Domestic Social Policy

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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...

Military Retirement: Background and Recent Developments

The military retirement system is a government-funded, noncontributory, defined benefit system that has historically been viewed as a significant incentive in retaining a career military force. The system currently includes monthly compensation for qualified active and reserve retirees, disability benefits for those deemed medically unfit to serve, and a survivor annuity program for the eligible survivors of deceased retirees. The amount of compensation is dependent on time served, basic pay at retirement, and annual Cost-of-Living-Adjustments (COLAs). Military retirees are also entitled...

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...

Policy Options for Multiemployer Defined Benefit Pension Plans

Multiemployer defined benefit (DB) pension plans are pensions sponsored by more than one employer and maintained as part of a collective bargaining agreement. In DB pensions, participants receive a monthly benefit in retirement that is based on a formula. In multiemployer DB pensions, the formula typically multiplies a dollar amount by the number of years of service the employee has worked for employers that participate in the DB plan.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is a federally-chartered corporation that insures participant benefits in private-sector DB pension plans....

Natural Disasters and Hazards: CRS Experts

The following table provides the names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to natural disasters and hazards in the United States. Policy areas identified include disaster assistance and recovery matters extending to impacts such as displaced residents and business, losses in agricultural production, disruptions in transportation (river, rail, and highway), 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...

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...

Worker Participation in Employer-Sponsored Pensions: A Fact Sheet

Employers in the United States offering a pension may offer their workers a defined benefit (DB) pension, a defined contribution (DC) pension (such as 401(k) plans), or both. This fact sheet summarizes Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data from March 2017 on access to and participation rates in retirement plans among U.S. workers classified by various attributes.

About 70% of all U.S. workers have access to an employer-sponsored pension, and about 54% of U.S. workers participate in an employer-sponsored pension. Access and participation rates vary with various worker attributes. These...

Federal Requirements on Private Health Insurance Plans

A majority of Americans have health insurance from the private health insurance (PHI) market. Health plans sold in the PHI market must comply with requirements at both the state and federal levels; such requirements often are referred to as market reforms.

The first part of this report provides background information about health plans sold in the PHI market and briefly describes state and federal regulation of private plans. The second part summarizes selected federal requirements and indicates each requirement’s applicability to one or more of the following types of private health...

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...

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...

Youth and the Labor Force: Background and Trends

Congress has indicated a strong interest in ensuring that today’s young people (ages 16 to 24) attain the education and employment experience necessary to make the transition to adulthood as skilled workers and taxpayers. This report provides context for Congress on trends in the labor force for youth. It discusses youth labor force data since 1948, with a focus on the period from 2000 to the present.

The labor market experiences of youth ages 16 to 24 have varied based on their age and other factors. Over the post-World War II period, teens ages 16 to 19 generally have had a lower labor...

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Economic Analysis

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable tax credit available to eligible workers earning relatively low wages. The EITC, enacted more than 40 years ago, has evolved from a relatively modest tax benefit to a significant antipoverty program. This report reviews economic research on the EITC. Understanding the economic impact of the credit, as well as its limitations and potential drawbacks, may inform future legislative discussions of the EITC and other refundable tax credits.

When initially enacted in the 1970s, there were two major purposes of the EITC. First, the credit was...

Data on Multiemployer Defined Benefit (DB) Pension Plans

Multiemployer defined benefit (DB) pension plans are pensions sponsored by more than one employer and maintained as part of a collective bargaining agreement. With DB pensions, participants receive a monthly benefit in retirement that is based on a formula. With multiemployer DB pensions, the formula typically multiplies a dollar amount by the number of years of service the employee has worked for employers that participate in the DB plan.

Some DB pension plans have sufficient resources from which to pay their promised benefits. But, as a result of a variety of factors—such as changes 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...

Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress

The diminishment of Arctic sea ice has led to increased human activities in the Arctic, and has heightened interest in, and concerns about, the region’s future. The United States, by virtue of Alaska, is an Arctic country and has substantial interests in the region.

Record low extents of Arctic sea ice over the past decade have focused scientific and policy attention on links to global climate change and projected ice-free seasons in the Arctic within decades. These changes have potential consequences for weather in the United States, access to mineral and biological resources in the...

Federal Disaster Assistance: The National Flood Insurance Program and Other Federal Disaster Assistance Programs Available to Individuals and Households After a Flood

After a flood, people are often uncertain if their eligibility for federal disaster assistance is linked in any way to whether or not they have flood insurance. Because much of the other disaster assistance that is available to individuals comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), there may be confusion between possible claims provided through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP, which is also managed by FEMA), and other disaster assistance programs. This report provides an overview of the assistance available to individuals and households following a flood and...

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...

Judicial Opinions of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh

On July 9, 2018, President Trump announced the nomination of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) to succeed Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who is scheduled to retire from active status on July 31, 2018. Judge Kavanaugh has served as a judge on the D.C. Circuit since May 30, 2006. He has also sat, by designation, on judicial panels of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and also served on three-judge panels of the U.S. District Court for the...

Social Security: Minimum Benefits

Social Security’s special minimum benefit provision, also known as the Special Minimum Primary Insurance Amount (PIA), is an alternative benefit formula that increases benefits paid to workers who had low earnings for many years, and to their dependents and survivors. The Special Minimum PIA is based on the number of years a person has worked, whereas the standard benefit formula is based on a worker’s average lifetime earnings. The worker receives the higher of the two benefits.

However, the Special Minimum PIA has virtually no effect on the benefits paid to today’s new retirees. Under...

Social Security Primer

Social Security provides monthly cash benefits to retired or disabled workers and their family members, and to the family members of deceased workers. Among the beneficiary population, almost 83% are retired or disabled workers; family members of retired, disabled, or deceased workers make up the remainder. In May 2018, about 62.5 million beneficiaries received a total of $80.9 billion in benefit payments for the month; the average monthly benefit was $1,295.

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

Social Security: The Lump-Sum Death Benefit

When a Social Security-insured worker dies, the surviving spouse who was living with the deceased is entitled to a one-time lump-sum death benefit of $255. If they were living apart, the surviving spouse can still receive the lump sum under certain conditions. If there is no such spouse, the payment can be made to a child who meets certain requirements. In the majority of deaths, however, no payment is made.

The lump-sum death benefit was once an important part of Social Security benefits to survivors. Between 1937 and 1939, the lump-sum was the only benefit available to survivors of...

Justice Anthony Kennedy: His Jurisprudence and the Future of the Court

On June 27, 2018, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announced that, effective July 31, 2018, he would retire from active service as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. His decisive role on the Court, particularly since the Roberts Court era began in 2005, cannot be overstated. The Roberts Court era has witnessed the Court issue a number of landmark rulings, many of which have involved matters where the sitting Justices were closely divided. Justice Kennedy typically voted with the majority of the Court in such cases. Since the October 2005 term that marked the...

Social Security: The Trust Funds

The Social Security program pays monthly cash benefits to retired or disabled workers and their family members and to the family members of deceased workers. Program income and outgo are accounted for in two separate trust funds authorized under Title II of the Social Security Act: the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund and the Federal Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund. Projections show that the OASI fund will remain solvent until 2034, whereas the DI fund will remain solvent until 2032, meaning that each trust fund is projected to be able topay benefits scheduled...

Social Security: The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)

The windfall elimination provision (WEP) is a modified benefit formula that reduces the Social Security benefits of certain retired or disabled workers who are also entitled to pension benefits based on earnings from jobs that were not covered by Social Security and thus not subject to the Social Security payroll tax. Its purpose is to remove an unintended advantage or “windfall” that these workers would otherwise receive as a result of the interaction between the regular Social Security benefit formula and the workers’ relatively short careers in Social Security-covered employment. In...

How Social Security Benefits Are Computed: In Brief

Social Security, the largest program in the federal budget (in terms of outlays), provides monthly cash benefits to retired or disabled workers and their family members as well as to the family members of deceased workers. In 2017, benefit outlays were approximately $952 billion, with roughly 62 million beneficiaries and 174 million workers in Social Security-covered employment. Under current law, Social Security’s revenues are projected to be insufficient to pay full scheduled benefits after 2034.

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

Social Security Survivors Benefits

Social Security is formally known as the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program. This report focuses on the Survivors Insurance component of Social Security. When workers die, their spouses, former spouses, and dependents may qualify for Social Security survivors benefits. This report describes how a worker becomes covered by Survivors Insurance and outlines the types and amounts of benefits available to survivors and eligibility for those benefits. This report also provides current data on survivor beneficiaries and benefits.

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...

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): Categorical Eligibility

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides benefits to low-income, eligible households on an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card; benefits can then be exchanged for foods at authorized retailers. SNAP reaches a large share of low-income households. In FY2017, a monthly average of 42.2 million persons in 20.9 million households participated in SNAP.

Federal SNAP law provides two basic pathways for financial eligibility to the program: (1) meeting program-specific federal eligibility requirements; or (2) being automatically or “categorically” eligible for SNAP based on...

Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)

Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) benefits are available only to those individuals who have become unemployed as a direct result of a declared major disaster. First created in 1970 through P.L. 91-606, DUA benefits are authorized by the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Relief Act (the Stafford Act), which authorizes the President to issue a major disaster declaration after state and local government resources have been overwhelmed by a natural catastrophe or, “regardless of cause, any fire, flood, or explosion in any part of the United States” (42 U.S.C. 5122(2)).

The...

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 Fair Housing Act: HUD Oversight, Programs, and Activities

The federal Fair Housing Act, enacted in 1968 as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act (P.L. 90-284), prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, or financing of housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, and handicap. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), through its Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO), receives and investigates complaints under the Fair Housing Act and determines if there is reasonable cause to believe that discrimination has occurred or is about to occur.

State and local fair housing agencies and...

Social Security: The Government Pension Offset (GPO)

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

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

Health Policy: Resources for Congressional Staff

KEYWORDS: Health policy, health insurance, public health, medical research, health workforce, health spending, health expenditures, Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, SCHIP, state children’s health insurance program, children’s health insurance program.

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...

Social Security: What Would Happen If the Trust Funds Ran Out?

Social Security’s receipts and expenditures are accounted for through two federal trust funds: the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund and the Federal Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund. Under their intermediate assumptions and under current law, the Social Security trustees project that the DI trust fund will become depleted in 2032 and the OASI trust fund will become depleted in 2034. Although the two funds are legally separate, they are often considered in combination. The trustees project that the combined Social Security trust funds will become depleted in...

Background Information on Health Coverage Options Addressed in Executive Order 13813

On October 12, 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order (E.O.) 13813, entitled “Promoting Healthcare Choice and Competition Across the United States.” E.O. 13813 directs specified agencies to consider regulatory or sub-regulatory approaches to expand access to three unrelated, private-sector health coverage options: association health plans (AHPs); short-term, limited-duration insurance (STLDI); and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). This report answers frequently asked questions (FAQs) about E.O. 13813 and subsequent rulemaking and provides background information about AHPs,...

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...

Traditional and Roth Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs): A Primer

In response to concerns over the adequacy of retirement savings, Congress has created incentives to encourage individuals to save more for retirement through a variety of retirement plans. Some retirement plans are employer-sponsored, such as 401(k) plans, and others are established by individual employees, such as Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs).

This report describes the primary features of two common retirement savings accounts that are available to individuals. Although the accounts have many features in common, they differ in some important aspects. Both traditional and Roth...

Unemployment Insurance: Legislative Issues in the 115th Congress

The 115th Congress continues to consider many issues related to the two major components of the unemployment insurance (UI) system: Unemployment Compensation (UC) and Extended Benefits (EB). This report provides short summaries of legislative proposals with respect to UI programs. It also gives a brief overview of the UI programs that may provide benefits to eligible unemployed workers. In addition, it briefly summarizes UI proposals included in the President’s budget for FY2019.

President Trump signed H.J.Res. 42 on March 30, 2017 (P.L. 115-17). This Congressional Review Act (CRA)...

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

The federal government is expected to provide state and local governments about $728 billion in federal grants in FY2018, funding a wide range of public policies, such as health care, transportation, income security, education, job training, social services, community development, and environmental protection. Federal grants account for about one-third of total state government funding, and more than half of state government funding for health care and public assistance.

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

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...

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant: Responses to Frequently Asked Questions

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant funds a wide range of benefits and services for low-income families with children. TANF was created in the 1996 welfare reform law (P.L. 104-193). This report responds to some frequently asked questions about TANF; it does not describe TANF rules (see, instead, CRS Report RL32748, The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant: A Primer on TANF Financing and Federal Requirements, by Gene Falk).

TANF Funding and Expenditures. TANF provides fixed funding for the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the...

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 Birth Trends: In Brief

teen pregnancy, teenage pregnancy, adolescent pregnancy, teen childbearing, teen birth rate, teen birth, teen mother, teen mothers, teen parent, teen parents.

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....

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...

Insurance Regulation: Legislation in the 115th Congress

Insurance companies constitute a major segment of the U.S. financial services industry. The insurance industry is often separated into two parts: (1) life and health insurance companies, which also often offer annuity products, and (2) property and casualty insurance companies, which include most other lines of insurance, such as homeowners insurance, automobile insurance, and various commercial lines of insurance purchased by businesses. Different lines of insurance present very different characteristics and risks. Life insurance typically is a longer-term proposition with contracts...

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable tax credit available to eligible workers earning relatively low wages. Because the credit is refundable, an EITC recipient need not owe taxes to receive the benefit. Eligibility for and the amount of the EITC are based on a variety of factors, including residence and taxpayer ID requirements, the presence of qualifying children, age requirements for childless recipients, and the recipient’s investment income and earned income. Tax filers with income above certain thresholds—these thresholds are based on marital status and number of...

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): FY2019 Budget Request Fact Sheet

Overview of FY2019 President’s Budget request for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): A Primer on Eligibility and Benefits

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly called the Food Stamp Program, is designed primarily to increase the food purchasing power of eligible low-income households to help them buy a nutritionally adequate low-cost diet. This report describes the rules related to eligibility for SNAP benefits as well as the rules for benefits and their redemption. SNAP is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (USDA-FNS). SNAP is authorized by the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008. This law, formerly the Food Stamp Act of 1977, has since 1973...

Errors and Fraud in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the nation’s largest domestic food assistance program, serving about 42.2 million recipients in an average month at a federal cost of over $68 billion in FY2017. SNAP is jointly administered by state agencies, which handle most recipient functions, and the federal government—specifically, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (USDA-FNS)—which supports and oversees the states and handles most retailer functions. In a program with so many diverse stakeholders, detecting, preventing, and addressing errors and...

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...

FHA-Insured Home Loans: An Overview

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), an agency of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), was created by the National Housing Act of 1934. FHA insures private lenders against the possibility of borrowers defaulting on mortgages that meet certain criteria, thereby expanding the availability of mortgage credit beyond what may be available otherwise. If the borrower defaults on the mortgage, FHA is to repay the lender the remaining amount owed.

A household that obtains an FHA-insured mortgage must meet FHA’s eligibility and underwriting standards, including showing that...

House Committee Markups: Manual of Procedures and Procedural Strategies

A principal responsibility of House committees is to conduct markups—to select legislation to consider, to debate it and vote on amendments to it (to mark up), and to report recommendations on passage to the House. This manual examines procedures and strategy related to committee markups and provides sample procedural scripts.

A committee faces many decisions when it considers a policy matter in a markup. It must select what legislation to mark up; decide whether to mark up in committee only or in both subcommittee and committee; consider the effect of referral on the markup; choose how to...

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...

Domestic Food Assistance: Summary of Programs

Over the years, Congress has authorized and the federal government has administered programs to provide food to the hungry and to other vulnerable populations in this country. This report offers a brief overview of hunger and food insecurity along with the related network of programs. The report is structured around three main tables that contain information about each program, including its authorizing language, administering agency, eligibility criteria, services provided, participation data, and funding information. In between the tables, contextual information about this policy area...

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC): A Primer

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is a federal agency established by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA; P.L. 93-406). It was created to protect the pensions of participants and beneficiaries covered by private sector defined benefit (DB) plans. These pension plans provide a specified monthly benefit at retirement, usually either a percentage of salary or a flat dollar amount multiplied by years of service. Defined contribution (DC) plans, such as 401(k) plans, are not insured. PBGC is chaired by the Secretary of Labor, with the Secretaries of the...

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...

Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-123): Brief Summary of Division E—The Advancing Chronic Care, Extenders, and Social Services (ACCESS) Act

On February 9, 2018, President Donald Trump signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA 2018; P.L. 115-123). Division E of that law is titled the Advancing Chronic Care, Extenders, and Social Services (ACCESS) Act. This report provides a brief summary of each of the provisions included in the ACCESS Act, along with the contact information for the CRS expert who can answer questions about each provision. Division E consists of 12 titles. Each title is addressed in a separate table, and the provisions are discussed in the order they appear in the law. Topics discussed in this...

Unemployment Insurance: Consequences of Changes in State Unemployment Compensation Laws

This report analyzes recent changes to state Unemployment Compensation (UC) programs. Two categories of UC state law issues are considered: (1) changes in the duration of state UC unemployment benefits, and (2) changes in the UC weekly benefit amount.

In recent years, some states have enacted legislation to decrease the maximum number of weeks of regular state UC benefits. Until 2011, all states paid at least up to 26 weeks of UC benefits to eligible, unemployed individuals. In 2011, however, six states passed legislation to decrease their maximum UC benefit durations: Arkansas, Florida,...

The Social Security Retirement Age

The Social Security full retirement age (FRA) is the age at which workers can first claim full Social Security retired-worker benefits. Among other factors, a worker’s monthly benefit amount is affected by the age at which he or she claims benefits relative to the FRA. Benefit adjustments are made based on the number of months before or after the FRA the worker claims benefits. The adjustments are intended to provide the worker with roughly the same total lifetime benefits, regardless of when he or she claims benefits, based on average life expectancy. Claiming benefits before the FRA...

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...

Unemployment Insurance: Programs and Benefits

Certain benefits may be available to unemployed workers to provide them with income support during a spell of unemployment. The cornerstone of this income support is the joint federal-state Unemployment Compensation (UC) program, which may provide income support through the payment of UC benefits for up to a maximum of 26 weeks in most states. Other programs that may provide workers with income support are more specialized. They may target special groups of workers, be automatically triggered by certain economic conditions, be temporarily created by Congress with a set expiration date, or...

Health Care for Dependents and Survivors of Veterans

The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) was established by the Veterans Health Care Expansion Act of 1973 (P.L. 93-82). CHAMPVA is primarily a health insurance program where certain eligible dependents and survivors of veterans receive care from private sector health care providers. The program is administered by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Office of Community Care, located in Denver, CO.

Eligibility

To be eligible for CHAMPVA benefits, the beneficiary must be the spouse or child of a veteran who has a total and permanent...

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

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

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

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...

H.R. 4508, the PROSPER Act: Proposed Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act

During the 115th Congress, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce marked up and ordered reported with amendments the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform Act (PROSPER Act; H.R. 4508), which would provide for the comprehensive reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA).

H.R. 4508 would make numerous amendments to the HEA, many of which address six themes: (1) redesigning the federal approach to providing student aid; (2) modifying federal student aid rules; (3) eliminating or winding down programs; (4) revising the...

The Closure of Institutions of Higher Education: Student Options, Borrower Relief, and Implications

The recent closures of multiple large, private for-profit institutions of higher education (IHEs), such as those owned by Corinthian Colleges, Inc. (e.g., Heald College) and ITT Educational Services (e.g., ITT Technical Institutes) have brought into focus the extent to which a student’s postsecondary education may be disrupted by a school closure. The closures of these IHEs also highlighted the numerous issues students may face when their institutions close and the difficult decisions they may be required to make in the wake of a closure. Two key issues students may face when their IHE...

Welfare Reform: Work Status of Single Mothers, In Brief

Welfare reform; Single Mothers; Employment trends; Poverty

Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans: Structure, Procedures, and CRS Experts

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 Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans, made up of 16 members of the House and Senate—four chosen by each of the chambers’ party leaders—is intended to formulate recommendations and legislative language that will “significantly improve the solvency of multiemployer pension plans and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.” The law directs the joint select committee to, no later than November 30, 2018, vote on a...

Puerto Rico: CRS Experts

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

The Puerto Rican Governor was charged with...

Child Support Enforcement Annual User Fee: In Brief

Section 454(6)(B)(ii) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 654) requires that states impose an annual user fee for Child Support Enforcement (CSE) services provided to families with no connection to the welfare system. (The act also requires that an application fee be collected and provides the authority to recover costs.)

When the annual user fee was first established by the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-171), the amount of the fee was $25 and it was to be assessed if the state CSE agency collected at least $500 in child support payments on behalf of the family in a given...

Enforcement of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act: Select Legal Issues

In an increasingly interconnected world, public health concerns and crises have domestic and international implications. In the United States, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938 (FD&C Act or the Act) promotes public health by preventing fraudulent activity with respect to food, drugs, and an array of other public health products that enter interstate commerce. Indeed, the Act’s primary purpose is to “safeguard” and “protect” consumers from exposure to dangerous products affecting public health and safety. The FD&C Act does this by regulating covered articles from their...

The 10-20-30 Plan and Persistent Poverty Counties

Anti-poverty interventions that provide resources to local communities, based on the characteristics of those communities, have been of interest to Congress. One such policy, dubbed the “10-20-30 plan,” was implemented in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, P.L. 111-5). Title I, Section 105 of ARRA required the Secretary of Agriculture to allocate at least 10% of funds from three rural development program accounts to persistent poverty counties; that is, to counties that have had poverty rates of 20% or more for the past 30 years, as measured by the 1980, 1990, and...

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...

Federal Spending on Benefits and Services for People with Low Income: In Brief

Need-Tested Programs; Means-Tested Programs; Poverty; Low-Income; Cash Assistance; Medical Assistance; Housing Assistance; Educational Assistance; Social Services; Employment and Training.

Federal Employees’ Retirement System: Summary of Recent Trends

This report describes recent trends in the characteristics of annuitants and current employees covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS) as well as the financial status of the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund (CSRDF).

In FY2016, 94% of current civilian federal employees were enrolled in FERS, which covers employees hired since 1984. Six percent were enrolled in CSRS, which covers only employees hired before 1984.

In FY2016, more than 2.6 million people received civil service annuity payments, including 2,077,804...

Vulnerable Youth: Background and Policies

The majority of young people in the United States grow up healthy and safe in their communities. Most of those of school age live with parents who provide for their well-being, and they attend schools that prepare them for advanced education or vocational training and, ultimately, self-sufficiency. Many youth also receive assistance from their families during the transition to adulthood. During this period, young adults cycle between attending school, living independently, and staying with their families. A study from 2009 found that over 60% of young people ages 19 to 22 receive financial...

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...

Banking Law: An Overview of Federal Preemption in the Dual Banking System

Banks play a critical role in the United States economy, channeling funds from savers to borrowers and thereby facilitating economic activity. To address the risks of bank failures and excessive risk-taking, and the problem that consumers at times lack the information or expertise to make sound choices concerning financial products and services, both federal and state lawmakers have imposed a host of regulations on commercial banks.

The United States has what is referred to as a “dual banking system,” in which banks can choose to apply for a charter from a state banking authority or a...

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...

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...

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant: A Primer on TANF Financing and Federal Requirements

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant provides federal grants to the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the territories, and American Indian tribes for a wide range of benefits, services, and activities. It is best known for helping states pay for cash welfare for needy families with children, but it funds a wide array of additional activities. TANF was created in the 1996 welfare reform law (P.L. 104-193). At the federal level, TANF is administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

TANF provides a basic block grant that totals $16.5 billion....

The Child and Dependent Care Credit: Impact of Selected Policy Options

Some policymakers have shown interest in having the federal government offset some of the costs families incur for child care. The child and dependent care tax credit (CDCTC or “child care credit”) reimburses some taxpayers for a portion of their out-of-pocket child care expenses. The CDCTC is a nonrefundable tax credit, meaning taxpayers with little or no income tax liability—including many low-income taxpayers—receive little if any credit. Using the TRIM3 model, this report provides estimates of key characteristics of the CDCTC under current law and estimates the distributional effect of...

Retirement Benefits for Members of Congress

Prior to 1984, neither federal civil service employees nor Members of Congress paid Social Security taxes, nor were they eligible for Social Security benefits. Members of Congress and other federal employees were instead covered by a separate pension plan called the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). The 1983 amendments to the Social Security Act (P.L. 98-21) required federal employees first hired after 1983 to participate in Social Security. These amendments also required all Members of Congress to participate in Social Security as of January 1, 1984, regardless of when they first...

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...

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant: A Legislative History

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant was created in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-193). It was born out of the welfare reform debates that spanned four decades, from the 1960s through the 1990s. These debates focused on the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, which provided federal funding for state-run programs delivering assistance to needy families with children, with most families receiving assistance historically being headed by single mothers who were not working. The welfare reform...

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

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

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

Funding Gaps and Government Shutdowns: CRS Experts

Contacting CRS Subject Matter Experts

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

agencies and programs funded by specific regular appropriations bills;

cross-cutting shutdown...

The Supplemental Poverty Measure: Its Core Concepts, Development, and Use

The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) is a measure of economic deprivation—having insufficient financial resources to achieve a specified standard of living. The SPM addresses some of the limitations of the official poverty measure, without supplanting it outright.

Both the SPM and the official measure determine the poverty status of people and families by comparing their financial resources against poverty thresholds that are valued in dollars. For both measures, poverty thresholds vary by family size and composition, and families whose resources are lower than the thresholds are...

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...

Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) in Transportation

Public-private partnerships (P3s) in transportation are contractual relationships typically between a state or local government, who are the owners of most transportation infrastructure, and a private company. P3s provide a mechanism for greater private-sector participation in all phases of the development, operation, and financing of transportation projects. Although there are many different forms P3s can take, this report focuses on the two types of agreements that generate the most interest and discussion: (1) design-build-finance-operate-maintain (DBFOM); and (2) long-term lease.

P3s...

Social Security: Cost-of-Living Adjustments

To compensate for the effects of inflation, Social Security recipients usually receive an annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). According to parameters outlined in the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 415(i)), a 2.0% COLA is payable in January 2018. For a retired worker receiving the average benefit amount of $1,377, the COLA will result in a $27 increase in Social Security benefits (for a total of $1,404).

Social Security COLAs are based on changes in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), updated monthly by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor...

Poverty in the United States in 2016: In Brief

In 2016, approximately 40.6 million people, or 12.7% of the population, had incomes that fell below the official definition of poverty in the United States. These statistics represented a noticeable drop from the previous year, both in the number of poor, which had been 43.1 million in 2015, and the poverty rate (the percentage that were in poverty), which fell from 13.5%. This was also the first year that the poverty rate was not statistically different from the rate in 2007, the last year before the most recent recession.

The poverty rate for female-householder families (26.6%) was...

Workers’ Compensation: Overview and Issues

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

Cost-of-Living Adjustments for Federal Civil Service Annuities

Cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) are based on the rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). COLAs for both CSRS and FERS are determined by the average monthly CPI-W during the third quarter (July to September) of the current calendar year and the third quarter of the base year, which is the last previous year in which a COLA was applied. The “effective date” for COLAs is December, but they first appear in the benefits...

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...

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...

Social Security: Revisiting Benefits for Spouses and Survivors

Social Security auxiliary benefits were established in 1939 when Congress extended benefits to the dependents and survivors of workers covered by Social Security. Since then, Social Security auxiliary benefits have been modified by Congress numerous times to change eligibility requirements for spouses, widows, children, and others and to expand eligibility for auxiliary benefits to new groups of beneficiaries, such as former spouses, husbands, and widowers.

Auxiliary benefits are paid to the spouse, former spouse, survivor, child, or parent of a Social Security-covered worker and are equal...

Supreme Court October Term 2016: A Review of Select Major Rulings

The Supreme Court term that began on October 3, 2016, was notably different from recent terms at the High Court. It was the first term (1) in thirty years to begin without Justice Antonin Scalia on the Court; (2) since 1987 to commence with a Court made up of fewer than nine active Justices; and (3) since 2010 in which a new member (Justice Neil Gorsuch) joined the High Court. Court observers have suggested that the lack of a fully staffed Supreme Court for the bulk of the last term likely had an impact on the Court’s work both with regard to the volume of cases that the Court heard and...

Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA): Background and Funding

Family violence broadly refers to acts of physical and sexual violence and emotional abuse perpetrated by individuals against family members. The federal government has responded to various forms of family violence, including violence involving spouses and other intimate partners, children, and the elderly. The focus of this report is on the federal response to domestic violence under the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA). “Domestic violence” is used in the report to describe violence among intimate partners, including those involved in dating relationships. Generally...

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...

Military Sexual Assault: A Framework for Congressional Oversight

Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to raise and support armies; provide and maintain a navy and make rules for the governance of those forces. Under this authority, Congress determines military criminal law applicable to members of the Armed Forces. Congress has determined that sexual assault is a criminal act under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). As such, Congress has an interest in overseeing the implementation and enforcement of these laws in order to provide for the health, welfare, and good order of the Armed Forces.

Prevention and...

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...

Youth Transitioning from Foster Care: Background and Federal Programs

While many young people have access to emotional and financial support systems throughout their early adult years, older youth in foster care and those who are emancipated from care often face obstacles to developing independent living skills and building supports that ease the transition to adulthood. Older foster youth who return to their parents or guardians may continue to experience poor family dynamics or lack supports, and studies have shown that recently emancipated foster youth fare poorly relative to their counterparts in the general population on several outcome measures.

The...

The HUD Homeless Assistance Grants: Programs Authorized by the HEARTH Act

The Homeless Assistance Grants, administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), were first authorized by Congress in 1987 as part of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (P.L. 100-77). Since their creation, the grants have been composed of three or four separate programs, though for the majority of their existence, between 1992 and 2012, the grant programs were unchanged. During this time period, there were four programs authorized and funded by Congress: the Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG), the Supportive Housing Program (SHP), the Shelter Plus Care (S+C)...

Railroad Retirement Board: Trust Fund Investment Practices

Beginning in 2002, a significant portion of the assets of the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) has been invested in private stocks, bonds, and other investments. Prior to the Railroad Retirement and Survivors’ Improvement Act of 2001, P.L. 107-90, surplus railroad retirement assets could only be invested in U.S. government securities—just as the Social Security trust funds must be invested. The 2001 act established the National Railroad Retirement Investment Trust (NRRIT; hereinafter, the Trust) to manage and invest part of the RRB’s assets in the same way that the assets of private-sector...

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....

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.

Comparison of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA)

Per the reconciliation instructions in the budget resolution for FY2017 (S.Con.Res. 3), the House passed its reconciliation bill, H.R. 1628—the American Health Care Act (AHCA)—with amendments on May 4, 2017. The House bill was received in the Senate on June 7, 2017, and the next day the Senate majority leader had it placed on the calendar, making it available for floor consideration. The Senate Budget Committee published on its website a “discussion draft” titled, “The Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017” (BCRA) on June 22, subsequently updated the discussion draft on June 26, again on...

An Analysis of the Geographic Distribution of the Mortgage Interest Deduction

This report analyzes variation in the mortgage interest deduction tax expenditure across states. Tax expenditures, such as the mortgage interest deduction, can generally be viewed as government spending administered via the tax code, or as tax incentives that are intended to achieve particular policy objectives. Regardless of the interpretation, tax expenditures provide a benefit to qualifying taxpayers by lowering their federal tax liabilities. Recent proposals to change the mortgage interest deduction could affect how its benefits are distributed. Understanding how the deduction’s...

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant Subsidized Employment Demonstration Proposal: In Brief

H.R. 2842. Subsidized employment. Career Pathways. Apprenticeship. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

Programs Available to Unemployed Workers Through the American Job Center Network

Many federally funded programs that assist unemployed workers are co-located and coordinated through state and locally run American Job Centers (AJCs; also known as One-Stop Career Centers). The specific set of benefits and services available to a worker through the AJC network varies by the worker’s characteristics and reason for unemployment.

Unemployment insurance (UI) is a federal-state system and mandatory AJC partner. UI benefits are available to workers who have involuntarily lost their jobs and have demonstrated a required level of labor force attachment. UI provides weekly cash...

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...

Department of Labor’s 2016 Fiduciary Rule: Background and Issues

Regulations issued in 1975 (called the 1975 rule in this report) defined investment advice using a five-part test. To be held to ERISA’s fiduciary standard with respect to his or her advice, an individual had to (1) make recommendations on investing in, purchasing, or selling securities or other property, or give advice as to the value (2) on a regular basis (3) pursuant to a mutual understanding that the advice (4) will serve as a primary basis for investment decisions, and (5) will be individualized to the particular needs of the plan regarding such matters as, among other things,...

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...

Institutional Eligibility for Participation in Title IV Student Financial Aid Programs

Title IV of the Higher Education Act (HEA) authorizes programs that provide financial assistance to students to assist them in obtaining a postsecondary education at certain institutions of higher education (IHEs). These IHEs include public, private nonprofit, and proprietary institutions. For students attending such institutions to be able to receive Title IV assistance, an institution must be

licensed or otherwise legally authorized to operate in the state in which it is physically located,

accredited or preaccredited by an agency recognized for that purpose by the Department of...

Maternal and Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program: Background and Funding

The federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program supports home visiting services for families with young children who reside in communities that have concentrations of poor child health and other risk indicators. Home visits are conducted by nurses, mental health clinicians, social workers, or paraprofessionals with specialized training. Generally, they visit the homes of eligible families on a regular basis (e.g., weekly or monthly) over an extended period (e.g., six months or longer) to provide support to caregivers and children, such as guidance on...

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...

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.)...

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...

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...

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): FY2018 Budget Request Fact Sheet

Overview of FY2018 President’s Budget request for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

VA Housing: Guaranteed Loans, Direct Loans, and Specially Adapted Housing Grants

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has assisted veterans with homeownership since 1944, when Congress enacted the loan guaranty program to help veterans returning from World War II purchase homes. The loan guaranty program assists veterans by insuring mortgages made by private lenders, and is available for the purchase or construction of homes as well as to refinance existing loans. The loan guaranty has expanded over the years so that it is available to (1) all veterans who fulfill specific duration of service requirements or who were released from active duty due to...

H.R. 1628: The American Health Care Act (AHCA)

In January 2017, the House and Senate adopted a budget resolution for FY2017 (S.Con.Res. 3), which reflects an agreement between the chambers on the budget for FY2017 and sets forth budgetary levels for FY2018-FY2026. S.Con.Res. 3 also includes reconciliation instructions directing specific committees to develop and report legislation that would change laws within their respective jurisdictions to reduce the deficit. These instructions trigger the budget reconciliation process, which may allow certain legislation to be considered under expedited procedures. The reconciliation instructions...

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...

The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA): Compensation Related to Exposure to Radiation from Atomic Weapons Testing and Uranium Mining

The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) provides one-time benefit payments to persons who may have developed cancer or other specified diseases after being exposed to radiation from atomic weapons testing or uranium mining, milling, or transporting. Administered by the Department of Justice (DOJ), RECA has awarded nearly $2 billion in benefits to more than 30,000 claimants since its inception in 1990. The RECA program is scheduled to sunset in 2022.

RECA benefits are available to the following groups:

onsite participants—$75,000 to persons who participated onsite in the atmospheric...

Background and Federal Efforts on Summer Youth Employment

Labor force activity for youth ages 16 to 24 has been in decline since the late 1990s. This trend has been consistent even during the summer months, when youth are most likely to be engaged in work. Labor force data from the month of July highlight changes in summer employment over time. For example, the employment rate—known as the employment to population (E/P) ratio—for youth was 64.1% in July 1996 and 53.2% in July 2016. Congress has long been concerned about ensuring that young people have productive pathways to adulthood, particularly for those youth who are low-income and have...

The Growing Gap in Life Expectancy by Income: Recent Evidence and Implications for the Social Security Retirement Age

Life expectancy is a population-level measure that refers to the average number of years an individual will live. Although life expectancy has generally been increasing over time in the United States, researchers have long documented that it is lower for individuals with lower socioeconomic status (SES) compared with individuals with higher SES. Recent studies provide evidence that this gap has widened in recent decades. For example, a 2015 study by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) found that for men born in 1930, individuals in the highest income quintile (top 20%) could expect to...

Administration of the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program

The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) program, authorized under Title IV, Part D of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), is the primary federal student loan program. It makes available loans to undergraduate and graduate students and the parents of dependent undergraduate students to help them finance postsecondary education expenses. As of the end of FY2016, there was approximately $949.1 billion in outstanding Direct Loan program loans. Direct Loan program administrative expenses totaled approximately $771 million in FY2016.

Under the Direct Loan program, the federal...

Benefits for Service-Disabled Veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers programs to qualified former U.S. servicemembers (veterans). This report describes programs that provide benefits to veterans with service-connected disabilities (service-disabled veterans). These benefits can compensate a veteran for an injury or provide assistance to enable a veteran to have a higher quality of life.

To qualify for the benefits discussed in this report, a veteran must have a physical or mental condition that was “incurred or aggravated” in the line of military duty and that results in a disability. Service-connected...

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...

Unemployment Insurance: Legislative Issues in the 114th Congress

The 114th Congress considered many issues related to unemployment insurance (UI) programs: Unemployment Compensation (UC), the temporary, now-expired Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC08), and Extended Benefits (EB). This report gives a brief overview of the UI programs that may provide benefits to eligible unemployed workers. In addition, it briefly summarizes the President’s budget proposal for FY2017.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016, P.L. 114-92, altered certain conditions for individuals to receive Unemployment Compensation for Former Servicemembers...

The Loan Limits for Government-Backed Mortgages

The federal government supports homeownership in different ways. One of the main ways is through programs or quasi-government entities that promise lenders or investors that if a homeowner defaults on a covered mortgage, the lender or investor will still receive some—or all—of the amount it was owed. In some cases, the guarantees support homeownership by making private lenders more willing to offer certain types of mortgages. In other cases, the guarantees provided by these entities may increase the number of private investors who are willing to invest in mortgages, thereby increasing the...

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: Background and Summary

Beginning in 2007, U.S. financial conditions deteriorated, leading to the near-collapse of the U.S. financial system in September 2008. Major commercial banks, insurers, government-sponsored enterprises, and investment banks either failed or required hundreds of billions in federal support to continue functioning. Households were hit hard by drops in the prices of real estate and financial assets, and by a sharp rise in unemployment. Congress responded to the crisis by enacting the most comprehensive financial reform legislation since the 1930s.

Then-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner...

Gun Control, Mental Incompetency, and Social Security Administration Final Rule

On February 2, 2017, the House of Representatives passed a Congressional Review Act disapproval resolution (H.J.Res. 40) to overturn a final rule promulgated by the Social Security Administration (SSA) regarding implementation of firearms restrictions for certain persons. On February 16, 2017, the Senate passed H.J.Res. 40 without any amendments. On February 28, 2017, President Donald Trump signed this resolution into law (P.L. 115-8). This enacted joint resolution vacates the SSA final rule. It also bars the SSA from promulgating any future rule that would be “substantially the same” as...

Child Support Enforcement: Program Basics

The Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program was enacted in 1975 as a federal-state program (Title IV-D of the Social Security Act). The primary purpose of this program was to reduce public expenditures for welfare recipients by obtaining ongoing support from noncustodial parents that could reimburse the state and federal governments for part of their expenses (i.e., welfare cost-recovery). Relatedly, the program also sought to strengthen families by securing financial support for children from their noncustodial parent on a consistent and continuing basis to enable some families to remain...

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...

Employer Wellness Programs and Genetic Information: Frequently Asked Questions

Since the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA, P.L. 111-148, as amended), which encouraged use of wellness programs, employers have increasingly established employer wellness programs in an effort to support better health among their employees and reduce their own health care costs. Employer wellness programs often focus on improving wellness overall, but they may target a specific disease (e.g., diabetes) or behavior (e.g., smoking), and they may include the provision of health or other services. These programs often include incentives for participation,...

HUD’s Reverse Mortgage Insurance Program: Home Equity Conversion Mortgages

Reverse mortgages allow older homeowners to borrow against the equity in their homes and repay the loans at a later time, after they sell the home or pass away. Reverse mortgages differ from traditional forward mortgages both in the way in which borrowers receive the loan proceeds and the way in which the loans are repaid. Like traditional forward mortgages and home equity lines of credit, borrowers may receive a lump sum payment from the loan or have an available line of credit. However, additional options include monthly payments over a period of time or monthly payments for the life of...

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...

Preserving Homeownership: Foreclosure Prevention Initiatives

The home mortgage foreclosure rate began to rise rapidly in the United States beginning around the middle of 2006 and remained elevated for several years thereafter. Losing a home to foreclosure can harm households in many ways; for example, those who have been through a foreclosure may have difficulty finding a new place to live or obtaining a loan in the future. Furthermore, concentrated foreclosures can negatively impact nearby home prices, and large numbers of abandoned properties can negatively affect communities. Finally, elevated levels of foreclosures can destabilize housing...

Income Eligibility and Rent in HUD Rental Assistance Programs: Frequently Asked Questions

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers five main rental assistance programs that subsidize rents for low-income families: the Public Housing program, the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, the Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance program, the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly program, and the Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities program. Together, these programs serve more than 4 million families and make up well over three-quarters of HUD’s budget. All five programs provide rental assistance in the form of...

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,...

An Overview of Accreditation of Higher Education in the United States

Title IV of the Higher Education Act (HEA) authorizes programs that provide financial assistance to students to assist them in obtaining a postsecondary education at certain institutions of higher education (IHEs). IHEs wishing to participate in Title IV federal student aid (FSA) programs must meet several requirements, including being accredited by an agency recognized by the Department of Education (ED) as a reliable authority on the quality of the education being offered.

There are three general types of accrediting agencies, each of which serves a specific purpose. Regional accrediting...

Social Security: Raising or Eliminating the Taxable Earnings Base

Social Security taxes are levied on covered earnings up to a maximum level set each year. In 2017, this maximum—formally called the contribution and benefit base, and commonly referred to as the taxable earnings base or the taxable maximum—is $127,200. The taxable earnings base serves as both a cap on contributions and on benefits. As a contribution base, it establishes the maximum amount of a worker’s earnings that is subject to the payroll tax. As a benefit base, it establishes the maximum amount of earnings used to calculate benefits.

Since 1982, the Social Security taxable earnings...

Statutory, Average, and Effective Marginal Tax Rates in the Federal Individual Income Tax: Background and Analysis

Tax reform is a stated priority of the 115th Congress. In June 2016, Ways and Means Committee Republicans released the “Better Way” tax reform blueprint. The proposal seeks to make the individual income tax system “simpler, flatter, and fairer” by consolidating the number of individual income tax brackets. Looking at statutory tax rates alone, however, provides limited information regarding the simplicity or fairness of the tax system. Average tax rates and effective marginal tax rates are frequently used by economists and policy analysts to evaluate the fairness of the tax system, as well...

An Introduction to Poverty Measurement

Poverty measures convey the number or percentage of people falling below given income amounts, which are intended to represent a level of economic privation and are computed using some factually based measurement of basic needs. The poverty measures discussed in this report—the official U.S. poverty measure and the research Supplemental Poverty Measure—focus on financial resources. A family’s income is compared against a dollar amount representing some measure of need, called a threshold, which typically varies by family size and composition. Those with family income less than the...

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

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

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

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...

Child Welfare: Oversight of Psychotropic Medication for Children in Foster Care

Children in foster care are children that the state has removed from their homes and placed in another setting designed to provide round-the-clock care (e.g., foster family home, group home, child care institution). The large majority of children enter foster care because of neglect or abuse at the hands of their parents. Maltreatment by a caregiver is often traumatic for children, and may lead to children having challenges regulating their emotions and interpreting cues and communication from others, among other problem behaviors. Children in foster care are more likely to have mental...

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): The Work Participation Standard and Engagement in Welfare-to-Work Activities

The 1996 welfare reform law (P.L. 104-193) created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant. TANF’s predecessor program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), historically assisted non-working single mothers. The debates leading to the 1996 law focused on how to move those single mothers from welfare to work.

TANF provides states with flexibility in how they design their programs. It has national goals, one of which is ending dependence of needy parents on government benefits by, in part, promoting job preparation and work. To enforce that goal, TANF...

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 Effectiveness of the Community Reinvestment Act

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA; P.L. 95-128, 12 U.S.C. §§2901-2908) addresses how banking institutions meet credit needs in low- and moderate-income (LMI) neighborhoods. The federal banking regulatory agencies—the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)—currently implement the CRA. The regulators conduct examinations to evaluate how banks are fulfilling the objectives of the CRA and issue performance ratings. Having a satisfactory or better CRA rating is desirable when...

The 10-20-30 Rule and Persistent Poverty Counties

Anti-poverty interventions that provide resources to local communities, based on the characteristics of those communities, have been of interest to Congress. One such policy, dubbed the “10-20-30 rule,” was implemented in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, P.L. 111-5). Title I, Section 105 of ARRA required the Secretary of Agriculture to allocate at least 10% of funds from three rural development program accounts to persistent poverty counties; that is, to counties that have had poverty rates of 20% or more for the past 30 years, as measured by the 1980, 1990, and...

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

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

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

The Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA): Issues and Reauthorization Legislation in the 114th Congress

The Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act of 1996 (NAHASDA; P.L. 104-330) replaced several existing sources of housing funding for Native Americans with a single block grant, the Native American Housing Block Grant (NAHBG). Through the NAHBG, tribes and Alaska Native villages receive formula funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to use for a variety of affordable housing activities that benefit low-income Native American households living in tribal areas. NAHASDA also authorizes a loan guarantee program for tribes (the Title VI loan...

An Overview of the Housing Finance System in the United States

When making a decision about housing, a household must choose between renting and owning. Multiple factors, such as a household’s financial status and expectations about the future, influence the decision. Few people who decide to purchase a home have the necessary savings or available financial resources to make the purchase on their own. Most need to take out a loan. A loan that uses real estate as collateral is typically referred to as a mortgage.

A potential borrower applies for a loan from a lender in what is called the primary market. The lender underwrites, or evaluates, the...

Increasing Choice, Access, and Quality in Health Care for Americans Act (Division C of P.L. 114-255)

This report summarizes the Increasing Choice, Access, and Quality in Health Care for Americans Act, enacted December 13, 2016, as Division C of the 21st Century Cures Act (P.L. 114-255). Division C comprises Title XV through Title XVII, which include provisions primarily relating to Medicare and Title XVIII, which includes a provision relating to the small-group health insurance market.

Title XV Medicare Part A provisions:

extend the Rural Community Hospital demonstration five years;

require the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to account for socioeconomic...

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...

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): Size of the Population Eligible for and Receiving Cash Assistance

The reduction of the number of families with children receiving cash assistance since the mid-1990s is perhaps the signature indicator used to propose that the 1996 welfare reform law was successful in reducing welfare dependency. The law ended the cash assistance program for needy families with children, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), and replaced it with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant. TANF is a broad-based block grant that helps fund state cash assistance programs for needy families with children, but it also funds a wide range of...

Insurance Regulation: Background, Overview, and Legislation in the 114th Congress

The individual states have been the primary regulators of insurance since 1868. Following the 1945 McCarran-Ferguson Act, this system has operated with the explicit blessing of Congress, but has also been subject to periodic scrutiny and suggestions that the time may have come for Congress to reclaim the regulatory authority it granted to the states. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, congressional scrutiny was largely driven by the increasing complexities of the insurance business and concern over whether the states were up to the task of ensuring consumer protections, particularly...

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...

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,...

The U.S. Income Distribution: Trends and Issues

Income inequality—that is, the extent to which individuals’ or households’ incomes differ—has increased in the United States since the 1970s. Rising income inequality over this time period is driven largely by relatively rapid income growth at the top of the income distribution. For example, in 1975, the average income of households in the top fifth of income distribution was 10.3 times as large as average household income in the bottom fifth of the distribution; in 2015, average top incomes were 16.3 times as large as those at the bottom.

The pace and pattern of distributional change,...

Demographic and Social Characteristics of Persons in Poverty: 2015

This report provides a snapshot of the characteristics of the poor in the United States in 2015. It shows that people from families whose income falls below the federal poverty thresholds represent a diverse subset of the overall population.

There were 43 million people living below the federal poverty level in 2015, representing 13.5% of the total population.

Nearly half (45.1%) of all people in poverty lived in deep poverty (with income below 50% of the poverty threshold).

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

Drug Testing and Crime-Related Restrictions in TANF, SNAP, and Housing Assistance

Throughout the history of social assistance programs, administrators have attempted to limit access only to those families considered “worthy” of assistance. Policies about worthiness have included both judgments about need—generally tied to income, demographic characteristics, or family circumstances—and judgments about moral character, often as evidenced by behavior. Past policies evaluating moral character based on family structure have been replaced by today’s policies, which focus on criminal activity, particularly drug-related criminal activity. The existing crime- and drug-related...

Social Security Benefits for Noncitizens

Concerns about the number of unauthorized (illegal) aliens residing in the United States have fostered considerable interest in the eligibility of noncitizens for U.S. Social Security benefits. The Social Security program provides monthly cash benefits to qualified retired or disabled workers, their dependents, and survivors. Generally, a worker must have 10 years of Social Security-covered employment to be eligible for retirement benefits (less time in covered employment is required for disability and survivor benefits). Most U.S. jobs are covered under Social Security, and as a result,...

Infrastructure Finance and Debt to Support Surface Transportation Investment

Investment in surface transportation infrastructure is funded mainly with current receipts from taxes, tolls, and fares, but it is financed by public-sector borrowing and, in some cases, private borrowing and private equity investment. Financing is normally not arranged at the federal level, as the federal government builds few transportation projects directly. This report discusses current federal programs that support the use of debt finance and private investment to build and rebuild highways and public transportation. It also considers legislative options intended to encourage greater...

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...

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...

Compensated Work Sharing Arrangements (Short-Time Compensation) as an Alternative to Layoffs

Short-time compensation (STC) is a program within the federal-state unemployment insurance system. In states that have STC programs, workers whose hours are reduced under a formal work sharing plan may be compensated with STC, which is a regular unemployment benefit that has been pro-rated for the partial work reduction.

Although the terms work sharing and short-time compensation are sometimes used interchangeably, work sharing refers to any arrangement under which workers’ hours are reduced in lieu of a layoff. Under a work sharing arrangement, a firm faced with the need to downsize...

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and Single-Employer Plan Terminations

Questions may arise regarding the pensions of private-sector workers and how pension plans may be terminated, particularly in instances where a company experiences financial difficulties. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) regulates plan terminations and provides for three types of single-employer plan terminations—standard, distress, and involuntary—and imposes different responsibilities on the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) for each type.

A standard termination occurs when a plan administrator decides to terminate a plan that has assets sufficient to meet...

Unemployment Compensation (UC) and the Unemployment Trust Fund (UTF): Funding UC Benefits

This report provides a summary of how Unemployment Compensation (UC) benefits are funded through the Unemployment Trust Fund (UTF). The UTF in the U.S. Treasury is designated as a trust fund for federal accounting purposes. Although the UTF is a single trust fund, it has 59 accounts: the Employment Security Administration Account (ESAA), the Extended Unemployment Compensation Account (EUCA), the Federal Unemployment Account (FUA), 53 state accounts (including District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands), the Federal Employees Compensation Account (FECA), and two accounts...

Social Security: Calculation and History of Taxing Benefits

Social Security provides monthly cash benefits to retired or disabled workers and their family members and to the family members of deceased workers. Those benefits were exempt from federal income tax, but in 1983, Congress approved recommendations from the National Commission on Social Security Reform (also known as the Greenspan Commission) to tax the benefits of some higher-income Social Security beneficiaries. Beginning in 1984, up to 50% of Social Security and Railroad Retirement Tier I benefits became taxable for individuals whose provisional income exceeds $25,000. The threshold is...

Homelessness: Targeted Federal Programs

The causes of homelessness and determining how best to assist those who find themselves homeless became particularly prominent, visible issues in the 1980s. The concept of homelessness may seem straightforward, with individuals and families who have no place to live falling within the definition. However, the extent of homelessness in this country and how best to address it depend upon how one defines the condition of being homeless.

There is no single federal definition of homelessness, although a number of programs, including those overseen by the Department of Housing and Urban...

The Federal Minimum Wage: Indexation

In 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) established a federal minimum wage of $0.25 per hour. The minimum wage provisions of the FLSA have been amended numerous times since then, typically for the purpose of expanding coverage or raising the wage rate. Since its establishment, the minimum wage rate has been raised 22 separate times, most recently in 2007-2009 when it was increased from $5.15 per hour to its current rate of $7.25 per hour in three steps.

The federal minimum wage changes only when Congress amends the FLSA. Since 1938, Congress has amended the FLSA to raise the minimum...

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...

Unemployment Compensation: The Fundamentals of the Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)

The Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) of 1939 specifies the financing arrangement for the Unemployment Compensation (UC) program. Revenue for the program is provided through payroll taxes levied by both the federal government and the states on a portion of wages paid by covered employers. Total UC expenditures include benefit payments and administrative costs.

Federal unemployment taxes are deposited with the U.S. Treasury and credited to the federal accounts within the Unemployment Trust Fund (UTF). Federal unemployment taxes pay for state administrative costs, half the cost of...

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...

Social Security: Major Decisions in the House and Senate Since 1935

Since its enactment in 1935, the Social Security program has been amended numerous times. This report briefly summarizes discussions on individual major Social Security amendments only. These summations do not characterize the complete range of motivations behind Social Security votes; rather, they record the arguments expressed at the time and, by so doing, attempt to give the reader the tone and context of the debate on major Social Security issues brought before the House and Senate chambers.

This report responds to the many inquiries that the Congressional Research Service (CRS)...

Community Service Requirement for Residents of Public Housing

The Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-276) included provisions designed to promote employment and self-sufficiency among residents of assisted housing, including a mandatory work or community service requirement for residents of public housing. Non-elderly, non-disabled, non-working residents of public housing are required to participate in eight hours per month of either community service or economic self-sufficiency activities in order to maintain their eligibility for public housing.

The community service requirement has been controversial since its...

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...

Receipt of Unemployment Insurance by Higher-Income Unemployed Workers (“Millionaires”)

Under the federal-state Unemployment Insurance (UI) system, there is currently no prohibition on the receipt of UI benefits by high-income unemployed workers. States, which determine many of the eligibility requirements for UI benefits, may not restrict eligibility based on individual or household income.

Recent Congresses, however, have considered proposals to restrict the payment of unemployment benefits to high-income individuals. These proposals define high income in a variety of ways—often prohibiting UI benefits for “millionaires.” For instance, in the 112th Congress, the...

Poverty in the United States in 2015: In Brief

In 2015, approximately 43.1 million people, or 13.5% of the population, had incomes that fell below the official definition of poverty in the United States. These statistics represented a noticeable drop from the previous year, both in the number of poor, which had been 46.7 million in 2014, and the poverty rate (the percentage that were in poverty), which fell from 14.8%.

The drop in the U.S. poverty rate was broad-based, with poverty lessening among many demographic groups.

Families with a female householder and no spouse present (female-householder families) historically have had...

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...

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...

The Self-Employment Assistance (SEA) Program

Self-employment is one potential pathway to exit a spell of unemployment. The regular Unemployment Compensation (UC) program generally requires unemployed workers to be actively seeking work and to be available for wage and salary jobs as a condition of eligibility for UC benefits. These requirements constitute a barrier to self-employment and small business creation for unemployed workers who need income support. The Self-Employment Assistance (SEA) program, however, provides an avenue for combining income support during periods of unemployment with activities related to starting one’s...

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...

Child Support Enforcement and the Hague Convention on Recovery of International Child Support

The Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance (the Convention) was adopted at the Hague Conference on Private International Law on November 23, 2007. The Convention contains procedures for processing international child support cases that are intended to be uniform, simple, efficient, accessible, and cost-free to U.S. citizens seeking child support in other countries. The United States was the first country to sign the Convention. For many international cases, U.S. courts and state Child Support Enforcement (CSE) agencies already...

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...

The Child Support Enforcement Program: A Review of the Data

The Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program is a federal/state program that is designed to promote self-sufficiency of families in which one of the biological parents is living outside of the home. The program achieves its mission by trying to ensure that noncustodial parents meet their financial responsibility to their children. The CSE program provides several services on behalf of children including parent location, paternity establishment, establishment of child support orders, and collection and distribution of child support payments.

In FY1978, families who received cash welfare...

Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act (H.R. 3700)

The Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act (HOTMA; H.R. 3700), signed into law on July 29, 2016 (P.L. 114-201), makes amendments to various Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs, including the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program (including the Family Unification Program (FUP), the public housing program, the Section 8 project-based rental assistance program, Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insurance for condominiums, and homeless assistance including the Continuum of Care and Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) programs and Housing Opportunities...

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,...

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...

Federal Student Loan Forgiveness and Loan Repayment Programs

Student loan forgiveness and loan repayment programs provide borrowers a means of having all or part of their student loan debt forgiven or repaid in exchange for work or service in specific fields or professions or following a prolonged period during which their student loan debt burden is high relative to their income. In both loan forgiveness and loan repayment programs, borrowers typically qualify for benefits by working or serving in certain capacities for a specified period of time or by satisfying other program requirements over an extended term. Upon qualifying for benefits, some...

Sessions, Adjournments, and Recesses of Congress

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

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

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.

Amendments to the Higher Education Act in the 114th Congress: Current Legislation

On Wednesday, June 22, 2016, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce marked up and ordered reported five bills that would amend several of the programs and activities authorized under the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA).

H.R. 5528, the Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act, would amend procedures for completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to mandate the use of income and tax information from the second preceding (prior-prior) year for purposes of calculating a student’s expected family contribution (EFC), to require development of a tool...

Child Support Enforcement: Tribal Programs

The Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program was enacted in 1975 as a federal-state program. Its mission is to enhance the well-being of children by helping custodial parents and children obtain financial support from the noncustodial parents. Although states were always required to provide CSE services to members of Indian tribes and tribal organizations who were part of their CSE caseloads, tribes were not specifically included in the CSE statute until the 1996 welfare reform law (P.L. 104-193). The 1996 law allowed any state that has Indian country within its borders to enter into a...

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

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

Puerto Rico and Health Care Finance: Frequently Asked Questions

Puerto Rico’s financial circumstances, including uncertainty about its ability to service its large public debt, have drawn attention in recent months. As Congress examines Puerto Rico’s finances, questions have arisen about how federal health care programs (Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program [CHIP]) and private health insurance requirements apply to Puerto Rico. Is Puerto Rico treated like a state, or is it treated differently?

This report provides answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Puerto Rico’s health care system. The FAQs are divided...

Child Welfare: The Family First Prevention Services Act of 2016

The Family First Prevention Services Act of 2016 (H.R. 5456 and S. 3065) would amend the child welfare programs authorized in the Social Security Act to allow states to receive open-ended federal support under Title IV-E for time-limited services and programs that are intended to prevent the need for children to enter foster care by allowing children to remain safely at home with parents, or with kin. This change would respond to long-standing concern by state administrators, child welfare advocates, and some policymakers that federal child welfare support is largely available only after a...

Spending and Tax Expenditures: Distinctions and Major Programs

Spending programs and tax expenditures are the two primary ways that the federal government provides benefits to the public. Though each type of intervention represents a transfer from the government to individuals and firms, differences in the budget process, saliency, and targeting may have ramifications for usage across different types of services. This report briefly describes spending programs and tax expenditures, observes a few ways that they differ, and discusses how those distinctions may inform the relative use of each policy across the government portfolio.

Federal expenditures...

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...

Unemployment Compensation (Insurance) and Military Service

The Unemployment Compensation (UC) program contains several provisions relevant to current and former military service personnel and their families. The UC program does not provide benefits for military servicemembers on active duty. However, former active duty military personnel (and certain reservists) recently separated from active duty may be eligible for Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers (UCX).

Spouses of military service personnel who voluntarily quit a job to accompany their spouses on account of a military transfer may be eligible for UC benefits, based on the laws of...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Majority, Concurring, and Dissenting Opinions Authored by Judge Merrick Garland

On March 16, 2016, President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia on February 13, 2016. Judge Garland was appointed to the D.C. Circuit in April 1997, and since February 2013 has served as the circuit court’s Chief Judge, an administrative position that rotates among the active judges on the circuit. To assist Members and committees of Congress and their staff in their ongoing research into Judge Garland’s approach to the...

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...

The Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Employer Shared Responsibility Determination and the Potential Employer Penalty

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) creates shared responsibilities for both employers and individuals with regard to health insurance coverage. The ACA expands federal private health insurance market requirements and requires the creation of health insurance exchanges to provide individuals and small employers with access to insurance. This report examines the new employer responsibilities.

To ensure that employers continue to provide some degree of health coverage, the ACA includes a “shared responsibility” provision. This provision does not require that an employer offer employees health...

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...

Health Care for Veterans: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA), within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), operates the nation’s largest integrated health care delivery system, provides care to approximately 6.7 million unique veteran patients, and employs more than 311,000 full-time equivalent employees.

Eligibility and Enrollment. Contrary to claims concerning promises of “free health care for life,” not every veteran is automatically entitled to medical care from the VA. Eligibility for VA health care is based primarily on veteran status resulting from military service. Generally, veterans must also...

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...

Sexual Violence at Institutions of Higher Education

In recent years, a number of high-profile incidents of sexual violence at institutions of higher education (IHEs) have heightened congressional and administration scrutiny of the policies and procedures that IHEs use to address sexual violence on campus. Among other things, concerns have been expressed about standards of evidence used in institutional proceedings that occur in response to a report of sexual violence on campus, the sufficiency of current legal remedies, and Department of Education (ED) guidance to IHEs.

Further, although sexual violence on campus is a widely acknowledged...

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...

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

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

Overview of Private Health Insurance Provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Private health insurance is the predominant form of health insurance coverage in the United States, covering about two-thirds of Americans in 2014. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148, as amended) builds on and modifies existing sources of private health insurance coverage—the non-group (individual), small-group, and large-group markets. The ACA provisions follow a federalist model in which they establish federal minimum requirements and give states the authority to enforce and expand those federal standards.

The ACA includes provisions that restructure the...

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...

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,...

The Child Support Enforcement Program: A Legislative History

The Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program was enacted in 1975 as a federal-state program (Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, P.L. 93-647). It is intended to help strengthen families by securing financial support for children from their noncustodial parent on a consistent and continuing basis and by helping some of these families to remain self-sufficient and off public assistance. Child support payments enable parents who do not live with their children to fulfill their financial responsibility to them by contributing to the payment of childrearing costs.

When the program was first...

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...

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....

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...

Section 811 and Other HUD Housing Programs for Persons with Disabilities

The ability of persons with disabilities to live independently in affordable, accessible housing became a prominent issue starting in 1999 as the result of a Supreme Court decision, Olmstead v. L.C. The court held that institutionalization of persons with mental disabilities in lieu of community-based care may constitute discrimination. Shortly after the Olmstead decision, on February 1, 2001, President George W. Bush announced the New Freedom Initiative, an effort through multiple federal agencies to ensure full participation in society of persons with disabilities. Part of the New...

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...

Child Support: An Overview of Census Bureau Data on Recipients

The national Census Bureau data show that in 2013, 13.4 million parents had custody of children under the age of 21 while the other parent lived elsewhere, and the aggregate amount of child support received was $22.5 billion. In 2013, almost 83% of custodial parents were mothers. Of all custodial parents, 48% were white (non-Hispanic), 25% were black, 23% were Hispanic, 16% were married, 33% were divorced, 38% were never married, 13% did not have a high school diploma, almost 20% had at least a bachelor’s degree, 50% worked full-time year-round, 29% had family income below poverty, and...

Prescription Drug Abuse

An estimated 6.5 million individuals currently abuse prescription drugs in the United States. Unlike policy on street drugs, federal policy on prescription drug abuse is complicated by the need to maintain access to prescription controlled substances (PCS) for legitimate medical use. The federal government has several roles in reducing prescription drug abuse.

Coordination. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) coordinates and tracks prescription drug abuse reduction efforts and funding of multiple federal agencies.

Regulation. The primary federal statutes governing...

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...

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...

Private Health Insurance Market Reforms in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148, as amended) establishes federal requirements that apply to private health insurance. Its market reforms affect insurance offered to groups and individuals and impose requirements on sponsors of coverage (e.g., employers). In general, all of the ACA’s market reforms are currently effective; some became effective shortly after the ACA was passed in 2010, and others became effective for plan years beginning in 2014.

Although some of the market reforms had previously been enacted in some states, many of the reforms are new at...

Provisions of the Senate Amendment to H.R. 3762

The FY2016 budget resolution (S.Con.Res. 11) established the congressional budget for the government for FY2016 and set forth budgetary levels for FY2017-FY2025. It also included reconciliation instructions for House and Senate committees to submit changes in laws to reduce the federal deficit to their respective budget committees.

Specifically, S.Con.Res. 11 instructed three committees of the House and two committees of the Senate to submit changes in laws within each committee’s jurisdiction to reduce the deficit by not less than $1 billion for the period FY2016-FY2025. Additionally,...

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): Size and Characteristics of the Cash Assistance Caseload

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant provides states, territories, and Indian tribes with federal grants for benefits and services intended to ameliorate the effects, and address the root causes, of child poverty. It was created in the 1996 welfare reform law, and is most associated with policies such as time limits and work requirements that sought to address concerns about “welfare dependency” of single mothers who received cash assistance. This report examines the characteristics of the TANF cash assistance caseload in FY2013, and compares it with selected...

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...

An Analysis of Portfolio Lending and Qualified Mortgages

Title XIV of the Dodd-Frank Act established the ability-to-repay (ATR) requirement. Under the ATR requirement, a lender must determine based on documented and verified information that, at the time a mortgage is made, the borrower has the ability to repay the loan. Lenders that fail to comply with the ATR rule could be subject to legal liability, such as the payment of certain statutory damages.

A lender can comply with the ATR requirement in different ways, one of which is by originating a Qualified Mortgage (QM). When a lender originates a QM, it is presumed to have complied with the ATR...

The Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund: Background and Current Status

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides benefits to nonelderly workers and their eligible dependents if the worker paid Social Security taxes for a certain number of years and is unable to perform substantial work due to a qualifying impairment. As in Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI)—the retirement component of Social Security—benefits are based on a worker’s past earnings in covered employment. In December 2014, SSDI provided disability insurance coverage to more than 151 million people and paid benefits to about 9 million disabled workers and 2 million of their spouses...

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...

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...

Oil, Natural Gas, and Coal: CRS Experts

Fossil fuels play a dominant role in U.S. energy. The United States is a major producer and consumer of oil (and petroleum products), natural gas, and coal. U.S. fossil fuel reserves, production, processing and refining, distribution, markets, and use are of perennial interest among policymakers and the public. Ongoing concerns include retail gasoline prices, oil and other commodity markets, potential for expanded domestic supply, environmental effects of continued fossil combustion, and the benefits and drawbacks of trade in these commodities. The following tables provide access to names...

Need-Tested Benefits: Estimated Eligibility and Benefit Receipt by Families and Individuals

Need-tested benefits have received increased attention from policymakers in recent years, as spending levels for these programs remain elevated well into the economic expansion that followed the 2007-2009 recession. While information is available on the number of people who receive benefits from individual programs, it is more challenging to examine how these programs interact and the cumulative benefits families receive from them. Case studies based on hypothetical families often show how much in benefits a family may potentially receive from multiple programs under federal and state...

Data Security and Breach Notification Legislation: Selected Legal Issues

Recent data breaches at major U.S. retailers have placed a spotlight on concerns about the security of personal information stored in electronic form by corporations and other private entities. A data breach occurs when data containing sensitive personal information is lost, stolen, or accessed in an unauthorized manner, thereby causing a potential compromise of the confidentiality of the data. Existing federal laws, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act), and the...

Social Security and Same-Sex Marriage: Post Obergefell v. Hodges

This report addresses eligibility for Social Security spousal benefits for individuals in a same-sex marriage.

Key Takeaways

Under the Social Security Act, eligibility for spousal benefits depends on the applicant’s marital status as defined by the laws of the state as interpreted by the courts of that state in which the Number Holder, the person on whose work record the benefit is based, is domiciled.

Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) had required that marriage be defined as the union of one man and one woman for the purpose of federal enactments, rendering individuals in a...

Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015: Changes to Domestic Human Trafficking Policies

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA, S. 178/P.L. 114-22), an omnibus bill that primarily includes anti-human trafficking provisions, was signed into law on May 29, 2015. The bill received broad congressional support, passing the Senate unanimously on April 22, 2015, and the House nearly unanimously (420-3) on May 19, 2015. Through amendments in the House and the Senate, the law incorporates the same or similar provisions from 10 of the 12 bills on trafficking that passed the House in the first few weeks of the 114th Congress: H.R. 159, H.R. 181, H.R. 246, H.R. 285, H.R. 350,...

Effect of Corinthian Colleges’ Closure on Student Financial Aid: Frequently Asked Questions

Corinthian Colleges, Inc. (CCI) was the parent company of several private, for-profit institutions of higher education, including the Everest Institute, Everest Colleges, Heald Colleges, and Wyotech Technical Schools. CCI operated more than 100 of these institutions across the nation, with total enrollments of approximately 72,000 students who annually received roughly $1.4 billion in federal financial aid.

In summer 2014, the Department of Education (ED) limited CCI’s access to federal student aid in response to CCI’s failure to address concerns relating to a variety of practices,...

Potential Policy Implications of the House Reconciliation Bill (H.R. 3762)

On December 3, 2015, the Senate passed an amendment to H.R. 3762. For information about the Senate amendment to H.R. 3762 and how it compares to the House-passed version of H.R. 3762, see CRS Report R44300, Provisions of the Senate Amendment to H.R. 3762, coordinated by Annie L. Mach. This report will not be updated to reflect the Senate’s actions or subsequent actions taken by the House.

The FY2016 budget resolution (S.Con.Res. 11) established the congressional budget for the federal government for FY2016 and set forth budgetary levels for FY2017-FY2025. It also included reconciliation...

Chronic Homelessness: Background, Research, and Outcomes

Chronically homeless individuals are those who spend long periods of time living on the street or other places not meant for human habitation, and who have one or more disabilities, frequently including mental illnesses and substance use disorders. In the 2015 Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) point-in-time count of people experiencing homelessness, more than 83,000 individuals met the definition of chronically homeless, down from nearly 120,000 in 2008. In part the decline is due to the federal government’s plan, announced in 2002, to end chronic homelessness within 10...

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...

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

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

Veterans and Homelessness

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan brought renewed attention to the needs of veterans, including the needs of homeless veterans. Researchers have found both male and female veterans to be overrepresented in the homeless population, and, as the number of veterans increased due to these conflicts, there was concern that the number of homeless veterans could rise commensurately. The 2007-2009 recession and the subsequent slow economic recovery also raised concerns that homelessness could increase among all groups, including veterans.

Congress has created numerous programs that serve homeless...

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...

Taxation of Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment compensation (UC) benefits have been fully subject to the federal income tax since the passage of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-514). Under tax law, unemployment compensation is a broad category that includes regular state UC benefits, Extended Benefits (EB), Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) benefits, Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA), and railroad unemployment benefits, as well as the now expired Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC08) benefits.

Individuals who receive UC benefits during a year may elect to have the federal (and in some cases state) income...

The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA; P.L. 114-10)

On April 16, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA; P.L. 114-10), as passed by the Senate on April 14, 2015, and by the House on March 26, 2015. The act repeals the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula for calculating updates to Medicare payment rates to physicians and establishes an alternative set of annual updates. In addition, MACRA introduces a new merit-based incentive payment system and puts in place processes for developing, evaluating, and adopting alternative payment models (APMs).

The act also extends funding that...

The Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act of 1996 (NAHASDA): Background and Funding

Native Americans living in tribal areas experience some of the poorest housing conditions in the United States. Native Americans in tribal areas are several times more likely to live in housing that is physically substandard or overcrowded than the U.S. population as a whole. They are also more likely to live in poverty than the general population, further contributing to housing problems. In addition, a number of issues, such as the legal status of tribal land, pose unique barriers to housing for many people living in tribal areas.

In light of these conditions, and the federal...

Alternative Inflation Measures for the Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA)

Monthly Social Security payments for retired workers, disabled workers, and all other beneficiaries are generally increased annually by a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), which is based on growth in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), a measure of inflation calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Several proposals would base the COLA on other measures of inflation produced by the BLS. Some would set the Social Security COLA equal to growth in the Chained CPI for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U), which is projected to reduce Social...

Runaway and Homeless Youth Act: Current Issues for Reauthorization

The Runaway and Homeless Youth program is authorized by the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, and funds organizations throughout the country to provide services to youth who have run away and/or experience homelessness. The program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), includes three components: (1) the Basic Center program (BCP), which provides outreach, temporary shelter, and counseling for up to 21 days to youth under age 18 who have run away or are homeless; (2) the Transitional Living program (TLP), which supports residential services and...

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...

Disconnected Youth: A Look at 16 to 24 Year Olds Who Are Not Working or In School

In recent years, policymakers and youth advocates have focused greater attention on young people who are neither working nor in school. Generally characterized as “disconnected,” these youth may also lack strong social networks that provide assistance in the form of employment connections and other supports such as housing and financial assistance. Without attachment to work or school, disconnected youth may be vulnerable to experiencing negative outcomes as they transition to adulthood. The purpose of the report is to provide context for Congress about the characteristics of disconnected...

Poverty in the United States in 2014: In Brief

In 2014, approximately 46.7 million people, or 14.8% of the population, had incomes that fell below the official definition of poverty in the United States. Neither the number of people in poverty, nor the poverty rate (the percentage that were in poverty), had changed discernably from the previous year.

In this brief, the numbers and percentages of those in poverty are based on the Census Bureau’s estimates. While the official measure is regarded as a statistical yardstick rather than as a complete description of what people and families need to live, it does offer a measure of economic...

Pension Sponsorship and Participation: Summary of Recent Trends

This report discusses trends that will affect the economic well-being of future retirees.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): Financing Issues

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant provides grants to states, Indian tribes, and territories to help them fund a wide range of benefits and services for needy families with children. It was created in the 1996 welfare reform law, which rewrote the rules for cash assistance programs for these families. The 1996 law also created TANF as a broad-purpose block grant with state flexibility to design programs to address both the effects of and root causes of childhood economic disadvantage.

TANF funding is based on the amount of federal and state expenditures in its...

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

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

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

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...

Qualified Charitable Distributions from Individual Retirement Accounts: Features and Legislative History

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov RS22766 Summary A provision of the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-280) allows tax-free distributions from Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) for charitable purposes. This Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) provision is available to taxpayers aged 70½ or older and allows them to make contributions directly to a qualified charity while excluding the distribution from their taxable income. The provision initially expired on December 31, 2007. Subsequent legislation has extended this provision on a one- or two-year basis,...

Federal Employees’ Retirement System: Budget and Trust Fund Issues

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov RL30023 Summary Most of the civilian federal workforce is covered by one of two retirement systems: (1) the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) for individuals hired before 1984 or (2) the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS) for individuals hired in 1984 or later. FERS annuities are fully funded by the sum of employee and employer contributions and interest earned by the Treasury bonds held by the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund (CSRDF). The federal government makes supplemental payments into the CSRDF on behalf of...

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing: Federal Aggravated Identity Theft

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

H.R. 6: The 21st Century Cures Act

On July 10, 2015, the House passed H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act, on a vote of 344 to 77. Eight amendments were offered; five were approved by voice vote, two failed by recorded vote, and one was withdrawn. The House Energy and Commerce Committee, on May 21, 2015, unanimously ordered to be reported H.R. 6 and the House Committee on Rules published a committee print of the bill on July 2, 2015. On July 7, 2015, H.R. 6 was reported by the Committee on Energy and Commerce (H.Rept. 114-190), and the House Committee on Ways and Means was discharged from further consideration of the bill....

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA)

On May 21, 2008, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), referred to by its sponsors as the first civil rights act of the 21st century, was enacted. GINA, P.L. 110-233, prohibits discrimination based on genetic information by health insurers and employers. The sequencing of the human genome and subsequent advances raise hope for genetic therapies to cure disease, but this scientific accomplishment is not without potential problems. An employer or health insurer could decide to take adverse action based on a genetic predisposition to disease, and situations have arisen...

Concurrent Receipt of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Unemployment Insurance (UI): Background and Legislative Proposals

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Unemployment Insurance (UI) are forms of social insurance that provide protection against the risk of economic loss due to specific adverse events. SSDI provides long-term benefits to nonelderly workers and their eligible dependents if the worker is unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) due to a qualifying impairment. UI provides temporary benefits to involuntarily unemployed workers who meet the requirements of state law. Although SSDI and UI serve largely separate populations, some individuals may be concurrently...

Federal Employees’ Retirement System: Benefits and Financing

Most civilian federal employees who were hired before 1984 are covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Federal employees hired in 1984 or later are covered by the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS). Both CSRS and FERS require participants to contribute toward the cost of their pensions through a payroll tax. Employees who are covered by CSRS contribute 7.0% of pay to the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund (CSRDF). They do not pay Social Security taxes or earn Social Security benefits. Employees enrolled in FERS and first hired

before 2013 contribute 0.8%...

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...

Sex Trafficking: An Overview of Federal Criminal Law

Sex trafficking is a state crime. Federal law, however, makes it a federal crime to conduct the activities of a sex trafficking enterprise in a way that affects interstate or foreign commerce or that involves travel in interstate or foreign commerce. Section 1591 of Title 18 of the United States Code outlaws sex trafficking activities that affect interstate or foreign commerce. The Mann Act outlaws sex trafficking activities that involve travel in interstate or foreign commerce. The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 (Victims Justice Act; P.L. 114-22/S. 178) amended both §1591...

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...

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...

Uncertainty in Financial Projections of Social Security

The financial outlook for Social Security has been the subject of much analysis and debate. This report briefly discusses a report from the Social Security Board of Trustees which contains the federal government's official financial projections for the Social Security program.

Consumers and Food Price Inflation

The heightened price volatility of global commodity markets in 2008, the devastating U.S. drought of 2012, China’s growing demand for international commodities, and almost routine media reports of daunting world population growth all raise the specter of food price inflation and generate many questions about farm and food price movements. Understanding food price changes and their effects on consumers is an important matter for Members of Congress and their constituents. This report provides information on the current status and outlook for U.S. food prices, measuring their changes and how...

Genomic Data and Privacy: Background and Relevant Law

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

Genetic and genomic research—and...

Employment for Veterans: Trends and Programs

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

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

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010: Overview and Legal Analysis of Potential Interactions

Upon the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), as amended, certain questions have been raised about how the ACA might affect existing law. One such existing law, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), is a civil rights statute and has as its purpose the prohibition of discrimination against individuals on the basis of genetic information. In order to effectuate this prohibition, GINA not only contains certain requirements for health insurance and a general prohibition of employment discrimination provisions, but also has strong privacy...

The Effect of Firm Bankruptcy on Retiree Benefits, with Applications to the Automotive and Coal Industries

Benefits for retired employees are of particular interest to policymakers, who often are concerned with the income security of retirees, a large and fast-growing population. One aspect of this congressional concern is what happens when bankrupt employers are unable to provide promised pension and health benefits to their retired employees.

In chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, the employer receives protections against its financial commitments in the hope that it may once again become profitable. This protection could include not having to honor obligations concerning pensions and...

Housing Issues in the 113th Congress

The 113th Congress was active in considering a number of housing-related issues. In general, these issues can be divided into two broad categories: (1) issues related to homeownership and financing home purchases, and (2) issues related to housing assistance programs for low-income households. Housing assistance for low-income households tends to be primarily, but not exclusively, related to rental housing.

During the 113th Congress, housing and mortgage markets showed some signs of recovering after several years of distress. Nevertheless, several issues that Congress considered were...

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...

Health Care-Related Expiring Provisions, First Session of the 114th Congress

This report provides a list of selected health-related programs and activities under specified titles of the Social Security Act (SSA), including the Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant (Title V), General Provisions, Peer Review, and Administrative Simplification (Title XI), Medicare (Title XVIII), Medicaid (Title XIX), and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP; Title XXI); the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148, as amended); as well as selected provisions from the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) that are scheduled to terminate during...

Social Security and Same-Sex Marriage: Frequently Asked Questions

In United States v. Windsor, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional, finding, in part, that it violated the Constitution’s equal protection and substantive due process guarantees. Section 3 had required that marriage be defined as the union of one man and one woman for the purpose of federal enactments. According to the court, federal statutes that refer to a marriage for federal purposes should be interpreted as applying equally to married same-sex couples. The Court did not address Section 2 of DOMA, which allows individual...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): FY2016 Budget Request Overview and Resources

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) FY2016 Budget Request.

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...

P.L. 111-3: The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009

The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (H.R. 2, CHIPRA) was first passed in the House on January 14, 2009, and an amended version was passed in the Senate on January 29, 2009. On February 4, 2009, the House passed H.R. 2 as amended by the Senate and later that day President Obama signed the bill into law as P.L. 111-3. One of the provisions of CHIPRA permits using CHIP as the program’s acronym, instead of SCHIP. This report reflects this change, using CHIP instead of SCHIP.

The overall structure of CHIPRA is similar to its two predecessors, H.R. 976 and H.R....

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,...

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Reform: An Overview of Proposals to Manage the Growth in the SSDI Rolls

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides benefits to nonelderly workers with certain disabilities and their eligible dependents. As in Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI)—Social Security’s retirement program—SSDI benefits are based on a worker’s past earnings. To qualify, individuals must have worked and paid Social Security taxes for a certain number of years and be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) due to a severe mental or physical impairment that is expected to last for at least one year or result in death. In 2015, the monthly SGA earnings limit for...

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...

Health Insurance: A Primer

People obtain insurance to protect themselves against the possibility of financial loss in the future. Health insurance provides protection against the possibility of financial loss due to high health care expenses. Also, people do not know ahead of time exactly what their health care expenses will be, so paying for health insurance on a regular basis helps ease their out-of-pocket spending.

While health coverage continues to be mostly a private enterprise in this country, government plays an increasingly significant role. Government has initiated and responded to dynamics in medicine,...

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...

Insurance Regulation: Issues, Background, and Legislation in the 113th Congress

The individual states have been the primary regulators of insurance since 1868. Following the 1945 McCarran-Ferguson Act, this system has operated with the explicit blessing of Congress, but has also been subject to periodic scrutiny and suggestions that the time may have come for Congress to reclaim the regulatory authority it granted to the states. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, congressional scrutiny was largely driven by the increasing complexities of the insurance business and concern over whether the states were up to the task of ensuring consumer protections, particularly...

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): Eligibility and Benefit Amounts in State TANF Cash Assistance Programs

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R43634 Summary The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant helps states fund, among other benefits and services, cash assistance for needy families with children. While there are some federal rules that determine who may qualify for TANF-funded cash assistance (e.g., the family must have a dependent child), states determine the financial eligibility criteria and cash assistance benefit amounts. There is a large amount of variation among the states in the income thresholds that determine whether a family is eligible for...

Congressional Oversight Manual

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

Child Welfare: Health Care Needs of Children in Foster Care and Related Federal Issues

Approximately 641,000 children spend some time in foster care each year. Most enter care because they have experienced neglect or abuse by their parents. Between 35% and 60% of children entering foster care have at least one chronic or acute physical health condition that needs treatment. As many as one-half to three-fourths show behavioral or social competency problems that may warrant mental health services. A national survey of children adopted from foster care found that 54% had special health care needs. Research on youth who aged out of foster care shows these young adults are more...

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,...

Welfare, Work, and Poverty Status of Female-Headed Families with Children: 1987-2013

Eighteen years have passed since repeal of what was the nation’s major cash welfare program assisting low-income families with children, the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, and its replacement with a block grant of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). This report focuses on trends in the economic well-being of female-headed families with children, the principal group affected by the replacement of AFDC with TANF. Female-headed families and their children are especially at risk of poverty, and children in such families account for well over half of all...

Childhood Overweight and Obesity: Data Brief

In children and adolescents, obesity is defined as being at or above the 95th percentile of the age- and sex-specific body mass index (BMI); overweight is defined as being between the 85th and 94th percentiles, based on growth charts developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over the past three decades, obesity has become a major public health problem, capturing the interest of health care professionals, policymakers, schools, employers, and the media. Although obesity rates have stabilized over the past decade, almost 32% of U.S. children and adolescents between the...

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Block Grant: An Overview

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant provides grants to states, Indian tribes, and territories for a wide range of benefits, services, and activities that address economic and social disadvantage for families with children. TANF is best known for funding state cash assistance programs for needy families with children, and it was created in the 1996 welfare reform law. However, TANF is not synonymous with cash assistance. In FY2013, only 28% of federal and state TANF dollars were for cash assistance.

The bulk of federal TANF funding is in a fixed block grant,...

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview

This report discusses the earned income tax credit (EITC), established in the tax code in 1975, which offers cash aid to working parents with relatively low incomes who care for dependent children.

History of the Clery Act: Fact Sheet

This report summarizes legislative changes that have been made to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act, 20 U.S.C. 1092) since it was originally enacted as Title II of the Student Right-to-Know and Campus Security Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-542).

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...

Youth Transitioning from Foster Care: Issues for Congress

Recent research has demonstrated that compared to their peers current and former foster youth are more likely to experience negative outcomes in adulthood. This research, along with the efforts of policy makers and child welfare advocates, has brought greater attention to the challenges facing older youth in care and those transitioning from foster care. In response, Congress has sought to improve existing services and provide additional supports for this population through legislation. The 110th Congress passed the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008...

Poverty: Major Themes in Past Debates and Current Proposals

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, but poverty remains a difficult policy challenge. The Obama Administration and some in Congress have offered proposals that seek to address poverty, with the proposals differing considerably in their focus and content. However, the themes reflected in these proposals echo prior efforts to address the issue of poverty.

The terms “poverty” and “welfare” (commonly thought of as cash assistance for the poor) are often intertwined, but federal policies affecting poverty are broader than a single program or set of programs. In fact,...

An Overview of the HOME Investment Partnerships Program

The HOME Investment Partnerships Program was authorized by the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-625). HOME is a federal block grant program that provides funding to states and localities to be used exclusively for affordable housing activities to benefit low-income households.

Funds for HOME are appropriated annually to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which in turn distributes funding to states and certain localities by formula. Forty percent of HOME funds are allocated to states and 60% are allocated to localities. The formula...

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): Welfare-to-Work Revisited

One of the central features of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant is promoting work and job preparation for parents (mostly single mothers) in families that receive cash assistance. TANF was created in the 1996 welfare law, which was the culmination of a decades-long evolution from providing single mothers “pensions” to permit them to stay home and raise children to a program focused on work. State TANF programs were influenced by research conducted during a period of much experimentation on welfare-to-work initiatives in the 1980s and early 1990s, which found...

Federal Labor Relations Statutes: An Overview

Since 1926, Congress has enacted three major laws that govern labor-management relations for private sector and federal employees. An issue for Congress is the effect of these laws on employers, workers, and the nation’s economy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that, in 2013, an estimated 14.5 million employees were union members. In the 113th Congress, more than 25 bills were introduced to amend federal labor relations statutes. The proposals ranged from repealing provisions that permit employers to require employees to join a union as a condition of employment to requiring...

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

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

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

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

Nonmarital Births: An Overview

Although nonmarital births (i.e., births to unmarried women) are not a new phenomenon, their impact on families has not diminished and there is much agreement that the complexity of modern family relationships and living arrangements may further complicate the well-being of children born to unwed mothers.

For the past six years (2008-2013), the percentage of all U.S. births that were nonmarital births remained unchanged at about 41% (1.6 million births per year), compared with 28% of all births in 1990 and about 11% of all births in 1970. Many of these children grow up in mother-only...

Tax Benefits for Families: Adoption

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov RL33633 Summary The federal government provides assistance for the adoption of children through federal grants to states and through the tax code. Although federal assistance programs for adoption focus primarily on children adopted out of foster care, federal adoption tax provisions are available for all adoptions (except for adoptions of stepchildren). The adoption tax credit provides a 100% credit for adoption-related expenses of up to $13,190 in 2014. That limit is adjusted annually for inflation. The credit is not currently refundable,...

Upcoming Rules Pursuant to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: The Spring 2014 Unified Agenda

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, as amended) was signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. As is often the case with legislation, the ACA granted rulemaking authority to federal agencies to implement many of its provisions. The regulations issued pursuant to the ACA and other statutes carry the force and effect of law. Therefore, scholars and practitioners have long noted the importance of rulemaking to the policy process, as well as the importance of congressional oversight of rulemaking. For example, one scholar noted that the “Constitution’s grant...

Domestic Human Trafficking Legislation in the 113th Congress

Legislation aimed at preventing trafficking in persons (TIP) is unambiguously part of the legislative agenda of the 113th Congress. TIP is believed to be one of the most prolific areas of contemporary criminal activity and is of significant interest to the United States as a serious human rights concern. TIP is both an international and domestic crime that involves violations of labor, public health, and human rights standards, as well as criminal law. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) is the primary law that addresses human trafficking. Domestically, anti-TIP efforts provided...

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services: President’s FY2015 Budget

Federal law requires the President to submit an annual budget to Congress no later than the first Monday in February. The budget informs Congress of the President’s overall federal fiscal policy based on proposed spending levels, revenues, and deficit (or surplus) levels. The budget request lays out the President’s relative priorities for federal programs, such as how much should be spent on defense, education, health, and other federal programs. The President’s budget may also include legislative proposals for spending and tax policy changes. While the President is not required to propose...

S. 2262, Shaheen-Portman Bill 2014: Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act

S. 2262 has four energy efficiency titles, which address buildings, industry, federal agencies, and certain regulatory measures. Title V would provide a budgetary offset for bill authorizations. The bill was derived directly from S. 1392, often referred to as the Shaheen-Portman bill of 2013. During the first session, floor action on S. 1392 was halted by a push for votes on controversial non-energy amendments. Many energy amendments were also prepared for S. 1392, but floor action stopped before formal consideration.

In the second session, anticipating the potential for further procedural...

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...

Overview of Federal Housing Assistance Programs and Policy

The federal government has been involved in providing housing assistance to lower-income households since the 1930s. In the beginning, the federal government was involved in supporting the mortgage market (through establishment of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the government-sponsored enterprises) and in promoting construction of low-rent public housing for lower-income families through local public housing authorities (PHAs). Over time, the role of the federal government has shifted away from providing construction-based subsidies to providing rental subsidies; private...

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...

Retirement and Survivor Annuities for Former Spouses of Federal Employees

A former spouse of a federal employee may be entitled to a share of the employees retirement annuity under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) if this has been authorized by a state court decree of divorce, annulment, or legal separation. An employee also may voluntarily elect a survivor annuity for a former spouse. A state court can award a former spouse a share of the employees retirement annuity, a survivor annuity, or both. A court also can award a former spouse of a federal employee a portion of the employees Thrift Savings Plan...

The Mortgage Interest and Property Tax Deductions: Analysis and Options

Concern has increased over the size and sustainability of the United States’ recent budget deficits and the country’s long-run budget outlook. This concern has brought the issues of the government’s revenue needs and fundamental tax reform to the forefront of congressional debates. Congress may choose to address these issues by reforming the set of tax benefits for homeowners. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, federally provided tax benefits for homeowners will cost approximately $136.3 billion annually between 2014 and 2017. Reducing, modifying, or eliminating all or some of...

The Education of Students with Disabilities: Alignment Between the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

The largest sources of federal funding for elementary and secondary education are the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB; P.L. 107-110), and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA; P.L. 108-446). The ESEA provides funding and services for a broad population of students, including disadvantaged students, migrant students, neglected and delinquent students, and students with limited English proficiency. Approximately 6 million students with disabilities ages 6 through 21 attend elementary and secondary schools;...

Highway and Public Transportation Infrastructure Provision Using Public-Private Partnerships (P3s)

Growing demands on the transportation system and constraints on public resources have led to calls for more private sector involvement in the provision of highway and transit infrastructure through what are known as “public-private partnerships” or “P3s.” A P3, broadly defined, is any arrangement whereby the private sector assumes more responsibility than is traditional for infrastructure planning, financing, design, construction, operation, and maintenance. Some P3s involve the leasing by the public sector to the private sector of existing infrastructure, while others provide for a...

Vulnerable Youth: Overview of Issues Affecting Youth Programs Authorized Under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA)

The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA, P.L. 105-220) is the primary federal law that provides job training and related services to unemployed and underemployed individuals, including vulnerable young people with barriers to employment. All youth job training programs and related services are authorized under Title I of WIA and administered by the Department of Labor (DOL). These programs include the WIA Youth Activities formula program, Job Corps, and YouthBuild. The Job Corps program was established in the 1960s and is the oldest federal job training and employment program (among...

The National Directory of New Hires

The National Directory of New Hires (NDNH) is a database that contains personal and financial data on nearly every working American, as well as those receiving unemployment compensation. Contrary to its name, the National Directory of New Hires includes more than just information on new employees. It is a database that includes information on (1) all newly hired employees, compiled from state reports (and reports from federal employers), (2) the quarterly wage reports of existing employees (in Unemployment Compensation (UC)-covered employment), and (3) unemployment compensation claims. The...

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....

Countering Violent Extremism in the United States

In August 2011, the Obama Administration announced its counter-radicalization strategy. It is devised to address the forces that influence some people living in the United States to acquire and hold radical or extremist beliefs that may eventually compel them to commit terrorism. This is the first such strategy for the federal government, which calls this effort “combating violent extremism” (CVE). Since the Al Qaeda attacks of September 11, 2001, the U.S. government has prosecuted hundreds of individuals on terrorism charges. Unlike the necessarily secretive law enforcement and...

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...

The 2014 Farm Bill: Changing the Treatment of LIHEAP Receipt in the Calculation of SNAP Benefits

The Agricultural Act of 2014 (“the 2014 farm bill”) was enacted on February 7, 2014. Included in the law’s reauthorization of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a change to how Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) payments are treated in the calculation of SNAP benefits. This change is expected to reduce some households’ monthly benefit amounts, particularly households in states that have adopted the so-called “Heat and Eat” practice, where states leverage a nominal LIHEAP benefit into a larger SNAP benefit. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated...

Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda): U.S. and International Response to Philippines Disaster

This report examines the impact of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), which struck the central Philippines on November 8, 2013, and the U.S. and international response. Haiyan was one of the strongest typhoons to strike land on record. Over a 16 hour period, the “super typhoon,” with a force equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane and sustained winds of up to 195 mph, directly swept through six provinces in the central Philippines. The disaster quickly created a humanitarian crisis. In some of the hardest hit areas, particularly in coastal communities in Leyte province and the southern tip of Eastern...

Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program: Issues and Reform Proposals

The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program provides monthly rental assistance to around 2 million low-income households each year and is the largest (both in terms of people served and annual cost). It is administered at the local level by nearly 2,500 quasi-governmental public housing agencies (PHAs). While some form of Section 8 rental assistance has been in place since the mid-1970s, the modern program was shaped largely by the 1998 public housing reform act (P.L. 105-276). More than a decade later, the Section 8 voucher program has come under new scrutiny, with PHA industry leaders,...

School Resource Officers: Law Enforcement Officers in Schools

Some policymakers have expressed renewed interest in school resource officers (SROs) as a result of the December 2012 mass shooting that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. SROs are sworn law enforcement officers who are assigned to work in schools.

For FY2014, the Administration requested $150 million in funding for a Comprehensive Schools Safety Program under the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program. Congress appropriated $75 million for a Comprehensive School Safety Initiative. Congress required the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to collaborate...

The Social Security Number: Legal Developments Affecting Its Collection, Disclosure, and Confidentiality

While the social security number (SSN) was first introduced as a device for keeping track of contributions to the Social Security program, its use has been expanded by government entities and the private sector to keep track of many other government and private sector records. Use of the SSN as a federal government identifier was based on Executive Order 9397, issued by President Franklin Roosevelt. Beginning in the 1960s, federal agencies started adopting the SSN as a governmental identifier, and its use for keeping track of government records, on both the federal and state levels,...

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...

Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program: Overview and Current Issues

Title I of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 (P.L. 106-170) was signed into law on December 17, 1999, and created a Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency program, administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Through the Ticket to Work legislation, Congress sought to address several major work disincentives for individuals with disabilities. Ticket to Work provides a “ticket” or voucher to working-aged Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries to obtain employment and other support services....

Delphi Corporation: Pension Plans and Bankruptcy

The Delphi Corporation is a parts and components supplier to auto makers that was created in 1999 as a spin-off from General Motors (GM). In May 2009, the pension plans of Delphi were terminated and responsibility for the payment of benefits to plan participants was turned over to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), which is a government-run corporation that insures private pension benefits for workers in defined benefit (DB) pension plans. Although most workers in pension plans that are terminated by the PBGC receive their promised benefits, some workers may receive less than...

Disability Benefits Available Under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Veterans Disability Compensation (VDC) Programs

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Veterans Disability Compensation (VDC)—administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) respectively—are two of the largest federal disability programs, but strongly differ along several dimensions, including the populations served, how each program defines a “disability,” as well as varying eligibility requirements.

First, SSDI is an insurance program that replaces a portion of earnings for an eligible worker whose illness or injury—while not necessarily caused by a work-related...

Enforcement of Private Health Insurance Market Reforms Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), as amended, greatly expanded the scope of federal regulation over health insurance provided through employment-based group health plans, as well as coverage sold in the individual insurance market. Federal health insurance standards created by ACA require an extension of dependent coverage to age 26 if such coverage is offered; the elimination of preexisting condition exclusions; coverage of certain essential health benefits; a bar on lifetime or annual limits on the dollar value of certain benefits; a prohibition on health insurance...

Expiring Unemployment Insurance Provisions

Several key provisions related to extended federal unemployment benefits are temporary and, therefore, scheduled to expire.This report describes the consequences of these expirations for the financing and availability of unemployment benefits in states.The report also summarizes current legislative proposals to extend these expiring provision.

Medical Child Support: Background and Current Policy

Medical child support is defined as the legal provision of payment of medical, dental, prescription, and other health care expenses for children living apart from one of their parents. It can include provisions for health care coverage (including payment of costs of premiums, co-payments, and deductibles) as well as cash payments for a child’s medical expenses. The establishment and enforcement of medical support is intended to promote fairness in allocating childrearing costs between custodial and noncustodial parents and, when employer-sponsored health care is obtained, it saves federal...

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;...

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...

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...

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

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

Student Bullying: Overview of Research, Federal Initiatives, and Legal Issues

Many Members of Congress have become increasingly concerned about what can be done to address student bullying. This concern has arisen in response to high-profile bullying incidents that have occurred in recent years, and due to a growing body of research on the negative consequences of school bullying. Congress is interested in ensuring that schools are safe, secure places for students, so that they can receive the full benefits of their education. Several bills that address school bullying have already been introduced in the 113th Congress, although none has been enacted as of the date...

Federal Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Statutes

Federal mandatory minimum sentencing statutes limit the discretion of a sentencing court to impose a sentence that does not include a term of imprisonment or the death penalty. They have a long history and come in several varieties: the not-less-than, the flat sentence, and piggyback versions. Federal courts may refrain from imposing an otherwise required statutory mandatory minimum sentence when requested by the prosecution on the basis of substantial assistance toward the prosecution of others. First-time, low-level, non-violent offenders may be able to avoid the mandatory minimums under...

Elementary and Secondary Education Act: Estimated Burden Hours and Cost of Information Collections

Congress has been actively engaged in efforts to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), most recently amended by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB; P.L. 107-110). It is anticipated that the 113th Congress may continue to work on ESEA reauthorization issues. As part of the reauthorization debate, Congress has focused on the federal role in education, particularly in the area of educational accountability, where federal efforts to hold states, local educational agencies (LEAs), and schools accountable for student achievement and teacher performance are being...

U.S. Household Savings for Retirement in 2010

Whether households have sufficient savings from which to ensure adequate income throughout retirement is a concern of households and, therefore, policymakers. The retirement income landscape has been changing over the past few decades. Although most households are eligible to receive Social Security benefits in retirement, over the past 30 years, the types of non-Social Security sources of retirement income have been changing. About half of the U.S. workforce is covered by an employer-sponsored pension plan. An increasing number of employers offer defined contributions (DC) pension plans...

Health Insurance Continuation Coverage Under COBRA

Health insurance helps to protect individuals and families against financial loss. Having health insurance also promotes access to regular health care. Most Americans with private health insurance are covered through an employer, or through the employer of a family member. A recent study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that in 2012, 59.5% of insured Americans had their insurance through an employer.

When an employee is terminated, his or her employer-sponsored health insurance usually ends within 30 to 60 days. If that health insurance is family coverage, then a worker’s family...

Department of Homeland Security: FY2013 Appropriations

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

Congress did not enact final FY2013 appropriations legislation...

The Federal Rulemaking Process: An Overview

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

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

Budget “Sequestration” and Selected Program Exemptions and Special Rules

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

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

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): Welfare Waivers

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new initiative in July 2012, under which it would be willing to waive certain federal work participation standards under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant to permit states to experiment with “alternative and innovative strategies, policies, and procedures that are designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families.” Some in Congress have opposed the Administration’s waiver initiative. The House has twice (once in the 113th Congress; once in the 112th Congress) passed measures to bar HHS from...

Amending the JOBS Act: Issues in the 113th Congress

On April 5, 2012, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act; P.L. 112-106) was enacted with bipartisan support in the 112th Congress. The statute, examined in depth in the CRS Report R42427, U.S. Initial Public Stock Offerings and the JOBS Act, by Rena S. Miller and Gary Shorter, aims to boost corporate capital formation through amending parts of federal securities laws some viewed as an impediment to that process. The 113th Congress is currently considering legislation to amend the act in two ways: (1) expand coverage of the JOBS Act to more companies; and (2) accelerate...

Public Health, Workforce, Quality, and Related Provisions in ACA: Summary and Timeline

In March 2010, President Obama signed into law a comprehensive health reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148), and a package of amendments to ACA, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (HCERA; P.L. 111-152). Health reform was one of President Obama’s top domestic policy priorities during his first term, driven by concerns about the growing ranks of the uninsured and the unsustainable growth in spending on health care and health insurance. Improving access to care and controlling rising costs were seen to require changes to both the...

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services: President’s FY2014 Budget

Federal law requires the President to submit an annual budget to Congress no later than the first Monday in February. The budget informs Congress of the President’s overall federal fiscal policy based on proposed spending levels, revenues, and deficit (or surplus) levels. The budget request lays out the President’s relative priorities for federal programs, such as how much should be spent on defense, education, health, and other federal programs. The President’s budget may also include legislative proposals for spending and tax policy changes. While the President is not required to propose...

Child Support Enforcement Program Incentive Payments: Background and Policy Issues

The Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program, enacted in 1975, to help strengthen families by securing financial support from noncustodial parents, is funded with both state and federal dollars. The federal government bears the majority of CSE program expenditures and provides incentive payments to the states (which include Washington, DC, and the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands) for success in meeting CSE program goals. In FY2011, total CSE program expenditures amounted to $5.7 billion. The aggregate incentive payment amount to states was $513 million in...

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...

Changes to the Residential Mortgage Market: Legislation, Demographics, and Other Drivers

This report provides an overview of the changing residential mortgage market, focusing on trends in housing prices, homeownership, mortgage characteristics, and financing. It also examines legislation and regulations designed to promote the efficient functioning of the mortgage market.

Congressional Concern About Mortgages

Congressional interest in residential mortgage markets has increased following the collapse of the housing bubble, government financial support to the mortgage market, and housing’s perceived importance to the broader economic recovery. Since 2008, the residential...

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,...

Survey of Federal Whistleblower and Anti-Retaliation Laws

This report provides an overview of federal whistleblower and anti-retaliation laws. In general, these laws protect employees who report misconduct by their employers or who engage in various protected activities, such as participating in an investigation or filing a complaint. In recent years, Congress has expanded employee protections for a variety of private-sector workers. Eleven of the forty laws reviewed in this report were enacted after 1999. Among these laws are the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer...

Codes of Conduct for Multinational Corporations: An Overview

The U.S. economy has grown increasingly interconnected with other economies around the world, a phenomenon often referred to as globalization. As U.S. businesses expand globally, however, various groups across the social and economic spectrum have expressed their concerns over the economic, social, and political impact of this activity. Over the past 20 years, multinational corporations and nations have adopted voluntary, legally enforceable, and industry-specific codes of conduct, often referred to broadly as corporate social responsibility (CSR), to address many of these concerns. Recent...

Public Mass Shootings in the United States: Selected Implications for Federal Public Health and Safety Policy

This report focuses on mass shootings and selected implications they have for federal policy in the areas of public health and safety. While such crimes most directly impact particular citizens in very specific communities, addressing these violent episodes involves officials at all levels of government and professionals from numerous disciplines.

Defining Public Mass Shooting

Policy makers may confront numerous questions about shootings such as the December 2012 incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, that claimed 27 lives (not including the shooter). Foremost, what are...

Antipoverty Effects of Unemployment Insurance

This report examines the antipoverty effects of unemployment insurance benefits during the past recession and the economic recovery. The analysis highlights the impact of the additional and expanded unemployment insurance (UI) benefits available to unemployed workers through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA; P.L. 111-5) and the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC08) program (Title IV of P.L. 110-252). In 2011, approximately 56% of all unemployed individuals were receiving UI benefits (down from a high of 66% in 2010) and thus were directly affected by...

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs): Issues and Proposed Expansion

Current law provides many incentives to promote saving. The goal of these provisions is to increase saving for special purposes such as education or retirement, and to increase national saving. Increased national saving can lead to faster wealth and capital accumulation, which can boost future national income.

An increasingly important retirement saving vehicle is the individual retirement account (IRA). IRA savings is encouraged by two mechanisms—a carrot approach and a stick approach. First, tax provisions allow individuals to defer taxes on IRA contributions and investment earnings or...

Selected Resources on Federal Oversight of Compounding Pharmacies

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

Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs: Status of the Integrated Electronic Health Record (iEHR)

The purpose of this report is to provide a background on the long-standing efforts in sharing health information between Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

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...

Child Well-Being and Noncustodial Fathers

The structure of a family plays an important role in children’s well-being. A contributing factor to the high rates of child poverty over the long term, and the increase in child poverty during the period from 2001-2007, was the increasing likelihood of children living in families headed by a single female. In 2012, about one-third of all children lived in families without their biological father present. According to some estimates, about 50% of children (who are currently under age 18) will spend or have spent a significant portion of their childhood in a home without their biological...

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)

Withholding of Income Taxes and the Making Work Pay Tax Credit

The Making Work Pay (MWP) tax credit provided a refundable tax credit of up to $400 for individuals and up to $800 for married taxpayers filing joint returns in 2009 and 2010. The MWP tax credit expired on December 31, 2010. As a result of the expiration of the MWP tax credit, some taxpayers are finding that the amount of their income tax withholding had increased in 2011. In 2009 and 2010, as a result of the implementation of the MWP tax credit, some taxpayers may have found that their 2009 and 2010 income tax refunds were lower than they anticipated or that they owed taxes when they were...

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...

The Challenge of Individual Income Tax Reform: An Economic Analysis of Tax Base Broadening

Congressional interest in a major reform of the individual income tax that would broaden the base and use the additional tax revenues to lower rates and/or reduce the deficit has increased. The President’s Fiscal Commission, for example, proposed an individual income tax reform with three objectives: to broaden the base and lower the tax rate, to contribute to deficit reduction, and to maintain or increase the progressivity of the tax system. The Fiscal Commission proposed to broaden the tax base by eliminating or modifying most tax expenditures. One legislative proposal in the 112th...

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...

Federal Programs Available to Unemployed Workers

Four groups of federal programs target unemployed workers: unemployment insurance, health care assistance, job search assistance, and training. This report presents information on federal programs targeted to unemployed workers specifically, but does not attempt to discuss means-tested programs (such as Medicaid or SSI) that are available regardless of employment status.

When eligible workers lose their jobs, the Unemployment Compensation (UC) program may provide up to 26 weeks of income support through the payment of regular UC benefits. Unemployment benefits may be extended by the...

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...

Unemployment Insurance: Legislative Issues in the 112th Congress

The 112th Congress considered a number of issues related to currently available unemployment insurance programs: Unemployment Compensation (UC), temporary Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC08), and Extended Benefits (EB). With the national unemployment rate decreasing but still high, the weekly demand for regular and extended unemployment benefits continued at high levels. Congress deliberated multiple times on whether to extend the authorization for several key temporary unemployment insurance provisions. The EUC08 program, along with temporary provisions surrounding EB, had been...

Tax Cuts on Repatriation Earnings as Economic Stimulus: An Economic Analysis

From the start of the 112th Congress, reform of the current U.S. corporate tax system has been widely debated as an option to stimulate the economy. Most of the debate has focused on lowering the corporate tax rate and moving toward a territorial system. An exception to this approach is a plan to reduce the tax rate on repatriated dividends that has received some consideration. Under such a plan, the U.S. tax that U.S. firms pay when their overseas operations remit (“repatriate”) their foreign earnings as dividends to their U.S. parent corporations would be reduced. Variations of this type...

Offshoring (or Offshore Outsourcing) and Job Loss Among U.S. Workers

Offshoring, also known as offshore outsourcing, is the term that came into use more than a decade ago to describe a practice among companies located in the United States of contracting with businesses beyond U.S. borders to perform services that would otherwise have been provided by in-house employees in white-collar occupations (e.g., computer programmers and systems designers, accounting clerks and accountants). The term is equally applicable to U.S. firms’ offshoring the jobs of blue-collar workers on textile and auto assembly lines, for example, which has been taking place for many...

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...

Colombia: Background, U.S. Relations, and Congressional Interest

Colombia, a key U.S. ally, has made measurable progress in providing security despite having endured the longest internal armed conflict in the Western Hemisphere. It has long been a source for both cocaine and heroin. Drug trafficking has helped to perpetuate civil conflict by funding both left-wing and right-wing armed groups. Over the years, Colombia and the United States forged a close partnership focused initially on counternarcotics and later counterterrorism. Building on that cooperation, the U.S.-Colombia partnership has broadened to include development, human rights, and trade....

Vulnerable Youth: Federal Policies on Summer Job Training and Employment

For decades, the federal government has played a role in helping vulnerable young people secure employment and achieve academic success through job training and employment programs, including summer youth employment opportunities. The enactment of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA, P.L. 105-220) in 1998 marked the first time since 1964 that states and localities did not receive funding specifically designated for summer employment programs for vulnerable youth. Although WIA does not authorize a stand-alone summer program, the law requires that local areas funded under its Youth Activities...

Insurance Regulation: Issues, Background, and Legislation in the 112th Congress

The individual states have been acknowledged as the primary regulators of insurance since 1868. Following the 1945 McCarran-Ferguson Act, this system has operated with the explicit blessing of Congress, but has also been subject to periodic scrutiny and suggestions that the time may have come for Congress to reclaim the regulatory authority that it granted to the states. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, congressional scrutiny was largely driven by the increasing complexities of the insurance business and concern over whether the states were up to the task of ensuring consumer...

Choice and Mobility in the Housing Choice Voucher Program: Review of Research Findings and Considerations for Policymakers

As is evidenced by the name of the program, “choice” is one of the key components of the nation’s largest federal housing assistance program, the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV, or voucher) program. The choice aspect of the program—that eligible families can use their federal subsidies to rent the housing they choose in the private market—differentiates it from the other major federal housing assistance programs, including public housing and project-based Section 8 rental assistance, which offer assistance tied to specific units of housing. Those programs have long been criticized...

Veterans’ Benefits: Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-154)

Congress has in the past enacted legislation providing authority for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to treat certain veterans for specific medical conditions resulting from their exposure to certain toxic substances or environmental hazards while on active military duty.

In the 1980s, officials at Camp Lejeune became aware of the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in drinking water samples. Camp Lejeune was placed on the National Priorities List by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1989, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry continues to monitor...

Child Welfare: Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits for Children in Foster Care

Of the more than 400,000 children in foster care on a given day, as many as 24,000 (about 6%) receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or other Social Security benefits. Some research suggests that a greater number of children in foster care might be eligible for SSI benefits if this assistance was sought. SSI benefits are available under Title XVI of the Social Security Act for certain disabled children from families with low incomes and minimal assets. Other Social Security benefits may be paid under Title II of the act to the children of workers who have retired, become disabled, or...

U.S. Initial Public Stock Offerings and the JOBS Act

Over the past decade, many sources have reported a precipitous decline in the number of initial public offerings (IPOs) in the United States. These statistics raise several questions: what has caused such a decline? What are the implications for the U.S. economy, and particularly for job creation? At the same time as IPOs appear to have fallen, the amount of private stock offerings has increased, suggesting growth in an alternative source of equity financing.

This report analyzes factors contributing to the decline in IPOs, differences between an IPO involving the sale of shares to the...

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...

The U.S. Postal Service’s Financial Condition: Overview and Issues for Congress

This report provides an overview of the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS’s) financial condition, legislation enacted to alleviate the USPS’s financial challenges, and possible issues for the 112th Congress.

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

In recent years, the USPS has experienced significant financial challenges. After running modest profits from FY2004 through FY2006, the USPS lost $25.4 billion between FY2007 and FY2011. Were it not for...

Major Fiscal Issues Before Congress in FY2013

This report provides a brief overview of the major tax and spending policy changes set to take effect under current law at the end of 2012 or early in 2013. Collectively, these policies have been referred to by some as the “fiscal cliff.” Extending current revenue policies (e.g., extending the Bush tax cuts) and changing current spending policies (e.g., not allowing the BCA sequester to take effect) would increase the projected budget deficit relative to current law. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that if current law remains in place, the budget deficit will fall by $502...

Comparing Compensation for Federal and Private-Sector Workers: An Overview

Recently there has been significant congressional interest in compensation of the federal civilian workforce. The increased interest has been driven at least in part by budgetary pressure and in part by the state of the economy since the recession began in 2007. Issues related to the compensation of federal employees often center on the pay differential between federal workers and their private sector counterparts. For several years, the annual President’s Pay Agent (PPA) study has shown a large wage penalty for federal workers compared to private sector workers in similar occupations. A...

Analysis of Federal-State Financing of the Child Support Enforcement Program

The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-171) made changes to the Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program that will result in less federal financial support to state CSE programs. The CSE program serves families that are recipients of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and non-recipient families. It provides seven major services: parent location, paternity establishment, establishment of child support orders, review and modification of support orders, collection of child support payments, distribution of support payments, and establishment and enforcement of...

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...

Health Care: Constitutional Rights and Legislative Powers

The health care reform debate raises many complex issues including those of coverage, accessibility, cost, accountability, and quality of health care. Underlying these policy considerations are issues regarding the status of health care as a constitutional or legal right. This report analyzes constitutional and legal issues pertaining to a right to health care, as well as the power of Congress to enact and fund health care programs. The United States Supreme Court’s decision in NFIB v. Sebelius, which upheld most of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act/ACA),...

Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Provisions in ACA: Summary and Timeline

The President signed into law H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148), on March 23, 2010. Seven days later, a second bill, H.R. 4872, was signed into law by the President to modify ACA. This second law, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (HCERA; P.L. 111-152), was signed into law on March 30, 2010. Together these measures constitute what is referred to as the health care reform law, which makes many significant changes to the private and public markets for health insurance, as well as modifies aspects of the publicly financed...

FDA User Fees and the Regulation of Drugs, Biologics, and Devices: Comparative Analysis of S. 3187 and H.R. 5651

UPDATE: On June 18, 2012, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce distributed the text of an agreement that combined provisions of S. 3187 [ES], as passed by the Senate on May 24, 2012, and H.R. 5651 [EH], as passed by the House on May 30, 2012. The full House passed the new version by voice vote under suspension of the rules on June 20, 2012. On June 25, 2012, the Senate voted for cloture to limit debate on that bill, S. 3187 [EAH], the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act of 2012 [hereinafter referred...

Ability to Repay, Risk-Retention Standards, and Mortgage Credit Access

Prior to the recent financial crisis, mortgage underwriting standards were relaxed to the point where many borrowers could only repay their loans if favorable financial conditions that existed at the time of origination remained intact. In other words, borrowers obtained mortgage loans that relied upon interest rates not rising or the value of the underlying collateral (house prices) not declining. When market conditions changed, however, many mortgage loans became delinquent and went into default. The mortgage defaults often translated into large losses for both the borrowers and the...

Social Security: The Minimum Benefit Provision

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...

The Use of Discretionary Authority in the Housing Choice Voucher Program: A CRS Study

The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program is the federal government’s largest needs-based housing assistance program, in terms of both the number of families served and the cost to the federal budget. Under the program, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides funds to local public housing authorities (PHAs), which, in turn, provide subsidies to low-income households to use to rent private market apartments. Although the basic structure of the program is governed by federal law and regulations, PHAs have discretion to determine many important elements. How...

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...

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Statutory Language and Recent Issues

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides broad nondiscrimination protection in employment, public services, public accommodations and services operated by private entities, transportation, and telecommunications for individuals with disabilities. This report summarizes the major provisions of the ADA and analyzes selected recent issues, including the Supreme Court cases and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.

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...

Upcoming Rules Pursuant to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Fall 2011 Unified Agenda

Congress delegates rulemaking authority to agencies for a variety of reasons and in a variety of ways. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, as amended) is a particularly noteworthy example of congressional delegation of rulemaking authority to federal agencies. A previous CRS report identified more than 40 provisions in ACA that explicitly require or permit the issuance of rules to implement the legislation.

One way for Congress to identify upcoming ACA rules is by reviewing the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, which is published twice each...

Child Support Enforcement: Incarceration As the Last Resort Penalty For Nonpayment of Support

The Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program was signed into law in 1975 (P.L. 93-647) as a federal-state program to enhance the well-being of families by making child support a reliable source of income. The CSE program is based on the premise that both parents are financially responsible for their children. The CSE program is operated in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and by several Indian tribes or tribal organizations. State CSE programs have at their disposal a wide variety of methods by which to obtain child support...

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant: Issues for the 112th Congress

P.L. 112-96 funds TANF through the end of FY2012. It generally provides FY2012 TANF funding at FY2011 levels, but does not fund TANF “supplemental grants.” In addition, P.L. 112-96 prevents electronic benefit transaction access to TANF cash at certain establishments, and also revises TANF reporting standards to facilitate data exchanges with other programs.

The short-term extension of TANF defers major budget and policy decisions related to the block grant. Most federal TANF policy focuses on historical concerns related to cash assistance for needy families with children, which led to the...

Preventive Health Services Regulations: Religious Institutions’ Objections to Contraceptive Coverage

Since the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, controversy has surrounded the applicability of requirements for health plans and health insurers to cover certain recommended preventive health services, including a range of contraceptive services, without cost sharing. The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury have issued regulations that provide an exemption from ACA for certain religious employers who have religious objections to contraceptives. The exemption appears to cover churches and church associations, but...

Homeland Security Department: FY2012 Appropriations

This report describes the FY2012 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Administration requested a total appropriation (mandatory and discretionary) of $45,015 million in budget authority for FY2012. This amounts to a $1,610 million, or a 3.7%, increase from the $43,405 million enacted for FY2011 through the continuing resolution (P.L. 112-10). Total budget authority, including appropriations, fee revenues, and trust funds in the Administration’s budget request for DHS for FY2012 amounts to $57,079 million as compared to $55,783 million enacted for FY2011.

Net...

Reducing the Budget Deficit: Policy Issues

This report discusses why the federal government's fiscal path is unsustainable and provides an overview of proposals of selected groups that have published detailed recommendations on how to return the federal budget to a sustainable course.

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...

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...

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...

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...

Grandfathered Health Plans Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148, ACA), as amended, includes provisions for the grandfathering of existing health insurance plans. Given that most Americans had private health insurance coverage on the date of enactment of ACA, most Americans’ health coverage was affected by the grandfathering provisions.

A grandfathered health plan is an existing group health plan or health insurance coverage (including coverage from the individual health insurance market) in which a person was enrolled on the date of enactment. Therefore, as long as a person was enrolled in a...

Drivers of Premium Increases and Review of Health Insurance Rates

In general, the premiums charged by health insurance companies represent actuarial estimates of the amount that would be required to cover three main components: (1) the expected cost of the health benefits covered under the plan, (2) the business administrative costs of operating the plan, and (3) a profit. The final premium calculation often is adjusted upward or downward to reflect several factors, such as making up for a previous financial loss, that are often referred to as the “underwriting cycle.”

Health insurance premiums have been trending up, while the value of coverage...

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...

Preservation of HUD-Assisted Housing

The term “assisted housing preservation” refers to public policy efforts to maintain the affordability of rental properties financed or subsidized by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) but owned by private for-profit or nonprofit organizations. Beginning in the late 1950s, HUD extended mortgage and/or rental assistance to owners, in exchange for which the owners agreed to make their units affordable to low- and, in some cases, moderate-income tenants. The agreements to maintain affordability, sometimes called “affordability restrictions,” were to last between 20 years...

Early Withdrawals and Required Minimum Distributions in Retirement Accounts: Issues for Congress

In response to the economic downturn, Congress considered providing relief to Americans by suspending two tax penalties on defined contribution retirement plans and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). First, Congress considered allowing individuals to make withdrawals from their retirement accounts without paying a 10% penalty for withdrawals from retirement accounts by individuals under the age of 59½. Second, Congress considered suspending a requirement that most individuals aged 70½ and older withdraw a certain percentage of their retirement account balance each year (known as a...

Preexisting Condition Exclusion Provisions for Children and Dependent Coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148, ACA, as amended), a number of provisions directly affect access to health insurance coverage. This report provides a description of two of the provisions in ACA that are targeted toward younger individuals, for plan years beginning on or after six months from the date of enactment (i.e., the plan year beginning on or after September 23, 2010). ACA prohibits coverage exclusions for children with preexisting health conditions who are under age 19, and the law also requires plans to continue to make dependent coverage...

Mental Health Parity and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, P.L. 111-148, as modified by P.L. 111-152, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010) contains a number of provisions that generally combine to extend the reach of existing federal mental health parity requirements. Prior to 1996, health insurance coverage for mental illness had historically been less generous than that for other physical illnesses. Mental health parity is a response to this disparity in insurance coverage, and generally refers to the concept that health insurance coverage for mental health services should...

American Jobs Act: Provisions for Hiring Targeted Groups, Preventing Layoffs, and for Unemployed and Low-Income Workers

In response to continuing high rates of unemployment and a weak economy, President Obama announced his American Jobs Act on September 8, 2011. As stated by the President, the proposal aims to “put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working.” The proposal was introduced, by request, as S. 1549 and H.R. 12. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid subsequently introduced the proposal with a different spending offset, as S. 1660 on October 6. Since then, individual pieces of the American Jobs Act have been considered—and some provisions enacted—as freestanding...

Health Savings Accounts: Overview of Rules for 2012

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are one way people can pay for unreimbursed medical expenses (deductibles, copayments, and services not covered by insurance) on a tax-advantaged basis. HSAs can be established and funded by eligible individuals when they have a qualifying high-deductible health plan and no other health plan, with some exceptions. For 2012, the deductible for self-only coverage must be at least $1,200 (with an annual out-of-pocket limit not exceeding $6,050); the deductible for family coverage must be at least $2,400 (with an annual out-of-pocket limit not exceeding...

State and Local Pension Plans and Fiscal Distress: A Legal Overview

Controversy has arisen over the funded status of some state and local government pension plans. It has been reported that several of these plans have not fully funded their future obligations and they could face substantial future shortfalls. While there is considerable debate over whether this is a problem that needs to be addressed, and if so, the extent and the possible causes of these shortfalls, some estimates have placed the combined unfunded liabilities anywhere from hundreds of billions of dollars to over $3 trillion. Governments facing investment losses combined with lower...

The Role of HUD Housing Programs in Response to Hurricane Katrina

The catastrophic devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in late August 2005, and to a lesser degree, Hurricanes Wilma and Rita, led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of families. Following the storm, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) took primary responsibility for meeting the emergency housing needs of displaced families. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the nation’s housing agency, also played a role. HUD modified its existing grant programs—primarily through waivers—to make them more flexible for communities wishing to serve displaced...

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): FY2012 Appropriations

The President’s FY2012 budget was released on February 14, 2011. It included a request for nearly $47.9 billion in gross new appropriations for HUD in FY2012. After accounting for rescissions of prior-year unobligated balances and offsets available from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insurance programs, the President’s request for net new budget authority for HUD in FY2012 totaled just over $42 billion. The President’s budget, which was released prior to enactment of a final FY2011 appropriations law, included proposals for some funding increases relative to FY2010...

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2012 Appropriations

This report provides an overview of actions taken by Congress to provide FY2012 appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) accounts.

On November 18, 2011, President Obama signed into law the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-55), which includes the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012 (Division B). The act includes $60.91 billion for CJS, of which $7.808 billion is for the Department of Commerce, $27.408 billion is for the Department of Justice, $24.838 billion is for the science...

Child Welfare: The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act (P.L. 112-34)

The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act (P.L. 112-34) extends funding authorization for the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services Program and the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program for five years (FY2012-FY2016). The programs are authorized under Title IV-B of the Social Security Act and received combined funding of $709 million in FY2011. They both had funding authorizations that, absent legislative action, would have expired on September 30, 2011. Further, P.L. 112-34 renews authority for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to grant...

FY2011 Appropriations: A Side-by-Side Comparison of Key Proposals and Enacted Legislation

FY2011 funding levels were not enacted in the 111th Congress. Thus, the debate over FY2011 appropriations continued into the 112th Congress and FY2011 spending proposals became a key focal point in the budget debates between the now-Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the Obama Administration.

This report was originally intended to facilitate comparison of three key spending proposals for FY2011—the Administration’s budget request, H.R. 1, and S.Amdt. 149 to H.R. 1—to FY2010 enacted funding levels. It has been updated to include the enacted FY2011 appropriations in P.L....

State Authority to Regulate Nuclear Power: Federal Preemption Under the Atomic Energy Act (AEA)

A number of states have recently sought to take action to assure that nuclear power plants within their borders are operating safely. Most visibly, the State of Vermont has suggested that it will not approve the continued operation of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, despite the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC’s) approval of an extension to the plant’s operating license. The dispute may have profound effects on establishing the scope of state control over nuclear power—including whether states have the authority to shut down a federally licensed and long operating nuclear power...

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2011

President Obama requested $147.696 billion for research and development (R&D) in FY2011, a $343 million (0.2%) increase from the estimated FY2010 R&D funding level of $147.353 billion. Congress plays a central role in defining the nation’s R&D priorities, especially with respect to two overarching issues: the extent to which the federal R&D investment can grow in the context of increased pressure on discretionary spending and how available funding will be prioritized and allocated. Low or negative growth in the overall R&D investment may require movement of resources across disciplines,...

The Debt Limit: CRS Experts

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2011 Appropriations

This report provides an overview of actions taken by Congress to provide FY2011 appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS). It also provides an overview of FY2010 appropriations for agencies and bureaus funded as a part of the annual appropriation for CJS.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (P.L. 111-117), included a total of $68.705 billion in new budget authority for CJS. Of the $68.705 billion appropriated for FY2010, $14.035 billion was for the Department of Commerce, $28.078 billion was for the Department of Justice, $25.658 billion was for the...

Homeland Security Department: FY2011 Appropriations

This report describes the FY2011 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Administration requested a net appropriation of $45.0 billion in budget authority for FY2011. This amounts to a $1.1 billion, or a 2.4% increase from the $43.9 billion enacted for FY2010. Total budget authority requested by the Administration for DHS for FY2011 amounts to $52.6 billion as compared to $51.7 billion enacted for FY2010.

Net requested appropriations for major agencies within DHS were as follows: Customs and Border Protection (CBP), $9,809 million; Immigration and Customs...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2011 Appropriations

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President, the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and 26 independent agencies. Among the independent agencies funded by the bill are the Small Business Administration, the Office of Personnel Management, and the United States Postal Service.

The FSGG FY2010 appropriations were provided through P.L. 111-117, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010. P.L. 111-117 provided $46.265 billion for FSGG agencies in FY2010. In addition, P.L. 111-80...

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): FY2011 Appropriations

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the federal agency charged with administering a number of programs designed to promote the availability of safe, decent, and affordable housing and community development. The agency submits a budget as a part of the President’s formal budget request each year, and then Congress, through the appropriations process, decides how much funding to provide to the agency. Funding for HUD is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies subcommittees of the House and the Senate appropriations...

Accountable Care Organizations and the Medicare Shared Savings Program

The provision of health care in the United States has been described as fragmented, with patients seeing multiple unrelated providers. Fragmented care has been found to be, among other things, both costly, since provider payments are not linked to performance or outcomes and services can be duplicative, and of lower quality, since providers lack financial incentives to coordinate care. Section 3022 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148, PPACA), as amended, directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (the “Secretary”) to implement an integrated care delivery...

Overview of the Federal Debt

The size of current and projected federal deficits and the accumulation of federal debt are central to current congressional deliberations regarding fiscal reforms. This report provides a broad overview of the federal debt, annual budget deficits, and debt service costs. Federal debt is the accumulated sum of unrepaid borrowing by the federal government over time. The total federal debt consists of debt held by the public and intragovernmental debt. Debt owed to the public represents borrowing from entities other than the federal government, and includes borrowing from state and local...

FY2012 Budget Highlights for the Human Resources “Superfunction”: Education, Training, Social Services, Health, Income Security, and Veterans

The 112th Congress is focusing attention on short- and long-term efforts to reduce the federal deficit and stabilize the national debt, including proposals to alter the overall size and composition of total federal spending. Components of the federal budget categorized as “human resources” account for the majority of federal outlays (70% in FY2010) and would be affected by these proposals. Six functional categories comprise the human resources “superfunction”: education, training, employment, and social services; health (primarily Medicaid); Medicare; income security; Social Security; and...

The European Union: Leadership Changes Resulting from the Lisbon Treaty

Changes introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, the European Union’s (EU’s) reform treaty that took effect on December 1, 2009, have a significant impact on EU governance. The EU is an important partner or interlocutor of the United States in a large number of issues, but the complicated institutional dynamics of the EU can be difficult to navigate.

The Lisbon Treaty makes substantial modifications in the leadership of the EU, especially with regard to the European Council, the Council of Ministers, and the EU’s rotating presidency. Every six months, the “EU Presidency” rotates among the 27...

Veterans Affairs: The Appeal Process for Veterans' Claims

This report discusses the appeal process for veterans who are denied veteran's affairs claims. It ends with discussion of legislation considered in the 111th Congress to modify the process.

The Japanese Nuclear Incident: Technical Aspects

Japan’s nuclear incident has engendered much public and congressional concern about the possible impact of radiation on the Japanese public, as well as possible fallout on U.S. citizens. This report provides information on technical aspects of the nuclear incident, with reference to human health.

While some radioactive material from the Japanese incident may reach the United States, it appears most unlikely that this material will result in harmful levels of radiation. In traveling thousands of miles between the two countries, some radioactive material will decay, rain will wash some out...

Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education: FY2011 Appropriations

This report tracks FY2011 appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED). This legislation provides discretionary funds for three major federal departments and 14 related agencies. The report summarizes L-HHS-ED discretionary funding issues but not authorization or entitlement issues.

President Obama requested $172 billion in discretionary L-HHS-ED funds for FY2011, compared to $165 billion provided in the FY2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 111-117, Division D). The House L-HHS-ED Appropriations Subcommittee...

The Changing Demographic Profile of the United States

The United States, the third most populous country globally, accounts for about 4.5% of the world’s population. The U.S. population—currently estimated at 308.7 million persons—has more than doubled since its 1950 level of 152.3 million. More than just being double in size, the population has become qualitatively different from what it was in 1950. As noted by the Population Reference Bureau, “The U.S. is getting bigger, older, and more diverse.” The objective of this report is to highlight some of the demographic changes that have already occurred since 1950 and to illustrate how these...

Insurance Regulation: Federal Charter Legislation

Insurance is one of three primary sectors of the financial services industry. Unlike the other two, banks and securities, insurance is primarily regulated at the state, rather than federal, level. The primacy of state regulation dates back to 1868 when the Supreme Court found in Paul v. Virginia (75 U.S. (8 Wall.) 168 (1868)) that insurance did not constitute interstate commerce, and thus did not fall under the powers granted the federal government in the Constitution. In 1944, however, the Court cast doubt on this finding in United States v. South-Eastern Underwriters Association (322...

Federal Benefits and Services for People with Low Income: Programs, Policy, and Spending, FY2008-FY2009

The federal government spent almost $708 billion in FY2009 on programs for low-income people, and nearly $578 billion the previous year. The increased spending between the two years was largely due to the recession, with almost two-thirds coming from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, P.L. 111-5), the economic stimulus enacted in February 2009.

Low-income programs discussed in this report are distinct from social insurance programs, such as Social Security or Medicare, which aim to protect American workers universally against lost wages or benefits when they retire, become...

Corporate-Owned Life Insurance (COLI): Insurance and Tax Issues

Life insurance policies taken out by and payable to companies on their employees, directors, officers, owners, and debtors are commonly known as corporate-owned life insurance (COLI) policies. (COLI is also known as company-owned life insurance.) Such policies are separate and distinct from typical group life insurance policies offered to many employees as an employment benefit. In general, only the company, not the employee’s family or other beneficiary, receives any benefit from a COLI policy. In some cases, employees or their families have no knowledge of any policy being taken out....

Federal Evacuation Policy: Issues for Congress

When government officials become aware of an impending disaster, they may take steps to protect citizens before the incident occurs. Evacuation of the geographic area that may be affected is one option to ensure public safety. If implemented properly, evacuation can be an effective strategy for saving lives. Evacuations and decisions to evacuate, however, can also entail complex factors and elevated risks. Decisions to evacuate may require officials to balance potentially costly, hazardous, or unnecessary evacuations against the possibility of loss of life due to a delayed order to...

Fishery, Aquaculture, and Marine Mammal Issues in the 111th 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.

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, the federal government manages fisheries under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA) through eight regional fishery management councils. Beyond 200 miles, the...

VA-Home Loan Guaranty Program: An Overview

Report containing a summary of the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program.

Social Security Administration: Workload and Related Issues

401(k) Plans and Retirement Savings: Issues for Congress

Over the past 25 years, defined contribution (DC) plans—including 401(k) plans—have become the most prevalent form of employer-sponsored retirement plan in the United States. The majority of assets held in these plans are invested in stocks and stock mutual funds, and the decline in the major stock market indices in 2008 greatly reduced the value of many families’ retirement savings. The effect of stock market volatility on families’ retirement savings is just one issue of concern to Congress with respect to defined contribution retirement plans.

This report describes seven major policy...

Ownership of Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and Policy Options for Congress

Preparing for financial security in retirement continues to be a concern of working Americans and policymakers. Although most Americans participate in the Social Security system, Social Security is likely to be only a part of income in retirement. A recent Gallup poll indicated that while 34% of working Americans expect Social Security to be a major source of retirement income, 45% of those polled expect private retirement savings accounts to be a major source of retirement income.

Since the 1920s, Congress has provided tax incentives to employers to sponsor pension plans for their...

Economic Recovery and Jobs: CRS Experts

Economics and National Security: Issues and Implications for U.S. Policy

As the world begins the second decade of the twenty-first century, the United States holds what should be a winning hand of a preeminent military, large economy, strong alliances, and democratic values. The nation’s security should be secure. Yet the debate over national security seems to be both intensifying and broadening. The problem appears not only in the difficulty of finding a winning strategy in the long war against acts of terrorism but having to face economic constraints that loom large in the public debate. In addition, the global financial crisis and recession have highlighted...

The Department of Housing and Urban Development: FY2010 Appropriations

President Obama’s first budget request included over $45 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development in FY2010. The requested funding level was roughly $4 billion more than was provided in regular annual appropriations in FY2009 by P.L. 111-8. However, it is about $9 billion less than total FY2009 funding for HUD, if the more than $13 billion in emergency economic stimulus funding provided by P.L. 111-5 is taken into account.

This budget request included increased funding for most HUD programs, such as the Section 8 voucher program, public housing program, housing programs...

Reducing SNAP (Food Stamp) Benefits Provided by the ARRA: P.L. 111-226 and P.L. 111-296

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA; P.L. 111-5) included an across-the-board increase in benefits provided under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp program), effective in April 2009. The ARRA effectively replaced, until after FY2018, the increase in SNAP benefits that occurs based on annual food-price inflation indexing (under current inflation scenarios). The ARRA substantially raised maximum monthly benefits, by 13.6%. For a one-person household, the added benefit was $24 a month; for two persons, $44 a month; for three...

The Market Structure of the Health Insurance Industry

In March 2010, Congress passed a pair of measures designed to reform the U.S. health care system and address the twin challenges of constraining rapid growth of health care costs and expanding access to high-quality health care. On March 21, the House passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590), which the Senate had approved on Christmas Eve, as well as the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (H.R. 4872). President Obama signed the first measure (P.L. 111-148) on March 23 and the second on March 30 (P.L. 111-152). On November 2, 2009, the House...

Wellness Programs: Selected Legal Issues

Health care costs have risen dramatically in recent years, and employers providing health insurance, as well as other insurance providers, have struggled to find ways to contain costs. This has led to the introduction of incentives to promote healthy behaviors, often referred to as wellness programs. These programs take a myriad of forms from providing a gym at the workplace to subsidizing the co-pays of certain medications and linking health care benefits or discounts to certain healthy lifestyles. In Arkansas, for example, state employees who exercise more frequently or eat healthier...

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA): Final Employment Regulations

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) prohibits discrimination based on genetic information by health insurers and employers. GINA is divided into two main parts: Title I, which prohibits discrimination based on genetic information by health insurers; and Title II, which prohibits discrimination in employment based on genetic information. Title II of GINA prohibits discrimination in employment because of genetic information and, with certain exceptions, prohibits an employer from requesting, requiring, or purchasing genetic information. The law prohibits the use of...

Federal Employees: Pension COLAs and Pay Adjustments Since 1969

Congress has linked adjustments in federal pay to the ECI so that wages for federal employees will remain competitive with wages paid by firms in the private sector. Under the terms of the Federal Employees' Pay Comparability Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-509), pay for civilian federal employees is adjusted each year to keep the salaries of federal workers competitive with comparable occupations in the private sector. These annual adjustments in federal employee pay-which are distinct from any pay raises associated with within-grade step increases or promotions to a higher pay grade-are based on...

Seafood Safety: Background and Issues

Although seafood consumption can contribute to a healthy diet, some fish and shellfish can cause foodborne illnesses or contain environmental contaminants. Are current food safety programs sufficiently protecting consumers, and if not, what changes should be considered? A complicating factor is that most of the seafood consumed in the United States is from imports.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within the Department of Health and Human Services plays the lead role in ensuring the safety of both domestic and imported fish and shellfish, but other agencies, including the National...

Veterans Affairs: Benefits for Service-Connected Disabilities

This report describes disability compensation, which is a benefit Congress provides to American veterans and their dependents through the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Disability compensation is a monthly cash benefit program for veterans currently impaired from past service-connected activities.

Private Health Insurance Provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148, PPACA) was signed into law on March 23, 2010. On March 30, 2010, PPACA was amended by P.L. 111-152, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. This report summarizes the key provisions in PPACA (hereafter referring to PPACA as amended by P.L. 111-152) that affect private health insurance. PPACA imposes new requirements on individuals, employers, and health plans; restructures the private health insurance market; sets minimum standards for health coverage; and provides financial assistance to certain individuals...

The Mexican Economy After the Global Financial Crisis

The state of Mexico’s economy is important for U.S. policymakers for many reasons, most significantly because a prosperous and democratic neighboring country is in the best interest of the United States. The two countries have strong economic, political, and social ties, which have direct policy implications related to bilateral trade, economic competitiveness, migration, and border security. In May 2010, President Barack Obama hosted Mexican President Felipe Calderón at a meeting in the White House in which the two leaders discussed key issues affecting the two countries. They agreed to...

Self-Insured Health Insurance Coverage

Private health insurance can be provided to groups of people that are drawn together by an employer or other organization. Such groups are generally formed for some purpose other than obtaining insurance, like employment. When insurance is provided to a group, it is referred to as “group coverage” or “group insurance.” A common distinction made between private health coverage offered to groups is how such coverage is funded. That is, the plan sponsor may either purchase group health insurance from a state-licensed insurance carrier, or fund the health benefits directly. The former refers...

Countercyclical Job Creation Programs

To counter the effect on workers of most postwar recessions, Congress enacted legislation to spur job creation through increased spending on public works (infrastructure) and public service programs, revenue sharing with state governments, and employment tax credits. Although Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (P.L. 111-5) early in 2009 and the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act (P.L. 111-147) early in 2010, concern that the labor market has not yet begun to improve steadily and that a double-dip recession might occur has prompted interest in additional...

Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Associations (VEBAs) and Retiree Health Insurance in Unionized Firms

Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Associations (VEBAs) are tax-advantaged trust funds created to finance many aspects of employee welfare, including retiree health insurance benefits. This report shows that, under some circumstances, using VEBAs to fund retiree health insurance can benefit both firms and workers. Because the tax treatment of VEBAs is most favorable when the VEBA has been created under a collective bargaining agreement, a unionized firm can use VEBA contributions to reduce or eliminate its retiree health insurance liabilities. The unionized workforce will be able to afford...

OMB Controls on Agency Mandatory Spending Programs: “Administrative PAYGO” and Related Issues for Congress

On May 23, 2005, during President George W. Bush’s second term, then-Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Joshua B. Bolten issued a memorandum to the heads of agencies. The memorandum announced that OMB would involve itself systematically in some aspects of how agencies execute laws related to mandatory spending. Under the process outlined in the OMB memorandum, if an agency wished to use discretion under current law in a way that would “increase mandatory spending,” the memorandum required the agency to propose the action to OMB. Such actions might include regulations,...

FY2010 Supplemental for Wars, Disaster Assistance, Haiti Relief, and Other Programs

The Administration requested $64.3 billion in FY2010 supplemental appropriations: $5.1 billion to replenish the U.S. Disaster Relief Fund administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); $33 billion for the Department of Defense (DOD) primarily for deploying 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan; $4.5 billion in war-related foreign aid; and $2.8 billion for Haiti earthquake-related relief and reconstruction aid; $243 million for activities related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; $600 million for border security, and $129 million to reduce backlogs in patent requests;...

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA): A Legal Overview

This report provides an overview of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and discusses current legal and legislative developments. The ADEA, which prohibits employment discrimination against persons over the age of 40, was enacted “to promote employment of older persons based on their ability rather than age; to prohibit arbitrary age discrimination in employment; [and] to help employers and workers find ways of meeting problems arising from the impact of age on employment.”

The ADEA, which applies to employers, labor organizations, and employment agencies, makes it unlawful for...

Haiti Earthquake: Crisis and Response

The largest earthquake ever recorded in Haiti devastated parts of the country, including the capital, on January 12, 2010. The quake, centered about 15 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, had a magnitude of 7.0. A series of strong aftershocks have followed. Experts estimate the earthquake caused $8 to $14 billion in damage. Approximately 3 million people, roughly one-third of the overall population, have been affected by the earthquake with estimates ranging from 1.2 to 2 million people displaced. The government of Haiti is reporting an estimated 230,000 deaths and 300,600 injured. In the...

FDA Amendments Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-85)

On September 27, 2007, the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007 (FDAAA; H.R. 3580) was signed into law (P.L. 110-85). The comprehensive law reauthorizes four expiring Food and Drug Administration (FDA) programs and expands the agency’s authority to regulate the safety of prescription drugs and biologics, medical devices, and foods. Understanding the way in which FDAAA changed the law governing the agency informs policy discussions aimed at additional FDA reform and reorganization, as well as those related more broadly to the quality, availability, and cost of medical...

Economic Impacts of Prison Growth

This report provides an economic overview of the correctional sector as background for the unfolding debate over spending and other policies. It begins with information on the growth in prison populations in public and in private prisons and also briefly explores the economic impacts of prison location. It is not intended a study of the effectiveness of sentencing and other laws, nor of evolving polices aimed at reducing recidivism and prison populations.

Poverty Measurement in the United States: History, Current Practice, and Proposed Changes

Nearly a half-century has passed since poverty emerged as a major policy issue in the United States, taking form as a “War on Poverty.” As precursors, statistical studies sought to define the scope, depth, and breadth of the poverty problem in the United States, as well as the composition of the population affected, and poverty’s social and economic causes and effects. Ultimately, the federal government adopted an “official” U.S. statistical poverty measure, which was to serve as the official benchmark for evaluating progress towards eliminating poverty in the United States.

Many experts...

CRS Issue Statement on Health Care Reform

Public Health, Workforce, Quality, and Related Provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148)

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law a comprehensive health care reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA; P.L. 111-148). Health care reform has been the Obama Administration’s top domestic priority, driven by concerns about the growing ranks of the uninsured and the unsustainable growth in spending on health care and health insurance. Improving access to care and controlling rising costs are seen to require changes to both the financing and delivery of health care.

Both the House and the Senate passed comprehensive health care reform bills last...

The Impact of Major Legislation on Budget Deficits: 2001 to 2009

This report examines to what extent major legislative changes from 2001 to 2009 caused the budget to move from surplus to deficit. Legislative actions taken in 2009 increased the FY2009 deficit by $509 billion, whereas legislative actions taken between 2001 and 2008 increased the FY2009 deficit by $903 billion. Furthermore, legislative changes have cumulatively increased federal budget deficits over FY2001 to FY2009 by $5.4 trillion.

Public Health, Workforce, Quality, and Related Provisions in H.R. 3962

Health care reform is at the top of the domestic policy agenda for the 111th Congress, driven by concerns about the growing ranks of the uninsured and the unsustainable growth in spending on health care and health insurance. Improving access to care and controlling rising costs are seen to require changes to both the financing and delivery of health care. Experts point to a growing body of evidence of the health care system’s failure to consistently provide high-quality care to all Americans.

The health reform debate has encompassed a number of proposals to address these challenges and...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2010 Appropriations

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and 26 independent agencies. Among the independent agencies funded by the bill are the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the United States Postal Service (USPS).

On May 7, 2009, the Obama Administration delivered its FY2010 budget request to...

Jobs for Main Street Act: Education, Training and Direct Assistance Provisions

The Obama Administration and Congress continue to grapple with high rates of unemployment despite some tentative signs of economic recovery. On December 8, 2009, President Obama outlined a series of proposals intended to accelerate job growth, focusing on incentives to small businesses, spending on infrastructure projects, and job creation through energy initiatives. The President also signaled support for the extension of some of the direct assistance provisions included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, P.L. 111-5), including Unemployment Compensation (UC) benefits and...

Violence Against Women Act: History and Federal Funding

This report provides a brief legislative history of Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and an overview of the crimes addressed through VAWA. The report concludes with a brief description of the most recent reauthorization of VAWA.

Health Reform and the 111th Congress

The health reform debate in the 111th Congress continued and expanded upon the work begun in the 110th Congress. On November 12, 2008, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Baucus, released a white paper detailing his principles for health reform. This provided a framework for work within the committee for the 111th Congress. Several bills were introduced when the 111th Congress first convened, and these bills focused on a broad spectrum of approaches to health reform.

On November 7, 2009, the House passed H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act. H.R. 3962 is...

The National Commission on Children and Disasters: Overview and Issues

The National Commission on Children and Disasters (the Commission) is authorized under the provisions of the Kids in Disasters Well-being, Safety, and Health Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-161) and given federal advisory committee statutory authority under the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act of 2009 (P.L. 110-329). The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), provides financial and administrative support to the Commission, whose purpose is to assess the needs of children in the preparation for,...

Veterans Health Administration: Community-Based Outpatient Clinics

In the early 1990s, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA)—one of the three administrations of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)—began developing a strategy to expand its capacity to provide outpatient primary care, especially for veterans who had to travel long distances to receive care at VA facilities. To facilitate access to primary care closer to where veterans reside, VHA began implementing a system for approving and establishing Community-Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs).

A CBOC is a fixed health care site that is geographically distinct or separate from its parent VA...

Reverse Mortgages: Background and Issues

Employer Wellness Programs: Health Reform and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act

Health reform is a major issue on the domestic policy agenda of the 111th Congress. Congress has been considering a number of policy proposals to reform the health delivery system that aim to improve health care quality, reduce health care costs, and expand access to care. A range of proposals have targeted reform of the delivery system through an increased focus on prevention and wellness in an effort to encourage individuals to adopt healthier lifestyles. One prominent policy lever being considered in some health delivery reform proposals is employer wellness programs. Employer wellness...

Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education: Highlights of FY2010 Budget and Appropriations

This report tracks FY2010 appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED). This legislation provides discretionary funds for three major federal departments and 13 related agencies. The report summarizes L-HHS-ED discretionary funding issues but not authorization or entitlement issues.

On May 7, 2009, President Obama submitted the FY2010 budget request to Congress, including $163.8 billion in discretionary L-HHS-ED funds. The comparable FY2009 amount was $160.1 billion, enacted mainly through the Omnibus Appropriations...

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies: FY2010 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, provides for the creation and maintenance of U.S. cemeteries and...

Home Visitation for Families with Young Children

Health care reform legislation passed by the House in November 2009 (H.R. 3962) and in the Senate in December 2009 (H.R. 3590) would authorize and provide funds for grants to states to provide home visiting services, on a voluntary basis, to families with young children. (For a comparison of selected provisions in those proposals, see Table 4). There is no current law program that provides grants to states exclusively for home visiting programs. The Obama Administration requested authorization and funding for such a program as part of its FY2010 budget request. This proposal was not...

Premium Conversion of Health Insurance

Premium conversion allows employees to pay their share of employment-based health insurance premiums on a pre-tax basis. The tax treatment is difficult for people who are not tax experts to understand, as are the rules that limit its use in a manner some consider arbitrary and unfair. Premium conversion is sometimes referred to as “premium only” or “section 125 plans,” causing further confusion.

Premium conversion is authorized by section 125 of the Internal Revenue Code, a section entitled “cafeteria plans.” In general, the section allows taxpayers to choose among taxable and nontaxable...

Disability Evaluation of Military Servicemembers

On February 18, 2007, the Washington Post published the first in a series of articles describing problems with outpatient medical care and other services provided at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC). The series noted, among other things, concerns about the processes used to evaluate disability in injured military servicemembers. Both the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) conduct disability evaluations and assign disability ratings to servicemembers or veterans under their respective authorities. An individual’s disability rating, from either...

The Museum and Library Services Act of 2003: Overview and Reauthorization Issues

The authorization of the Museum and Library Services Act expired with FY2009. Its reauthorization may be considered by the 111th Congress. It was last reauthorized by P.L. 108-81, the Museum and Library Services Act of 2003 (MLSA), signed into law on September 25, 2003. MLSA authorizes funding for Library Services and Technology (LST) and for Museum Services. MLSA is administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). P.L. 108-81 authorized $232 million for LST in FY2004, and such sums as may be necessary for FY2005-FY2009. It authorized $38.6 million for Museum Services...

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2010 Appropriations

This report provides an overview of actions taken by Congress to provide FY2010 appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS). This report uses the House report to accompany H.R. 2847 (H.Rept. 111-149) and the text of the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2009 (P.L. 111-32), as the source for the FY2009-enacted and the FY2010-requested amounts, and it uses the Senate report to accompany H.R. 2847 (S.Rept. 111-34) as the source for the amounts in the House-passed bill. The Senate-passed version of H.R. 2847 is used as the source for the Senate-passed amounts. The...

CRS Issue Statement on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations

The closing, reduction in scope, or expansion of military installations on domestic soil and overseas, the privatization of government-built military housing, the provision of benefits and medical care to eligible veterans, and the redeployment of military units to the United States from overseas garrisons have drawn congressional attention in recent sessions. The funds to support all of these activities are provided by the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act debated annually in both chambers.

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2010

In his FY2010 budget request, President Obama sought $147.620 billion for R&D, a $555 million (0.4%) increase from the estimated FY2009 R&D funding level of $147.065 billion (not including FY2009 R&D funding provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (P.L. 111-5). According to the Obama Administration, preliminary allocations of R&D funding provided under P.L. 111-5 brought total FY2009 R&D funding to $165.400 billion. Unless otherwise noted in this report, comparisons of FY2009 and FY2010 R&D funding do not incorporate funding provided under P.L. 111-5. To the extent...

International Social Security Agreements

International Social Security agreements are bilateral agreements primarily intended to eliminate dual Social Security taxation based on the same work and provide benefit protection for workers who divide their careers between the United States and a foreign country. Most jobs in the United States are covered by Social Security. In addition, the Social Security Act extends Social Security coverage to U.S. citizens and resident aliens who are employed abroad by U.S. companies as well as those who are self-employed in a foreign country. Generally, a U.S. worker abroad and his or her employer...

Legal Services Corporation: Restrictions on Activities

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., non-criminal) 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. The LSC appropriation for FY2009 is $390 million. Since its inception, the legal services program has been controversial. Congress, through the LSC Act and various...

Greece Update

The Greek city-state of Athens is believed to have developed the first known democracy around 500 B.C. Modern Greece has been a democracy since the toppling of a military junta in 1974. Since then, the New Democracy (ND) party and the PanHellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) have alternated leadership of the government. ND ruled from March 2004 until October 4, 2009, when PASOK won national elections and a clear majority of the seats in parliament. PASOK’s victory has been attributed to anti-ND public sentiment caused by the economic recession, corruption scandals, and law-and-order issues....

Homeland Security Department: FY2010 Appropriations

This report describes the FY2010 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Administration requested a net appropriation of $44.1 billion in budget authority for FY2010. This amounts to a $2.8 billion, or a 6.7% increase over the $41.2 billion enacted for FY2009 (not including supplemental funding). Total budget authority requested by the Administration for DHS for FY2010 amounts to $55.1 billion.

Net requested appropriations for major agencies within DHS were as follows: Customs and Border Protection (CBP), $10,049 million; Immigration and Customs Enforcement...

Proposals for a Commission to Address the Federal Government’s Long-Term Fiscal Situation

In the 111th Congress, Members have introduced several proposals to establish a commission that would make potentially far-reaching recommendations on how to address the federal government’s long-term fiscal situation. Generally speaking, the measures would include Members of Congress as some or most of a commission’s membership, provide for a majority of commission members to be appointed by congressional leaders, have varying degrees of partisan balance in membership, and require supermajority votes of commission members to approve recommendations. Each of the bills also would provide...

Green Jobs, Education, and Workforce Training in S. 1733 and H.R. 2454

This report summarizes and compares provisions for green jobs training and worker adaptation assistance for climate change mitigation impacts in two recent bills: H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (also known as the Waxman-Markey bill), and S. 1733, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act of 2009 (also known as the Kerry-Boxer bill). Under a two-part subtitle for “Green Jobs & Worker Transition” (Title IV Subtitle B of H.R. 2454, and Title III, Subtitle A of S. 1733), essentially identical provisions are focused (in Part I) on the development of programs to...

Federal Employees' Retirement System: Legislation Enacted in the 111th Congress

This report discusses legislation passed during the 111th Congress that affect retirement plans for federal employees, specifically the "Thrift Savings Plan Enhancement Act of 2009".

Overview of Provisions in the Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute to H.R. 3962 Offered by Mr. Boehner of Ohio

Health care reform is at the top of the domestic policy agenda for the 111th Congress, driven by concerns about the growing ranks of the uninsured and the unsustainable growth in spending on health care and health insurance. Improving access to care and controlling rising costs are seen to require changes to both the financing and delivery of health care. Experts point to a growing body of evidence of the health care system’s failure to consistently provide high-quality care to all Americans.

Several comprehensive bills have been introduced on the topic of health reform in the 111th...

Income of Americans Aged 65 and Older, 1968 to 2008

This report presents data collected by the Census Bureau in the Current Population Survey from 1969 through 2009 about the employment status and the sources and amounts of income received by people aged 65 and older.

Public Health, Workforce, Quality, and Other Provisions in the America’s Healthy Future Act (S. 1796)

Health care reform is at the top of the domestic policy agenda for the 111th Congress, driven by concerns about the growing ranks of the uninsured and the unsustainable growth in spending on health care and health insurance. But efforts to improve access to care and control rising health care costs also will require changes to the health care delivery system. Experts point to a growing body of evidence of the health care system’s failure to consistently provide high-quality care to all Americans. Major challenges to the delivery of high-quality care include improving patient safety by...

Awards of Attorneys’ Fees by Federal Courts and Federal Agencies

In the United States, the general rule, which derives from common law, is that each side in a legal proceeding pays for its own attorney. There are many exceptions, however, in which federal courts, and occasionally federal agencies, may order the losing party to pay the attorneys’ fees of the prevailing party. The major common law exception authorizes federal courts (not agencies) to order a losing party that acts in bad faith to pay the prevailing party’s fees.

There are also roughly two hundred statutory exceptions, which were generally enacted to encourage private litigation to...

Assisting Households with the Costs of a Cap-and-Trade Program: Options and Considerations for Congress

By limiting the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that can be generated in a given year, a cap-and-trade program would attach a new cost to activities that generate emissions, primarily fossil fuel combustion. To the extent they are able, the capped entities (e.g., power plants, petroleum producers/importers, large industrial facilities) would likely pass on the costs of complying with a cap-and-trade program to household and business consumers. Thus, a cap-and-trade system is intended (and expected) to increase the price of coal, oil, natural gas, and the products they help create,...

Income and Poverty Among Older Americans in 2008

This report describes the sources and amounts of income received by the 37.8 million Americans aged 65 and older who lived in non-institutional settings in 2008. The report also describes how the proportion of total income received from each source differs between high-income individuals and households and low-income individuals and households.

The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009

The House and the Senate approved H.Rept. 111-89, the conference report to accompany S.Con.Res. 13, the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2010, on April 29, 2009. The FY2010 budget resolution includes reconciliation instructions directing the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) and the House Committee on Education and Labor to report changes in laws within their jurisdictions to reduce the deficit by $1 billion for the period of fiscal year (FY) 2009 through FY2014. The reconciliation instructions for the House specifically direct the...

Public Health, Workforce, Quality, and Other Provisions in the Affordable Health Choices Act (S. 1679)

Health care reform is at the top of the domestic policy agenda for the 111th Congress, driven by concerns about the growing ranks of the uninsured and the unsustainable growth in spending on health care and health insurance. But efforts to improve access to care and control rising health care costs also will require changes to the health care delivery system. Experts point to a growing body of evidence of the health care system’s failure to consistently provide high-quality care to all Americans. Major challenges to the delivery of high-quality care include improving patient safety by...

The Potential Role of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant in the Recession

The recession that began in December 2007 has raised issues about policies to address the threats to the economic security of people and families from an economic downturn. Families that were economically disadvantaged before the recession are highly likely to face risks to their well-being—unemployment rates for women maintaining families, minorities, and those with less than a high school education are above the average for all workers.

The emphasis of public policy for low-income families with children with able-bodied parents is supporting and requiring work. The system of needs-based...

An Analysis of Borrowing From Defined Contribution Retirement Plans

Americans are being given more responsibility for saving for their own retirements. Over the past 25 years, fewer households have been covered by traditional defined benefit (DB) retirement plans, in which retirees receive monthly checks based on a formula using some combination of earnings history and employment tenure. In place of DB plans, more and more employees are being covered by defined contribution (DC) plans, in which employees (and often their employers) place funds in individual employee accounts that are used as the basis for retirement incomes.

A feature of many DC plans is...

Regulation of Health Benefits Under ERISA: An Outline

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) sets certain federal standards for the provision of health benefits under private-sector, employment-based health plans. These standards regulate the nature and content of health plans and include rules on health care continuation coverage as provided under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), guarantees on the availability and renewability of health care coverage for certain employees and individuals, limitations on exclusions from health care coverage based on preexisting conditions, and parity between...

Older Workers: Employment and Retirement Trends

This report begins by describing the change in the age distribution of the U.S. population that will occur between 2010 and 2030 and by summarizing the historical data on the labor force participation of older workers. This discussion is followed by an analysis of data from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey (CPS) on employment and receipt of pension income among persons aged 55 and older.

Health Care Reform: An Introduction

Health care reform is a major issue in the 111th Congress, driven by growing concern about millions of people without insurance coverage, continual increases in cost and spending, and quality shortcomings. Commonly cited figures indicate that more than 45 million people have no insurance, which can limit their access to care and ability to pay for the care they receive. Costs are rising for nearly everyone, and the country now likely spends over $2.5 trillion, more than 17% of gross domestic product (GDP), on health care services and products, far more than other industrialized countries....

Social Security Administration: Administrative Budget Issues

The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers the Social Security program (Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance, or OASDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, and provides administrative support to Medicare and several other federal programs. Total SSA spending in FY2008 was about $658 billion, about 99% of which was mandatory spending on benefit payments. This report focuses on SSA’s administrative spending, which is discretionary and amounts to about 1% of SSA’s total spending. This funding is provided in the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and...

Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education: FY2009 Appropriations

This report tracks FY2009 appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED). This legislation provides discretionary funds for three major federal departments and 13 related agencies. The report, which will not be further updated, summarizes L-HHS-ED discretionary funding issues but not authorization or entitlement issues.

President George W. Bush’s FY2009 budget request to Congress, including amendments, proposed $147.4 billion in discretionary L-HHS-ED funds; the comparable FY2008 amount was $148.6 billion. The Senate...

When Financial Businesses Fail: Protection for Account Holders

After the onset of the current financial crisis and economic contraction, the 111th Congress increased some of the long-standing provisions that protect account holders from risk. Specifically, provisions in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA; P.L. 110-343) and the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009 (HFSTHA; P.L. 111-22) increased account holders’ protection. Both laws raised the maximum deposit account insurance to $250,000, and the HFSTHA extended the higher level of risk protection until 2013.

Lawmakers have long recognized the importance of protecting...

Employment-Based Health Coverage and Health Reform: Selected Legal Considerations

It is estimated that nearly 170 million individuals have employer-based health coverage. As part of a comprehensive health care reform effort, there has been support (including from the Obama Administration) in enacting comprehensive health insurance reform that retains the employer-based system. This report presents selected legal considerations inherent in amending two of the primary federal laws governing employer-sponsored health care: the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the Internal Revenue Code (IRC).

S.Con.Res. 13: The Budget Resolution for FY2010

The Congressional Budget Act establishes the budget resolution as a central coordinating mechanism for budgetary decision making. The budget resolution sets forth aggregate levels of spending, revenue, and public debt. It is not intended to establish details of spending or revenue policy and does not provide levels of spending for specific agencies or programs. Instead, its purpose is to create enforceable parameters within which Congress can consider legislation dealing with spending and revenue.

The spending policies in the budget resolution encompass two types of spending legislation:...

U.S. Motor Vehicle Industry: Federal Financial Assistance and Restructuring

This report focuses on the current situation faced by the Detroit 3, key aspects of their current crisis, including possible consequences of a failure of one or more companies, and some aspects of legislative actions that have been considered to bridge their financial conditions to a more stable situation.

Summary of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)

Due to the recent economic decline and the desire to enact large-scale health reform, the current federal regulation of pension plans, health plans, and other employee benefit plans has received considerable congressional attention. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) provides a comprehensive federal scheme for the regulation of employee pension and welfare benefit plans offered by private-sector employers. ERISA contains various provisions intended to protect the rights of plan participants and beneficiaries in employee benefit plans. These protections include...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2009 Appropriations

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and 26 independent agencies. Among the independent agencies funded by the bill are the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the United States Postal Service (USPS).

On September 30, 2008, President George W. Bush signed the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing...

Thirty-Five Years of Water Policy: The 1973 National Water Commission and Present Challenges

Concern about the availability and use of water to support the nation’s people, economy, and environment has bolstered interest in establishing a national water commission. The commission structure proposed in recent legislation (e.g., H.R. 135) is similar to that of the 1968-1973 National Water Commission (NWC or Commission). As proposed in H.R. 135, the commission would assess future water demands, study current management programs, and develop recommendations for a comprehensive water strategy. Questions about a commission as an effective model and which topics a commission might...

Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies: FY2009 Appropriations

This report provides an overview of actions taken by Congress to provide FY2009 appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS). On March 11, 2009, President Obama signed into law the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 (P.L. 111-8). In the Omnibus, Congress appropriated $60.538 billion for CJS agencies. This amount was $4.578 billion more than the FY2008 enacted level (an 8.2% increase) and $3.488 billion more than the amended FY2009 request (a 6.1% increase). The Omnibus included $9.268 billion for the Department of Commerce, $26.120 billion for the Department of...

Selected Federal Compensation Programs for Physical Injury or Death

Congress has established a number of programs to compensate or assist victims of certain specific circumstances, including negligence, terrorism, and “acts of God.” Federal compensation programs can be described by certain common attributes. These include aspects of program administration; requirements for and determination of individual eligibility; eligibility of health care providers; types of benefits provided; whether certain diseases are presumed to be eligible for compensation; and the means by which the program is financed.

Though federal compensation programs display considerable...

State Health Reform Strategies

States have taken the initiative to propose and enact health care reforms to address perceived problems related to health insurance coverage, health care costs, and other issues. These reform efforts vary in scope, intent, and target demographic group. While not all members of Congress agree in the need to reform health care, many have expressed interest in learning about these state efforts to inform ongoing debate at the national level.

Each state has implemented a unique set of reform strategies to address concerns about health insurance and the health care delivery system. However,...

Retirement Savings and Household Wealth in 2007

This report discusses various issues that impact the retirement income of Americans. About half of all workers in the United States participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan of some kind, a proportion that has remained relatively stable over the past thirty years. Because the majority of assets held in retirement accounts are invested in stocks, trends in stock prices have a significant impact on households' retirement account balances.

Child Support Enforcement and Ex-Offenders

According to recent estimates, about 1.7 million children in the United States have parents who are currently incarcerated in state or federal prisons. Among the approximately 700,000 persons who are released from prison each year about 400,000 of them are fathers and mothers. The current economic crisis together with overcrowded prisons and state budget shortfalls are likely to result in a significant number of inmates convicted of nonviolent offenses getting early release dispensations. How these former inmates reconnect to their families impacts not only the children involved but...

Family Violence Prevention and Services Act: Programs and Funding

This report describes programs authorized under the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) and related initiatives, and provides authorization and appropriation levels. The FVPSA was originally enacted in 1984, as Title III of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, to assist states in preventing incidents of family violence and to provide shelter and related assistance to victims of family violence and their dependents, with the expectation of preventing future acts of violence in families.

CRS Issue Statement on Abortion, Family Planning, and Reproductive Health

The 111th Congress will likely consider a variety of issues involving family planning and reproductive health. Legislation related to family planning and Title X of the Public Health Service Act, including appropriations measures that could affect the funding of Title X family planning initiatives, is expected.

Energy Provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-5)

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, P.L. 111-5) emphasizes jobs, economic recovery, and assistance to those most impacted by the recession. It also stresses investments in technology, transportation, environmental protection, and other infrastructure and proposes strategies to stabilize state and local government budgets.

Energy provisions are a featured part of ARRA. More than $45 billion is provided in appro-priations for energy programs, mainly for energy efficiency and renewable energy. Most funding must be obligated by the end of FY2010. ARRA also provides more...

Treatment of Seller-Funded Downpayment Assistance in FHA-Insured Home Loans

This report discusses the seller-funded down-payment assistance that qualify for FHA-insured home loans.

Cash Balance Pension Plans and Claims of Age Discrimination

Both federal courts and Congress have recently addressed the issue of whether cash balance pension plans violate federal laws that prohibit age discrimination. The relevant age discrimination provisions are found in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Two primary claims have been made: (1) that cash balance plans inherently violate the age discrimination provisions because the rate of benefit accrual is decreased on account of age and (2) that the conversion of traditional defined benefit...

Homeland Security Department: FY2009 Appropriations

This report describes the FY2009 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Administration requested a net appropriation of $38,849 million in budget authority for FY2009. The House Appropriations Committee reported its version of the FY2009 DHS Appropriations bill on June 24, 2008. The bill was filed on September 18, 2008, as H.R. 6947, and the accompanying report has been numbered H.Rept. 110-862. House-reported H.R. 6947 would have provided a net appropriation of $41,137 million in budget authority for DHS for FY2009. This amounted to an increase of $2,288...

Agriculture, Nutrition, and Rural Provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009

On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, P.L. 111-5). The ARRA is a response to the depth of the economic recession facing the United States (and the rest of the world) at the beginning of 2009. It is billed as an economic stimulus package to improve the situation of individuals and businesses. The ARRA boosts government spending on various infrastructure programs and government benefits programs, and offers individual and business tax benefits. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the ARRA will...

State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Legislative History

The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (P.L. 105-33, BBA-97) established the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) under a new Title XXI of the Social Security Act. CHIP builds on Medicaid by providing health care coverage to low-income, uninsured children in families with incomes above applicable Medicaid income standards. This report provides a summary of major changes to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enacted in public laws beginning with the legislation authorizing the program in 1997. It will be updated as legislative activity warrants.

Iraqi Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons: A Deepening Humanitarian Crisis?

Some aspects of the humanitarian crisis many feared would take place in March 2003 with the initial military operation in Iraq unfolded later as a result of the ongoing insurgency and sectarian violence. It is estimated that in total (including those displaced prior to the war) there may be as many as 2 million Iraqi refugees who have fled to Jordan, Syria, and other neighboring states, and approximately 2.7 million Iraqis who have been displaced within Iraq itself.

Between 2004-2007, the violence and insecurity resulting from the ongoing sectarian strife, terrorism, and insurgency in Iraq...

Retirement Plan Participation and Contributions: Trends from 1998 to 2006

This report discusses worker participation in employer-sponsored retirement plans. The analysis CRS conducted for this report focused on workers aged 21 and older with a paid job in the private sector.

The Worker, Retiree, and Employer Recovery Act of 2008: An Overview

In December of 2008, Congress unanimously enacted the Worker, Retiree, and Employer Recovery Act of 2008 (WRERA) (P.L. 110-458), which makes several technical corrections to the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-280) and contains provisions designed to help pension plans and plan participants weather the current economic downturn. This report highlights the provisions of WRERA relating to the economic crisis, such as the temporary waiver of required minimum distributions and provisions that temporarily relax certain pension plan funding requirements. This report also discusses...

Courts Narrow McCarran-Ferguson Antitrust Exemption for “Business of Insurance”: Viability of “State Action” Doctrine as an Alternative

In Paul v. Virginia (75 U.S. (8 Wall.) 168 (1868)), the Supreme Court ruled that “[i]ssuing a policy of insurance is not a transaction of [interstate] commerce.” United States v. South-Eastern Underwriters Ass’n. (322 U.S. 533 (1944)) held that the federal antitrust laws were applicable to an insurance association’s interstate activities in restraint of trade. Although the 1944 Court did not specifically overrule its prior determination, the case was viewed as a reversal of 75 years of precedent and practice, and created significant apprehension about the continued viability of state...

Family Caregiving to the Older Population: Background, Federal Programs, and Issues for Congress

Family caregiving to older individuals in need of long-term care encompasses a wide range of activities, services, and supports. Caregiving can include assistance with personal care needs, such as bathing, dressing, and eating, as well as other activities necessary for independent living, such as shopping, medication management, and meal preparation. In addition, family caregivers may arrange, supervise, or pay for formal or paid care to be provided to the care recipient.

Family caregivers fulfill the majority of the need for long-term care by older persons with chronic disabilities in the...

Indian Health Service: Health Care Delivery, Status, Funding, and Legislative Issues

The Indian Health Service (IHS), an agency in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), provides health care for eligible American Indians/Alaskan Natives through a system of programs and facilities located on or near Indian reservations and in certain urban areas. The IHS health delivery program is organized into 12 regional area offices and 161 local service units, and serves federal reservations, Indian communities, and urban Indians. In general, persons eligible for IHS services must be in IHS service areas and belong to federally recognized tribes.

The IHS-served population...

Fishery, Aquaculture, and Marine Mammal Legislation in the 110th Congress

Aquaculture — the farming of fish, shellfish, and other aquatic animals and plants in a controlled environment — is expanding rapidly abroad, with more modest advances in the United States. This report discusses the federal laws and regulations that guide the management of resources in open ocean and near-shore coastal areas.

Pension Issues: Lump-Sum Distributions and Retirement Income Security

This report covers several issues regarding pensions. Forty-seven percent of all workers aged 21 and older participated in employer-sponsored retirement plans in 2006, but not all of these workers will receive a pension or other income from these plans when they retire.

The Role of Public Works Infrastructure in Economic Stimulus

Interest in using federal government spending to stimulate U.S. economic recovery has intensified recently in response to indicators showing significant deterioration of the economy. Policymakers at all levels of government are debating a range of options to address these problems. Some favor using traditional monetary and fiscal policies. Others, however, favor making accelerated investments in the nation’s public infrastructure in order to create jobs while also meeting infrastructure needs. This report is an overview of policy issues associated with the approach of using infrastructure...

CRS Issue Statement on Child Well-Being

The nation's future depends in large part on its children's ability to develop into contributing adult members of society. For that reason, and for what many would consider a society's moral responsibility to care for the young and vulnerable, Congress and the nation take an interest in promoting children's well-being. It can be argued that children are the nation's most valuable resource, constituting the next generation of workers, taxpayers, and parents. Their well-being and ability to develop into productive adults in an increasingly competitive global economy is influenced by a...

Economic Slowdown: Issues and Policies

Veterans Benefits: Merchant Seamen

Health Insurance Reform and the 110th Congress

Converting Retirement Savings into Income: Annuities and Periodic Withdrawals

To a worker contemplating retirement, there is perhaps no more important question than "How long will my money last?" Congress has a strong interest in the income security of older Americans because much of their income is either provided directly from public programs like Social Security, or in the case of pensions and retirement accounts, is subsidized through tax deductions and deferrals. This report looks at strategies to help deal with the following risks: longevity, investment, inflation, and unexpected events.

Worker Safety in the Construction Industry: The Crane and Derrick Standard

This report first examines the incidence of fatal and nonfatal on-the-job injuries in the private sector. It next analyzes the causes of fatalities in the construction industry and the involvement of cranes in those deaths. The report then addresses the status of a proposed rule to update the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) crane and derrick standard. It closes with an overview of jurisdictions having safety regulations for cranes more stringent, in whole or part, than the existing federal standard.

Nonmarital Childbearing: Trends, Reasons, and Public Policy Interventions

In 2006, a record 38.5% of all United States births were nonmarital births. Many of these children grow up in mother-only families. Although most children who grow up in mother-only families or step-parent families become well-adjusted, productive adults, the bulk of empirical research indicates that children who grow up with only one biological parent in the home are more likely to be financially worse off and have worse socioeconomic outcomes (even after income differences are taken into account) compared to children who grow up with both biological parents in the home.

In recognition of...

Mental Health Parity: An Overview

Homeland Emergency Preparedness and the National Exercise Program: Background, Policy Implications, and Issues for Congress

This report provides an overview of emergency preparedness authorities and guidance; development and management of the National Exercise Program (NEP); and current exercise planning, scheduling, and evaluation processes. Additionally, it provides analysis of national preparedness policy issues and exercise operations issues that Congress might wish to consider.

Temporary Farm Labor: The H-2A Program and the U.S. Department of Labor's Proposed Changes in the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR)

This report begins with a description of the H-2A program. Next, the report explains how the AEWR is currently determined and how it would be calculated under the proposed regulations. Finally, the report examines some potential effects of the proposed change in the AEWR on the wages and employment of foreign and U.S. workers on U.S. farms.

Phthalates in Plastics and Possible Human Health Effects

Roughly a dozen chemicals known as phthalates are used to make the plastics found in thousands of consumer products, ranging from medical tubing to automotive dashboards to bath toys. These phthalates are not tightly held by the plastics and are released into the environment over time. Congress is concerned about possible human health effects from exposure to six of these chemicals: di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP), and di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP). DEHP, DBP, BBP, and (to less...

The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2008: Senate Amendment 5662 as Submitted on September 26, 2008

Senate Amendment 5662, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2008, was submitted as an amendment intended to be proposed to H.R. 5151 on September 26, 2008. Two existing packages have been paired to form S.Amdt. 5662: S. 3213 is a collection of over 90 individual bills which is on the Senate calendar, was combined with an additional 53 bills that were approved by a unanimous vote of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on September 11, 2008.

Given the large number of individual bills that make up this omnibus amendment, it has numerous supporters and detractors....

Runaway and Homeless Youth: Reauthorization Legislation and Issues in the 110th Congress

The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) was signed into law in 1974 as Title III of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (P.L. 93-415). RHYA authorizes funding for programs to support runaway and homeless youth, as well as related training, research, and other activities. These programs and activities are administered by the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) in the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Administration for Children and Families.

In the second session of the 110th Congress, Congress passed and the President signed into law the Reconnecting...

Legal Issues Relating to State Health Care Regulation: ERISA Preemption and Fair Share Laws

In the absence of comprehensive federal health care reform, states and localities have undertaken certain initiatives in an effort to expand the provision of health care to residents. One type of measure has been the fair share law, which generally requires employers to choose between paying a certain amount towards health expenditures or coverage for their employees, or contributing to a state or locality to offset the cost of medical expenses for uninsured residents. Questions have been raised as to whether fair share laws can be preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act...

Methamphetamine: Legislation and Issues in the 110th Congress

Veterans' Benefits: Issues in the 110th Congress

This report provides a general discussion of veterans' benefits issues that are part of the legislative agenda of the 110th Congress or are likely to be of legislative interest. Among those issues are disability compensation and pensions; education benefits; homelessness; life insurance; the status or eligibility of groups such as U.S. merchant seamen and World War II Filipino veterans for veterans' benefits; Reserve and National Guard eligibility for veterans' benefits; the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims; and legal representation for veterans. For each issue, an overview is...

The Striving Readers Program

The Americans with Disabilities Act: Supreme Court Decisions

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides broad nondiscrimination protection for individuals with disabilities in employment, public services, public accommodations and services operated by private entities, transportation, and telecommunications. Enacted in 1990, and amended in 2008 by P.L. 110-325, the ADA is a civil rights statute that has as its purpose “to provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities.” It has been the subject of numerous lower court decisions, and the Supreme Court has decided...

Child Welfare: The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-351)

The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (H.R. 6893) is an omnibus child welfare bill designed to ensure greater permanence and improve the well-being of children served by public child welfare agencies. The legislation received strong support in Congress and, beyond revising and extending the Adoption Incentives program, responds to a range of issues and concerns that have been raised (some for more than a decade) by public child welfare administrators; youth, adoption, tribal, and child welfare advocates; and by children and youth who have been (or still...

Education Tax Benefits: Are They Permanent or Temporary?

Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008: P.L. 110-314

Public alarm about the spate of recent product recalls throughout 2007, particularly of toys and other products used by children, has focused attention on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (the CPSC or the Commission). This scrutiny led to consideration of major amendments to the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA), which established and authorized the CPSC in 1972 in response to growing concerns about protecting the public from unsafe, defective consumer products. Jurisdiction over the administration and enforcement of several existing consumer safety statutes was transferred from...

Medicaid and SCHIP Section 1115 Research and Demonstration Waivers

Section 1115 of the Social Security Act provides the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) with broad authority to waive certain statutory requirements for states to conduct research and demonstration projects that further the goals of Titles XIX (Medicaid) and/or XXI (the State Children’s Health Insurance Program; SCHIP). States use the Section 1115 waiver authority to cover non-Medicaid and SCHIP services, limit benefit packages, cap program enrollment, among other purposes.

As of July 1 2008, there were 94 operational Medicaid and SCHIP Section 1115 waiver programs in 43 states...

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) Investment Policy: Issues for Congress

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is a federal corporation established under Title IV of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA, P.L. 93-406). The PBGC insures private pension beneficiaries against the complete loss of accrued benefits if their defined benefit pension plan is terminated without adequate funding. The PBGC receives no appropriations from general revenue. Its operations are financed by insurance premiums set by Congress and paid by sponsors of defined benefit plans, investment income from the assets in its trust fund, and recoveries from the...

Health Insurance: Uninsured by State, 2005-2007

Health Insurance Coverage: Characteristics of the Insured and Uninsured Populations in 2007

Based on data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS), 45.7 million people in the United States had no health insurance in 2007 — a decrease of approximately 1.3 million people when compared with 2006. This report briefly examines the characteristics of this uninsured population.

Health Insurance Coverage of Children, 2007

Domestic Food Assistance and the 2008 Farm Bill

The nutrition title of the omnibus 2008 “farm bill” is the focus of legislation affecting domestic food assistance programs in the 110th Congress. The program areas that are addressed include the regular Food Stamp program, programs operating in lieu of food stamps (e.g., Puerto Rico, Indian reservations), The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, Community Food Projects, the Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, initiatives to provide fresh fruit and vegetable in schools, and newly proposed nutrition and health promotion or support...

Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Benefit: A Primer

Medicare: A Primer

Department of Justice (DOJ) Appropriations for FY2008 and FY2009

This report provides coverage of the FY2009 appropriations cycle for the Department of Justice (DOJ), including FY2008 supplemental appropriations.

Public Health and Medical Preparedness and Response: Issues in the 110th Congress

The 2001 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina, and concerns about an influenza ("flu") pandemic have sharpened congressional interest in the nation's systems to track and respond to public health threats. The 109th Congress passed laws that reauthorized public health and medical preparedness and response programs in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and reorganized parts of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including the establishment of an Office of Health Affairs (OHA). This report discusses key issues in public health and medical preparedness and response,...

Medicare: Payments to Physicians

Transitional Medical Assistance (TMA) Under Medicaid

This report provides an overview of transitional medical assistance (TMA). While Section 1925 of the Social Security Act outlines the provisions requiring states to provide TMA for up to 12 months, states have considerable flexibility in designing and implementing their TMA programs.

P.L. 110-275: The Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008

P.L. 110-275, the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA), is designed to avert a statutory Medicare reduction in payments for physicians and make other changes. MIPPA freezes physician fees at the June 2008 level until January 2009. In January 2009, fees will increase by 1.1%. In 2010, the statutory reduction will again apply, resulting in a 21% reduction in Medicare physician fees, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). CBO estimates that the physician payments provision costs $9.4 billion (over the 2008-2010 period). Other provisions in the Act will...

Possible Expiration (or Extension) of the 2002 Farm Bill

The 2002 farm bill (P.L. 107-171) authorized an array of agricultural, rural, and nutrition programs. Many provisions of the 2002 farm bill were scheduled to expire in 2007. If a new farm bill or year-long extension were not enacted before the 2008 harvest, permanent law would have taken effect. Under permanent law, eligible commodities would be supported at levels much higher than they are now, and many of the currently supported commodities might not be eligible (including soybeans and peanuts). Permanent law for the commodity programs is so radically different from current policy and...

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): Issues for the 110th Congress

Enactment of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA, P.L. 109-171) ended more than four years of congressional debate on “reauthorizing” the block grant of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The DRA extended funding for most TANF grants through FY2010, except TANF supplemental grants that expire at the end of this year (FY2008). Supplemental grants go to 17 states that have high population growth or low historic funding in TANF’s predecessor programs per poor person. H.R. 6331, a Medicare bill enacted over President Bush’s veto on July 15, 2008, extends supplemental grants for...

FY2008 Spring Supplemental Appropriations and FY2009 Bridge Appropriations for Military Operations, International Affairs, and Other Purposes (P.L. 110-252)

On June 30, 2008, President Bush signed into law a bill, H.R. 2642 (P.L. 110-252), that makes supplemental appropriations for FY2008 and FY2009, extends unemployment payments, and expands veterans’ educational benefits. The House approved the measure on June 19 and the Senate on June 26. As enacted, the bill reflects compromises with the White House on several key issues. It extends unemployment benefits for 13 weeks but not 26, allows veterans’ educational benefits to be transferred to dependents, does not include an offsetting tax increase, limits other domestic spending, and delays...

A Brief History of Veterans' Education Benefits and Their Value

This report reviews the evolution of veterans' education benefit programs and describes the types of education benefits that have been made available under these programs. The first section provides an historical overview of education benefits for military veterans, beginning with the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 (GI Bill of Rights). The second section is an analysis of the estimated value of veterans' education benefits relative to average college prices. This section focuses on the estimated value of veterans' education benefits and college prices at four-year public and private...

Tax Treatment of Employer Educational Assistance for the Benefit of Employees

Educational assistance offered by employers to their employees may be exempt from federal income tax under Section 127 and Section 132 of the Internal Revenue Code. Section 127 is the employer educational assistance exclusion; Section 132, the fringe benefit exclusion for working condition benefits (e.g., job-related eduction) among other benefits. Congress established the two tax provisions well before it enacted to her higher education tax benefits meant to assist taxpayers, their spouses, and dependents -- regardless of employment status -- pay current educational expenses incurred...

Estate Tax Legislation in the 110th Congress

Veterans Benefits: An Overview

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a wide range of benefits and services to eligible veterans, members of their families, and survivors of deceased veterans. VA programs include disability compensation and pensions, readjustment benefits, and health care programs. The VA also provides life insurance, burial benefits,

housing and other loan guaranty programs, and special counseling and outreach programs. While eligibility for specific benefits varies, veterans generally must meet requirements related to discharge type and length of active duty military service. This report...

Mental Health Parity: Federal and State Action and Economic Impact

In the 110th Congress, the Senate and House have passed different versions of expanded mental health parity legislation (S. 558 and H.R. 1424). These bills have always been strongly supported by advocates for the mentally ill and have had broad, bipartisan support in Congress. Although employers and health insurance groups opposed the legislation in the past because of concern that it would drive up costs, the provisions in S. 558 now have their support. Expanded parity legislation was introduced in the 107th, 108th, and 109th Congresses, but each time it failed to pass.

Private health...

The 2008 Farm Bill: A Summary of Major Provisions and Legislative Action

The report discusses the 2008 farm bill (H.R. 2419), covering a wide range of programs including The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, farm credit, agricultural conservation, research, rural development, and foreign and domestic food programs, among others.

Child Welfare Issues in the 110th Congress

As the U.S. Constitution has been interpreted, states have the primary obligation to ensure child welfare. However, Congress provides significant federal funds to help states exercise this responsibility ($7.9 billion appropriated in FY2008). Most of this support is provided for children who are in foster care and who meet specific federal eligibility criteria. This report discusses the federal framework for child welfare policy; reviews the scope of activities, and children and families served, by state child welfare agencies; summarizes several child welfare-related hearings that were...

Government Spending on Health Care Benefits and Programs: A Data Brief

In a country where health spending accounts for more than 16% of gross domestic product (GDP), health care costs and spending are often described as a problem for consumers and their families; for employers that provide (or seek to provide) health benefits; and for government, which finances a mix of health care services, health research and training, and health safety programs. To describe government spending on health care benefits and programs, this report presents data from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and the Centers for Medicare...

The Voting Rights Act of 1965, As Amended: Its History and Current Issues

Several bills have been introduced in the 110th Congress concerning the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) that would rename the short title of the act, and address its bilingual provisions and issues of deceptive practices and voter intimidation during elections. This report discusses this issue at length and also addresses allegations of voting irregularities and of violations of the VRA during the presidential election of 2000.

Medicare: FY2009 Budget Issues

Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act: Program Overview and Reauthorization Issues

This report provides information on the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (SDFSCA), the federal government's major initiative to prevent drug abuse and violence in and around schools, and its support for two major grant programs: one for states and one for National Activities. The report also discusses issues of reauthorization for the SDFSCA following the Virginia Tech tragedy, and issues of potential concern to Members of Congress. It includes the Administration's proposal, the recommendations of the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Advisory Board, the...

The FDA 2009 Budget Request

The Administration's FY2009 budget request of $2.4 billion for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would provide a 5.7% increase ($130 million) over FY2008. User fees would make up about 26% of the total amount requested and would account for 61% of the proposed increase. Budget documents indicate that the additional funding would provide for expanded activities to ensure the safety of foods and drugs, as well as to accelerate the availability of new medical products. About half of the requested increase would be used for cost-of-living pay increases, as opposed to new program activities.

Cash Balance Pension Plans: Selected Legal Issues

Over the past few years, cash balance pension plans have received significant congressional and public attention. Issues that have been controversial include the negative effect of a plan conversion on older employees due to wear-away, the whipsaw effect that may occur when computing a lump-sum payment of benefits prior to normal retirement age, and the practice of providing the “greater of” benefit to plan participants as part of a conversion to a cash balance plan. This report provides an overview of these issues and a discussion of how the Pension Protection Act (P.L. 109-280), as well...

State Medicaid Program Administration: A Brief Overview

Suicide Prevention Among Veterans

Genetic Information: Legal Issues Relating to Discrimination and Privacy

In April 2003, the sequence of the human genome was deposited into public databases. This milestone, which has been compared to the discoveries of Galileo, and other advances in genetics have created novel legal issues relating to genetic information. The Human Genome Project produced detailed maps of the 23 pairs of human chromosomes and sequenced 99% of the three billion nucleotide bases that make up the human genome. The sequence information should aid in the identification of genes underlying disease, raising hope for genetic therapies to cure disease, but this scientific...

Genetic Nondiscrimination in Health Insurance: A Side-by-Side Comparison of the Title I Provisions in S. 358 and H.R. 493

On March 29, 2007, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2007 (S. 358). The HELP Committee filed a report to accompany S. 358 on April 10 (S.Rept. 110-48). S. 358 is awaiting Senate floor action. On April 25, the House passed its own version of the legislation (H.R. 493) on a vote of 420-3. Earlier, the measure was reported by the Education and Labor Committee (H.Rept. 110-28, Part I), the Ways and Means Committee (H.Rept. 110-28, Part II), and the Energy and Commerce Committee (H.Rept. 110-28, Parts III...

The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit: A Framework for Evaluation

The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) is an economic incentive to produce affordable rental housing. These federal housing tax credits are awarded to developers of qualified projects, who either use or sell the credits to investors to raise capital (or equity) for real estate projects. The tax benefit reduces the debt and/or equity financing that the developer would otherwise have to obtain. With lower financing costs, beneficiaries of tax credits can offer lower, more affordable rents. See CRS Report RS22389, An Introduction to the Design of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, by Mark...

Former NFL Players: Disabilities, Benefits, and Related Issues

This report discusses professional football players' injuries and health conditions that might have long-term consequences for their health.

Standardizing State Health Insurance Regulation

H.R. 4460, the Health Care Choice Act, is intended to “harmonize” the state insurance laws that multi-state insurance carriers and other providers of individual health coverage would be subject to. By harmonizing insurance laws across state lines, the bill’s supporters anticipate an increase in the number of health plan choices and a reduction of the cost of plans. Opponents raise concerns that the consequences of reducing states’ regulatory authority over insurance products in each state could include a loss of important patient protections and complicate the enforcement of rules designed...

Saving for College Through Qualified Tuition (Section 529) Programs

Farm Labor: The Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR)

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education: Background, Federal Policy, and Legislative Action

This report provides the background and context to understand these legislative developments. The report first presents data on the state of Schience, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education in the United States. It then examines the federal role in promoting STEM education. The report concludes with a discussion of the legislative actions recently taken to address federal STEM education policy.

K-12 Teacher Quality: Issues and Legislative Action

This report provides a brief overview of some of the most salient issues regarding the K-12 teaching force, describes the current federal role in this area, describes major federal programs, and tracks major legislative action by the Congress.

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2008 Appropriations

FY2008 appropriations for Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) agencies were originally proposed in H.R. 2829. The bill included funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and 20 independent agencies. Among the independent agencies funded by the bill are the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the United States Postal Service (USPS).

On June 28, 2007, the House approved $43.8 billion for H.R. 2829, a...

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2008 Appropriations

This report monitors actions taken by the 110th Congress for the FY2008 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations bill. In the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 (P.L. 110-161), Congress has provided $54.637 billion in CJS appropriations, a 3.4% increase over the FY2007 enacted level and a 2.2% increase over the Administration’s request. This amount includes $6.857 billion for the Department of Commerce (a 3.5% increase over the FY2007 enacted level), $23.592 billion for the Department of Justice (a 1.6% increase), $23.38 billion for science agencies (a 5.3%...

Nicaragua: Political Situation and U.S. Relations

Nicaragua, the second poorest country in Latin America after Haiti, has had a difficult path to democracy, characterized by ongoing struggles between rival caudillos (strongmen), generations of dictatorial rule, and civil war. Since 1990, Nicaragua has been developing democratic institutions and a framework for economic development. Nonetheless, the country remains extremely poor and its institutions are weak. Former revolutionary Sandinista leader, Daniel Ortega, was inaugurated to a new five-year presidential term in January 2007 and appears to be governing generally democratically and...

Genetic Nondiscrimination in Employment: A Comparison of Title II Provisions in S. 358 and H.R. 493, 110th Congress

H.R. 493, 110th Congress, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), passed the House on April 25, 2007. On March 5, 2008, the text of H.R. 493 as passed by the House was added to the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2007 (H.R. 1424) in the engrossment of H.R. 1424. The Senate bill, S. 358, 110th Congress, was reported out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on March 29, 2007, and is currently awaiting Senate action. This report compares the provisions of H.R. 493 and S. 358 relating to GINA’s prohibition of genetic...

Genetic Ancestry Testing

Investment Advice and the Pension Protection Act of 2006

This report examines Section 601 of the Pension Protection Act of 2006, which amends the Employee Retirement Income Security Act to allow for the provision of investment advice without fear of fiduciary liability. Prior to the enactment of Section 601, ERISA’s prohibited transaction restrictions operated to discourage pension plan fiduciaries from providing investment advice to plan participants and beneficiaries. As amended, ERISA would now seem to allow for the provision of investment advice so long as such advice is provided pursuant to an eligible investment advice arrangement in...

Screening for Youth Suicide Prevention

Liability of Plan Fiduciaries under ERISA: LaRue v. DeWolff, Boberg & Associates

In LaRue v. DeWolff, Boberg & Associates, a participant in a 401(k) plan requested that plan administrators change an investment in his individual account. The plan administrators failed to make this change, and the individual’s account allegedly suffered losses. The participant brought an action against his former employer and the 401(k) plan, claiming the plan administrator breached his fiduciary duty by neglecting to properly follow the investment instructions. At issue in the LaRue case was whether an individual could bring an action under ERISA to recover the losses. The Supreme Court...

Possible Small Business Issues in the 110th Congress

ERISA’s Impact on Medical Malpractice and Negligence Claims Against Managed Care Plans

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) provides a comprehensive federal scheme for the regulation of employee pension and welfare benefit plans offered by employers. To avoid the inconsistent regulation of employee benefit plans by state laws, ERISA preempts “any and all” state laws as they relate to any employee benefit plan. The effect of ERISA preemption on the ability to bring state medical malpractice and negligence claims against health insurers, namely health maintenance organizations (HMOs), has caused concern among participants who seek the generally larger...

Homeland Security Department: FY2008 Appropriations

This report describes the FY2008 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Administration requested a net appropriation of $35.5 billion in net budget authority for FY2008. The requested net appropriation for major components of the department included the following: $8,783 million for Customs and Border Protection (CBP); $4,168 million for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); $3,608 million for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA); $8,457 million for the U.S. Coast Guard; $1,399 million for the Secret Service; $1,047 for the National Protection...

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD): FY2008 Appropriations

The FY2008 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies appropriations bill (THUD) provides funding for the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and five independent agencies related to these two departments.

The Bush Administration requested $100.3 billion (after scorekeeping adjustments) for FY2008, an increase of $300 million (less than 1%) over FY2007. DOT would receive $64.5 billion, $1.3 billion more than provided in FY2007. HUD would receive $35.6 billion, $1.0 billion less than provided in FY2007.

A...

Genetic Exceptionalism: Genetic Information and Public Policy

This report provides an overview of the nature of genetic information and its implications for individuals, family, and society. Individuals utilize genetic information to guide health care and other decisions, when possible, and may experience anxiety as a result of genetic test results. Genetic test results for an individual may often be informative for other close family members and thus influence their care decisions. Society must grapple with the effect genetic information may have on our conception of disease, as well as its impact on issues like privacy and equity. The report ends...

Military Retirement, Concurrent Receipt, and Related Major Legislative Issues

The military retirement system includes benefits for retirement after an active or reserve military career, disability retirement, and survivor benefits for eligible survivors of deceased retirees.

The change to the system that has generated the most recent legislative activity involves whether some or all military retirees should be allowed to receive both military retired pay and any VA disability compensation to which they are otherwise entitled; this is referred to as “concurrent receipt.” Until 2004, the law provided that military retired pay had to be reduced by the amount of VA...

P.L. 110-173: Provisions in the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Extension Act of 2007

On December 29, 2007, the President signed S. 2499, the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Extension Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-173). This Act was passed by the House on December 19, 2007, and by a voice vote in the Senate on December 18, 2007. The Act makes changes to the nation’s three major health programs, Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), as well as other federally funded programs.

The most prominent provisions in the Act were to (1) suspend the Medicare physician payment cut scheduled to take effect and (2) provide SCHIP funding through March 2009....

Military Base Closures and the Impact Aid Program for Education

Prescription Drug Coverage Under Medicaid

Medicaid is a joint federal-state entitlement program that pays for medical services on behalf of certain groups of low-income persons. It is the third largest social program in the federal budget, exceeded only by Social Security and Medicare and is typically the second largest spending item for states. This report discusses prescription drug policies under the program.

Even Start: Funding Controversy

Food Safety: Provisions in the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007

This report reviews the food safety provisions of the statute of the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007, their history, and certain issues surrounding their passage.

Obesity Among Older Americans

Reading First and Early Reading First: Background and Funding

21st Century Community Learning Centers: Background and Funding

Residence Restrictions for Released Sex Offenders

This report analyzes the issue of residence restriction laws for released sex offenders by briefly examining provisions of the Adam Walsh Act; identifying and comparing residence restriction laws in a number of states; discussing the impact of residence restriction laws on sex offenders, law enforcement and the public; presenting arguments in support of and against residence restriction laws; and reviewing some alternative proposals for monitoring released sex offenders..

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2008 Appropriations

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

The Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY2008 (P.L. 110-161) included $26.89 billion for Interior, Environment, and...

Medicaid’s Home and Community-Based Services State Plan Option: Section 6086 of the Deficit Reduction Act

Section 6086 of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, (DRA, P.L. 109-171), established a optional Medicaid benefit giving states a new method with which to cover home- and community-based (HCBS) services for Medicaid beneficiaries, starting in January 2007. Prior to DRA’s enactment, states needed HCBS waivers authorized in Section 1915(c) of the Social Security Act (SSA) to cover these services. The HCBS-state plan optional benefit, Section 1915(i), differs from both existing Medicaid state plan benefits and Section 1915(c) waivers. This report outlines requirements of the new 1915(i) benefit...

Retiring Baby-Boomers = A Labor Shortage?

The unemployment rate in 2007 averaged just 4.6%, which is low by historic standards and suggests the presence of tight labor market conditions that are related to long-running demographic trends. The oldest members of the baby-boom generation turned age 60 at the end of 2006, and every year thereafter, more of this large birth-cohort will move into the ages when workers traditionally have retired. Consequently, the business community in particular has asserted that the future supply of labor will fall short of employer demand and that U.S. economic growth and competitiveness would be put...

Youth Gangs: Background, Legislation, and Issues

Minimum Wage: Characteristics of Low-Wage Workers and Their Families

FY2008 Federal SCHIP Financing

SCHIP: Differences Between H.R. 3963 and H.R. 976

Medicaid, SCHIP, and Health Insurance: FY2008 Budget Issues

Fundamental Tax Reform: Options for the Mortgage Interest Deduction

The mortgage interest deduction, which is one of the largest sources of federal tax revenue loss with an estimated annual cost of $72 billion, is intended to encourage homeownership. Empirical studies suggest that the mortgage interest deduction subsidizes mortgage lending, which has more impact on housing consumption than homeownership rates. Other homeownership subsidies, like down-payment assistance programs, are proven to be more effective at increasing homeownership among lower-income families and are less expensive than the mortgage interest deduction.

A recent enhancement to the...

K-12 Education: Highlights of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-110)

On January 8, 2002, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, legislation to extend and revise the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), was signed into law as P.L. 107-110. This legislation extensively amended and reauthorized most federal elementary and secondary education aid programs.

Major features of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 include the following: (a) states were required to implement standards-based assessments in reading and mathematics for pupils in each of grades 3-8 by the end of the 2005-2006 school year, and at three grade levels in science by the end of the...

Federal Contract Labor Standards Statutes: An Overview

In the late 1920s, following action taken in a number of states in dealing with state contracts, the federal government began development of a body of labor standards protections for workers employed by private contractors in federal contract work. The first of these statutes, the Davis-Bacon Act (1931), set basic labor standards (primarily, prevailing wage rates) for workers engaged in construction work, under contract, for the federal government. Two other major contract labor standards statutes followed: the Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act (1936) and the McNamara-O’Hara Service...

Legal Issues in Terminations of Single-Employer Pension Plans: Beck v. PACE International Union

The Beck v. PACE International Union case concerned the decision by an employer in bankruptcy proceedings to terminate its pension plans. The employer, which was both plan sponsor and administrator, had the option of terminating the plans by buying annuities for plan participants and beneficiaries or by merging the plans with a multiemployer plan. It chose the annuity option. At issue in Beck was whether the employer breached the fiduciary duty owed under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to plan participants and beneficiaries by failing to adequately consider the merger...

Davis-Bacon: The Act and the Literature

The Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, as amended, requires that contractors engaging in certain federal contract construction pay workers on such projects not less than the locally prevailing wage for comparable work. In addition, such contractors are required to file payroll reports and to meet other administrative and labor standards requirements.

Enacted at the urging of the Hoover Administration, the statute was modified in 1934 with adoption of the Copeland (“anti-kickback”) Act and in 1935 through general amendments dealing with administration and implementation: among them, establishment of...

Medicare: FY2008 Budget Issues

ERISA Regulation of Health Plans: Fact Sheet

Medicare: Supplementary "Medigap" Coverage

Medicare is a nationwide health insurance program for the aged and certain disabled persons. Although the program provides broad protection against the costs of many, primarily acute care, services, it covers only about one-half of beneficiaries' total health care expenses. Most individuals have some coverage in addition to basic Medicare benefits. Some persons have additional benefits through a managed care plan. Most other individuals have some supplementary coverage through private insurers or public programs such as Medicaid. Private supplementary coverage can be obtained through an...

Health Care Spending: Context and Policy

Medicare: Physician Self-Referral (“Stark I and II”)

Saving Incentives: What May Work, What May Not

What Happens if SCHIP Is Not “Reauthorized”?

The House-Passed 2007 Farm Bill (H.R. 2419) at a Glance

Unemployment and Older Workers

This is one in a series of papers that explore issues of our aging society. This report examines how unemployment has a different impact on the older worker. As workers age, negative—but previously temporary—events such as unemployment may push otherwise firmly entrenched workers out of the labor force. Older workers are less likely than others to experience a spell of unemployment, but those older workers who do experience unemployment have a higher incidence of withdrawing from the labor market. Some studies have found that unemployment in older workers contributes up to a one-third...

Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Workers: Protective Statutes

Medicaid Disproportionate Share Payments

Social Security: “Transition Costs”

The Financial Impact of Child Support on TANF Families: Simulation for Selected States

The Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program was enacted in 1975 as a federal-state-local partnership to help strengthen families by securing financial support from noncustodial parents. Families receiving cash welfare from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant must assign (turn over rights to) child support received from noncustodial parents to the state to reimburse it and the federal government for their welfare costs. States decide whether to pay any of the child support collected for TANF families to the family.

The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA, P.L....

Stafford Loan Interest Rate Reduction: Background and Issues

Clinical Trials Reporting and Publication

English Language Acquisition Grants Under the No Child Left Behind Act: Analysis of State Grant Formula and Data Options

The number of limited English proficient (LEP) students enrolled in K-12 education increased by 60.8% from the 1994-1995 school year to the 2004-2005 school year, while total student enrollment increased by 2.6% over the same time period. Given this tremendous growth in the LEP student population and the likelihood that Congress will consider legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLBA; P.L. 107-110), during the 110th Congress, this report examines the formula used to provide grants to...

Pension Funds Investing in Hedge Funds

The proportion of U.S. corporate-defined benefit pension funds investing in hedge funds has increased to 24% in 2006, up from 19% in 2004 and 12% in 2000. Although statistics vary, total corporate pension fund assets allocated to hedge funds in 2006 was 2.1%. Because of hedge funds’ risky nature, rapid growth, lack of oversight, and recent losses, some wonder if they are appropriate investments for workers’ retirement funds. This report discusses concerns regarding hedge funds and examines possible policy options.

Education-Related Hurricane Relief: Legislative Action

Transportation, the Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia, the Executive Office of the President, and Independent Agencies (TTHUD): FY2007 Appropriations

The Bush Administration requested $138.5 billion (after scorekeeping adjustments) for these agencies for FY2007, an increase of $2.3 billion over the $136.2 billion Congress provided in the agencies’ FY2006 appropriations act (this FY2006 figure reflects a 1.0% across-the-board rescission that was included in the FY2006 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, P.L. 109-148). The total FY2006 funding (after scorekeeping adjustments) for the agencies in this bill was $146.3 billion, due to emergency supplemental funding provided to deal with the effects of the Gulf Coast hurricanes of...

The Department of Housing and Urban Development: FY2007 Budget

On February 6, 2006, the President submitted his FY2007 budget to the Congress. It proposed funding the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at $34.1 billion, just over the FY2006 level (not including FY2006 supplementals related to Hurricane Katrina). HUD’s FY2007 budget summary stated that the budget intended to use “taxpayer money more wisely” and “reform programs in need of repair.”

The President’s budget would have increased funding for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program from $15.4 billion in FY2006 to $15.9 billion in FY2007. It proposed to reduce funding to...

Social Security: The Chilean Approach to Retirement

Over the past few years, there has been intense debate about Social Security reform in the United States. A number of options, ranging from changing the benefit formula to adding individual accounts, has been discussed. The policy debate takes place against the backdrop of an aging population, rising longevity, and relatively low fertility rates, which pose long-range financial challenges to the Social Security system. According to the 2007 Social Security Trustees Report’s intermediate assumptions, the Social Security trust funds are projected to experience cash-flow deficits in 2017 and...

Science, State, Justice, Commerce and Related Agencies (House)/Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (Senate): FY2007 Appropriations

This report monitors actions taken by the 109th Congress for the House’s Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies (SSJC) and the Senate’s Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) FY2007 appropriations bill. Appropriations bills reflect the jurisdiction of the subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees in which they are considered. Jurisdictions for the subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees changed at the beginning of the 109th Congress.

On September 29, 2006, Congress passed the Defense Department Appropriation...

Summary of the Pension Protection Act of 2006

On July 28, 2006, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4, the Pension Protection Act, by a vote of 279-131. The bill was passed by the Senate on August 3 by a vote of 93-5 and was signed into law by the President as P.L. 109-280 on August 17, 2006. The Pension Protection Act is the most comprehensive reform of the nation’s pension laws since the enactment of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA, P.L. 93-406). It establishes new funding requirements for defined benefit pensions and includes reforms that will affect cash balance pension plans, defined contribution...

Speechwriting in Perspective: A Brief Guide to Effective and Persuasive Communication

The frequent delivery of public remarks by Senators and Representatives is an important element of their roles as community leaders, spokespersons, and freely elected legislators. Congressional staff are often called on to help prepare draft remarks for such purposes.

Writing for the spoken word is a special discipline; it requires that congressional speechwriters’ products be written primarily, although not exclusively, to be heard, not read. Speeches are better cast in simple, direct, and often short sentences that can be easily understood by listeners. Rhetorical devices such as...

Alcohol Use Among Youth

Alcohol use by persons under age 21 has been identified as a major public health problem. Studies note that it increases the risks for disability, and may be detrimental to the developing brain. Minors who drink are more likely to commit suicide, break the law, or be victims of violence. Alcohol is implicated in nearly one-third of youth traffic fatalities. The total annual cost of underage drinking is estimated at $62 billion. While most laws intended to prevent underage drinking are passed at the state level, there has been legislative activity and interest at the federal level to...

H.R. 1 (Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007) and S. 4 (Improving America’s Security Act of 2007): A Comparative Analysis

This comparative analysis of H.R. 1 (Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007) and S. 4 (Improving America’s Security Act of 2007) is an assessment of major similarities and differences between the two bills as passed by the House (January 9, 2007) and Senate (March 13, 2007) and under conference consideration.

References to the two bills are to engrossed versions. The presentation is organized to follow the basic construct of the House bill because its coverage remained more stable through the legislative process and as the analyses began. Titles unique to S. 4 follow...

Estate Tax Legislation in the 109th Congress

Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit: Low-Income Provisions

Food Labeling: Allergy Information

The FY2008 Budget Request for the U.S. Department of Agriculture

The Administration’s FY2008 budget request for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) includes $92.2 billion in budget authority. Proposed discretionary budget authority would increase 1.6% from FY2007 levels to $20.3 billion. Mandatory budget authority would remain nearly steady at $71 billion; formula-driven increases in crop insurance and domestic food assistance would offset decreases in commodity program payments. The Administration’s 2007 farm bill proposal is largely separate from its budget request, although a $500 million per year placeholder for new spending is included in the...

SCHIP Original Allotments: Description and Analysis

The USDA 2007 Farm Bill Proposal: Possible Questions

On January 31, 2007, the Secretary of Agriculture publicly released a set of recommendations for a 2007 farm bill. The proposal is comprehensive and follows largely the outline of the current 2002 farm bill, which expires this year. It includes proposals regarding commodity support, conservation, trade, nutrition and domestic food assistance, farm credit, rural development, agricultural research, forestry, energy, and such miscellaneous items as crop insurance, organic programs, and Section 32 purchases of fruits and vegetables.

The Administration delivered its report to Congress, not as a...

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2007 Appropriations

The FY2007 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except for the Bureau of Reclamation, and for two agencies within other departments—the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service within the Department of Health and Human Services. It also includes funding for arts and cultural agencies; the Environmental Protection Agency, which was recently transferred to the appropriations subcommittees that deal with Interior and Related Agencies; and numerous other entities and...

SCHIP Financing: Funding Projections and State Redistribution Issues

Federal Spending for Older Americans

This report discusses the share of the federal budget devoted to older Americans, which is growing. The federal government currently spends more than one-third of its budget on benefits and programs for older Americans. For people age 65 and over, estimated FY2007 spending for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid alone is $833 billion. Spending for retired federal employees and military personnel and for veterans is also significant, and smaller programs add to the total as well. Tax expenditures might also be taken into account to obtain a more complete budget picture.

Military Base Closures: Redevelopment Assistance Programs

On September 15, 2005, President Bush approved the list of military facilities that the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission recommended be closed or realigned in the current round of base closures, known generally as “BRAC.” (See http://www.brac.gov/¿finalreport.asp.) The list includes 22 major base closures and 33 major realignments and would result in a net reduction of more than 8,000 military and civilian personnel. (The original BRAC list from DOD indicated a reduction of more than 26,000 personnel, but this included more than 13,000 from overseas deployments that are not...

Unauthorized Aliens in the United States: Estimates Since 1986

Border Security: The Complexity of the Challenge

Border security is a pivotal function in protecting the American people from terrorists and their instruments of destruction. This report uses a series of graphical presentations to form one possible framework that might assist policy makers in understanding the complex nature of border security. It is the first in a three-part series of CRS reports that make use of analytical frameworks to better understand complex problems in border security and cast them in terms that facilitate the consideration of alternative policies and practices. (CRS Report RL32840, Border and Transportation...

Public Charter School Accountability

Arts in Education: Background and Legislation

Dietary Supplements: Ephedra

Historic Preservation: Background and Funding

This report summarizes the federal role in historic preservation. It provides descriptions of and funding information for some of the major preservation programs, including the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF), the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the National Register for Historic Places. Some Members of Congress have given historic preservation programs close scrutiny and have recommended that historic preservation activities be supported increasingly by the private sector.

Cuban Migration Policy and Issues

Health Insurance Coverage for Retirees

Many retirees depend on their former employer for retirement health insurance, either as their sole source of coverage for those under age 65 or as a supplement to their Medicare coverage once they reach 65. However, the future of these benefits is uncertain. With the retirement of the baby boom generation looming ahead, employers offering coverage to their retired workers will face a huge future financial commitment. For this reason, many employers are re-examining their commitment to providing retiree health benefits. Some employers have already reduced or eliminated health insurance...

The Employment of People with Disabilities: Federal Data Sources and Trends

Congress has enacted major legislation related to the employment of individuals with disabilities. In 1938, the Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which, among other provisions, established a reduced wage for the employment of individuals whose earning capacity was impaired by age or physical or mental deficiency or injury (Section 14). The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 banned discrimination in the workplace and elsewhere on the basis of disability, and the Civil Rights Act (CRA) of 1991 allowed people bringing employment discrimination suits to seek...

SCHIP Provisions of H.R. 6164 (NIH Reform Act of 2006)

Integrating Medicare and Medicaid Services Through Managed Care

Veterans’ Benefits Issues in the 109th Congress

Child Welfare: the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP)

K-12 Education Programs: Recent Appropriations

Housing Issues in the 109th Congress

The 109th Congress considered a number of housing-related issues in its two sessions. These included appropriations for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); assistance for families and communities affected by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma; reform of the Government Sponsored Enterprises—Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—and Federal Home Loan Banks (GSEs and FHLBs); revisions to the FHA loan insurance program; and changes to existing housing programs such as the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program. However, the 109th Congress...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2007 Appropriations

The Agriculture and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes all of USDA (except the Forest Service), plus the Food and Drug Administration and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The full House passed the FY2007 agriculture appropriations bill on May 23, 2006 (H.R. 5384, H.Rept. 109-463). On June 22, 2006, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported its version (H.R. 5384, S.Rept. 109-266). The full Senate took up the bill on December 5, 2006, but only to consider a crop disaster amendment, which was defeated. Because a final bill has not been enacted, a continuing resolution...

Previewing a 2007 Farm Bill

Federal farm support, food assistance, agricultural trade, marketing, and rural development policies are governed by a variety of separate laws. However, many of these laws periodically are evaluated, revised, and renewed through an omnibus, multi-year “farm bill.” The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-171) was the most recent omnibus farm bill, and many of its provisions expire in 2007, so reauthorization is expected to be addressed in the first session of the 110th Congress.

The heart of every omnibus farm bill is farm income and commodity price support...

Congressional Budget Actions in 2006

Second Chance Homes: Federal Funding, Programs, and Services

Second chance homes for unwed teenage mothers are not a new concept in the nation. Before the mid-1880s, support for unwed teen mothers was primarily provided by family, friends, and churches. In 1883, Charles Crittenton founded the first “rescue home” (named for his daughter Florence) that eventually became a chain of what later were called private maternity homes, to better support such mothers and ensure that no repeat out-of-wedlock pregnancies occurred. Subsequently, an extensive network of private maternity homes was established across the nation.

In 1935, with the passage of the Aid...

Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade: Key Issues for the 110th Congress

The 110th Congress will face a number of pressing foreign affairs, defense, and trade issues in the opening days of its tenure. This report identifies major issues most likely to be on the legislative agenda, discusses critical policy choices at stake, and summarizes some of the major alternatives that Congress may consider. The report lists Congressional Research Service reports that address these issues, and it identifies key analysts and their areas of responsibility.

A major issue confronting the new Congress is what to do in Iraq. The Baker/Hamilton-led Iraq Study Group recommended...

Pension Protection Act of 2006: Summary of the PBGC Guarantee and Related Provisions

Title IV of the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-280; August 17, 2006) contains several provisions concerning premiums and benefit guarantees under the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation’s (PBGC’s) insurance program. The Title also contains special funding rules for commercial airlines and airline catering companies. Other provisions address issues such as rules for substantial owners, the appointment of the PBGC director, and missing participants. This report summarizes the Title’s provisions. For additional information on the Pension Protection Act, see CRS Report RL33703,...

Civilian Patrols Along the Border: Legal and Policy Issues

Pay-for-Performance in Health Care

Federal Spending by Agency and Budget Function, FY2001-FY2006

9/11 Commission Recommendations: Implementation Status

This report provides a review of the 9/11 Commission recommendations and the status of their implementation at the end of the 109th Congress. The discussions herein are organized on the basis of policy themes that are at the core of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, rather than through a review of each numbered item set out in the Commission’s final report. The analysis was produced by a large team of CRS Specialists, analysts, and attorneys who are responsible for the wide variety of policy areas covered by the 9/11 Commission in its work. The authors of the varied segments of this...

Medicare: Enrollment in Medicare Drug Plans

Homeland Security Department: FY2007 Appropriations

The annual consideration of appropriations bills (regular, continuing, and supplemental) by Congress is part of a complex set of budget processes that also encompasses the consideration of budget resolutions, revenue and debt-limit legislation, other spending measures, and reconciliation bills. In addition, the operation of programs and the spending of appropriated funds are subject to constraints established in authorizing statutes. Congressional action on the budget for a fiscal year usually begins following the submission of the President’s budget at the beginning of each annual session...

Minimum Wage, Overtime Pay, and Child Labor: An Inventory of Proposals in the 109th Congress to Amend the Fair Labor Standards Act

This report discusses potential changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act that may occur during the 109th Congress.

The Fair Labor Standards Act: Minimum Wage in the 109th Congress

Medicare: Part B Premiums

Tax Benefits for Families: Recent Changes for the Head of Household Filing Status

This report describes the recent changes to file a federal income tax return as a head of household.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965, As Amended: Reauthorization Issues

Homeland Security: 9/11 Victim Relief Funds

H.R. 4: The Pension Protection Act

This report discusses the Pension Protection Act (PPA) reforms and the funding rules for defined benefit pensions; requires employers to disclose more information about pension funding; restricts benefit payments and accruals in underfunded plans; and clarifies, prospectively, that cash balance pension plans do not violate legal prohibitions on age discrimination in employee benefits.

The Homeless Management Information System

Federal Aid to Libraries in the Museum and Library Services Act of 2003

Legislation reauthorizing the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) as Title II—Library Services and Technology, of the Museum and Library Services Act of 2003 (MLSA), was signed into law (P.L. 108-81) on September 25, 2003. The LSTA’s authorization had expired at the end of FY2002; however, funding was not interrupted.

Library Services and Technology (LST) is administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The IMLS contains an Office of Museum Services (OMS) and an Office of Library Services (OLS). Beginning in FY2003, the OMS and the OLS were combined in one...

U.S. Housing Prices: Is There a Bubble?

Long-Term Care: Consumer-Directed Services Under Medicaid

Federal Counter-Terrorism Training: Issues for Congressional Oversight

Federal counter-terrorism training programs are varied and are provided by numerous federal agencies and departments. Some of these departments and agencies include the Departments of Defense (DOD), Energy (DOE), Homeland Security (DHS), Health and Human Services (HHS), Justice (DOJ), Transportation (DOT), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Each department and agency provides specific counter-terrorism training targeted to given categories of recipients. Training recipients include federal, state, and local government personnel, emergency responders, and private and public...

The Child Support Enforcement Program: A Fact Sheet

Asbestos Litigation: Prospects for Legislative Resolution

Department of Veteran Affairs: Information Security and Information Technology Management Reorganization

On May 3, 2006, the home of a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) data analyst was burglarized, resulting in the theft of a laptop computer and an external data storage device that was reported to contain personal information on more than 26 million veterans and United States military personnel. The VA Secretary testified that he was not informed of the incident until May 16, 2006, almost two weeks after the data had been stolen. VA publicly announced the theft on May 22. On June 29, VA announced that the stolen laptop computer and external hard drive had been recovered intact and that,...

Legal Services Corporation: Basic Facts and Current Status

Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

Charitable Choice Rules and Faith-Based Organizations

President Bush's Administration has advanced a "Charitable Choice" agenda aimed at expanding the ability of faith-based organizations to provide federally funded social services and encouraging states to do likewise. Charitable Choice rules are intended to ensure that faith-based organizations participate more fully in federally funded social service programs and offer services without abandoning their religious character or infringing on the religious freedom of applicant/recipients. They deal with issues such as faith-based organizations' ability to remain independent of governmental...

War on Drugs: The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign

This report discusses the authorization of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, a multi-media federal program to persuade America's youth not to use drugs, which expired at the end of FY2002. H.R. 2829 (passed by the House on March 13, 2006) and S. 2560 (reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 25, 2006) would reauthorize the media campaign, along with the other programs run by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) during FY2007.

Medicare: Payments for Covered Part B Prescription Drugs

Coal Mine Safety

Border Security: Apprehension of ”Other Than Mexican” Aliens

FY2006 Supplemental Appropriations: Iraq and Other International Activities; Additional Hurricane Katrina Relief

This report discusses the two separate FY2006 supplemental appropriations requests submitted on February 16, 2006. The first, totaling $72.4 billion, would fund ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan ($67.9 billion), non-DOD intelligence operations ($0.3 billion), State Department operations in Iraq and various foreign aid programs, including additional assistance for Iraq ($4.2 billion), and other counter-terrorism funding for other agencies ($12 million). The other supplemental would provide $19.8 billion for recovery and reconstruction activities in hurricane affected Gulf...

Public Health Service Operating Agencies

The Market for Retirement Annuities

A retirement annuity allows an individual to purchase a regular payment stream from an insurance company to last his lifetime. Despite the ability of the product to eliminate the risk that a retiree will outlive his assets, few retirement annuities have been sold in the individual market. In addition, the number of individuals who annuitize their defined contribution retirement plan balances remains small. New products are emerging that would offer alternate annuity designs and make annuity prices more attractive. This report discusses legislation has been proposed in the 109th Congress...

Data on Enrollment, Premiums, and Cost-Sharing in HAS-Qualified Health Plans

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), which have been available since 2004, are the newest addition to the array of tax-advantaged accounts people can use to pay for unreimbursed medical expenses. To set up an HSA, one must enroll in a qualifying high-deductible health plan (HDHP). This report analyzes findings about enrollment in HSA-qualified HDHPs.

Missing and Exploited Children: Overview and Policy Concerns

Welfare Reauthorization: An Overview of the Issues

School Choice: Current Legislation

This report provides an overview of current local, state, and federal policies and programs that support school choice and identifies and summarizes recent federal school choice legislation.

Health Savings Accounts: Some Current Policy Issues

This report discusses the Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), which are one way that people can pay for their unreimbursed medical expenses (deductibles, copayments, and services not covered by insurance) on a tax-advantaged basis

Medical Malpractice: An Overview

Social Security Reform

The Structure of Social Security Individual Account Contributions and Investments: Choices and Implications

Policymakers have debated creating a system of individual accounts (IAs) as part of Social Security for many years. This report describes policymakers’ administrative and structural choices regarding the collection and investment of assets in a system of individual accounts.

Side-by-Side Description of Small Business Health Insurance Proposals

The 109th Congress is considering a number of health insurance reforms intended to improve access to health insurance for small businesses. Two of those proposals, S. 2510 , the Small Employers Health Benefits Program Act of 2006, and S. 1955 , the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act of 2006, take different approaches to addressing perceived problems with the current market for health insurance. S. 1955 , introduced by Senators Michael Enzi and Ben Nelson, was approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee on March 15, 2006....

Budget Reconciliation and the PBGC

Tax Issues in Litigation: Treatment of Judgment and Settlement Payments and Deductibility of Legal Expenses

When a party involved in a lawsuit makes a payment pursuant to a judgment or settlement agreement, the payment may be included in the recipient’s income and may be deductible from the payor’s income. A separate issue that also arises in litigation is whether either party may deduct the legal expenses incurred in the suit. The nature of the underlying claim is critical in determining the proper tax treatment of these payment and expenses. Portions of a payment may face different treatment depending on what each represents (e.g., replacement for lost wages, reimbursement of medical expenses,...

Davis-Bacon Suspension and Its Legislative Aftermath

Medicaid Issues for the 109th Congress

Medicaid is jointly financed by the federal and state governments, but each state designs and administers its own state program under broad federal guidelines. Accordingly, state variation in eligibility, covered services, and the delivery of, and reimbursement for, services is the rule rather than the exception. How is Congress to respond to the numerous proposals to move Medicaid forward into the near and long term? This report lays out some of these issues, explains the factors underlying them, and provides links to CRS products that can help Members of Congress and their staff prepare...

Immigration Enforcement Within the United States

An estimated 11 million unauthorized aliens reside in the United States, and this population is estimated to increase by 500,000 annually. Each year, approximately 1 million aliens are apprehended trying to enter the United States illegally. Although most of these aliens enter the United States for economic opportunities and family reunification, or to avoid civil strife and political unrest, some are criminals, and some may be terrorists. All are violating the United States’ immigration laws.

Immigration enforcement is the regulation of those who violate provisions of the Immigration and...

Medicare: FY2007 Budget Issues

This report discusses President's budget request to Congress for Medicare, for the following federal fiscal year, along with projections for the five-year budget window. The President’s 2007 budget includes Medicare legislative proposals for Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Supplementary Medical Insurance) spending with estimated savings of $2.5 billion in 2007 and $35.9 billion over the five-year budget window.

Cash and Noncash Benefits for Persons with Limited Income: Eligibility Rules, Recipient and Expenditure Data, FY2002-FY2004

More than 80 benefit programs provide aid—in cash and noncash form—that is directed primarily to persons with limited or low income. Such programs constitute the public “welfare” system, if welfare is defined as income-tested or need-based benefits. This definition omits social insurance programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Income-tested benefit programs in FY2004 cost approximately $583 billion: $427 billion in federal funds and $156 billion in state-local funds (Table 1). Spending on these programs represented 18.6% of all federal spending, with medical aid accounting for 9% of...

The Earthquake in South Asia: Humanitarian Assistance and Relief Operations

On October 8, 2005, a powerful earthquake struck northern Pakistan and India, killing at least 74,000 people and injuring over 70,000 more. The earthquake damaged the homes of millions of people, forcing more than 2.8 million to search for alternative means of shelter. The full extent of the destruction is now being revealed as government authorities and relief organizations are able to access some of the remote locations. The United States government (USG) has pledged $510 million toward the relief effort, almost all of it to assisting Pakistan, which remains a key U.S. ally in the war...

Military Retirement: Major Legislative Issues

Recent Developments in Medicare Affecting Long-Term Care Hospitals

Medicare pays about $36 billion annually for post-acute care in four separate settings: long-term care hospitals (LTCHs), inpatient rehabilitation settings (IRFs), skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), and in the home. This report provides background information on several operational issues affecting LTCHs that are currently attracting attention from Congress, specifically efforts to develop a patient assessment tool, to develop qualification criteria that should be imposed on LTCHs, and to change Medicare’s LTCH payment methods.

The Workforce Investment Act (WIA): Program-by-Program Overview and FY2007 Funding of Title I Training Programs

Title I of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) (P.L. 105-220) authorizes several job training programs, including Youth, Adult, and Dislocated Worker Activities, Job Corps, the Native American Program, the Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Program, and the Veterans’ Workforce Investment Program. This report briefly summarizes each WIA program, the FY2007 budget request, and for comparison, the FY2006 appropriation (P.L. 109-149).

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): FY2006 Budget

In February 2005, a House Appropriations Committee reorganization plan abolished the Veterans Affairs, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Independent Agencies Subcommittee, sending HUD to a new Treasury, Transportation, Judiciary, Housing and Urban Development, District of Columbia and Related Agencies Subcommittee. A similar but not identical change was made in the Senate, creating the Transportation, Treasury, HUD Subcommittee. On February 7, 2005, the Administration submitted a $29.1 billion FY2006 budget request for HUD, which is 9% less than was provided in...

Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education: FY2006 Appropriations

This report tracks FY2006 appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED). This legislation provides discretionary funds for three major federal departments and 14 related agencies. The report, which will be updated, summarizes L-HHS-ED discretionary funding issues but not authorization or entitlement issues.

On February 7, 2005, the President submitted the FY2006 budget request to Congress, including $141.7 billion in discretionary L-HHS-ED funds; the comparable FY2005 appropriation was $143.5 billion, enacted...

Arts and Humanities: Background on Funding

Changes to Section 8 Housing Voucher Renewal Funding, FY2003-FY2006

This report describes changes in the formula that were included in appropriations bills for FY2003 through FY2006; it will not be updated.

Tax Credits for Individual Development Accounts

An individual development account (IDA) is a structured savings instrument for lower income individuals. This report discusses legislation introduced in the 108th Congress to establish IDA programs utilizing tax benefits to encourage program development.

Funding for Public Charter School Facilities: Federal Policy Under the ESEA

This report examines the federal role in providing funding for public charter school facilities. Under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), federal support for public charter school facilities is authorized under Title V-B -- Public Charter Schools. It includes background on the topic and on current facilities, as well as relevant federal policy and federal programs authorized under the Internal Revenue Code.

Tax Benefits for Health Insurance: Current Legislation

This report discusses a variety of potential proposals to change the tax benefits for health insurance and medical expenses, including measures that would expand the availability and attractiveness of health savings accounts (HSAs), or employer tax credits.

Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit: An Overview of Implementation for Dual Eligibles

This report provides background information on the early stages of the implementation of the Medicare Part D outpatient prescription drug program. This report describes certain policies and implementation issues related to those who are not dually eligible.

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2006 Appropriations

The FY2006 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except for the Bureau of Reclamation, and for two agencies within other departments—the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service within the Department of Health and Human Services. It also includes funding for arts and cultural agencies; the Environmental Protection Agency, which was newly-transferred to the Appropriations subcommittees that deal with Interior and Related Agencies; and numerous other entities and...

Side-by-Side Comparison of Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Provisions in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005

From the summary: "This report provides a comparison of Medicare, Medicaid and State Child Health Insurance Program provisions contained in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (S. 1932) as amended and passed by the Senate. The report compares the bill's provisions with current law."

Federal Tax Benefits for Families’ K-12 Education Expenses in the Context of School Choice

This report focuses on proposals offered to amend the federal income tax code to subsidize the expenses of families with children enrolled in the K-12 school of their choice. It begins with a discussion of K-12 education reform efforts to provide a context for the proposed tax subsidies. Next, it reviews existing federal tax provisions that could help families pay for the cost of their children’s K-12schooling. The report then analyzes the kind of proposals that have been introduced to expand existing federal tax benefits or to authorize new ones for families incurring K-12 education expenses.

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2006 Appropriations

The President signed the FY2006 Agriculture Appropriations Act (P.L. 109-97, H.R. 2744) into law on November 10, 2005. The act includes all of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (except the Forest Service), plus the Food and Drug Administration, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The $100.1 billion law is $15.0 billion (+18%) above FY2005 levels, and contains $17.03 billion in discretionary spending and $83.07 billion for mandatory programs. The discretionary amount is $199 million (+1.2%) above FY2005 levels, $201 million (+1.2%) more than the House bill, and $317 million...

Teacher Recruitment and Retention: Federal, State, and Local Programs

Defined Benefit Pension Reform for Single-Employer Plans

Homeland Security Department: FY2006 Appropriations

This report describes the FY2006 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Administration requested a net appropriation of $30.6 billion in net budget authority for FY2006, of which $29.6 billion is discretionary budget authority, and $1 billion is mandatory budget authority. P.L. 109-90 was signed into law on October 18, 2005, and provides a net appropriation of $31.9 billion for DHS and $30.8 billion in discretionary budget authority.

The President’s request for appropriations includes the following break out of net budget authority for the four Titles of the DHS...

Transportation, the Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia, the Executive Office of the President, and Independent Agencies: FY2006 Appropriations

At the beginning of the 109th Congress, both the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations reorganized their subcommittee structure, affecting the coverage of the FY2006 appropriations bills. As a result, the appropriations subcommittees that previously oversaw the Departments of Transportation and the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President, and Independent Agencies now also oversee the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, and (in the case of the House, but not the Senate) the District of Columbia.

The Bush Administration requested $126.1 billion for...

Early Childhood Education: Preschool Participation, Program Efficacy, and Federal Policy Issues

This report examines what we currently know about preprimary programs, including numbers of children served and their family characteristics; as well as data on the efficacy of preprimary programs in enhancing later learning and other life skills. It also discusses federal programs that serve preschool age children are described, and policy issues which may arise as the federal role in early childhood education.

The Federal Migrant Education Program as Amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

This report describes the legislative and funding history of the program -- highlighting important changes made since it was established. A section on evaluations of the program is included at the end of the report.

Implications of the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit for Dual Eligibles and State Medicaid Programs

This report discusses the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA, P.L. 108-173), which added a new Medicare prescription drug benefit, implemented in January 2006. This report focuses on MMA provisions that added a voluntary prescription drug benefit under a new Medicare Part D, and the effect of this new benefit both on individuals who are dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare, and on state Medicaid programs.

Retirement Savings Accounts: President’s Budget Proposal for FY2006

DNA Testing for Law Enforcement: Legislative Issues for Congress

Personal Reemployment Accounts: Results from Bonus Experiments

Germany's "Grand Coalition" Government: Prospects and Implications

A "grand coalition" government of Germany's two largest parties, the Christian Democrat Union/Christian Socialist Union (CDU/CSU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) led by CDU candidate Angela Merkel took office on November 22, 2005, after the German federal election of September 18, 2005, had produced no clear winner. Some experts believe that the coalition will be fragile, short lived, and will accomplish little with each side trying to gain political advantage over the other. Such negative expectations are not shared by other analysts who believe that only such a large coalition can...

Medicaid Expenditures, FY2003 and FY2004

This report discusses the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP), which is the percentage of Medicaid benefit costs paid for by the federal government.

Stem Cell Research

The Role of HUD Housing Programs in Response to Past Disasters

Hurricane Katrina has resulted in the displacement of tens of thousands of families from their homes. While its magnitude is unprecedented, the resulting need to shelter and house displaced families is not. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the nation's agency with a mission to provide safe and decent housing for all Americans, has played a role in meeting those needs in the past and is playing a role in the wake of Katrina. This report looks at HUD's current programs and how they have been used to respond to past disasters. The report begins by introducing the...

How Medicaid Works: Program Basics

The Benefits of Education

Hurricane Katrina: Medicaid Issues

Medicaid is jointly financed by the federal and state governments, but each state designs and administers its own version of the program under broad federal guidelines. The complexity of Medicaid can present an enormous challenge in meeting the needs of Hurricane Katrina's victims, especially when evacuees cross state lines. State variation in eligibility, covered services, and the reimbursement and delivery of services is the rule rather than the exception. Furthermore, although Medicaid is targeted at individuals with low income, not all of the poor are eligible, and not all...

Science, State, Justice, Commerce and Related Agencies (House)/Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (Senate): FY2006 Appropriations

This report monitors actions taken by the 109th Congress for the House’s Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies (SSJC) and the Senate’s Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) FY2006 appropriations legislation. Appropriations bills reflect the jurisdiction of the subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees in which they are considered. Jurisdictions for the subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees changed at the beginning of the 109th Congress. In the 108th Congress, both the House and Senate subcommittees had...

California's San Joaquin Valley: A Region in Transition

CRS was requested to undertake a study of the San Joaquin Valley (SJV) and a comparison with another U.S. region. The eight-county San Joaquin Valley, part of California's Central Valley, is home to 5 of the 10 most agriculturally productive counties in the United States. By a wide range of indicators, the SJV is also one of the most economically depressed regions of the United States. This report analyzes the SJV's counties and statistically documents the basis of current socioeconomic conditions. The report further explores the extent to which the SJV shares similarities with and...

Welfare Reauthorization: A Side-By-Side Comparison of Current Law and Pending Welfare Reauthorization Proposals

The 109th Congress is considering legislation to reauthorize and amend programs that were created or revised in the 1996 welfare reform law. Early in 2005, the Senate Committees on Finance and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) reported their welfare reauthorization legislation (respectively, S. 667 and S. 525 ). These bills have yet to see floor action and remain pending in the Senate. The House passed welfare reauthorization as part of its spending budget reconciliation bill (the House-passed version of S. 1932 ). The Senate-passed spending reconciliation bill does not ...

Medicaid and the State Fiscal Crisis of 2000-2003

Child Welfare: Program Reauthorizations and Recent and FY2006 Proposed Funding Levels

This report discusses current funding levels for child welfare programs, intended to protect children from abuse and neglect and to ensure their well-being. In FY2005 the federal government appropriated $7.8 billion for these purposes. Most of this funding is made available to states through open-ended entitlement programs or as formula grants and is authorized under Title IV-E and Title IV-B of the Social Security Act or under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA).

Stock Options: The Accounting Issue and Its Consequences

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has issued a long-anticipated rule that stock options must be recognized as an expense on corporation income statements. The previous accounting rule permitted but did not require recognition; corporations that elected to omit the cost of options, as most did, have been able to report higher earnings. This report examines the debate surrounding the issue and discusses the potential consequences.

The Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act: Reauthorization and Appropriations

This report discusses the approved reauthorization legislation to extend and amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (SDFSCA).

Education and Training Issues Related to Major Disasters

Employment-Related Issues in Bankruptcy

This report provides an overview of the status of employee wages and benefits, including retiree benefits, when an employer files in bankruptcy, and the amendments made to the U.S. Bankruptcy Code by the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act. Private pensions, regulated by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, are generally protected, although defined benefit pension plan payments may be substantially reduced. Health and life insurance benefits, which are not required by federal law, are vulnerable to an employer’s bankruptcy-driven modification or termination....

Budget Reconciliation: Projections of Funding in the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)

In FY2005, six states faced the prospect of running out of federal funds in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). This was the first time since the program’s creation in 1997 that multiple states faced such a shortfall. The shortfalls were avoided by the redistribution of funds from other states’ original SCHIP allotments that had not been spent by the end of the three-year period of availability. To address this, the reconciliation proposal approved by the Senate Finance Committee would reduce the period of availability for original allotments from three years to two.

AIDS: The Ryan White CARE Act

S. 1783: The Pension Security and Transparency Act of 2005

S. 147/H.R. 309: Process for Federal Recognition of a Native Hawaiian Governmental Entity

S. 147 / H.R. 309 , companion bills introduced in the 109th Congress, represent an effort to accord to Native Hawaiians a means of forming a governmental entity that could enter into government-to-government relations with the United States. This entity would be empowered to negotiate with the State of Hawaii and with the federal government regarding the transfer of land and the exercise of governmental power and jurisdiction. There was similar legislation in the 106th, 107th, and 108th Congresses; the House passed a Native Hawaiian recognition bill, H.R. 4904 , in the 106th Congress....

Hurricanes Katrina

Davis-Bacon Suspension and Its Legislative Aftermath

During the last week of August 2005, Hurricane Katrina gathered strength in the Atlantic and moved against the gulf states. On September 8, 2005, amid the devastation left in Katrina’s wake, President George W. Bush suspended the Davis-Bacon Act as it applies to certain jurisdictions in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Although the President has the authority, under Section 6 of the Act, to render such suspensions during a national emergency, that authority has rarely been utilized.1 This report analyzes the legislative aftermath of the suspension.

Hurricane Katrina and Veterans

This report provides a brief overview of steps currently taken by Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Congress to address the needs of veterans in the affected areas.

Medicaid Eligibility for Adults and Children

Foreign Relations Authorization, FY2006 and FY2007: An Overview

The foreign relations authorization process dovetails with the annual appropriation process for the Department of State, foreign policy, and foreign assistance. Congress is required by law to authorize the spending of appropriations for the State Department and foreign policy activities every two years. The last time Congress passed a stand-alone foreign relations authorization bill was in FY2003 ( P.L. 107-228 ). Foreign assistance authorization measures (such as authorization for the U.S. Agency for International Development, economic and military assistance to foreign countries,...

Federal Food Assistance: Hurricane Katrina

This report discusses the federal food assistance programs for those affected by Hurricane Katrina, making them automatically eligible for maximum benefits. It also is providing substantial amounts of direct food aid drawn from its commodity stocks.

TANF Cash Benefits as of January 1, 2004

Hurricane Katrina: Activities of the Social Security Administration

This report outlines legislative procedures and also discuss Social Security Administration (SSA) procedures after September 11, 2001, to facilitate new disability, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) SSI, survivors, and death benefit applications.

Immigration: International Child Adoption

United States citizens adopt more children from abroad than the citizens of all other countries combined, and the number of foreign children adopted annually by U.S. citizens has more than doubled in the last decade from 8,333 to 22,884. Over the previous five years, the largest number of children adopted have come from China (28,690), followed by Russia (24,561), and Guatemala (10,938).

Under statute, international adoption is a two-step process. First, the parents’ eligibility to adopt must be verified, and then once the child is identified and the parents have complied with the laws...

Trends in Poverty in the United States

This report discusses trends in poverty in the United States. In 2004, 37 million people were found poor under the official poverty definition — a 1.1 million increase from 2003. The poverty rate, or percent of the population considered poor, increased for the fourth straight year, to 12.7% in 2004 — up from 12.5% in 2003, and 11.3% in 2000, its most recent low.

Terrorist Financing: U.S. Agency Efforts and Inter-Agency Coordination

Stopping the ability of terrorists to finance their operations is a key component of the U.S. counterterrorism strategy. To accomplish this, the Administration has implemented a three-tiered approach based on (1) intelligence and domestic legal and regulatory efforts; (2) technical assistance to provide capacity-building programs for U.S. allies; and (3) global efforts to create international norms and guidelines. Effective implementation of this strategy requires the participation of, and coordination among, several elements of the U.S. Government. This report provides an...

Dietary Supplements: International Standards and Trade Agreements

The dietary supplement industry has long been concerned about international activities that could have a potential impact on supplement trade. As originally proposed, FDA reform legislation contained provisions on mutual agreements and global harmonization that would have applied to most products under FDA jurisdiction. However, Congress explicitly exempted supplements from the final provisions of the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act of 1997 (P.L. 105-115), which means that these products are not part of on-going trade discussions.

Legal Services and Noncustodial Parents Who Owe Child Support

Enforcement of child support often results in custodial parents and noncustodial parents being in an adversarial relationship. Noncustodial parents often view it as an unbalanced relationship, because custodial parents have access to a network of federal and state resources (e.g., the Child Support Enforcement (CSE) agency and the welfare agency) that are not available to the noncustodial parent. Pending welfare reauthorization legislation ( H.R. 240 and S. 667 ) includes incentives for states to send more of the child support collected on behalf of custodial parents to the family...

Medicare: Part B Premium Penalty

Health Care Spending: Past Trends and Projections

This report focuses on trends in personal health care spending, which includes spending on health care goods and services provided to individuals and excludes expenditures for administrative costs, research, and public health activities. Personal health care expenditures have grown considerably over the past 40 years. Between 1960 and 2003 (the most recent year available), personal health care spending increased from $23.4 billion to $1.4 trillion. It is estimated that personal health spending will exceed $3.1 trillion in 2014. Data on health expenditures suggest four important trends....

Agriculture: A Glossary of Terms, Programs, and Laws, 2005 Edition

The complexities of federal farm and food programs have generated a unique vocabulary. Common understanding of these terms (new and old) is important to those involved in policymaking in this area. For this reason, the House Agriculture Committee requested that CRS prepare a glossary of agriculture and related terms (e.g., food programs, conservation, forestry, environmental protection, etc.). Besides defining terms and phrases with specialized meanings for agriculture, the glossary also identifies acronyms, abbreviations, agencies, programs, and laws related to agriculture that are of...

Food Safety Issues in the 109th Congress

Medicaid and SCHIP: The President's FY2006 Budget Proposals

This report describes the proposal and provides an estimate of the cost or savings based on publicly available information. The report provides a brief background for the proposal and provides a listing of current Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports related to the proposal.

State Unemployment Taxes and SUTA Dumping

This report provides a summary of the State Unemployment Tax Acts (SUTA) Dumping Prevention Act of 2004, P.L. 108-295 . The term "SUTA dumping" refers to a variety of tax planning strategies used by employers to minimize the tax burden of federally mandated state unemployment taxes. The strategies exploit the differences in methods state employ to determine unemployment tax rates among established employers and the method by which states determine the tax rate of new firms and firms that have either created new subsidiaries or have absorbed other firms. SUTA dumping creates tax inequities...

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Paperwork Reduction in P.L. 108-446

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (20 U.S.C. Section 1400 et seq .) is both a grants statute and a civil rights statute. It provides federal funding for the education of children with disabilities and requires, as a condition for the receipt of such funds, the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE). School districts must identify, locate, and evaluate all children with disabilities, regardless of the severity of their disability, to determine which children are eligible for special education and related services. Each child receiving services has an...

Youth: From Classroom to Workplace?

The "Superwaiver" Proposal and Service Integration: A History of Federal Initiatives

As part of the continuing debate over welfare reform reauthorization, the Bush Administration has supported a proposal that would enable states to obtain waivers from certain federal rules of various welfare-related programs in order to integrate activities across a wide spectrum of social services. This proposal, often referred to as the "superwaiver," would provide broad waiver authority to executive branch agencies that administer covered programs. The Administration has argued that giving state and local authorities more flexibility to coordinate workforce and family support programs...

Director of National Intelligence: Statutory Authorities

In passing the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-458) in late 2004, Congress approved the most comprehensive reform of the U.S. Intelligence Community since its establishment over 50 years ago. Principal among enacted changes was the establishment of a new position of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to manage the Intelligence Community. Some observers have questioned whether the new statute provides the DNI the necessary authorities to effectively manage the Community.

Child Welfare: An Analysis of Title IV-E Foster Care Eligibility Reviews

Title IV-E of the Social Security Act authorizes states to seek federal reimbursement for certain costs of providing foster care for children who can no longer safely remain in their homes. The statute permits states to make a claim for federal reimbursement of costs that are linked to providing foster care to each federally eligible child. In FY2003, the most recent year for which data are available, states sought federal reimbursement under this authority for approximately $4.5 billion in foster care costs. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), periodically conducts...

Health Insurance Continuation Coverage Under COBRA

Beneficiary Information and Decision Supports for the Medicare-Endorsed Prescription Drug Discount Card

On December 8, 2003 the President signed into law the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA, P.L. 108-173). This legislation establishes a Medicare prescription drug benefit, effective January 1, 2006. In the interim, the legislation requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish a temporary program of Medicare-endorsed prescription drug discount cards. This report discusses the objectives and benefits of this legislation.

Health Savings Accounts

The Higher Education Act: Reauthorization Status and Issues

Border Security: Immigration Issues in the 108th Congress

This report provides background information on the main immigration-related border security issues that have been raised as a result of the terrorist attacks and resulting concern for homeland security. It describes enacted legislation in the 107th Congress as well as in previous Congresses that focus on immigration-related border security issues. The report also poses possible immigration-related border security issues the 108th Congress may consider.

Genetic Testing: Scientific Background and Nondiscrimination Legislation

Issues surrounding genetic discrimination and privacy in health insurance and employment are currently being debated in the 109th Congress. This report provides a comprehensive overview of the status of genetic testing in the United States.

Social Security: Proposed Changes to the Earnings Test

Nursing Workforce Programs in Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act

Responding to concerns about existing or impending shortages of nurses, Congress passed the Nurse Training Act of 1964 (P.L. 88-581). It established in Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) the first comprehensive federal support for programs to develop the nursing workforce. Through subsequent authorizations, these programs have been amended to increase opportunities in nurse education and training for individuals and institutions. Currently, Title VIII authorizes grants to institutions, and scholarships and loans to individuals, for basic and advanced levels of nursing...

Appropriations for FY2005: Interior and Related Agencies

The Interior and related agencies appropriations bill includes funds for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except for the Bureau of Reclamation, and for some agencies or programs within three other departments—Agriculture, Energy, and Health and Human Services. It also funds numerous related agencies. H.R. 4568, the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for FY2005, was passed by the House (334-86) on June 17, 2004. The bill contained $20.03 billion. The Senate companion bill, S. 2804, was reported by the Senate Committee on Appropriations (S.Rept. 108-341) on September 14,...

Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) for Medicaid

K-12 Education Programs: Appropriations Summary

This report summarizes the amount of federal appropriations for K-12 education, including total elementary and secondary funding, recent increases, and the major components counted in the K-12 total. K-12 components include: the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLBA), P.L. 107-110; the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act of 1998; and the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA).

Clinical Trials Reporting and Publication

Insurance Regulation: History, Background, and Recent Congressional Oversight

This report provides the historical background for examining the arguments in this debate. It shows that state regulation of insurance is largely a historical artifact, that Congress has become increasingly involved in both regulating insurance and overseeing states' regulation of insurance, and that the National Association of Insurance Commissioners has assumed a national role.

The Postsecondary Education Student Population

This report focuses on the 12.4 million students enrolled as undergraduates in the fall of 2000, describing key attributes of the population. It also analyzes current rates at which different socioeconomic groups participate in postsecondary education and considers the future composition of the postsecondary student population.

The Fair Labor Standards Act: Minimum Wage in the 108th Congress

Asbestos: Federal Regulation of Uses

Computer Services Personnel: Overtime Pay Under the Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), as amended, is the primary federal statute in the area of minimum wages and overtime pay. Through administrative rulemaking, the Secretary of Labor has established two tests through which to define eligibility under the Section 13(a)(1) exemption: a duties test and an earnings test. In the 106th Congress, legislation was introduced by Representatives Andrews and Lazio that would have increased the scope of the exemption: first, by expanding the range of exempt job titles, and then, through a relative reduction in the value of the earnings...

1057A Bankruptcy Primer: Liquidation and Reorganization Under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code

This report examines the legal procedures for effecting either a liquidation or a business or consumer reorganization under the United States Bankruptcy Code, 11 U.S.C. § 101 et seq., through an analysis of its individual sections.

The Code, in chapters 1, 3, and 5, establishes general procedures that are applicable to the operative chapters. Chapter 7 governs liquidation of the debtor’s estate; chapter 11 governs business reorganization; and, chapter 13 addresses reorganization of an individual with regular income.

This report presents an overview of the Code’s legislative history, its...

Pension Issues: Cash-Balance Plans

Housing Issues in the 108th Congress

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996: Overview and Guidance on Frequently Asked Questions

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 (P.L. 104-191), provided for changes in the health insurance market. It guaranteed the availability and renewability of health insurance coverage for certain employees and individuals, and limited the use of preexisting condition restrictions. The Act created federal standards for insurers, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), and employer-provided health plans, including those that self-insure. It permitted, however, substantial state flexibility for compliance with the requirements on insurers.

HIPAA also...

The Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR)

Beneficiary Cost-Sharing Under the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit

Housing Assistance and Welfare: Background and Issues

The 1995-1996 debate over creation of a block grant to states for cash aid to needy families with children (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families—TANF) focused on reducing welfare rolls by promoting work. Except for child care costs, it gave scant attention to other living expenses of low-income parents. The issues of housing cost and affordability were essentially absent from the debate, although rent is the largest expense for many low-income families.

The important role housing plays in families’ lives has been recognized through a system of programs, administered by the Department of...

Long-Term Care: What Direction for Public Policy?

Appropriations for FY2005: Commerce, Justice, State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies

This report monitors actions taken by the 108th Congress on FY2005 appropriations for the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the judiciary and related agencies (often referred to as the CJS appropriations). The Administration requested $43.216 billion for CJS appropriations in its FY2005 budget request sent to Congress on February 2, 2004. In the spring of 2004, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees held hearings on these requests. The House Appropriations Committee reported out its unnumbered bill on June 23, 2004, recommending a total of $43.483 billion for CJS in...

Appropriations for FY2005: Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education

This report tracks the legislative progress of the FY2005 appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED). This legislation provides discretionary funds for three major federal departments and related agencies. The report summarizes L-HHS-ED discretionary funding issues but not authorization or entitlement issues.

On February 2, 2004, the President submitted the FY2005 budget request to the Congress, including $142.9 billion in discretionary L-HHS-ED funds; the comparable FY2004 appropriation was $139.8 billion, enacted...

War On Drugs: Legislation in the 108th Congress and Related Developments

This report covers significant legislative and oversight activities of the 108th Congress that concern domestic law enforcement aspects of federal anti-drug policy. It also includes an overview of significant executive branch actions and other current developments of likely interest to the congressional audience that follows this issue.

Fishery, Aquaculture, and Marine Mammal Legislation in the 108th Congress

This report discusses policy and legislation regarding fish and marine mammals. These animals are important resources in open ocean and nearshore coastal areas. Commercial and sport fishing are jointly managed by the federal government and individual states. Many laws and regulations guide the management of these resources by federal agencies.

Reconciling McCarran-Ferguson (Insurance) Case Law and ERISA Preemption: Kentucky Ass'n of Health Plans, Inc. v. Miller

In Kentucky Ass'n of Health Plans, Inc. v. Miller, (1) the Supreme Court ruled that Kentucky's "any willing provider" statutes, which mandate that health plans and health insurers may not exclude from their networks any health-care providers that agree to the plans' participation terms, are not preempted by ERISA; as statutes that regulate and are specifically directed toward the insurance industry they are exempted from such preemption by the "savings" clause in ERISA, which precludes preemption for state laws that "regulate ... insurance, banking, or securities."...

Historic Preservation: Background and Funding

This report summarizes the federal role in historic preservation. It provides descriptions of and funding information for some of the major preservation programs, including the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF), the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the National Register for Historic Places. Some Members of Congress have given historic preservation programs close scrutiny and have recommended that historic preservation activities be supported increasingly by the private sector.

Border Security: U.S.-Canada Immigration Border Issues

The United States and Canada are striving to balance adequate border security with other issues such as the facilitation of legitimate cross-border travel and commerce, and protecting civil liberties. Congress has taken action to improve border facility infrastructure, increase the number of border patrol agents and immigration inspectors at the northern border, and provide these officials with additional technologically upgraded equipment. Congress has also taken action to track the entry and exit of foreign visitors by mandating an automated entry/exit system, however, its...

Appropriations for FY2005: VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies

Welfare Reform: Comments from the Public on TANF Reauthorization

The 1996 welfare law repealed the previous Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program and replaced it with a block grant to states for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). This landmark legislation required that federally funded cash assistance be time-limited and conditioned on work, but also gave states great flexibility in the design of their programs. TANF funding expired at the end of FY2002 and Congress has continued the program and its funding through a series of temporary extensions. Efforts toward a long-term reauthorization of welfare reform began during...

Appropriations for FY2005: Transportation, Treasury, and Independent Agencies

The FY2005 Transportation, Treasury and Independent Agencies appropriations bill was passed as Division H of P.L. 108-447 , an omnibus appropriations bill, and was signed into law on December 8, 2004. The bill provides $90.6 billion for Transportation, Treasury, and Independent Agencies. However, the bill also includes an across-the-board rescission of 0.80%, which will reduce the Transportation, Treasury, and Independent Agencies funding by approximately $725 million. This will make the final figure $89.9 billion, slightly less than FY2004’s $90.3 billion but more than...

The Gender Wage Gap and Pay Equity: Is Comparable Worth the Next Step?

This report examines the trend in the male-female wage gap and the explanations offered for its existence. Remedies proposed for the gender wage gap's amelioration are addressed, with an in-depth focus on the comparable worth approach to achieving "pay equity" or "fair pay" between women and men.

Can the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation Be Restored to Financial Health?

In 2003, the Bush administration made a proposal for reform to strengthen pension plan funding and the financial condition of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). Various bills with the goal of reforming the PBGC were proposed in the 108th Congress but none were enacted into law. The doubling of the PBGC deficit from fiscal 2003 to fiscal 2004, has heightened awareness about the PBGC deficit situation. Congressional leaders from both parties have announced their intention to move aggressively on legislative solutions in the 109th Congress.

Concurrent Enrollment Programs

Initiated in part as a proposal to reform U.S. high schools, concurrent enrollment programs enable high school aged students to take college level course work and receive college credit while enrolled in high school. Concurrent enrollment programs can be best described as a secondary/postsecondary school hybrid. This report provides a brief history of these programs and a description of the different types of programs, including participation data.

Federal Pell Grants for Prisoners

Appropriations for FY2005: U.S. Department of Agriculture and Related Agencies

On November 20, 2004, the House and Senate approved the conference agreement on the FY2005 Consolidated Appropriations Act ( H.R. 4818 , H.Rept. 108-792 ), which combined nine annual appropriations bills into one measure. The President signed H.R. 4818 into law ( P.L. 108-447 ) on December 8, 2004. Division A of the act provides the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Related Agencies with $85.28 billion in budget authority for FY2005, which is $1.3 billion below FY2004 and $2.0-$2.3 billion above the FY2005 House-passed ( H.R. 4766 ) and Senate-reported ( S. 2803 ) bills, and the...

Federal Student Loans: Terms and Conditions for Borrowers

This report discusses major provisions of the law pertaining to federal student loan borrowers who receive loans through the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) and William D. Ford Direct Loan (DL) programs. The primary emphasis is placed on discussing provisions related to borrower eligibility, loan terms and conditions, borrower repayment relief, and loan default and its consequences for borrowers.

Medicaid Reimbursement Policy

This report begins with a summary of basic federal requirements applicable to payments for all services and an overview of major developments in federal Medicaid reimbursement policy over the last 20 years. This overview provides a historical context for current policies and highlights some issues that have been perennial concerns for federal and state policymakers. The next four sections of the report provide a detailed discussion of Medicaid reimbursement for four basic categories of services or providers.

Welfare Reform: An Issue Overview

H.R. 10 (9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act) and S. 2845 (National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004): A Comparative Analysis

This comparative analysis of H.R. 10 (9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act) and S. 2845 (National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004) is an assessment of major similarities and differences between the two bills as passed by the House (October 8, 2004) and Senate (October 6, 2004) and under conference consideration.

References to the two bills are to engrossed versions. The presentation is organized to follow the basic construct of the House bill, because its coverage remained more stable through the legislative process to date. For purposes of clarity, we refer to the House-passed bill as...

Employment Statistics: Differences and Similarities in Job-based and Person-based Employment and Unemployment Estimates

Employment statistics are key indicators of the performance of the economy, measuring how many jobs exist in the economy as well as how individuals fare in the labor market. Payroll employment estimates track the number of wage and salary jobs created and lost in the economy. In comparison to this job-based measure, (un)employment statistics measure the quantities and ratios of those individuals who are employed or unable to find employment despite actively seeking jobs. This paper defines and distinguishes two commonly used groups of employment estimates: payroll employment (derived...

Coverage of Vision Services under the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)

A small but significant proportion of children have visual impairments. When detected early, many childhood vision abnormalities are treatable, but the potential for correction and normal visual development diminishes with age. Under SCHIP, states may provide coverage by expanding Medicaid or creating a separate SCHIP program or both. Medicaid and SCHIP provide access to an array of vision-related services, including vision screening services that can help children in low- to moderate-income families overcome these difficulties. Medicaid's mandatory Early, and Periodic, Screening,...

Requirements for Linguists in Government Agencies

Gun Control Legislation in the 108th Congress

Senate Prescription Drug Importation Legislation: A Side-by-Side Comparison of Current Law, S. 2307, S. 2328, and S. 2493

Senators Grassley, Dorgan, and Gregg have each introduced bills that address Congressional concerns with prescription drug importation that were not resolved by the provisions in the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act (the MMA, P.L. 108-173 ). S. 2307 , the Reliable Entry for Medicines at Everyday Discounts through Importation with Effective Safeguards Act of 2004, introduced by Senator Grassley on April 8, 2004 [the Grassley bill];
S. 2328 , the Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act of 2004, introduced by Senator Dorgan on April 21, 2004...

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): Background Information and Issues for Congress

Congress has acted to help prevent female genital mutilation (FGM) in several ways. Broadly, it has passed legislation that targets women and aims to improve health conditions around the globe. Specifically, Congress has passed language protecting victims of FGM and criminalizing the practice in the United States in the FY1997 Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations, P.L. 104-208 . It has also passed the Foreign Affairs Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2001 , P.L. 106-429 , which contains language requiring the U.S. Department of State...

Equal Rights Amendments: State Provisions

Twenty states adopted state equal rights amendments between 1879 and 1998. The texts of most of these amendments either are similar to the proposed federal amendment or restate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The timing of the enactment of these state amendments and the choice of wording reflect both the ebb and flow of the women's movement in the United States and the political culture of the particular states at the time of passage. A brief history of the women's rights movement as it relates to the passage of state equal rights...

Medicare Endorsed Prescription Drug Discount Card Program

Charitable Choice, Faith-Based Initiatives, and TANF

This report is one in the series of reports that discusses the Charitable Choice Act of 2001 (Title II of the House bill) and its rules, as well as the charitable choice laws, and other areas of this program.

Child Nutrition and WIC Programs: Background and Funding

Federally supported child nutrition programs and related activities — including school meal programs and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (the WIC program) — reach over 37 million children and almost 2 million lower-income pregnant/postpartum women. In FY2004, anticipated spending on these programs is $16.6 billion, and the FY2004 appropriations law (P.L. 108-199) supports this spending level (although with new appropriations of a lesser amount, some $16 billion). The Administration’s FY2005 revised budget request envisions spending a total of...

Welfare Reform: TANF Trends and Data

Child Support Enforcement: New Reforms and Potential Issues

P.L. 104-193 (the 1996 welfare reform law) made major changes to the Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program. Some of the changes include requiring states to increase the percentage of fathers identified, establishing an integrated, automated network linking all states to information about the location and assets of parents, and requiring states to implement more enforcement techniques to obtain collections from debtor parents. Additional legislative changes were made in 1997, 1998, and 1999, but not in 2000, 2001, 2002, or 2003. This report describes several aspects of the revised CSE...

H.R. 3108: The Pension Funding Equity Act

The Legal Services Corporation: Distribution of Funding

The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is a private nonprofit, federally funded corporation that helps provide legal assistance to low-income people in civil 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 that in turn provide civil legal assistance to low-income clients in the United States, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories. Since April 1996 (pursuant to P.L. 104-134 ), LSC grantees (i.e., local legal...

Federal Workforce Flexibility Act of 2003: S. 129 (108th Congress)

As in the previous Congress, management of the federal workforce continues to be an issue of interest to the Senate and the House of Representatives in the 108th Congress. S. 129 , the Federal Workforce Flexibility Act of 2003, passed the Senate with an amendment by unanimous consent on April 8, 2004. In the House, the Subcommittee on Civil Service and Agency Organization forwarded S. 129 to the House Committee on Government Reform on May 18, 2004, after amending it by voice vote. On June 24, 2004, the House committee ordered the bill to be reported to the House of Representatives, after...

Federal Workforce Flexibilities: A Side-by-Side Comparison of S. 129 (108th Congress) with Current Law

A bill related to the management of the federal workforce is being considered by the 108th Congress. S. 129 , the Federal Workforce Flexibility Act of 2003, passed the Senate with an amendment by unanimous consent on April 8, 2004. In the House, the Subcommittee on Civil Service and Agency Organization forwarded S. 129 to the House Committee on Government Reform on May 18, 2004, after amending it by voice vote. On June 24, 2004, the House committee ordered the bill to be reported to the House of Representatives, after amending it, by voice vote. The bill was introduced by Senator George...

Welfare Recipients and Workforce Laws

Work requirements of the 1996 welfare law ( P.L. 104-193 ) and discussions about reauthorization of the program of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) have raised questions about the application of basic labor and employment tax laws to TANF recipients. The most controversial issue has been the status of persons assigned to "workfare" programs, in which recipients work in exchange for their TANF benefits. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York held on March 1, 2004, that participants in the Work Experience Program (WEP) are "employees"entitled to wage and...

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Comparison and Analysis of Selected Provisions in H.R. 1350 as Passed by the House and by the Senate, 108th Congress

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) authorizes federal funding for the education of children with disabilities and requires, as a condition for the receipt of such funds, the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE). The statute also contains detailed due process provisions to ensure the provision of FAPE. Originally enacted in 1975, the act responded to increased awareness of the need to educate children with disabilities, and to judicial decisions requiring that states provide an education for children with disabilities if they provided an education for...

The U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement

On September 4, 2003, President Bush signed the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement ( P.L. 108-78 ) into law in a White House ceremony. The agreement went into effect on January 1, 2004. In late July 2003, the United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act had passed the House by a vote of 272-155 and the Senate by a vote of 66-32. The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will, with a phase-in period, eliminate tariffs on all goods traded between them, cover trade in services, and protect intellectual property rights. In July 2003, the House Ways and Means Committee, Senate Finance...

Appropriations for FY2004: Interior and Related Agencies

The Interior and related agencies appropriations bill includes funds for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except for the Bureau of Reclamation, and for some agencies or programs within three other departments -- Agriculture, Energy, and Health and Human Services. It also funds numerous smaller related agencies. President Bush's FY2004 budget for Interior and related agencies totaled $19.89 billion, $220.5 million (1%) less than enacted for FY2003 ($20.11 billion). On July 17, 2003, the House passed H.R. 2691 (268-152) containing a total of $19.60 billion for Interior and...

A State-by-State Compilation of Key State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) Characteristics

The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (BBA 97; P.L. 105-33 ) established the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) under a new Title XXI of the Social Security Act. In general, SCHIP provides states with federal matching funds to cover uninsured children in families with income that is above Medicaid eligibility levels. To date, the upper income eligibility limit under SCHIP has reached 350% of the federal poverty level or FPL (in one state).

States may choose among three options when designing their SCHIP programs. They may expand Medicaid, create a new “separate state”...

Racial Profiling: Issues and Federal Legislative Proposals

The Social Security Protection Act of 2003 (H.R. 743)

Foreign Relations Authorization, FY2004 and FY2005: State Department and Foreign Assistance

The foreign relations authorization process dovetails with the annual appropriation process for the Department of State (within the Commerce, Justice, State and Related Agency appropriation) and foreign policy/foreign aid activities (within the foreign operations appropriation). Congress is required by law to authorize the spending of appropriations for the State Department and foreign policy activities every two years. Foreign assistance authorization measures (such as authorization for the U.S. Agency for International Development, economic and military assistance to...

The Financial Outlook for Social Security and Medicare

The Financial Outlook for Social Security and Medicare

The Davis-Bacon Act: Issues and Legislation During the 108th Congress

This report discusses the debate surrounding the Davis-Bacon Act (1931, as amended), which requires, among other things, that not less than the locally-prevailing wage be paid to workers employed in federal contract construction. Through recent decades, the Act has become a continuing source of contention, particularly regarding its impacts, whether it should be modified, strengthened, or repealed, and if it is being administered effectively.

Appropriations for FY2004: Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education

This report tracks the progress of the bill providing FY2004 appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED). This legislation provides discretionary funds for three major federal departments and related agencies. The report summarizes L-HHS-ED discretionary funding issues but not authorization or entitlement issues.

On February 3, 2003, the President submitted the FY2004 budget request to the Congress. The L-HHS-ED request was $135.6 billion in discretionary funds; the comparable FY2003 amount was $134.7...

Appropriations for FY2004: VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies

Appropriations for FY2004: Transportation, Treasury, Postal Service, Executive Office of the President, General Government, and Related Agencies

For FY2004 Congress began providing, in a single bill, appropriations for the Departments of Transportation and the Treasury, the United States Postal Service, the Executive Office of the President, and Related Agencies, as well as General Government provisions. On January 23, 2004, President Bush signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2004 ( H.R. 2673 ; P.L. 108-199 ), which included the conference version of the FY2004 Transportation, Treasury and Independent Agencies Appropriations bill. On September 9, 2003, the House passed H.R. 2989 , the FY2004 Transportation, Treasury and...

Social Security: The Government Pension Offset

Appropriations for FY2004: Commerce, Justice, State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies

Congress packaged a number of appropriations bills, including CJS, into an omnibus bill ( H.R. 2673 ). A conference report ( H.Rept. 108-401 ) emerged just prior to the Thanksgiving recess. The CJS portion of the bill (Division B) contains a total of $41.0 billion, not reflecting the .465% rescission in the general provisions of Division B. Within Division H--Miscellaneous Appropriations and Offsets--Section 168 includes a .59% across-the-board rescission. The House agreed to the conference report on December 8th, while the Senate passed the package on January 22, 2004. The President...

Tax Activity in the 108th Congress: An Overview

Appropriations for FY2004: U.S. Department of Agriculture and Related Agencies

On January 23, 2004, the President signed into law an FY2004 consolidated appropriations measure ( P.L. 108-199 , H.R. 2673 ) that includes annual funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Related Agencies. The full House approved the conference agreement of the measure on December 8, 2003. Senate floor action on the conference agreement was delayed for several weeks until a cloture motion was approved and the conference agreement was adopted on January 22, 2004. Part of the reason for the delay in Senate consideration of the measure was opposition to a conference-adopted...

Social Security: Raising or Eliminating the Taxable Earnings Base

Regulating Private Pensions: A Brief Summary of ERISA

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA, P.L. 93-406 ) protects the interests of participants and beneficiaries in private-sector employee benefit plans. It was passed in response to instances in which employers had failed to prudently manage pension funds, had terminated pension plans without sufficient assets to pay the benefits employees had earned, or had created impediments to earning a pension, such as onerous age and service requirements. ERISA covers a number of fringe benefits provided by employers, but most of its provisions deal with pension plans....

Regulating Private Pensions: A Brief Summary of ERISA

This report briefly discusses the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), and how it protects the interests of participants and beneficiaries in private-sector employee benefit plans. ERISA covers a number of fringe benefits provided by employers, but most of its provisions deal with pension plans. Pension plans sponsored by the federal, state, and local governments, or by churches generally are exempt from ERISA.

Brief Facts About Congressional Pensions

This report contains a table that lists the number of retired Members of Congress and the average amount of congressional pension they receive in retirement.

Social Security and Medicare Taxes and Premiums: Fact Sheet

Financing for social security -- Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance -- and the Hospital Insurance part of Medicare is provided primarily by taxes levied on wages and net self-employment income. Financing for the Supplementary Medical Insurance portion of Medicare is provided by premiums from enrollees and payments from the government. This report describes these taxes and premiums.

Appropriations for FY2004: District of Columbia

On February 3, 2003, the Bush Administration released its FY2004 budget recommendations. The Administration ' s proposed budget included $420.5 million in federal payments to the District of Columbia. This includes $166.5 million for the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia, an independent federal agency that has assumed management responsibility for the District ' s pretrial services, adult probation, and parole supervision functions. In addition, the Administration requested $163.8 million in support of court operations, and $32 million for...

Appropriations for FY2004: Department of Homeland Security

This report describes the FY2004 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It summarizes the President’s FY2004 budget request for DHS programs, as submitted to the Congress February 3, 2003, and the congressional response to that proposal. The report includes tables that compare the President’s FY2004 request to the FY2003 amounts for programs and activities that were transferred to DHS after its establishment on January 24, 2003, nearly 4 months after the start of FY2003. The report also includes amounts recommended for DHS programs by House and Senate...

Social Security: Coverage of Household Workers - A Fact Sheet

21st Century Community Learning Centers: Evaluation and Implementation Issues

The 21st CCLC program was originally authorized as Part I of Title X, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended. This program was reauthorized as part of the reauthorization of the ESEA by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, P.L. 107-110, and was signed into law on January 8, 2002. This report discusses implementation of the reauthorized 21st CCLC program, and the recent evaluation of the program and its implications.

A CRS Review of 10 States: Home and Community-Based Services — States Seek to Change the Face of Long-Term Care: Indiana

Many states have devoted significant efforts to respond to the desire for home and community-based care for persons with disabilities and their families. Nevertheless, financing of nursing home care, chiefly by Medicaid, still dominates most states’ spending for long-term care today. To assist Congress in understanding issues that states face in providing long-term care services, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) undertook a study of 10 states in 2002. This report, one in a series of 10 state reports, presents background and analysis about long-term care in Indiana.

Cash and Noncash Benefits for Persons with Limited Income: Eligibility Rules, Recipient and Expenditure Data, FY2000-FY2002

More than 80 benefit programs provide aid -- in cash and noncash form -- that is directed primarily to persons with limited income. Such programs constitute the public "welfare" system, if welfare is defined as income-tested or need-based benefits. This definition omits social insurance programs like Social Security and Medicare. Income-tested benefit programs in FY2002 cost $522.2 billion: $373.2 billion in federal funds and $149 billion in state-local funds (Table 1) . Welfare spending represented almost 19% of all federal outlays, with medical aid accounting for 8% of the budget....

A Review of Medical Child Support: Background, Policy, and Issues

Medical child support is the legal provision of payment of medical, dental, prescription, and other health care expenses of dependent children. It can include provisions to cover health insurance costs as well as cash payments for unreimbursed medical expenses. According to 2001 Child Support Enforcement (CSE) data, 93% of medical child support is provided in the form of health insurance coverage. The requirement for medical child support is apart of all child support orders (administered by CSE agencies), and it only pertains to the parent's dependent children. Activities undertaken by...

College Costs and Prices: Background and Issues for Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act

Based on available data, college tuition and fees have been rising more rapidly than household income over the past 2 decades. The divergence is particularly pronounced for low-income households and becomes less pronounced as household income increases. In analyzing price increases, researchers have considered whether a relationship exists between federal aid and price increases. There are several ways Congress could consider addressing the issue, such as imposing price controls, offering incentives for controlling prices or costs, ensuring the public is better educated about college cost...

The FBI: Past, Present, and Future

Juvenile Justice Legislation: Overview and the Legislative Debate

Crime Control: The Federal Response

Under the federal system in the United States, the states and localities traditionally have held the major responsibility for prevention and control of crime and maintenance of order. For most of the Republic’s history, “police powers” in the broad sense were reserved to the states under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution. Many still hold that view, but others see a string of court decisions in recent decades as providing the basis for a far more active federal role. Several bills are discussed in this report that address issues related to crime, juvenile justice, and Congress’...

The U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement: Economic and Trade Policy Issues

On June 6, 2003, the United States and Chile signed a long anticipated bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) in Miami, Florida, concluding a 14-round negotiation process that began on December 6, 2000. Following hearings before the House Ways and Means, Senate Finance, and both Judiciary Committees, the House passed the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Implementation Act ( H.R. 2738 ) by a vote of 270 to 156, followed by the Senate one week later, 66 to 31. President George W. Bush signed the bill into law on September 3, 2003 ( P.L. 108-77 ) and it will take effect on January 1, 2004. Chile has now...

Social Security: Taxation of Benefits

Social Security: Where Do Surplus Taxes Go and How Are They Used?

Social Security: Where Do Surplus Taxes Go and How Are They Used?

SCHIP Financing Issues for the 108th Congress

Social Security Notch Issue: A Summary

This report discusses recent attempts at legislative action regarding changes to the computation of benefits under Social Security Amendments of 1977 (P.L. 95-216), which directly affected retirees born in the 5- to 15-year period after 1916. These persons fall in the "notch" between previous Social Security legislation and those affected by the amendments.

Unemployment Benefits: Legislative Issues in the 108th Congress

Legal Services Corporation: Basic Facts and Current Status

Federal Prison Industries: UNICOR

Medicare Prescription Drug Provisions of S.1, as Passed by the Senate, and H.R. 1, as Passed by the House

This report discusses differences in the specifics of the prescription drug provisions in S. 1 and H.R. 1 and provides a side-by-side comparison of the Title I provisions of both bills.

Medicaid: A Fact Sheet

Monkeypox: Technical Background and Outbreak Implications for Bioterrorism Preparedness

Monkeypox, a viral disease related to smallpox, has appeared in humans in the Midwest. Though monkeypox usually has a fatality rate of 1 to 10%, no fatalities have occurred in the outbreak, which has been linked to pet rodents. Although officials do not believe that this outbreak is bioterrorism, the delay between the initial presentation of an unusual disease and the notification to the federal government has raised concerns regarding the state of bioterrorism preparedness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have provided guidance to local communities regarding handling...

Social Security: Proposed Changes to the Earnings Test

Employment Benefits in Bankruptcy

Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations

This report provides background information on the child welfare waivers and a description of the progress states have made on these demonstration projects. Waiver projects must be cost neutral to the federal government; may be conducted for no longer than 5 years (though HHS may grant an extension of up to 5 years); and must include an evaluation comparing the existing state program to the waiver project.

Medicare+Choice

Medicare has a long-standing history of offering its beneficiaries an alternative to the traditional fee-for-service program. Health Maintenance Organizations and other types of managed care plans have been allowed to participate in the Medicare program, beginning with private health plans contracts in the 1970s and the Medicare risk contract program in the 1980s. Then, in 1997, Congress passed the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (BBA, P.L. 105-33 ), replacing the risk contract program with the Medicare+Choice (M+C) program. The M+C program established new rules for beneficiary and plan...

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs): Legislative History

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) are defined contribution plans primarily invested in the employer's securities. Employee stock plans in the form of an ESOP pre-date the 1974 Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). (1) ERISA, however, was the first law to recognize ESOPs. Congress has routinely revisited ESOPs and amended the IRC to reflect policy. The 1975 Tax Reduction Act created a tax credit for ESOPs. The Revenue Act of 1978 added new formalities to ESOPs through creation of IRC Section 409A. In the mid-1980s, the 1984 Tax Reform Act created new and substantial tax...

Domestic Intelligence in the United Kingdom: Applicability of the MI-5 Model to the United States

This paper summarizes pending legislation relating to domestic intelligence, briefly explains the jurisdiction and functions of MI-5, and describes some of the factors that may be relevant to a discussion regarding the applicability of the MI-5 domestic intelligence model to the United States.

Labor Certification for Permanent Immigrant Admissions

The foreign labor certification program in the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is responsible for ensuring that foreign workers do not displace or adversely affect working conditions of U.S. workers. DOL handles the labor certifications for permanent employment-based immigrants, temporary agricultural workers, and temporary nonagricultural workers as well as the simpler process of labor attestations for temporary professional workers. (1) This report is organized into five sections: a brief history of employment-based immigration; a summary of the role of the DOL in...

Supplemental Appropriations FY2003: Iraq Conflict, Afghanistan, Global War on Terrorism, and Homeland Security

On March 25, 2003, President Bush requested $74.8 billion in the FY2003 Emergency Supplemental for ongoing military operations in Iraq, postwar occupation, reconstruction and relief in Iraq, international assistance to countries contributing to the war in Iraq or the global war on terrorism, the cost of the continued U.S. presence in Afghanistan, and additional homeland security. On April 12, 2003, the House and Senate passed the conference version of the FY2003 supplemental ( H.R. 1559 / H.Rept. 108-76 / P.L. 108-11 ). It includes $78.49 billion, $3.7 billion more than requested by the...

Appropriations for FY2003: Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies

The Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and other related agencies (often referred to as CJS) appropriations for FY2003 were completed by Congress and signed ( P.L. 108-7 ) by the President on February 20, 2003, five months into the budget year. The enacted CJS appropriation provides $44,773.7 million in new budget authority (before applying an across-the-board rescission of 0.65%). President Bush sent the FY2003 budget request to Congress on February 4, 2002 seeking a total budget authority level for CJS appropriations of $44,019.0 million -- a mandatory level of $649.3 million...

Expulsion, Censure, Reprimand, and Fine: Legislative Discipline in the House of Representatives

This report discusses the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which is the nation's major program providing comprehensive vocational rehabilitation (VR) services to help persons with physical and mental disabilities become employable and achieve full integration into society.

Securities Law: Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and Selected 108th Congress Bills Concerning Corporate Accountability

On July 30, 2002, President Bush signed into law the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, P.L. 107-204 . This law has been described by some as the most important and far-reaching securities legislation since passage of the Securities Act of 1933, 15 U.S.C. Sections 77a et seq ., and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. Sections 78a et seq ., both of which were passed in the wake of the Stock Market Crash of 1929.

The Act establishes a new Public Company Accounting Oversight Board which is to be supervised by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Act restricts accounting...

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Statutory Language and Recent Issues

This report summarizes the major provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and also discusses selected recent issues, including ten ADA Supreme Court cases.

Appropriations for FY2003: VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies

Appropriations are one part of a complex federal budget process that includes budget resolutions, appropriations (regular, supplemental, and continuing) bills, rescissions, and budget reconciliation bills. This Report is a guide to one of the 13 regular appropriations bills that Congress passes each year. It is designed to supplement the information provided by the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies.

"Safe Haven" for Abandoned Infants: Background on the Issue and State Laws

The number of infants abandoned by their birth parents in public places appears to have increased in recent years, prompting legislatures in 42 states to enact new legislation since 1999. For the most part, these laws are intended to provide a "safe haven" for birth parents to surrender their unharmed children and provide them protection from liability. Anecdotal reports suggest this issue may be growing in scope, but no comprehensive information is available. The 107th Congress passed the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Amendments of 2001 ( P.L. 107-33 ), which amended the definition...

Violence Against Women Office: Background and Current Issues

This report discusses issues regarding the Violence Against Women Office (VAWO), which was created in 1995 to address legal and policy issues concerning violence against women.

Appropriations for FY2003: Treasury, Postal Service, Executive Office of the President, and General Government

The Treasury and General Government accounts are funded for FY2003 through the Consolidated Appropriations Resolution, 2003 ( P.L. 108-7 ; Division J). Because the accounts in this appropriation were not funded, other than under continuing resolution, as the 107th Congress adjourned, legislation was required for that purpose early in the 108th Congress. During the interim, the accounts were funded at FY2002 enacted levels. P.L. 108-7 also requires a rescission across all discretionary funding within the Act. On February 4, 2002, President George W. Bush submitted his FY2003 budget to...

Appropriations for FY2003: District of Columbia

On February 20, 2003, President Bush signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY2003, P.L. 108-7 (formerly H. J. Res. 2). Division C of the act appropriates $512 million in federal funds for the District of Columbia. for fiscal year 2003. On February 13, 2003, the House and the Senate approved the conference report ( H.Rept. 108-10 ) accompanying H. J. Res. 2. The Senate approved an earlier version of H.J.Res. 2 , on January 23, 2003, that would have allowed the District of Columbia to spend $5.8 billion in locally raised funds while Congress completed action on the proposed $517...

Enron: A Select Chronology of Congressional, Corporate, and Government Activities

This report presents basic background information on the collapse of the Enron Corporation, identifying public policy issues in financial market oversight. This report briefly summarizes some federal laws carrying criminal penalties which may be implicated in the events surrounding the collapse of the Enron Corp. This report compares the auditing and accounting reform measures passed by the House (H.R. 3763) and reported by the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. This report compares the major provisions of three auditor and accounting reform proposals: H.R. 3763, S....

Appropriations for FY2003: Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education

This report tracks the legislative progress of the FY2003 appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED). This Act provides discretionary funds for three federal departments and related agencies. The report summarizes L-HHS-ED discretionary funding issues, but not authorization or entitlement issues. On February 4, 2002, the President submitted the FY2003 budget request to the Congress. The L-HHS-ED request is $130.7 billion in discretionary funds; the comparable FY2002 amount was $128.1 billion, enacted...

Welfare Reform: TANF Trends and Data

Child Care Issues in the 107th Congress

Many bills relating to child care have been introduced since 1996, but most have failed to be enacted into law. The notable exceptions were appropriations acts that included increases in discretionary funding for child care and some related programs. In 2001, the Bush Administration introduced new proposals and initiatives as part of the FY2002 budget, and the FY2002 appropriations process addressed the issue of funding levels for some of those proposals. The FY2002 appropriations act for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education (Ed) ( P.L. 107-116 )...

The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Program: An Overview

This report provides an overview of the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, administered by the Department of Justice (DOJ), which provides financial assistance to eligible police departments to help improve community policing efforts. It includes a brief discussion of the establishment of the program, guidelines and requirements for grantees, and a summary of various Department of Justice initiatives under the COPS program.

Appropriations for FY2003: U.S. Department of Agriculture and Related Agencies

On February 20, 2003, the President signed into law the FY2003 omnibus appropriations act ( P.L. 108-7 , H.J.Res. 2 ), containing funding for agencies and programs within the eleven regular FY2003 appropriations bills that were unresolved in the 107th Congress. For the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and related agencies, P.L. 108-7 contains a total regular annual appropriation of $74.25 billion, of which $56.7 billion is for mandatory programs and $17.55 billion is for discretionary programs. The $17.55 billion in discretionary funds is $805 million below the Senate-passed...

Retirement Plans with Individual Accounts: Federal Rules and Limits

Immigration Legislation Enacted in the 107th Congress

The 107th Congress enacted a variety of immigration-related laws. The Homeland Security Act ( P.L. 107-296 ) reorganizes the federal government with the creation of a new Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security. As part of this reorganization, it abolishes the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and transfers INS's enforcement and service functions to separate bureaus within the new department. The USA PATRIOT Act ( P.L. 107-56 ) and the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act ( P.L. 107-173 ) contain important provisions on border security, admissions policy, and...

Medicare Prescription Drug Proposals: Estimates of Aged Beneficiaries Who Fall Below Income Criteria, by State

This report discusses bills related to Medicare benefits, which include additional assistance for low-income beneficiaries. The assistance would have been in the form of reduced, subsidized or eliminated premiums, deductibles and other cost-sharing. Proposals in the 108th Congress will probably also include some of these features for low-income beneficiaries.

Housing Issues in the 107th Congress

Auditing and Its Regulators: Reforms After Enron

Auditors are regulated by both governmental agencies and professional organizations, though many now question whether this oversight is adequate. Enron’s auditor, Arthur Andersen, has been investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), several congressional committees, and other agencies, and it is facing numerous law suits. A federal jury convicted the firm on obstruction of justice charges on June 15, 2002. Other corporations and their auditors are also under scrutiny.

Numerous accounting and audit reforms have been proposed, including some by the accounting...

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Medicaid

This report begins with an overview of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It then discusses the distinction made in IDEA between medical services and health services. The report then summarizes the provisions in law that link Medicaid funding to IDEA. Next the report provides an overview of the complexities of Medicaid eligibility and covered services. Following that discussion, the report analyzes possible reasons why Medicaid appears to cover relatively little of IDEA health-related costs. Finally the report outlines possible legislative approaches with respect to...

Social Security: Raising or Eliminating the Taxable Earnings Base

Medicare Structural Reform: Background and Options

THis report provides a brief overview of major issues underlying the debate about possible structural reforms or improvements to the current Medicare system. Medicare is a nationwide health insurance program for the aged and certain disabled persons.

Employer Stock in Retirement Plans: Investment Risk and Retirement Security

This CRS Report begins by describing the shift from traditional defined benefit pensions to defined contribution plans – like the 401(k) – that has occurred over the last 20 to 25 years. It then summarizes recent research findings on the extent to which employees’ retirement savings are invested in employer stock. The third section of the report outlines the provisions of federal law that define an employer’s duty to manage its retirement plan in the best interest of the plan’s participants. The report concludes with a summary of pension reform legislation passed by the House of...

Employer Liability Provisions in Selected Patient Protection Bills

In the various patient protection bills introduced in the 106th (H.R. 5628, S.Amdt. 3694, H.R. 2990) and to date in the 107th (H.R. 526, H.R. 2315, H.R. 2563, S. 889, S. 1052), Congress has attempted to address the issue of employer liability by limiting liability to certain persons or circumstances. This report provides an overview of the employer liability provisions of selected bills from the 106th and 107th Congress.

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

This report provides background on the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance program (LIHEAP), originally established in 1981 by Title XXVI of P.L. 97-35 and reauthorized several times. It is a block grant program under which the federal government gives states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and commonwealths, and Indian tribal organizations (referred to as grantees) annual grants to operate multi-component home energy assistance programs for needy households.

Temporary Programs to Extend Unemployment Compensation

Immigration of Agricultural Guest Workers: Policy, Trends, and Legislative Issues

This report discusses the revision of U.S. immigration policy on agricultural guest workers that are coming from various perspectives, and several major bills have already been introduced in the 107th Congress.

Health Insurance for Displaced Workers

Ergonomics in the Workplace: Is It Time for an OSHA Standard?

Improper ergonomic design of jobs is one of the leading causes of work-related illness, accounting for perhaps a third of employers’ costs under state workers’ compensation laws. Due to the wide variety of circumstances, however, any comprehensive standard would probably have to be complex and costly, while scientific understanding of the problem is not complete.

Ergonomics in the Workplace: Is It Time for an OSHA Standard?

Ecstasy: Legislative Proposals in the 107th Congress to Control MDMA

Legislation has been proposed in the 107th Congress to combat the use and abuse of Ecstasy (MDMA) and other “club drugs.” In a 2001 survey, 12% of 12th graders reported ever having taken the drug. The Ecstasy Anti-Proliferation Act of 2000, enacted by the 106th Congress, directed the U.S. Sentencing Commission to increase penalties for Ecstasy offenses. As of March 2001, MDMA penalties became more severe than for powder cocaine but less severe than for heroin.

Medicare+Choice Payments

This report discusses the M+C program that established new rules for beneficiary and plan participation. This report focuses on M+C payments.

Immigration: Adjustment to Permanent Resident Status Under Section 245(i)

Bills have been introduced in the 108th Congress to extend ( H.R. 85 ) or make permanent ( H.R. 47 ) a controversial immigration provision known as Section 245(i). Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) was first enacted as a temporary provision in 1994 and has been extended several times since then. It enables unauthorized aliens in the United States who are eligible for immigrant visas based on family relationships or job skills to become legal permanent residents (LPRs) without leaving the country, provided they pay an additional fee. Before an alien can apply to...

Welfare Law and Domestic Violence

Social Security and Medicare Taxes and Premiums: Fact Sheet

2001 Tax Cut: Description, Analysis, and Background

A major tax cut, the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act (EGTRRA), was enacted in June 2001. This report summarizes the provisions of the bill, analyzes effects, and considers the development of the legislation.

Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act: Reauthorization Proposals in the 107th Congress

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) expired at the end of FY2001. In 2002 legislation to reauthorize CAPTA passed the House and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee also approved CAPTA reauthorizing legislation. However no action was taken by the full Senate on CAPTA reauthorization before adjournment of the 107th Congress and each of the CAPTA reauthorizations proposals ( H.R. 3839 , H.R. 5601 , and S. 2998 ) died with the close of that Congress. Despite expiration of its funding authorization, Congress provided FY2002 funding ($81.6 million) for...

Social Security Program Protection Act of 2002 (H.R. 4070)

Health Insurance: Uninsured by State, 2001

Benefits for the Aged and the Federal Budget: Short- and Long-Term Projections

As the 108th Congress addresses short-term budget decisions, it may also want to consider the long-run impacts of those decisions and the major shifts in budget composition that are underway. Congress may be pressed to add new benefits in response to population aging, such as improved support for long-term care and broader Medicare drug coverage.

Detention of Noncitizens in the United States

The events following the attacks of September 11 have increased interest in the authority of the Attorney General to detain noncitizens (aliens) in the United States. The Attorney General has broad authority to detain 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 mandatory detention, i.e., the aliens must be detained. Aliens subject to mandatory detention include those arriving without documentation or with fraudulent documentation, those who are...

Immigration Legislation and Issues in the 107th Congress

Patient Protection and Managed Care

Social Security: The Cost-of-Living Adjustment in January 2003

Child Care: State Programs Under the Child Care and Development Fund

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 ( P.L. 104-193 , PRWORA) restructured the major federal-state child care programs. It repealed three welfare-related child care programs and initiated a new set of federal rules referred to as the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). The CCDF combines funds provided under Section 418 of the Social Security Act established by PRWORA with funds provided under the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). Both streams of funding are authorized through FY2002. Funds are distributed as grants to states for...

The Prescription Drug User Fee Act: Structure and Reauthorization Issues

In 1992, Congress passed The Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) to speed up the approval of pharmaceuticals in the United States. The legislation created sections 735 and 736 of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), authorizing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to collect user fees from drug manufacturers in exchange for the faster review of drug and biological products. The law stipulated that the additional user fee revenues could only be used for activities necessary to the review of human drug applications. It also specified that the revenues raised under the...

Gun Control Legislation in the 107th Congress

The Economic Effects of 9/11: A Retrospective Assessment

The tragedy of September 11, 2001 was so sudden and devastating that it may be difficult at this point in time to write dispassionately and objectively about its effects on the U.S. economy. This retrospective review will attempt such an undertaking. The loss of lives and property was not large enough to have had a measurable effect on the productive capacity of the United States even though it had a very significant localized effect on New York City and, to a lesser degree, on the greater Washington, D.C. area. Thus, for the tragedy to affect the economy it would have had to have affected...

Patient Protection and Managed Care: Legislation in the 107th Congress

WorldCom: The Accounting Scandal

Food Safety and Protection Issues in the 107th Congress

Importing Prescription Drugs

A Shortage of Registered Nurses: Is It on the Horizon or Already Here?

The largest traditionally female-dominated health care occupation is registered nurses (RNs). It has been asserted that there is an ongoing nationwide shortage of RNs of various kinds and in various sectors of the health care services industry. Before the latest (mid-2002) release of supply-demand projections from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), it was estimated, based in whole or part on 1996 HRSA projections, that there would likely be a shortage of RNs in 2007 or shortly thereafter.

This report first will analyze recent trends in the RN labor market and...

Steel: Legacy Cost Issue

Medicare: Major Prescription Drug Provisions of Selected Bills

Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers

The 107th Congress in late July and early August 2002 cleared for the President's signature a wide-ranging trade bill ( H.R. 3009 ) that includes reauthorization and expansion of trade adjustment assistance (TAA) programs for workers and firms. One TAA provision authorizes a new $90 million annual program for agriculture, aimed at addressing low farm prices caused at least partly by imports. Among the issues is the need for a new program designed specifically for farmers in ranchers, particularly after Congressional approval, earlier in 2002, of a comprehensive 6-year farm bill that...

Terrorism: The New Occupational Hazard

The Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) is one of the largest energy conservation programs in the nation. The DOE program is implemented in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Native American Tribes. It weatherizes an average of 70,000 dwellings per year. The program strives to increase the energy efficiency of dwellings occupied by low-income persons in order to reduce their energy consumption and lower their fuel bills. It targets vulnerable groups including the elderly, people with disabilities, and families with children.

Child Welfare and TANF Implementation: Recent Findings

This report examines recent research findings about Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) implementation as it has affected the nation's child welfare system. The nation's program of cash aid for needy families with children (TANF) and its program to protect and care for children who are abused or neglected (child welfare services) are linked by history and share some of the same clients who have similar service needs. Assessing the full significance of the 1996 welfare reform law ( P.L. 104-193 ) to the child welfare system is complicated by the 1997 enactment of the Adoption and...

ERISA's Impact on Medical Malpractice and Negligence Claims Against Managed Care Plans

This report will examine the preemption provisions of ERISA, the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of these provisions, selected cases applying ERISA to state medical malpractice and negligence claims, and the congressional response to the issue.

Social Security: Raising the Retirement Age Background and Issues

The Social Security "full retirement age" will gradually rise from 65 to 67 beginning with people who attain age 62 in 2000 (i.e., those born in 1938). Early retirement benefits will still be available beginning at age 62, but at lower levels. To help solve Social Security's long-range financing problems, it has been proposed that these ages be raised further.

Federal Disaster Policies After Terrorists Strike: Issues and Options for Congress

This report is intended to assist Congress as it considers options for consequence management legislation. It provides information on federal policies that would be implemented in the event that terrorist attacks in an attempt to answer the question: Based on experiences gained thus far, should Congress consider changes in federal consequence management policies to address the effects of possible future attacks? The report explores two types of issues--selected administrative issues pertinent to the delivery of assistance, and selected policy issues about the assistance provided.

Paternity Establishment: Child Support and Beyond

The public policy interest in paternity establishment is based in part on the dramatic increase in nonmarital births. The poorest demographic group in the United States consists of children in single- parent families. In 2000, 33.1% of all U.S. births were to unmarried women, compared to 3.9% in 1950. Moreover, in FY2000, 51.9% of the children in the Child Support Enforcement (CSE) caseload (which includes Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and certain other welfare families and non-welfare families who apply for CSE services) were born outside of marriage. The percentage of CSE...

The Black Lung Benefits Program

Reorganizing the Executive Branch in the 20th Century: Landmark Commissions

This report studies the work and results of a number of 20th century commissions and other similar bodies that have had executive organization and reorganization as central to their mandate. For purposes of this report, these reorganization exercises are referred to as "landmark commissions." Context for discussion of landmark commissions is provided by a review and analysis of six crucial historical periods, such as the Progressive Era, in the evolution of the executive branch. The selected landmark commissions, beginning with the Keep Commission in 1905 and concluding with the National...

Steel Industry and Trade Issues

Tittle v. Enron Corp. and Fiduciary Duties Under ERISA

Since November 2001, it has been reported that at least thirty-eight individual claims and three class action suits have been filed under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA") against the Enron Corporation, a Houston-based energy producer and trader. In general, these claims allege that fiduciaries of the Enron Corp. Savings Plan, a 401(k) plan established by Enron for the benefit of its employees, breached their fiduciary duties to participants and beneficiaries of the plan. Many participants and beneficiaries lost substantial amounts of retirement savings when the value...

Education for the Disadvantaged: ESEA Title I Reauthorization Issues

This issue brief covers only Parts A and E of ESEA Title I. Part A of Title I, grants to LEAs, constitutes over 90% of total Title I funding, while Part E authorizes program evaluation and demonstration projects of innovative practices, including the Comprehensive School Reform Program. Other Parts of Title I authorize the Even Start program of joint services to young disadvantaged children and their parents (Part B), plus aid for the education of migrant (Part C) and neglected or delinquent youth (Part D).

Immigration Legislation and Status Adjustment Legislation

Telework in the Federal Government: Background, Policy, and Oversight

Advances in information and computer technology; the development of the Internet; and the explosion of wireless and digital products, including powerful laptops, hand-held electronic devices, and remote work-access capabilities, have given some federal employees the ability to telework -- work anytime from almost anyplace. Telework emerged as an option for the federal workforce over the last decade. Management considerations, such as productive and satisfied workers; environmental considerations, such as reduced traffic congestion and improved air quality; and quality of...

High School Dropout Rate Calculations

Employer Stock in Retirement Plans: Bills in the 107th Congress

In the wake of the bankruptcy of Enron Corporation, numerous bills have been introduced in the 107th Congress with the intent of protecting workers from the financial losses that employees risk when they invest a large proportion of their retirement savings in securities issued by their employers. Legislative proposals include some that would directly regulate the proportion of employees’ retirement savings that can be comprised of employer securities, and others that would encourage education of employees on financial matters without imposing a cap on employee investment in employer securities.

Community Service: A Description of AmeriCorps, Foster Grandparents, and Other Federally Funded Programs

The purpose of this report is to provide detailed information on each of the programs administered by the Corporation. This includes a description of the services provided, individual eligibility requirements, and the FY2002 funding level.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)

Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) provides assistance to previously employed or self- employed individuals rendered unemployed as a direct result of a major disaster and who are not eligible for regular federal/state unemployment insurance (UI). DUA is federally funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), but is administered by the state UI agencies.

Social Security's Treatment Under the Federal Budget: A Summary

The treatment of Social Security in the federal budget is often confusing. In legislation enacted in 1983, 1985, and 1990, Social Security was excluded from official budget calculations and largely exempted it from congressional procedures for controlling budget revenues and expenditures. However, because Social Security represents more than a fifth of federal revenues and expenditures, it often is included in summaries of the government's financial flows, or what is referred to as the "unified" budget.

Veterans Issues in the 107th Congress

The Enron Bankruptcy and Employer Stock in Retirement Plans

This report describes the current laws governing the holding of employer stock in employee retirement plans and summarizes some key policy questions that pension analysts have raised about holding such stock in defined contribution retirement plans.

Appropriations for FY2002: Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education

Appropriations are one part of a complex federal budget process that includes budget resolutions, appropriations (regular, supplemental, and continuing) bills, rescissions, and budget reconciliation bills. This report is a guide to one of the 13 regular appropriations bills that Congress passes each year. It is designed to supplement the information provided by the House and Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittees.

Bioterrorism: Summary of a CRS/National Health Policy Forum Seminar on Federal, State, and Local Public Health Preparedness

The September 11th attack and subsequent intentional release of anthrax spores via the U.S. postal system have focused policymakers’ attention on the preparedness and response capability of the nation’s public health system. The anthrax attacks put a tremendous strain on the U. S. public health infrastructure, an infrastructure that many experts argue has been weakened by years of neglect and under-funding. To better understand the preparedness gaps that exist, as well as the disparate functions and agencies that define public health in this country, the Congressional Research Service...

Appropriations for FY2002: Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies

This report tracks action by the 107th Congress on FY2002 appropriations for the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and other related agencies (often referred to as CJS appropriations). President Bush's FY2002 budget request totals $40.81 billion, about one billion dollars (2.6%) above the FY2001 total. The House agreed to $41.46 billion, the committee total, and passed the bill ( H.R. 2500 ) on July 18th. The Senate Appropriations Committee recommended a total of $41.53 billion ( S. 1215 ). The Senate passed its version of H.R. 2500 , as amended, on September 13,...

Health Insurance: Federal Data Sources for Analyses of the Uninsured

Given the various reasons individuals lack health insurance coverage, analysis of the effectiveness of a proposal to reduce the number of uninsured (such as those discussed above) requires examining characteristics of individuals with and without health insurance coverage. Numerous sources of data have emerged over time that support estimates of the uninsured. However, each data source differs in how it collects information from individuals, as well as the amount of information it collects related to health insurance status. This report outlines the major advantages and limitations of four...

Appropriations for FY2002: Interior and Related Agencies

The Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill includes funds for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except the Bureau of Reclamation, and funds for some agencies or programs within three other departments--Agriculture, Energy, and Health and Human Services. It also funds numerous smaller agencies. On April, 9, 2001, President Bush submitted his FY2002 budget for Interior and Related Agencies, totaling $18.19 billion compared to the $19.07 billion enacted for FY2001 ( P.L. 106-291 ). These figures reflect scorekeeping adjustments. (See Table 10 and Table 11 ). Title VIII...

Rural Education: Legislative Initiatives

Child Welfare: Reauthorization of the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program in the 107th Congress

President Bush signed the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Amendments of 2001 ( H.R. 2873 ) into law on January 17, 2002 ( P.L. 107-133 ). The new law reauthorizes the program for 5 years (FY2002-FY2006), sets its annual mandatory funding level at $305 million, and authorizes additional discretionary funds up to $200 million annually. Separately it grants new program authority for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to fund programs that mentor children of prisoners and it expands the Foster Care Independence Program by authorizing new discretionary funds for education and...

Enron: Selected Securities, Accounting, and Pension Laws Possibly Implicated in its Collapse

This report takes a brief look at some of the federal statutes concerning finance that the Congress and the Executive branch may focus on in their investigations. The report considers three major areas: the federal securities laws, the federal pension laws, and accounting standards.

Class Size Reduction Program: Background and Status

This report provides an overview of the structure and status of the CSR program, the issues raised about the program, early reports on its implementation, and relevant legislative action by the U.S. Congress

Rehabilitation Act: Summary of 1998 Reauthorization Legislation

This report discusses the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which provides comprehensive vocational rehabilitation (VR) services designed to help individuals with physical and mental disabilities become employable and to facilitate independence and integration into society.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Overview of Major Provisions

The Individuals with DisabilitiesEducation Act (IDEA) providesfundsto statesfor the education of children with disabilities. It contains detailed requirements for the receipt of these funds, including the core requirement of the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE). IDEA was comprehensively revised in 1997 by P.L. 105-17, but Congress has continued to grapple with issuesrelating to the Act. This report provides a brief overview of the Act with particular attention paid to issues of recent congressional concern, such as funding and the provision of FAPE for...

Appropriations for FY2002: District of Columbia

On December 21, 2001, President Bush signed into law the District of Columbia Appropriations Act for FY2002, P.L. 107-96 (formerly H.R. 2944 ). Two weeks earlier, the House on December 6, 2001, and the Senate on December 7, 2001, approved the conference report accompanying H.R. 2944 , after resolving significant differences in the general provisions of their respective versions of the act. The act, which appropriates $408 million in special federal payments, includes $16 million for reimbursement to the District for the cost of providing security for a cancelled World Bank and...

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: Full Funding of State Formula

This report discusses Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which assists participating states to serve school-age children with disabilities. The state funding formula, which provides a foundation amount based on states’ FY1999 grants and allocates remaining amounts based on states’ shares of school-age children and of school-age poor children, authorizes a maximum allotment per disabled child served of 40% of the national average per pupil expenditure (APPE). Annual appropriations have never been sufficient to provide each state its maximum allotment; in FY2002,...

Social Security: Report of the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security

This report describes the Commission’s three reform plans. The first plan would make no other changes to the program. The second plan would slow the growth of Social Security through one major provision that would index initial benefits to prices rather than wages. The third plan would slow future program growth through a variety of measures.

Human Cloning

Appropriations for FY2002: VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies (P.L. 107-73)

Appropriations are one part of a complex federal budget process that includes budget resolutions, appropriations (regular, supplemental, and continuing) bills, rescissions, and budget reconciliation bills. This report is a guide to one of the 13 regular appropriations bills that Congress passes each year. It is designed to supplement the information provided by the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies.

Appropriations for FY2002: U.S. Department of Agriculture and Related Agencies

This report is a guide to one of the 13 regular appropriations bills that Congress passes each year. It is designed to supplement the information provided by the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Agriculture by summarizing the current legislative status of the bill, its scope, major issues, funding levels, and related legislative activity. The report also lists the key CRS staff relevant to the issues covered and related CRS products.

TANF Sanctions - Brief Summary

Food Safety Issues in the 107th Congress

Medicare: Selected Prescription Drug Proposals in the 107th Congress

Unemployment Related to Terrorist Attacks: Proposals to Assist Affected Workers in the Airlines and Related Industries

This report discusses the proposal to assist affected workers in the airlines and related industries in the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that shut down the nation’s air transport system temporarily.

The 2002 Farm Bill: Overview and Status

The Child Care Workforce

Elementary and Secondary Education: Accountability and Flexibility in Federal Aid Proposals

The 107th Congress is considering proposals to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Much of the debate over these proposals has been focused on issues related to state and local accountability for, and flexibility in the use of, federal aid funds. Current federal elementary and secondary education assistance programs have a broad range of accountability requirements, including: targeting of resources on specific “high need” pupil groups, localities, or schools; limitations on the authorized uses of funds; fiscal accountability requirements, such as maintenance of...

Social Security and Medicare "Lock Boxes"

Education Savings Accounts for Elementary and Secondary Education

The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-16) that President Bush signed on June 7, 2001, includes these changes, effective after 2001. The most prominent issue they raise is whether the federal government should assist families whose children are educated in private schools. Policy questions include what effect such assistance might have on public schools and student performance and whether it would be constitutional. Concerns have also been expressed that the legislation would create compliance problems and is most likely to benefit better-off families. P.L....

Immigration: Registry as Means of Obtaining Lawful Permanent Residence

Registry is a provision of immigration law that enables certain unauthorized aliens in the United States to acquire lawful permanent resident status. It grants the Attorney General the discretionary authority to create a record of lawful admission for permanent residence for an alien who lacks such a record, has continuously resided in the United States since before January 1, 1972, and meets other specified requirements. The registry provision originated in a 1929 law. That law set the required entry date from which continuous residence had to be shown (known as the registry date) at...

Social Security: What Happens to Future Benefit Levels Under Various Reform Options

The report first examines several benefit-constraint options. Among them are raising the age at which full Social Security retirement benefits can be received, changing the way initial benefits are computed, and constraining cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs). It also illustrates the effects of creating new personal savings accounts and presents their projected impact as a supplement to, or partial replacement of, the existing system, or as a means to close the gap between the benefit levels promised by the existing system and what can be paid under its projected future income. Finally,...

Child Welfare Financing: Issues and Options

Although child welfare services are primarily a state responsibility, the federal government helps pay for these activities, providing states about $7 billion in FY2001 for child welfare services, foster care, and adoption assistance. Although there is widespread frustration with the way these funds are provided from the federal government to the states, there is currently no consensus on a method of reform. Most federal funds that are specifically targeted toward child welfare activities are authorized by Title IV-B or IV-E of the Social Security Act or the free-standing Child Abuse...

ESEA Reauthorization Proposals: Comparison of Major Features of the House and Senate Versions of H.R. 1

The authorizations of appropriations for most programs of federal aid to elementary and secondary (grades K-12) education, under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), expired at the end of FY2000. While the 106th Congress extensively considered several bills which would have reauthorized and amended most of these programs, only legislation extending the Impact Aid (ESEA Title VIII) and Even Start Family Literacy (ESEA Title I, Part B) programs was enacted. Selected other programs, such as the Class Size Reduction program, have been initiated and continued solely through annual...

National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN) for Law Enforcement

This report provides a brief history of how the current National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN) system evolved and operates. It includes information about issues that may be of concern to Members and committees of the 107th Congress, such as whether expanding NIBIN to include new gun purchases could be construed as a step toward a national gun registry system. The report also summarizes bills introduced in the 107th Congress related to NIBIN.

Bilingual Education: An Overview

The U.S. Department of Education(ED) administers the Bilingual Education Act (BEA), the federal education program specifically intended for limited English proficient (LEP) children. The Congress considered several proposals to reauthorize the BEA in the 106th Congress. The 107th Congress has again been considering legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), including the BEA. H.R. 1, the “No Child Left Behind Act of 2001” was passed by the House on May 23, 2001. S. 1, the “Better Education for Students and Teachers Act” was reported in the Senate...

Bilingual Education: An Overview

Older Americans Act: 2000 Reauthorization Legislation

Summit of the Americas III, Quebec City, Canada, April 20-22, 2001: Background, Objectives, and Results

Summit of the Americas III was held in Quebec City, Canada, on April 20-22, 2001, and was attended by 34 democratically elected Presidents and Prime Ministers from the Western Hemisphere, including President George W. Bush. It was President Bush's first international summit, and his first major opportunity to reemphasize the priority his administration places on the Western Hemisphere, given that he visited Mexico in mid-February, spoke at the Organization of American States (OAS) in mid-April, and met with seven hemispheric leaders before he attended the Summit in Canada. The Quebec...

Nutrition Labeling: Fresh Meats

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program: How are State Allotments Determined?

This report discusses the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which is a block grant program under which the federal government provides states annual grants to operate multi-component home energy assistance programs for needy households.

Agriculture: Previewing the 2002 Farm Bill

Federal farm support, food assistance, agricultural trade, marketing, and rural development policies are governed by a variety of separate laws. However, many of these laws periodically are evaluated, revised, and renewed through an omnibus, multi-year farm bill. The Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform (FAIR) Act of 1996 ( P.L. 104-127 ) was the most recent omnibus farm bill, and many of its provisions expire in 2002, so reauthorization will be an issue for the 107th Congress. The heart of every omnibus farm bill is farm income and commodity price support policy -- namely the...

Veterans’ Issues in the 106th Congress

Predatory Lending: Background on the Issue and Overview of Legislation in the 106th Congress

This report presents an overview of the predatory lending issue, a summary of present law, a summary of joint HUD and Treasury recommendations to address the issue, and a side-by-side summary of five bills introduced in the 106th Congress that addressed the issue. Though no action occurred on these bills, the issue is expected to continue in the 107th Congress.

Tax Activity in the 106th Congress

Food and Drug Administration: Selected Funding and Policy Issues

This report discusses funding and policy issues regarding the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for ensuring the safety of foods, drugs, medical devices, cosmetics, and other products.

Veterans' Pensions: Fact Sheet

This report discusses veterans' pensions, which are monthly cash payments made to qualified veterans or survivors so that their total income from all countable sources reach specified annual levels and are administered by the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA).

Appropriations for FY2001: An Overview

Appropriations are one part of a complex federal budget process that includes budget resolutions, appropriations (regular, supplemental, and continuing) bills, rescissions, and budget reconciliation bills. This report is a broad overview of all appropriations activity and a guide to the CRS Appropriation Product Series that provides analytical perspectives on the 13 annual FY2001 appropriations bills.

Abortion: Termination of Early Pregnancy with RU-486 (Mifepristone)

On September 28, 2000, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug mifepristone, also known as RU-486, for the termination of early pregnancy. Because RU-486 is an abortion agent, the process of moving it out of the lab and into mainstream medicine has been fraught with controversy. Since its discovery, the pro-life movement has been adamantly against the use of this drug for abortion. This report discusses the procedure of obtaining and using the drug, as well as the ongoing debate regarding its usage and related legislation.

Individual Retirement Accounts: A Fact Sheet

This report discusses general information about individual retirement accounts (IRAs), established by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-406) to promote retirement saving; the accounts were limited at first to workers (and spouses) who lacked employer pension coverage.

Private Mortgage Insurance: Cancellation Options

Retirement Saving Plans: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

This report provides answers to 10 of the most frequently-asked questions related to rules and provisions that govern savings in individual retirement accounts (IRAs).

Short History of the 1996 Welfare Reform Law

The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA, P.L. 104-193 ) changed the face of federal-state family welfare programs and most other federally supported aid for the poor. Some 3 years' debate followed President Clinton's call "to end welfare as we know it." Early (1993-1994) proposals retained the existing Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, but placed time limits on welfare receipt not conditioned on work. In 1995, the debate shifted when the House approved H.R. 4 (the Personal Responsibility Act) and created Temporary Assistance...

Connecting Fathers to Their Children: Fatherhood Legislation Considered in the 106th Congress

In recognition of the negative long-term consequences for children associated with the absence of their father, federal, state and local initiatives to promote financial and personal responsibility of noncustodial parents to their children are receiving more attention. The Clinton Administration's FY2001 budget included a couple of initiatives intended to help noncustodial parents who are unable to pay child support to get the support and skills they need to find work; these initiatives were not passed. In addition, several fatherhood bills ( H.R. 3073 , H.R. 4678 / H.R. 4469 , S. 1364 /...

Major Child Support Proposals Considered in the 106th Congress

During the period FY1978-FY1999, child support payments collected by the Child Support Enforcement (CSE) agencies increased from $1 billion to $15.8 billion. Even so, the program still collects only 17% of child support obligations for which it has responsibility and collects payments for only 37% of its caseload. The Clinton Administration's FY2001 budget included several new initiatives intended to collect more child support from noncustodial parents that can afford to pay, streamline program distribution rules so that more child support goes to custodial parents, and establishes a...

Appropriations for FY2001: Treasury, Postal Service, Executive Office of the President, and General Government

FY2001 Treasury, Postal Service, Executive Office of the president, and General Government funding was enacted through P.L. 106-554 , the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY2001, December 21, 2001. Partial funding for a select few of the accounts and some general provisions of the Treasury, Postal Service, Executive Office of the President, and General Government FY2001 Appropriations are included in the Department of Transportation FY2001 Appropriation ( P.L. 106-346 , Title V, October 23, 2000) and the continuing funding resolution ( P.L. 106-275 , as amended). Twenty-one continuing...

Appropriations for FY2001: Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies

This report tracks action by the 106th Congress on FY2001 appropriations for the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and other related agencies (often referred to as CJS appropriations). P.L. 106-113 appropriated $39.6 billion for these agencies for FY2000. President Clinton's FY2001 budget requested $39.6 billion for these agencies. On June 14, 2000, the House Appropriations Committee approved its version of the CJS appropriations bill ( H.R. 4690 ) It recommended funding totaling $37.4 billion--$2.2 billion below the President's request and $2.2 billion below...

Crime Control: The Federal Response

Under the federal system in the United States, the states and localities traditionally have held the major responsibility for prevention and control of crime and maintenance of order. For most of the Republic’s history, “police powers” in the broad sense were reserved to the states under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution. Many still hold that view, but others see a string of court decisions in recent decades as providing the basis for a far more active federal role. Several bills are discussed in this report that address issues related to crime, juvenile justice, and school violence.

Housing Issues in the 106th Congress

Food Biotechnology in the United States: Science, Regulation, and Issues

This report discusses the science of food biotechnology, and the federal structure by which it is regulated. Because U.S. farmers are adopting this technology at a rapid rate, some observers advocate a more active role for the federal government to ensure that farmers have equal access to this technology. Others believe that federal officials should play a more active role in protecting the environment, funding more research, and participating in international trade negotiations to ensure that trade continues to expand for genetically engineered crops. Trading partners often label food...

Patient Protection and Mandatory External Review: Amending ERISA's Claims Procedure

This report discusses the existing claims procedure required by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), and legislative efforts in the 106th Congress to amend ERISA to provide for the mandatory external review of denied benefits. Although most of the patient protection bills introduced in the 106th Congress included provisions for external review and more rigorous standards for the internal review of denied benefits, this report focuses on the Patients' Bill of Rights Plus Act of 1999, S. 1344 , passed by the Senate on July 15, 1999, and the Bipartisan Consensus...

Labeling of Genetically Modified Foods

Appropriations for FY2001: Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education

Appropriations are one part of a complex federal budget process that includes budget resolutions, appropriations (regular, supplemental, and continuing) bills, rescissions, and budget reconciliation bills. This report is a guide to one of the 13 regular appropriations bills that Congress passes each year. It is designed to supplement the information provided by the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

Performance-Based Pay for Teachers

Head Start: Background and Funding

Stem Cell Research

Education for the Disadvantaged: ESEA Title I Allocation Formula Provisions

Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) authorizes federal aid to state and local educational agencies (SEAs, LEAs) for the education of disadvantaged children. Title I grants are used to provide supplementary educational and related services to low-achieving children attending schools with relatively high concentrations of pupils from low-income families. Services may be provided at pre-kindergarten through high school levels. Title I has been the anchor of the ESEA since it was first enacted in 1965, and is the largest federal elementary and secondary...

Social Security Reform: Bills in the 106th Congress

Child Care Issues in the 106th Congress

In President Clinton's 2000 State of the Union Address, he outlined several child care-related initiatives, in the form of tax credit proposals; increased child care subsidies; and increased funding for Head Start and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers programs. Details of those proposals were included in the Clinton Administration's FY2001 budget proposal. This was the third year in a row that the Clinton Administration proposed a major child care initiative. As was the case in the 105th Congress, the 106th Congress introduced considerable child care-related legislation, however,...

Appropriations for FY2001: District of Columbia

On February 7, 2000, President Clinton submitted his budget recommendations for FY2001. The Administration's proposed budget includes $ 445 million in federal payments and assistance to the District of Columbia. On March 13, 2000, D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams submitted his proposed budget for FY2001. The proposed budget included $4.7 billion in general fund expenditures and $695 million in enterprise funds. The District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority (Authority), on June 7, 2000, approved a budget compromise reached by the city council and the...

Prisons: Policy Options for Congress

Appropriations for FY2001: VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies (P.L. 106-377)

Appropriations are one part of a complex federal budget process that includes budget resolutions, appropriations (regular, supplemental, and continuing) bills, rescissions, and budget reconciliation bills. This report is a guide to one of the 13 regular appropriations bills that Congress passes each year. It is designed to supplement the information provided by the House and Senate Subcommittees on VA, HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations.

Appropriations for FY2001: U.S. Department of Agriculture and Related Agencies

Appropriations are one part of a complex federal budget process that includes budget resolutions, appropriations (regular, supplemental, and continuing) bills, rescissions, and budget reconciliation bills. This report is a guide to one of the 13 regular appropriations bills that Congress passes each year. It is designed to supplement the information provided by the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Agriculture Appropriations.

FOOD STAMPS: BACKGROUND AND FUNDING

Appropriations for FY2001: Interior and Related Agencies

The Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill includes funding for agencies and programs in four separate federal departments as well as numerous smaller agencies and diverse programs. The bill includes funding for the Interior Department except the Bureau of Reclamation, but only segments of the funding of the other three departments, Agriculture, Energy, and Health and Human Services. On February 7, 2000, President Clinton submitted his FY2001 budget to Congress. The FY2001 request for Interior and Related Agencies totals $16.32 billion compared to the $14.91 billion enacted...

The National Institutes of Health: An Overview

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the focal point for federal health research. An agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, it uses its $17.8 billion budget to support more than 50,000 scientists working at 2,000 institutions across the United States, as well as to conduct biomedical and behavioral research and research training at its own facilities. Components of the agency include 25 institutes and centers, each with a focus on particular diseases or research areas in human health. Recent budget growth has been significant despite caps on discretionary spending....

The Earned Income Tax Credit: Current Issues and Benefit Amounts

The earned income tax credit (EITC), established in the tax code in 1975, offers cash aid to working parents with relatively low incomes who care for dependent children. The EITC is the only federal cash aid available to all working poor families with children. For eligible filers with income tax liability, the EITC reduces their taxes.

Older Americans Act: Programs and Funding

Older Americans Act: Programs and Funding

Elementary and Secondary School Teachers: Action by the 106th Congress

The quality and quantity of public elementary and secondary school teachers are of increasing concern to the 106th Congress. Although states and localities are responsible for most aspects of teacher preparation, recruitment, and employment, the federal government supports a wide array of programs for teachers. Several of these programs are being considered for amendment and extension by the 106th Congress including the Eisenhower Professional Development program and the Class Size Reduction program. The 106th Congress has before it a wide array of legislative proposals to address teacher...

The Bradley Amendment: Prohibition Against Retroactive Modification of Child Support Arrearages

The Bradley Amendment prohibits the retroactive State modification of child support arrearages. Under current law, no matter what the circumstances, a State cannot modify delinquent child support obligations. The Amendment has come under criticism by noncustodial parent advocacy groups because of the inflexibility of its application. Supporters of the Amendment argue that it prevents affluent parents from avoiding delinquent child support obligations. Pending legislation in the 106th Congress, while not repealing the Amendment, would have the effect of modifying the application of the...

Supplemental Appropriations for FY2000: Plan Colombia, Kosovo, Foreign Debt Relief, Home Energy Assistance, and Other Initiatives

Early in each new session of Congress, the Administration routinely submits requests for supplemental appropriations for the current fiscal year. By late April 2000, through several submissions to Congress, President Clinton had requested $5 billion in FY2000 supplemental appropriations, including $955 million for a counternarcotics initiative in Colombia and the Andean region, about $2 billion for DOD peacekeeping operations in Kosovo, $600 million for diplomatic support and economic aid related to Kosovo and the Balkans, $210 million for poor country debt relief, $600 million for home...

Child Care: The Federal Role During World War II

During World War II, the federal government supported a nationwide program of child care centers, intended to boost war production by freeing mothers to work. Labor force participation of women grew significantly during the war, and children of working mothers were eligible for the child care service. The centers had a peak enrollment near 130,000 children in 1944. After the federal subsidy ended in February 1946, California, New York City and Philadelphia were the only locations to use public funds to continue child care programs indefinitely. This report describes federal child...

Civil Service Retirement Bills in the 106th Congress

Among the civil service retirement issues addressed in bills introduced thus far in the 106th Congress are the correction of retirement coverage errors for federal employees assigned to the wrong retirement system; immediate eligibility for federal employees to participate in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP); improved portability of pension benefits; and repeal of the temporary increase in employee retirement contributions that was mandated by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. Other bills would expand TSP eligibility to include members of the armed services; improve pension coverage for...

Child Support Enforcement and Visitation: Should There be a Federal Connection?

From time to time, the issue arises of whether the federal Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program should be actively involved in enforcing visitation rights. Both federal and state policymakers agree that denial of visitation rights should not be considered a reason for stopping child support payments. Historically, Congress has treated visitation and child support as legally separate issues, with only child support enforcement activities under the purview of the federal government. However, Census Bureau data (1995) show that noncustodial parents are more likely to make payments of...

Gun Control

Medicare: Prescription Drug Proposals

This report provides an overview of the President’s plan and the legislation introduced to date in the 106th Congress. It

Social Security Reform: The Issue of Individual Versus Collective Investment for Retirement

This report discusses a myriad of issues have been raised in the current Social Security debate, in particular the question of whether and how the nation’s financial markets might be used to reform the system.

Appropriations for FY2000: Treasury, Postal Service, Executive Office of the President, and General Government

P.L. 106-58 ( H.R. 2490 ), signed by the President September 29, 1999, to fund the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President, several independent agencies and to provide partial funding for the U.S. Postal Service. The act funds the accounts at $27.99 billion, including mandatories (before scorekeeping by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)). The consolidated FY2000 funding measure, P.L. 106-113 , signed November 29, 1999, requires a cut by 0.38% in all accounts. The administration's budget, to be submitted in early February, will contain a report on the exact...

Employer-Provided Training

Medical Records Confidentiality

Medical Research Funding: Summary of a CRS Seminar on Challenges and Opportunities of Proposed Large Increases for the National Institutes of Health

This report summarizes the proceedings of a CRS seminar for congressional staff on appropriations for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), held September 23, 1999 against a backdrop of congressional deliberations over increases in National Institute of Health (NIH’s) budget.

Appropriations for FY2000: An Overview

Appropriations are one part of a complex federal budget process that includes budget resolutions, appropriations (regular, supplemental, and continuing) bills, rescissions, and budget reconciliation bills. This report is a guide to one of the 13 regular appropriations bills that Congress passes each year.

Medicare Beneficiary Access to Care: The Effects of New Prospective Payment Systems on Outpatient Hospital Care, Home Health Care, and Skilled Nursing Facility Care

This report discusses the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (BBA 97), which required that prospective payment systems replace retrospective cost-based reimbursement systems for Medicare beneficiaries receiving care in hospital outpatient departments, from home health care agencies, and in skilled nursing facilities.

Appropriations for FY2000: Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies

This report tracks action by the 106th Congress on FY2000 appropriations for the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and other related agencies (often referred to as CJS appropriations). P.L. 105-277 ( H.R. 4328 ) appropriated $36.2 billion for these agencies for FY1999. The President's FY2000 budget requested about $40.5 billion for these agencies, about a $4.3 billion increase or 12% above the FY1999 total. On October 18, the Conference Committee approved a CJS bill for FY2000 ( H.R. 2670 , H.Rept. 106-283 ) totaling $39 billion--$2.8 billion (or 7.7%) above...

The Glass Ceiling: A Fact Sheet

Appropriations for FY2000: District of Columbia

On November 29, 1999, President Clinton signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY2000, formerly H.R. 3194 , into law as P.L. 106-113 . The Act appropriates funds for the District of Columbia, Division A of the act, and four other appropriation measures, Division B of the act, including: Commerce, Justice, State, Judiciary; Foreign Operation Appropriations; Interior Appropriations; and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations for FY2000. Division B of P.L. 106-113 , also includes a section governing Miscellaneous Appropriations, and provisions amending the...

Appropriations for FY2000: Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education

Appropriations are one part of a complex federal budget process that includes budget resolutions, appropriations (regular, supplemental, and continuing) bills, rescissions, and budget reconciliation bills. This report is a guide to one of the 13 regular appropriations bills that Congress passes each year. It is designed to supplement the information provided by the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

Cash and Noncash Benefits for Persons With Limited Income: Eligibility Rules, Recipient and Expenditure Data, FY1996-FY1998

Eighty benefit programs provide aid -- in cash and noncash form -- that is directed primarily to persons with limited income. Such programs constitute the public "welfare" system, if welfare is defined as income-tested or need-based benefits. This definition excludes social insurance programs (e.g., Social Security and Medicare). Income-tested benefit programs in FY1998 cost $391.7 billion: $277.3 billion in federal funds and $114.4 billion in state-local funds. Total welfare spending rose by 3.1% from its FY1997 level. Higher medical spending accounted for $10.3 billion of the year's...

The Federal Debt: Who Bears Its Burdens?

This report discusses the federal debt, which quintupled from FY1980 to FY1995 and went from 26% to 50% of GDP. The report examines changing ideas in regards to what segment of the population most feels the effects of growing government debt, and how its effects manifest.

Appropriations for FY2000: VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies

Appropriations are one part of a complex federal budget process that includes budget resolutions, appropriations (regular, supplemental, and continuing) bills, rescissions, and budget reconciliation bills. This report is a guide to one of the 13 regular appropriations bills that Congress passes each year. It is designed to supplement the information provided by the House and Senate Subcommittees on VA, HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations.

Appropriations for FY2000: Interior and Related Agencies

The Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill includes funding for agencies and programs in four separate federal departments as well as numerous smaller agencies and diverse programs. The bill includes funding for the Interior Department except the Bureau of Reclamation, but only segments of the funding of the other three departments, Agriculture, Energy, and Health and Human Services. On February 1, 1999, President Clinton submitted his FY2000 budget to Congress. The FY2000 request for Interior and Related Agencies totaled $15.266 billion compared to the $14.298 billion enacted...

Appropriations for FY2000: U.S. Department of Agriculture and Related Agencies

The FY2000 appropriations bill ( P.L. 106-78 , H.R. 1906 ) for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and related agencies was signed into law on October 22, 1999. P.L. 106-78 contains regular (non-emergency) appropriations of $60.559 billion, which is $2 billion below the Administration request, but nearly $6 billion above the FY1999 level. Just over three-fourths ($46.57 billion) of the total amount in the act is classified as mandatory spending (primarily food stamps and farm programs funded through USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation), which in essence is governed by authorizing...

Centralized Collection and Disbursement of Child Support Payments

P.L. 104-193 requires state Child Support Enforcement (CSE) agencies to operate a centralized automated unit for collection and disbursement of payments on two categories of child support orders: (1) those enforced by the CSE agency and (2) those issued or modified on or after January 1, 1994, which are not enforced by the state CSE agency but for which the noncustodial parent's income is subject to withholding. The state disbursement unit generally must use automated procedures, electronic processes, and computer-driven technology to collect and disburse support payments, to keep an...

Medicare: Changes to Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (BBA 97, P.L. 105-33) Provisions

This report summarizes the major provisions of the agreement between the by House and Senate negotiators on the Medicare provisions.

WIC Food Package: History of the Sugar Cap

This report provides a historic review of the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) food package and the controversy over the sugar cap on cereals allowed in the program.

Central America: Reconstruction After Hurricane Mitch

On February 16, the Administration transmitted an emergency supplemental request for $955.5 million to provide reconstruction assistance to the Central American countries devastated last Fall by Hurricane Mitch. The supplemental did not include any of the trade expansion provisions which the Administration has proposed previously, and which the Central American countries include as their highest priority. The Senate supplemental appropriations bill ( S. 544 ) passed the Senate on March 23 and the House bill ( H.R. 1141 ) passed the House on March 24. The final legislation, P.L 106-31,...

Immigration Fundamentals

Immigration Fundamentals

Aspartame

Appropriations for FY1999: An Overview

Appropriations are one part of a complex federal budget process that includes budget resolutions, appropriations (regular, supplemental, and continuing) bills, rescissions, and budget reconciliation bills. This report is a guide to CRS reports that provide analytical perspectives on the 13 annual appropriations bills, and other related appropriation measures. It does not include a detailed explanation or description of the budget or appropriations processes.

Appropriations for FY1999: An Overview

Child Care Subsidies: Federal Grants and Tax Benefits for Working Families

Most parents with minor children are employed, and for many child care is a significant but necessary expenditure. For poor families it can consume one-sixth of their income, while for middle income families it can sharply reduce the returns from working. Some parents do not use child care, arranging work schedules around the school day or leaving children home alone, while others rely on unpaid care by relatives. These arrangements sometimes reflect parental choice, but other times they indicate that paid child care is not affordable. Congress has authorized both federal grants and tax...

Managed Care: Recent Proposals for New Grievance and Appeals Procedures

Because managed care is premised on notions of cost and the ability to control the utilization of health care services, many fear that decisions involving access to treatment and reimbursement are made improperly; that the cost of treatment plays an increasingly important role in the decision- making process. Concern over decision-making and treatment costs has prompted greater attention to the rights of participants to appeal denials of treatment and to file grievances about other plan decisions. Some believe that improved grievance and appeal rights would not only empower patients, but...

Social Security: The Chilean Example

Child Nutrition Issues in the 105th Congress

Older Americans Act: 105th Congress Issues

Appropriations for FY1999: Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education

Appropriations are one part of a complex federal budget process that includes budget resolutions, appropriations (regular, supplemental, and continuing) bills, rescissions, and budget reconciliation bills. This report is a guide to one of the 13 regular appropriations bills that Congress passes each year. It is designed to supplement the information provided by the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

Veterans Issues in the 105th Congress

This report focuses on policies, programs, and benefits of interest to veterans. Included are discussions of issues before the 105th Congress, and the current status of major legislation.

Immigration: Visa Entry/Exit Control System

Appropriations for FY1999: VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies

Appropriations are one part of a complex federal budget process that includes budget resolutions, appropriations (regular, supplemental, and continuing) bills, rescissions, and budget reconciliation bills. This report is a guide to one of the 13 regular appropriations bills that Congress passes each year. It is designed to supplement the information provided by the House and Senate Subcommittees on VA, HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations.

Immigration: Visa Entry/Exit Control System

Manual on the Federal Budget Process

Community Services Block Grants: Background and Current Legislation

This report provides background on the Community Services Block Grants (CSBG) and related activities, including information on funding, and tracks the progress of relevant legislation and appropriations measures.

Arts and Humanities: Funding and Reauthorization in the 105th Congress

One of the primary vehicles for federal support of the arts and humanities is the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities, composed of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. This report describes the issues and options raised in the 105th Congress with regard to both authorization and appropriations for support of the arts and humanities.

Child Nutrition Issues in the 105th Congress

This report covers proposed and enacted legislative initiatives to change child nutrition programs (including the WIC program) during 1997 and 1998.

Adult Education and Literacy: Current Programs and Legislative Proposals in the 105th Congress

This report summarizes current programs for adult education and literacy, provides a funding history, and analyzes major provisions of the legislative proposals being considered by the 105th Congress for amending adult education and literacy programs. Specifically, the

report examines the provisions of H.R. 1385, the Employment, Training, and Literacy Enhancement Act of 1997, as passed by the House, and H.R. 1385, the Workforce Investment Partnership Act of 1998, as amended by the Senate (originally considered as S. 1186). Key issues include state and local administration issues,...

Veterans Issues in the 105th Congress

Current Social Security Issues

Social Security is the focus of intense public interest. Projected long-range funding problems, public skepticism about its future, and a growing perception that Social Security will not be as good a value for future retirees as it is today are fueling calls for reform. This report discusses a number of the major Social Security issues currently drawing congressional attention.

Current Social Security Issues

Social Security is the focus of intense public interest. Projected long-range funding problems, public skepticism about its future, and a growing perception that Social Security will not be as good a value for future retirees as it is today are fueling calls for reform. This report, updated regularly, discusses a number of the major Social Security issues currently drawing congressional attention.

Medicare: Financing the Part A Hospital Insurance Program

This report discusses Medicare, which consists of two distinct parts — Part A (Hospital Insurance (HI)) and Part B (Supplementary Medical Insurance (SMI)). Part A is financed primarily through payroll taxes levied on current workers and their employers. Income from these taxes is credited to the HI trust fund. Part B is financed through a combination of monthly premiums paid by current enrollees and general revenues. Income from these sources is credited to the SMI trust fund.

Charter Schools: State Developments and Federal Policy Options

Charter schools are public elementary or secondary schools which are released from a variety of state, local, and possibly federal regulations in return for new forms of accountability in terms of outcomes for pupils. Approximately one-half of the states authorize the establishment of charter schools, and a federal Public Charter Schools (PCS) program provides start-up funds for such schools. The House has passed (H.R. 2616), and the Senate is considering (S. 1380) legislation to modify and expand the PCS program. This report provides background information on charter schools and their...

Ideas for Privatizing Social Security

Medicare Expansion: President Clinton's Proposals to Allow Coverage Before Age 65

This report discusses medicare expansion; President Clinton's proposal to allow people ages 62 through 64 to buy into Medicare if they do not have access to employer-sponsored or federal health insurance.

Immigration: Visa Waiver Pilot Program

Medicaid: 105th Congress

Medicaid: 105th Congress

The Entitlements Debate

Federal entitlement programs make payments directly to recipients who meet eligibility criteria set by law. There are about 400 of them with Social Security being the largest. Generally, entitlement spending is not subject to control through annual appropriations, and once an entitlement program is established, its scope can be altered only by amending the law that created it.

The Entitlements Debate

Medicare: Payments to Physicians

This report discusses payments for physicians services under Medicare that are made on the basis of a fee schedule.

Central American Asylum Seekers: Impact of 1996 Immigration Law

This report discuses issues related to the significant portion of the Central Americans affected by the IIRIRA revisions still have asylum cases pending and may obtain legal permanent residence by that avenue if they demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution. The Attorney General also has the discretionary authority to grant blanket relief from deportation, but the discretionary forms of relief do not entail legal permanent residence. There is considerable interest in this issue in the 105th Congress, and the Senate passed by a vote of 99 to 1 an amendment to provide relief for...

Student Loan Consolidation

Older Americans Act: 105th Congress Issues

Medicare: Private Contracts

This report discusses private contracting for medicare,which is the term used to describe situations where a physician and a patient agree not to submit a claim for a service which would otherwise be covered and paid for by Medicare.

Managed Health Care: A Primer

Managed Health Care: A Primer

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Reauthorization Legislation: An Overview

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) authorizes several programs to support and improve early intervention and special education for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities. The 105th Congress has considered legislation to amend, revise, and extend IDEA. The President signed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997, P.L. 105-17 , on June 4, 1997. The amendments are comprehensive in nature and address a wide range of legal and programmatic issues affecting early intervention and special education. Discipline . Schools have...

Military Retirement and Veterans' Compensation: Concurrent Receipt Issues

Military retirees with disabilities incurred during their military service may receive military retired pay from the Department of Defense (DOD) and may be eligible for veterans' disability compensation from the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA). However, current law requires that military retired pay be reduced by the amount of the veterans' benefits. Some military retirees have sought a change in law to permit concurrent receipt of both military nondisability retired pay (retired pay computed solely on the basis of length of service after a military career) and veterans' compensation...