United States. The Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) within FDA is primarily responsible for medical device review and regulation. CDRH activities are funded through a combination of public money (i.e., direct FDA appropriations from...

Foreign Aid: International Donor Coordination of Development Assistance

Many experts believe that improved coordination among donor governments and multilateral aid organizations could make global development assistance more efficient and effective. Proliferation of donors in recent decades, and fragmentation of aid among an increasing number of countries and projects, has increased calls for coordination. More than 45 countries and 21 multilateral organizations reported providing official development assistance (ODA) in 2010. An estimated 150 countries received this assistance in 2010, with the United States alone providing aid to 139 countries. Many...

Support Offices in the House of Representatives: Roles and Authorities

Article I of the Constitution, in Sections 2 and 3, authorizes the House of Representatives and Senate to choose their own officers. The number of such congressional support personnel, as well as their specific responsibilities, is left to the discretion of the chambers. Over time, both chambers have authorized a number of offices that assist them, collectively or individually, in their work.

In the House, these offices include the Clerk of the House, Chief Administrative Officer, Sergeant at Arms, Office of the Legislative Counsel, Office of the Parliamentarian, Office of the Law...

Mexico and the 112th Congress

The United States and Mexico have a close and complex bilateral relationship as neighbors and partners under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Although security issues have recently dominated the U.S. relationship with Mexico, analysts predict that bilateral relations may shift toward economic matters now that President Enrique Peña Nieto has taken office. Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) defeated leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Josefina Vázquez Mota of the conservative National Action Party...

Fishery, Aquaculture, and Marine Mammal Issues in the 112th Congress

Fish and marine mammals are important resources in open ocean and nearshore coastal areas; many federal laws and regulations guide their management as well as the management of their habitat. Aquaculture or fish farming enterprises seek to supplement food traditionally provided by wild harvests.

Commercial and sport fishing are jointly managed by the federal government and individual states. States generally have jurisdiction within 3 miles of the coast. Beyond state jurisdiction and out to 200 miles in the federal exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the federal government (National Marine...

Office of the House of Representatives Inspector General

The Office of the House of Representatives Inspector General conducts audits of the financial and administrative functions of House officers and joint entities. In accordance with government-wide standards for Inspectors General, the results of the audits are simultaneously provided to the subject of the audit and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Majority Leader of the House, the Minority Leader of the House, and the chair and ranking minority Members of the Committee on Appropriations and the Committee on House Administration. In the event that financial irregularities...

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...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2013 Appropriations

Note: Due to the late enactment of the FY2013 appropriation, this report summarizes action only through the end of the 112th Congress. Final amounts for FY2013 are presented in CRS Report R43110, Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2014 and FY2013 (Post-Sequestration) Appropriations.

The Agriculture appropriations bill provides funding for all of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) except the Forest Service, plus the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and, in alternating years, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

FY2013 has begun under a continuing resolution (CR; P.L....

FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Policy Issues

Military personnel issues typically generate significant interest from many Members of Congress and their staffs. Recent military operations in Iraq and ongoing operations in Afghanistan, along with the operational role of the Reserve Components, further heighten interest in a wide range of military personnel policies and issues.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has selected a number of the military personnel issues considered in deliberations on the House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2013. This report provides a brief synopsis of sections...

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the 112th Congress: Conflicting Values and Difficult Choices

The Endangered Species Act (ESA; P.L. 93-205, 16 U.S.C. §§1531-1543) was enacted to increase protection for, and provide for the recovery of, vanishing wildlife and vegetation. Under ESA, species of plants and animals (both vertebrate and invertebrate) can be listed as endangered or threatened according to assessments of their risk of extinction. Habitat loss is the primary cause for listing species. Once a species is listed, powerful legal tools are available to aid its recovery and protect its habitat. Accordingly, when certain resources are associated with listed species—such as water...

Circular A-76 and the Moratorium on DOD Competitions: Background and Issues for Congress

This report discusses the status of the ongoing moratorium on the conduct of Department of Defense (DOD) public-private competitions under Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-76, and potential issues for Congress.

OMB Circular A-76 is a federal executive branch policy for managing public-private competitions to perform functions for the federal government. A-76 states that, whenever possible, and to achieve greater efficiency and productivity, the federal government should conduct competitions between public agencies and the private sector to determine who should perform the...

Cuba: Issues for the 112th 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. The government of Raúl Castro has implemented limited economic policy changes, including an expansion of self-employment. A party congress held in April 2011 laid out numerous economic goals that, if implemented, could significantly alter Cuba’s state-dominated economic model. Few observers expect the government to ease its tight control over the political system....

The Rural Education Achievement Program: Title VI-B of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB, P.L. 107-110) established the Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) under Title VI, Part B of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). Congress created this program to address the unique needs of rural schools that disadvantage them relative to nonrural schools.

To be eligible for REAP funds, a local education agency (LEA) must be designated rural and must meet one of three additional requirements involving enrollment size, population density, and poverty status. Currently, REAP provides awards to nearly 6,000 LEAs, out of...

Venezuela: Issues for Congress, 2009-2012

Under the rule of populist President Hugo Chávez, first elected in 1998, Venezuela has undergone enormous political changes, with a new constitution and unicameral legislature, and even a new name for the country, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Human rights organizations have expressed concerns about the deterioration of democratic institutions and threats to freedom of expression under the Chávez government. President Chávez won reelection to another six-year term on October 7, 2012, by a margin of 11%, capturing about 55% of the vote compared to 44% for opposition candidate...

Veterans’ Benefits: Disabled Veterans

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov RL34626 Summary Although U.S. Armed Forces are deployed around the globe, a number of servicemembers are currently serving in the Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) combat zone. As a result of the risks facing these servicemembers, some of them are incurring injuries or illnesses during their active service (or having existing medical conditions worsen as a result of their service). Congress has shown an interest in the treatment of injured servicemembers, both while they are undergoing medical treatment and in their transition from military...

Stem Cell Research: Science, Federal Research Funding, and Regulatory Oversight

Since FY1996, the Dickey amendment in Labor-Health and Human Services (HHS) appropriations acts has prohibited the use of federal funds for the creation of human embryos for research purposes or for research in which human embryos are destroyed. At the time, the Dickey amendment halted the development of guidelines by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on the broad field of human embryo research and has each year since 1996 prohibited federal funding for human embryo research and related topics, including in vitro fertilization (IVF) and human embryonic stem cells. These cells have...

Abortion Services and Military Medical Facilities

In 1993, President Clinton modified the military policy on providing abortions at military medical facilities. Under the change directed by the President, military medical facilities were allowed to perform abortions if paid for entirely with non-Department of Defense (DOD) funds (i.e., privately funded). Although arguably consistent with statutory language barring the use of Defense Department funds, the President’s policy overturned a former interpretation of existing law barring the availability of these services. On December 1, 1995, H.R. 2126, the FY1996 DOD appropriations act, became...

The “Fiscal Cliff” and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012

The federal budget deficit has exceeded $1 trillion in each of the last four fiscal years (FY2009-FY2012). Concern over these large deficits, as well as the long-term trajectory of the federal budget, resulted in significant debate during the 112th Congress over how to achieve meaningful deficit reduction and how to implement a plan to stabilize the federal debt. Numerous expiring provisions, across-the-board spending cuts, and other short-term considerations having a major budgetary impact, were scheduled to take effect at the very end of 2012 or in early 2013. This combination of...

Ghana: Recent Developments and U.S. Relations

Ghana: Bilateral Cooperation and Leadership Engagement

Ghana is considered a model for many of the outcomes that many Members of Congress have long sought to achieve in sub-Saharan Africa in the areas of authorizations; appropriations and program guidance; and oversight. Ghana has received a large U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact and may soon receive a second. It is also a recipient of substantial U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and State Department bilateral aid, much of which is channeled through three presidential development initiatives:

the Global...

Water Quality Issues in the 112th Congress: Oversight and Implementation

Much progress has been made in achieving the ambitious goals that Congress established nearly 40 years ago in the Clean Water Act (CWA) to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters. However, long-standing problems persist, and new problems have emerged. Water quality problems are diverse, ranging from pollution runoff from farms and ranches, city streets, and other diffuse or “nonpoint” sources, to toxic substances discharged from factories and sewage treatment plants.

There is little agreement among stakeholders about what solutions are...

Water Infrastructure Needs and Investment: Review and Analysis of Key Issues

Policymakers are giving increased attention to issues associated with financing and investing in the nation’s drinking water and wastewater treatment systems, which take in water, treat it, and distribute it to households and other customers, and later collect, treat, and discharge water after use. The renewed attention is due to a combination of factors. These include financial impacts on communities of meeting existing and anticipated regulatory requirements, the need to repair and replace existing infrastructure, concerns about paying for security-related projects, and proposals to...

The Section 8 Voucher Renewal Funding Formula: Changes in Appropriations Acts

Changes enacted by Congress during the appropriations process in each of the past several years have significantly altered the way that public housing authorities (PHAs) receive funding to administer the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program. Prior to FY2003, PHAs received funding for each voucher they were authorized to administer, based on their average costs from the previous year, plus inflation, referred to as “unit-based” funding. Most PHAs were not using all of their vouchers, due in part to rental market conditions, and each year the Department of Housing and Urban Development...

The Combating Autism Act: Overview and Funding

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are general terms for a group of developmental disabilities that cause impairments in social skills and communication, and are often characterized by certain atypical behaviors. The federal government has a role in the financing (through Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Programs) and delivery (through funding of developmental disabilities programming in schools, Title V Maternal and Child Health funding, and other sources) of treatment for ASD. The number of autism cases and their appropriate diagnosis and treatment affect federal and...

The Project BioShield Act: Issues for the 112th Congress

In 2004, Congress passed the Project BioShield Act (P.L. 108-276) to provide the federal government with new authorities related to the development, procurement, and use of medical countermeasures against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) terrorism agents. As the expiration of some of these authorities approaches, Congress is considering whether these authorities have sufficiently contributed to national preparedness to merit extension.

The Project BioShield Act provides three main authorities: (1) guaranteeing a federal market for new CBRN medical countermeasures,...

The Budget Control Act of 2011: Budgetary Effects of Proposals to Replace the FY2013 Sequester

The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA; P.L. 112-25) provided for an increase in the statutory limit on the public debt in conjunction with a variety of measures to reduce the budget deficit. Included in these measures was the creation of a Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, which was tasked to develop and submit a plan to Congress containing deficit reduction to total at least $1.2 trillion over the FY2012-FY2021 period. However, because the committee did not report out recommendations, the BCA’s automatic spending reduction process was triggered. This process is set to begin on...

Chemical Facility Security: Issues and Options for the 112th Congress

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has statutory authority to regulate chemical facilities for security purposes. The 112th Congress has extended this authority through March 27, 2013. The Obama Administration has requested extension of this authority until October 4, 2013. Congressional policymakers have debated the scope and details of reauthorization and continue to consider legislation establishing an authority with longer duration. Some Members of Congress support extension, either short- or long-term, of the existing authority. Other Members call for revision and more...

Immigration Legislation and Issues in the 112th Congress

Immigration has not been a front-burner issue for the 112th Congress. During the past two years, however, Congress has taken legislative action on some measures containing provisions on a range of immigration-related topics. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-74) contains provisions on border security, visa security, tourist visas, and refugees. It also includes limited language on other issues, such as employment eligibility verification and the H-2B temporary worker visa. P.L. 112-176 extends the authorization for four immigration programs (EB-5 visa program, E-Verify,...

Child Protection Act of 2012: A Brief Legal Analysis

On the December 7, 2012, the President signed the Child Protection Act of 2012, P.L. 112-206 (H.R. 6063), into law. The measure had previously passed the House under suspension of the rules and the Senate by unanimous consent. Its provisions are (1) increase the maximum penalty for certain child pornography offenses; (2) outlaw harassment of a child victim or witness while under a protective order; (3) grant the U.S. Marshals Service administrative subpoena authority in sex offender registration cases; (4) direct the U.S. Sentencing Commission to review the adequacy of federal sentencing...

FEMA’s Community Disaster Loan Program: History, Analysis, and Issues for Congress

The core purpose of the Community Disaster Loan (CDL) program is to provide financial assistance to local governments that are having difficulty providing government services because of a loss in tax or other revenue following a disaster. The program assists local governments by offering federal loans to compensate for this temporary or permanent loss in local revenue. The CDL program is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). First authorized in the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-288), the Community Disaster Loan program is currently codified in Section 417 of the...

The Executive Budget Process Timetable

The executive budget process is a complex set of activities that includes (1) development of the President’s budget proposal, (2) submission and justification of the President’s budget proposal, and (3) execution of enacted appropriations and other budgetary legislation. While some of the activities are required by specific dates, many follow a more flexible schedule established by formal and informal rules and procedures.

Under Title 31 of the U.S. Code, the President is responsible for developing and submitting a consolidated budget to Congress no later than the first Monday in February...

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...

Federal Emergency Management: A Brief Introduction

The federal government plays a significant role in emergency management, which generally refers to activities associated with avoiding and responding to natural and human-caused hazards. Emergency management in the United States is highly decentralized and contextual in nature: activities often involve multiple jurisdictions as well as a vast number of agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and private sector entities. In addition, the number and type of actors involved in an incident will vary tremendously depending on the context and severity of the event. Similarly, the legal...

Vietnamese Victims of Agent Orange and U.S.-Vietnam Relations

Since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, there has been a gradual warming of bilateral relations between the United States and Vietnam, culminating in the appointment of the first U.S. ambassador to Vietnam in 1996 and the granting of permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) to Vietnam in 2007. Over the last three decades, many—but not all—of the major issues causing tension between the two nations have been resolved.

One major legacy of the Vietnam War that remains unresolved is the damage that Agent Orange, and its accompanying dioxin, have done to the people and the environment of...

Terrorism and Security Issues Facing the Water Infrastructure Sector

Damage to or destruction of the nation’s water supply and water quality infrastructure by terrorist attack or natural disaster could disrupt the delivery of vital human services in this country, threatening public health and the environment, or possibly causing loss of life. Interest in such problems increased after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States.

Across the country, water infrastructure systems extend over vast areas, and ownership and operation responsibility are both public and private, but are overwhelmingly non-federal. Since the attacks, federal dam...

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....

Overview of the Authorization-Appropriations Process

A primary avenue for exercising Congress’s power of the purse is the authorization and appropriation of federal spending to carry out government activities. While the power over appropriations is granted to Congress by the U.S. Constitution, the authorization-appropriation process is derived from House and Senate rules. The formal process consists of two sequential steps: (1) enactment of an authorization measure that may create or continue an agency or program as well as authorize the subsequent enactment of appropriations; and (2) enactment of appropriations to provide funds for the...

Controlling Air Emissions from Outer Continental Shelf Sources: A Comparison of Two Programs—EPA and DOI

Air emissions from outer continental shelf (OCS) operations are subject to different regulatory programs, depending on the location of the operation. The Department of the Interior (DOI) has jurisdiction over OCS sources in federal waters in the western Gulf of Mexico and most of the central Gulf. In addition, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-74), transferred air emission authority in the OCS off Alaska’s north coast from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to DOI. EPA has jurisdiction over sources in all other federal waters.

The primary difference between the EPA...

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Meetings in Vladivostok, Russia: Postscript

Russia hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (APEC’s) week-long series of senior-level meetings in Vladivostok on September 2-9, 2012. The 20th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, the main event for the week, was held September 8-9, 2012. It was the first time that Russia had hosted the APEC meetings, as well as the first APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting at which all the members were also members of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

U.S. expectations for the 20th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting were relatively low for a number of reasons. First, several of the members’ leaders either...

Gun Control Legislation

Congress has debated the efficacy and constitutionality of federal regulation of firearms and ammunition, with strong advocates arguing for and against greater gun control. During the 112th Congress, several mass-casualty shootings punctuated public discourse on gun control. In a January 8, 2011, Tucson, AZ, shooting, 6 people were killed and 14 wounded, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was grievously wounded. In a July 20, 2012, Aurora, CO, theater shooting, 12 people were killed and 58 wounded. In an August 5, 2012, Milwaukee, WI, Sikh temple shooting, 6 people were...

Pesticide Law: A Summary of the Statutes

This report summarizes the major statutory authorities governing pesticide regulation: the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), and Section 408 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), as amended, as well as the major regulatory programs for pesticides. Text relevant to FIFRA is excerpted, with minor modifications, from the corresponding chapter of CRS Report RL30798, Environmental Laws: Summaries of Major Statutes Administered by the Environmental Protection Agency, coordinated by David M. Bearden, which summarizes more than a dozen environmental...

The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program

The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program makes federal funds available to metropolitan areas and states to assist in health care costs and support services for individuals and families affected by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). The Ryan White program currently serves more than half a million low-income people with HIV/AIDS in the United States; 29% of those served are uninsured, and an additional 56% are underinsured. The program is administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the Department of Health and Human...

Congressional Investigations of the Department of Justice, 1920-2012: History, Law, and Practice

Legislative oversight is most commonly conducted through congressional budget, authorization, appropriations, confirmation, and investigative processes, and, in rare instances, through impeachment. But the adversarial, often confrontational, and sometimes high profile nature of congressional investigations sets it apart from the more routine, accommodative facets of the oversight process experienced in authorization, appropriations, or confirmation exercises. While all aspects of legislative oversight share the common goals of informing Congress so as to best accomplish its tasks of...

Community Development Block Grant Funds in Disaster Relief and Recovery

In the aftermath of presidentially declared disasters, Congress has used a variety of programs to help states and local governments finance recovery efforts, among them the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Over the years, Congress has appropriated supplemental CDBG funds to assist states and communities to recover from such natural disasters as hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes. In addition, CDBG funds supported recovery efforts in New York City following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; in Oklahoma City following the bombing of the Alfred Murrah Building...

The U.S. Postal Service and Six-Day Delivery: History, Issues, and Current Legislation

After running modest profits from FY2004 through FY2006, USPS lost $25.4 billion between FY2007 and FY2011. Were it not for congressional action, USPS would have lost an additional $9.5 billion. In the first three quarters of FY2012, USPS had an $11.5 billion operational loss. USPS leaders, Congress, and the public have suggested methods that may increase revenue or reduce expenses. Among these suggestions is reducing the number of days per week that USPS delivers mail from six to five.

Members of the 112th Congress have introduced nine bills (H.R. 2309; H.R. 2434; H.R. 3591; H.R. 3744;...

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...

The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR): Funding Issues After a Decade of Implementation, FY2004-FY2013

The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is the largest bilateral health initiative in the world. The 2003 pledge of President George W. Bush to spend $15 billion over five years on fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria was considered groundbreaking. The initiative challenged the international community to reject claims that large-scale HIV/AIDS treatment plans could not be carried out in low-resource settings. In December 2002, one month before PEPFAR was announced, only 50,000 people of the estimated 4 million requiring anti-retroviral (ARV) medicines in...

War Powers Resolution: Presidential Compliance

Two separate but closely related issues confront Congress each time the President introduces Armed Forces into a situation abroad that conceivably could lead to their involvement in hostilities. One issue concerns the division of war powers between the President and Congress, whether the use of Armed Forces falls within the purview of the congressional power to declare war and the War Powers Resolution (WPR). The other issue is whether or not Congress concurs in the wisdom of the action. This report does not deal with the substantive merits of using Armed Forces in specific cases, but...

U.S. Public Diplomacy: Legislative Proposals to Amend Prohibitions on Disseminating Materials to Domestic Audiences

Public diplomacy involves U.S. government activities to conduct U.S. foreign policy and promote U.S. national interests through direct outreach and communication with the population of foreign countries. Public diplomacy and international broadcasting activities, conducted by the Department of State, U.S. diplomatic personnel abroad, and U.S. international broadcasters such as the Voice of America, include providing information to foreign publics through broadcast and Internet media and at libraries and other outreach facilities in foreign countries; conducting cultural diplomacy, such as...

Housing Issues in the 112th Congress

As the 112th Congress began, the economy was no longer officially in recession. However, housing markets remain fragile, many economic indicators remain weak, and home foreclosure rates remain high. Against this backdrop, the 112th Congress has considered a number of housing-related issues. Broadly speaking, these issues include long-term questions related to reforms to the housing finance system, short-term concerns related to ongoing turmoil in housing markets, perennial issues related to housing assistance programs, and possible reductions in funding for housing programs administered by...

Global Access to Clean Drinking Water and Sanitation: U.S. and International Programs

According to a 2012 report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), roughly 780 million people around the world lack access to clean drinking water and an estimated 2.5 billion people (roughly 40% of the world’s population) are without access to safe sanitation facilities. The United States has long supported efforts to improve global access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). In 2000, for example, the United States signed on to the Millennium Development Goals, one of which includes a target to halve the proportion of...

A Brief Overview of Actions Taken by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in Its First Year

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which formally started operating on July 21, 2011, was established by Title X of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Financial Protection Act (P.L. 111-203, the Dodd-Frank Act). The creation of the CFPB consolidates many existing consumer financial protection responsibilities into one agency. The Dodd-Frank Act states that the purpose of the CFPB is to implement and enforce federal consumer financial law while ensuring that consumers can access financial products and services. The CFPB is also instructed to ensure that the markets...

Afghanistan: U.S. Foreign Assistance

The U.S. program of assistance to Afghanistan is intended to stabilize and strengthen the Afghan economic, social, political, and security environment so as to blunt popular support for extremist forces in the region. Since 2001, nearly $83 billion has been appropriated toward this effort.

Since FY2002, nearly two-thirds of U.S. assistance—roughly 62%—has gone to the training and equipping of Afghan forces. The remainder has gone to development and humanitarian-related activities from infrastructure to private sector support, governance and democratization efforts, and counter-narcotics...

Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Reauthorization Proposals in the 112th Congress: Comparison of Major Features of Current Law and H.R. 4297

The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA; P.L. 105-220) is the primary federal program that supports workforce development activities, including job search assistance, career development, and job training. WIA established the One-Stop delivery system as a way to co-locate and coordinate the activities of multiple employment programs for adults, youth, and various targeted subpopulations. The delivery of these services occurs primarily through more than 3,000 One-Stop career centers nationwide.

The authorizations for appropriations for most programs under the WIA expired at the end of...

The Executive Budget Process: An Overview

The U.S. Constitution vests Congress with the power to raise revenue and borrow money. Those funds may only be drawn from the Treasury in consequence of appropriations made by law. The Constitution, however, is largely silent with respect to the President’s role in the budget process. Instead, the current executive budget process is largely the result of statutes enacted by Congress.

The executive budget process consists of three main phases: development of the President’s budget proposal, submission and justification of the President’s budget proposal, and execution of enacted...

Interim Continuing Resolutions (CRs): Potential Impacts on Agency Operations

Continuing appropriations acts, often known as continuing resolutions (CRs), have been a component of the annual appropriations process for decades. When Congress and the President do not reach final decisions about one or more regular appropriations acts by the beginning of the federal fiscal year, October 1, they often enact a CR. Two general types of CRs are used. An “interim” CR provides agencies with stopgap funding for a period of time until final appropriations decisions are made, or until enactment of another interim CR. A “full-year” CR provides final funding amounts for the...

Presidential Authority to Impose Requirements on Federal Contractors

Executive orders requiring agencies to impose certain conditions on federal contractors as terms of their contracts have raised questions about presidential authority to issue such orders. Such executive orders typically cite the President’s constitutional authority, as well as his authority pursuant to the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 (FPASA). FPASA authorizes the President to prescribe any policies or directives that he considers necessary to promote “economy” or “efficiency” in federal procurement.

There have been legal challenges to orders (1) encouraging...

Auction-Rate Securities

Many municipalities, student loan providers, and other debt issuers borrowed funds using auction-rate securities (ARSs), whose interest rates are set periodically by auctions. ARSs combine features of short- and long-term securities. ARSs are typically long-maturity bonds with interest rates linked to short-term money markets. ARS issuance volumes grew rapidly since they were introduced in the mid-1980s. By 2007, ARSs comprised a $330 billion market. The credit crunch of 2007-2008, however, exposed major vulnerabilities in the design of ARSs.

Turmoil in global financial markets that...

Highlights of Three FY2013 Budget Proposals for the Human Resources “Superfunction”: Education, Training, Social Services, Health, Income Security, and Veterans

Debate is occurring on short- and long-term efforts to boost the economy, reduce the deficit, and stabilize the debt; this debate includes proposals to alter the overall size and composition of federal spending and revenues. “Human resources” programs account for the majority of federal outlays (67% in FY2011) and would be affected by these proposals. Six categories comprise the human resources “superfunction”: education, training, employment, and social services; health (largely Medicaid); Medicare; income security; Social Security; and veterans programs.

President Obama submitted a...

Fish and Wildlife Service: FY2013 Appropriations and Policy

The annual Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriation funds agencies and programs in three federal departments, as well as numerous related agencies and bureaus. Among the agencies represented is the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), in the Department of the Interior. Many of its programs are among the more controversial of those funded in the bill. For FY2013, the House Committee on Appropriations approved H.R. 6091, a bill containing $1.16 billion for FWS, down 21.5% from the FY2012 level of $1.48 billion contained the Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 112-74, Division...

Community Development Block Grants: Funding Issues in the 112th Congress and Recent Funding History

The FY2013 budget debate will take place within the context of growing concerns about the need to address federal budget deficits, the national debt, and a sluggish economic recovery following the longest and deepest recession since the Great Depression. The 112th Congress will continue to consider and debate a number of approaches to spur economic activity and job growth, including federal public works and community and economic development programs.

On February 13, 2012, the President released the Administration’s proposed federal budget for FY2013. The Administration’s budget proposal...

Military Construction: A Snapshot of the President’s FY2013 Appropriations Request

The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies appropriations bill provides funding for the planning, design, construction, alteration, and improvement of facilities used by active and reserve military components worldwide. Title I of the bill capitalizes military family housing and the U.S. share of the NATO Security Investment Program and finances the implementation of installation closures and realignments. Other titles within the legislation fund veterans benefit and health care programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), provide for the...

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act: A Summary of Superfund Cleanup Authorities and Related Provisions of the Act

Congress enacted the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA; P.L. 96-510) in response to a growing desire for the federal government to ensure the cleanup of the nation’s most contaminated sites to protect the public from potential harm. The Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-499, SARA) clarified the applicability of the statute’s requirements to federal facilities, and modified various response, liability, and enforcement provisions. Several other laws also have amended CERCLA for specific purposes, including relief...

U.S. Global Health Assistance: Background and Issues for the 112th Congress

U.S. funding for global health has grown significantly over the last decade, from approximately $1.7 billion in FY2001 to $8.8 billion in FY2012. During the George W. Bush Administration, Congress provided unprecedented increases in global health resources, especially in support of multi-agency initiatives targeting infectious diseases, such as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI). As support for global health increased, the 110th and 111th Congresses began to emphasize better coordination of all global health programs and...

Federal Taxation of Aliens Working in the United States

A question that often arises is whether unauthorized aliens and other foreign nationals working in the United States are subject to U.S. taxes. The federal tax consequences for these individuals are dependent on (a) whether an individual is classified as a resident or nonresident alien and (b) whether a tax treaty or totalization agreement exists between the United States and the individual’s home country.

In general, an individual is a resident alien if he or she is a lawful permanent U.S. resident or is in the United States for a substantial period of time during the current and past...

Proposed FDA User Fee Acts: Generic Drug User Fee Amendments of 2012 (GDUFA) and Biosimilar User Fee Act of 2012 (BSUFA)

Congress is considering two new user fee authorities to supplement funding appropriated by Congress to FDA: the Generic Drug User Fee Amendments of 2012 (GDUFA), for activities related to human generic drug review, and the Biosimilar User Fee Act of 2012 (BSUFA), for biosimilar biological product review. A generic drug is identical to a brand-name (innovator) drug in dosage form and strength, route of administration, safety, effectiveness, and intended use. A biosimilar is a biological product that is highly similar to an innovator biological product. A biological product, or biologic, is...

The Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund

An Aquatic Resources Trust Fund, with two accounts—a Sport Fish Restoration Account and a Boat Safety Account—was created in 1984 and subsequently amended to support a variety of programs administered by three federal agencies, including wetlands management, recreational vessel docking and sewage disposal infrastructure, and aquatic resource education. In 2005, the Boat Safety Account was terminated and remaining programs were consolidated into a renamed Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund. This report details sources of funding for this trust fund and summarizes the various...

Housing Counseling: Background and Federal Role

The term “housing counseling” refers to a wide variety of educational activities geared toward homebuyers, homeowners, renters, senior citizens, or other populations with particular housing goals. Some potential topics of housing counseling include pre-purchase counseling for potential homebuyers; post-purchase counseling on subjects such as budgeting or home maintenance; foreclosure prevention counseling; counseling on helping renters find or maintain rental housing; and counseling on fair housing, predatory lending, or other topics, among other things. The federal government does not...

Economic Development Administration: Reauthorization and Funding Issues in the 112th Congress

The primary focus of the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to help regions experiencing long-term economic distress or sudden economic dislocation attract private-sector capital and create higher-skill, higher-wage jobs through investments in public infrastructure, the provision of technical assistance and research, and the development and implementation of Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS). EDA was created with the passage of the Public Works and Economic Development Act (PWEDA) of 1965, P.L. 89-136 (79 Stat. 552, 42 U.S.C....

Fact Sheet: The FY2013 State and Foreign Operations Budget Request

On February 13, 2012, the Obama Administration submitted to Congress its FY2013 budget request for State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs totaling $54.7 billion, $8.2 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. Of the total request, $18.6 billion is for State Department Operations and related agencies (a 4.6% increase over FY2012 funding) and $36.1 billion is for Foreign Operations (an increase of 0.1% over the FY2012 level). This fact sheet provides a brief overview of that request. A full report on FY2013 State and Foreign Operations budget and appropriations...

V-22 Osprey Tilt-Rotor Aircraft Program

The V-22 Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft that takes off and lands vertically like a helicopter and flies forward like an airplane. Department of Defense plans call for procuring a total of 458 V-22s, including 360 MV-22s for the Marine Corps; 50 CV-22 special operations variants for U.S. Special Operations Command, or USSOCOM (funded jointly by the Air Force and USSOCOM); and 48 HV-22s for the Navy.

Through FY2012, a total of 282 V-22s have been procured—241 MV-22s for the Marine Corps and 41 CV-22s for USSOCOM. These totals include several V-22s that have been procured in recent years...

Foreign Assistance Act of 1961: Authorizations and Corresponding Appropriations

The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (P.L. 87-195; 22 U.S.C. 2151 et seq.) serves as the cornerstone for the United States’ foreign assistance policies and programs. Written, passed, and signed into law at what some consider the height of the Cold War, the act is seen by some today as anachronistic. Ironically, when President Kennedy urged the 87th Congress to enact foreign aid legislation that would exemplify and advance the national interests and security strategies of the United States post-World War II, he described the existing foreign aid mechanisms as bureaucratic, fragmented,...

Constitutionality of Excluding Aliens from the Census for Apportionment and Redistricting Purposes

In the 2010 decennial census, the Census Bureau counted the total population of the United States. This included, as in previous censuses, all U.S. citizens, lawfully present aliens, and unauthorized aliens. Some have suggested excluding aliens, particularly those who are in the country unlawfully, from the census count, in part so that they would not be included in the data used to apportion House seats among the states and determine voting districts within them.

One question raised by this idea is whether the exclusion of aliens could be done by amending the federal census statutes, or...

Financial Services and General Government: A Summary of the President’s FY2013 Budget Request

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...

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2012

Federal research and development (R&D) funding for FY2012 is estimated to total $138.869 billion, $3.845 billion (-2.7%) below the FY2011 funding level of $142.714 billion, and $9.042 billion (-6.1%) below the President’s request of $147.911 billion. Among the overarching issues that Congress contended with in the FY2012 appropriations process were the extent to which the federal R&D investment could grow in the context of increased pressure on discretionary spending and how available funding would be prioritized and allocated. The appropriations legislation was incorporated into two...

Pivot to the Pacific? The Obama Administration’s “Rebalancing” Toward Asia

In the fall of 2011, the Obama Administration issued a series of announcements indicating that the United States would be expanding and intensifying its already significant role in the Asia-Pacific, particularly in the southern part of the region. The fundamental goal underpinning the shift is to devote more effort to influencing the development of the Asia-Pacific’s norms and rules, particularly as China emerges as an ever-more influential regional power. Given that one purpose of the “pivot” or “rebalancing” toward the Asia-Pacific is to deepen U.S. credibility in the region at a time of...

Forest Service Payments to Counties—Title I of the Federal Forests County Revenue, Schools, and Jobs Act of 2012: Issues for Congress

Since 1908, the Forest Service (USFS) in the Department of Agriculture has paid 25% of its receipts to the states for use on roads and schools in the counties where the national forests are located. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the Department of the Interior has paid 50% of its receipts to the Oregon counties where the revested (returned to federal ownership) Oregon and California Railroad (O&C) grant lands are located. Payments under these programs dropped substantially in the 1990s, largely because of declining timber sales. In the Secure Rural Schools and Community...

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...

Veterans Affairs: A Preliminary Analysis of the FY2013 Budget Proposal

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides a range of benefits and services to veterans who meet certain eligibility criteria. These benefits and services include hospital and 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.

This report provides a preliminary analysis of the President’s budget request for FY2013 for the...

The Capitol Visitor Center: History, Development, and Funding

The Capitol Visitor Center (CVC), which opened to the public on December 2, 2008, was designed to enhance the security, educational experience, and comfort of those visiting the U.S. Capitol. The decision to build a subterranean facility beneath the East Front Plaza, largely invisible from an exterior perspective, was made so the structure would not compete with, or detract from, the appearance and historical architectural integrity of the Capitol. The project’s designers sought to integrate the new structure with the landscape of the East Capitol Grounds and ultimately recreate the...

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...

U.S. National Science Foundation: Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR)

The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) of the National Science Foundation (NSF) was authorized by Congress in 1978, partly in response to concerns in Congress and the concerns of some in academia and the scientific community about the geographic distribution of federal research and development (R&D) funds. It was argued that there was a concentration of federal R&D funds in large and wealthy states and universities, and that the continuation of such funding patterns might ensure a dichotomy between the “haves” and “have-nots.”

EPSCoR began in 1979 with five...

The Congressional Appropriations Process: An Introduction

Congress annually considers several appropriations measures, which provide funding for numerous activities, for example, national defense, education, and homeland security, as well as general government operations. Congress has developed certain rules and practices for the consideration of appropriations measures, referred to as the congressional appropriations process. This report looks at this process as well as the three types of appropriates measures: regular appropriations bills, continuing resolutions, and supplemental appropriations bills.

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...

Defense: FY2012 Budget Request, Authorization and Appropriations

President Obama’s FY2012 budget request, sent to Congress on February 14, 2011, included $670.9 billion in discretionary budget authority for the Department of Defense (DOD), of which $553.1 billion was for the so-called “base budget” of the department (that is, the cost of routine, peacetime operations excluding the cost of ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan). The remaining $117.8 billion in the DOD budget request was to cover the cost of so-called “overseas contingency operations (OCO),” including operations in those two countries.

However, the Budget Control Act (BCA) enacted in...

Federal Funding for Wildfire Control and Management

The Forest Service (FS) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) are responsible for protecting most federal lands from wildfires. Wildfire appropriations nearly doubled in FY2001, following a severe fire season in the summer of 2000, and have remained at relatively high levels. Acres burned annually have also increased over the past 50 years, with the six highest annual totals occurring since 2000. Many in Congress are concerned that wildfire costs are spiraling upward without a reduction in damages. With emergency supplemental funding, FY2008 wildfire funding reached a record high of...

Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education: FY2012 Appropriations

This report provides an overview of actions taken by Congress to provide FY2012 appropriations for the accounts funded by the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED) appropriations bill. The L-HHS-ED bill provides funding for all accounts subject to the annual appropriations process at the Departments of Labor and Education. It provides annual appropriations for most agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services, with certain exceptions (e.g., the Food and Drug Administration is funded via the Agriculture appropriations...

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)....

Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization: P.L. 111-296

The most recent WIC and child nutrition reauthorization, P.L. 111-296, “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010,” was signed into law at the end of the 111th Congress on December 13, 2010. Subsequently, Congress plays an oversight role as the U.S. Department of Agriculture promulgates rules, releases guidance, and otherwise implements the legislation. This report features a summary of the legislative history of P.L. 111-296 as well as a section-by-section summary of what was contained within the law. For a brief overview of this periodic reauthorization, see CRS In Focus IF10266, An...

Energy and Water Development: FY2012 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of Energy (DOE), and a number of independent agencies.

President Obama’s FY2012 budget request for Energy and Water Development was released in February 2011, but the Congress was concerned for the first months of the year with completing the appropriations cycle for FY2011. As with other funding bills, the FY2011 Energy and Water Development bill was not taken to the floor in either the...

Federal Agency Authority to Contract for Electric Power and Renewable Energy Supply

The federal government purchases roughly 57 million megawatt-hours of electricity annually (based on FY2007 data, the latest information available), making it the single largest U.S. energy consumer. The Department of Defense (DOD) alone consumes over 29 million megawatt-hours. The federal Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs) sell electricity at more than twice the volume of federal power purchases, over 127 million megawatt-hours of hydropower annually, and are projected to produce wind-generated energy far in excess of the 2005 Energy Policy Act (EPAct) mandates for increasing federal...

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies: FY2012 Appropriations

The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies appropriations bill provides funding for the planning, design, construction, alteration, and improvement of facilities used by active and reserve military components worldwide. It capitalizes military family housing and the U.S. share of the NATO Security Investment Program and finances the implementation of installation closures and realignments. It underwrites veterans benefit and health care programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), provides for the creation and maintenance of U.S. cemeteries and...

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) FY2012 Appropriations

Enacted December 23, 2011, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-74, H.R. 2055), finalized appropriations for FY2012 for those agencies typically funded under nine of the 12 regular appropriations bills. Not including a 0.16% across-the-board rescission, Title II of Division E under P.L. 112-74 provided $8.46 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for FY2012. The total was an increase above the $7.15 billion proposed by the House Appropriations Committee (H.R. 2584 as reported), but less than the $8.62 billion proposed in a draft released by the bipartisan...

Legislative Branch: FY2012 Appropriations

The legislative branch appropriations bill provides funding for the Senate; House of Representatives; Joint Items; Capitol Police; Office of Compliance; Congressional Budget Office; Architect of the Capitol; Library of Congress, including the Congressional Research Service; Government Printing Office; Government Accountability Office; and Open World.

The legislative branch budget request of $4.857 billion, which is included in the President’s budget, was submitted on February 14, 2011. This represents an approximately 7% increase over funds provided for FY2011, although the request was...

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...

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...

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies: FY2012 Appropriations

The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) appropriations subcommittee is charged with providing annual appropriations for the Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and related agencies. The HUD budget generally accounts for the largest share of discretionary appropriations provided by the subcommittee. However, when mandatory funding is taken into account, DOT’s budget is larger than HUD’s budget. Mandatory funding typically accounts for a little less than half of the bill total.

The President’s FY2012...

DOE Weatherization Program: A Review of Funding, Performance, and Cost-Effectiveness Studies

This report analyzes the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Weatherization Assistance Program. (WAP, the “program”). It provides background—a brief history of funding, program evolution, and program activity—and a review of program assessments and benefit-cost evaluations.

Budget debate over the program is focused on a $5 billion appropriation in the Recovery Act of 2009, a report that state and local governments have yet to commit about $1.5 billion of that total, and concerns about the quality of weatherization projects implemented with Recovery Act funding. During the debate over FY2011...

F-35 Alternate Engine Program: Background and Issues for Congress

On December 2, 2011, General Electric and Rolls-Royce announced that they were ending development of the F136 alternate engine for the F-35, ending what had been a contentious and long-running battle.

The alternate engine program began in FY1996, when defense authorization conferees directed DOD to ensure that the JSF (then “JAST”) program “provides for adequate engine competition” and required the Department of Defense to develop an alternative to the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine that currently powers the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). Development of the alternative, the General...

Housing Issues in the 111th Congress

Housing issues related to the recent turmoil in U.S. housing markets, as well as perennial issues related to the housing needs of low-income individuals and families, were prominent in the 111th Congress. The recent recession that was, in part, both a cause and a result of issues in the housing finance system put legislation designed to address current foreclosures and prevent a future crisis on the congressional agenda. At the same time, the 111th Congress faced questions about how best to meet the affordable housing needs of low-income and vulnerable populations, particularly as...

Veterans’ Medical Care: FY2012 Appropriations

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides benefits to veterans who meet certain eligibility criteria. Benefits to veterans range from disability compe