National Defense

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The Army’s Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV): Background and Issues for Congress

The Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) is the Army’s proposed replacement for the Vietnam-era M-113 personnel carriers, which are still in service in a variety of support capacities in Armored Brigade Combat Teams (ABCTs). While M-113s no longer serve as infantry fighting vehicles, five variants of the M-113 are used as command and control vehicles, general purpose vehicles, mortar carriers, and medical treatment and evacuation vehicles.

The AMPV is intended to be a non-developmental program (candidate vehicles will be either existing vehicles or modified existing vehicles—not vehicles...

Cybersecurity: Selected Issues for the 115th Congress

Cybersecurity has been gaining attention as a national issue for the past decade. During this time, the country has witnessed cyber incidents affecting both public and private sector systems and data. These incidents have included attacks in which data was stolen, altered, or access to it was disrupted or denied. The frequency of these attacks, and their effects on the U.S. economy, national security, and people’s lives have driven cybersecurity issues to the forefront of congressional policy conversations. This report provides an overview of selected cybersecurity concepts and a...

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

The Sultanate of Oman has been a strategic ally of the United States since 1980, when it became the first of the Persian Gulf states to sign a formal accord permitting the U.S. military to use its facilities. Oman has hosted U.S. forces during every U.S. military operation in and around the Gulf since then, and it is a partner in U.S. efforts to counter regional terrorism and related threats. Oman’s ties to the United States are unlikely to loosen if its ailing leader, Sultan Qaboos bin Sa’id Al Said, leaves the scene in the near term. He underwent cancer treatment abroad for nearly a year...

Election in Italy

More than half of voters in Italy’s March 4, 2018, parliamentary election supported political parties considered antiestablishment or outside the mainstream. Since no party or political group won a majority of seats in parliament, the top vote-getters will now negotiate to form a governing coalition. This is expected to be a drawn-out process that could end in stalemate and possibly new elections. Furthermore, the empowerment of so-called populist parties could have significant implications for the European Union (EU), NATO, and the United States.

Election Results

A center-right alliance...

Marine Corps Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV): Background and Issues for Congress

On January 6, 2011, after spending approximately $3 billion in developmental funding, the Marine Corps cancelled the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) program due to poor reliability demonstrated during operational testing and excessive cost growth. Because the EFV was intended to replace the 40-year-old Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV), the Pentagon pledged to move quickly to develop a “more affordable and sustainable” vehicle to replace the EFV. The Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) is intended to replace the AAV, incorporating some EFV capabilities but in a more practical and...

Defense Primer: A Guide for New Members

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

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

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

Small Business Mentor-Protégé Programs

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

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

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

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

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

Iraq: In Brief

Iraq’s government declared military victory against the terrorist insurgents of the Islamic State group (IS, aka ISIS/ISIL) in December 2017, and Iraqis are shifting their attention toward recovery and the country’s political future. Security conditions have improved but remain fluid, and daunting resettlement, reconstruction, and reform needs occupy citizens and decisionmakers. National legislative elections are scheduled for May 2018, and campaigning reflects issues stemming from the 2014-2017 conflict with the Islamic State as well as a range of preexisting internal disputes and...

Afghanistan: Background and U.S. Policy In Brief

Afghanistan has been a central U.S. foreign policy concern since 2001, when the United States, in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, led a military campaign against Al Qaeda and the Taliban government that harbored and supported Al Qaeda. In the intervening 16 years, the United States has suffered more than 2,000 casualties in Afghanistan (including 14 in 2017) and has spent more than $120 billion for reconstruction there. In that time, an elected Afghan government has replaced the Taliban, and nearly every measure of human development has improved, although future...

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

The State of Qatar has employed its ample financial resources to exert significant regional influence and avoid domination by Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of the alliance of six Gulf monarchies called the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Oman). Qatar has intervened in several regional conflicts, including in Syria and Libya, and has engaged with both Sunni Islamist and Iran-backed Shiite groups in Lebanon, Sudan, the Gaza Strip, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Qatar has maintained consistent dialogue with Iran while also supporting...

U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel

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

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

Israel: Background and U.S. Relations in Brief

Since the Cold War, strong bilateral relations have fueled and reinforced significant U.S.-Israel cooperation in many areas, including regional security. Nonetheless, at various points throughout the relationship, U.S. and Israeli policies have diverged on some important issues.

A number of issues have significant implications for U.S.-Israel relations. They include

Israeli-Palestinian issues and controversies surrounding them, including President Trump’s December 2017 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announced plan to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel there.

Regional...

Energy and Water Development Appropriations: Nuclear Weapons Activities

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

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

Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV): Background and Issues for Congress

The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) is being developed by the Army and the Marine Corps as a successor to the High Mobility, Multi-Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), which has been in service since 1985. On October 28, 2008, awards were made for the JLTV Technology Development (TD) Phase to three industry teams: (1) BAE Systems, (2) the team of Lockheed Martin and General Tactical Vehicle, and (3) AM General and General Dynamics Land Systems.

On January 26, 2012, the Army issued the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the JLTV’s Engineering Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase. Up to three EMD...

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

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

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

The Syria conflict, now in its seventh year, remains a significant policy challenge for the United States. U.S. policy toward Syria in the past several years has given highest priority to counterterrorism operations against the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIL/ISIS), but also included assistance to opposition-held communities, support for diplomatic efforts to reach a political settlement to the civil war, and the provision of humanitarian assistance in Syria and surrounding countries. The counter-IS campaign works primarily “by, with, and through” local partners, per a broader U.S....

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 Budget Control Act: Frequently Asked Questions

When there is concern with deficit or debt levels, Congress will sometimes implement budget enforcement mechanisms to mandate specific budgetary policies or fiscal outcomes. The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA; P.L. 112-25), which was signed into law on August 2, 2011, includes several such mechanisms.

The BCA as amended has three main components that currently affect the annual budget. One component imposes annual statutory discretionary spending limits for defense and nondefense spending. A second component requires annual reductions to the initial discretionary spending limits...

Defense Spending Under an Interim Continuing Resolution: In Brief

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

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

Vulnerable Youth: Federal Mentoring Programs and Issues

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

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

The European Union: Questions and Answers

The European Union (EU) is a political and economic partnership that represents a unique form of cooperation among sovereign countries. The EU is the latest stage in a process of integration begun after World War II, initially by six Western European countries, to foster interdependence and make another war in Europe unthinkable. The EU currently consists of 28 member states, including most of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, and has helped to promote peace, stability, and economic prosperity throughout the European continent.

The EU has been built through a series of binding...

Iran Sanctions

The multilateral nuclear accord (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA) provides Iran broad relief from U.S., U.N., and multilateral sanctions on Iran’s civilian economic sectors, including U.S. secondary sanctions (sanctions on foreign firms that do business with Iran). On January 16, 2016, upon the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) certification that Iran had complied with the stipulated nuclear dismantlement commitments, U.S. Administration waivers of relevant sanctions laws took effect, relevant executive orders (E.O.s) were revoked, and corresponding U.N. and EU...

Defense Science and Technology Funding

Defense science and technology (Defense S&T) is a term that describes a subset of Department of Defense (DOD) research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) activities. The Defense S&T budget is the aggregate of funding provided for the three earliest stages of DOD RDT&E: basic research, applied research, and advanced technology development. Defense S&T is of particular interest to Congress due to its perceived value in supporting technological advantage and its importance to key private sector and academic stakeholders.

Advocates of strong and sustained Defense S&T funding assert...

Appropriations: CRS Experts

Agriculture appropriations; Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations; Department of Defense appropriations, Energy and Water appropriations; Financial Services and General Provisions Government-wide appropriations; Departments of Homeland Security appropriations; Department of Interior, Environment appropriations; Labor, Health and Human Services, Education appropriations, Legislative Branch appropriations; Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations, Department of State, Foreign Operations appropriations, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations.

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

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

Jordan: Background and U.S. Relations

This report provides an overview of Jordanian politics and current issues in U.S.-Jordanian relations. It provides a brief discussion of Jordan’s government and economy and of its cooperation with U.S. policies in the Middle East.

Several issues are likely to figure in decisions by Congress and the Administration on future aid to and cooperation with Jordan. These include Jordan’s continued involvement in attempting to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace and the stability of the Jordanian regime, particularly in light of ongoing conflicts in neighboring Syria and Iraq. U.S. officials may...

Small Business Administration: A Primer on Programs and Funding

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

Congressional interest in the SBA’s loan, venture capital, training, and...

Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy: CRS Experts

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cience, technology, and innovation (STI) play important roles in the nation’s economic and military strength, public health and safety, and the quality of our lives. Individuals, companies, governments, universities, and other organizations fund, conduct, disseminate, and acquire science and technology for a myriad of purposes. Among the purposes: providing for the national defense and homeland security; improving manufacturing processes and enabling the manufacture of new products; developing new materials; advancing computing and communications tools; preventing and treating disease,...

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

An uprising against Bahrain’s Al Khalifa ruling family that began on February 14, 2011, has diminished in intensity, but incarceration of dissident leaders, opposition boycotts of elections, and periodic small demonstrations continue. The mostly Shiite opposition to the Sunni-minority-led regime has not achieved its goal of establishing a constitutional monarchy, but the unrest has compelled the ruling family to undertake modest reforms. The mainstream opposition uses peaceful forms of dissent, but small factions, possibly backed by Iran, reportedly are stockpiling increasingly...

Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons

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

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

The 115th Congress is considering FY2018 funding levels for the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS). President Donald J. Trump submitted his FY2018 budget request to Congress on May 23, 2017. The request seeks $40.25 billion (-30% compared with FY2017 enacted) for SFOPS, including Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds. Of this total, $13.20 billion (-27% compared with FY2017 enacted) would be for the Department of State Operations and related programs. For Foreign Operations, the FY2018 request includes $27.05 billion (-31% compared with FY2017...

U.S. Army Weapons-Related Directed Energy (DE) Programs: Background and Potential Issues for Congress

The U.S. military has a long and complicated history in developing directed energy (DE) weapons. Many past efforts have failed for a variety of reasons and not all failures were attributed to scientific or technological challenges associated with weaponizing DE. At present, a number of U.S. military DE weapons-related programs are beginning to show promise, such as the Navy’s Laser Weapon System (LaWs), the first ever Department of Defense (DOD) laser weapon to be deployed and approved for operational use, according to the Navy. With a number of U.S. Army weapons-related DE programs...

Iran: Politics, Human Rights, and U.S. Policy

Since the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, the United States and Iran have been broadly at odds. During the 1980s and 1990s, U.S. officials identified Iran’s support for militant Middle East groups as the primary threat posed by Iran to U.S. interests and allies. Iran’s nuclear program took precedence in U.S. policy after 2002 as the potential for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon increased. Beginning in 2010, the United States orchestrated broad international economic pressure on Iran to persuade it to agree to strict limits on the program—pressure that contributed to the June 2013...

Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations

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

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

Women in Congress, 1917-2018: Service Dates and Committee Assignments by Member, and Lists by State and Congress

In total, 327 women have been elected or appointed to Congress, 212 Democrats and 115 Republicans. These figures include six non-voting Delegates, one each from Guam, Hawaii, the District of Columbia, and American Samoa, and two from the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as one Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico. Of these 327 women there have been: 276 (178 Democrats, 98 Republicans) women elected only to the House of Representatives; 39 (25 Democrats, 14 Republicans) women elected or appointed only to the Senate; 12 (9 Democrats, 3 Republicans) women who have served in both houses; A...

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

Kuwait remains pivotal to U.S. efforts to secure the Persian Gulf region because of its consistent cooperation with U.S. strategy and operations in the region, and its strategic location in the northern Gulf. Kuwait and the United States have a formal Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA), under which the United States maintains over 13,000 military personnel in country and prepositioned military equipment in Kuwait to project power in the region. Only Germany, Japan, and South Korea host more U.S. troops than does Kuwait.

Kuwait usually acts in concert not only with the United States but...

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

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

The 2018 National Defense Strategy

On January 19, 2018, Secretary of Defense Mattis released the unclassified summary of the Department of Defense’s (DOD) first congressionally mandated National Defense Strategy (NDS). In addition to stating DOD’s approach to contending with current and emerging national security challenges, the NDS is also intended to articulate the overall strategic rationale for programs and priorities contained within the FY2019-FY2023 budget requests. Overall, the document maintains that the strategic environment in which the United States must operate is one characterized by the erosion of the...

New Nuclear Warheads: Legislative Provisions

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

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

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

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

FY2018...

The New START Treaty: Central Limits and Key Provisions

The United States and Russia signed the New START Treaty on April 8, 2010. After more than 20 hearings, the U.S. Senate gave its advice and consent to ratification on December 22, 2010, by a vote of 71-26. Both houses of the Russian parliament—the Duma and Federation Council—approved the treaty in late January 2011, and it entered into force on February 5, 2011, after Secretary of State Clinton and Foreign Minister Lavrov exchanged the instruments of ratification. Reductions were to be implemented by February 5, 2018, a goal met by both parties.

New START provides the parties with 7 years...

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency: Overview and Issues for Congress

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

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

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act: History, Impact, and Issues

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

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

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

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

Cybersecurity: Legislation, Hearings, and Executive Branch Documents

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

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...

The U.S. Export Control System and the Export Control Reform Initiative

Difficulty with striking an appropriate balance between national security and export competitiveness has made the subject of export controls controversial for decades. Through the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), and other authorities, the United States restricts the export of defense items or munitions; dual-use goods and technology; certain nuclear materials and technology; and items that would assist in the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons or the missile technology used to deliver them. U.S. export...

Small Business Administration HUBZone Program

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

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

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been a significant U.S. partner in Gulf security for more than two decades, helping to address multiple regional threats, and benefitting from long-standing and extensive defense cooperation with the United States. About 5,000 U.S. military personnel are stationed at UAE military facilities, hosted there under a 1994 U.S.-UAE defense cooperation agreement (DCA) that remains in effect by mutual agreement. The UAE was the first Gulf state to order the most sophisticated missile defense system sold by the United States (the THAAD), demonstrating support for...

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...

China-U.S. Trade Issues

U.S.-China economic ties have expanded substantially since China began reforming its economy and liberalizing its trade regime in the late 1970s. Total U.S.-China merchandise trade rose from $2 billion in 1979 (when China’s economic reforms began) to an estimated $633 billion in 2017. China is currently the United States’ largest merchandise trading partner, its third-largest export market, and its biggest source of imports. In 2015, sales by U.S. foreign affiliates in China totaled $482 billion. Many U.S. firms view participation in China’s market as critical to their global...

Acquisition Reform in the FY2016-FY2018 National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAAs)

Congress has long been interested in defense acquisition and generally exercises its legislative powers to affect defense acquisitions through Title VIII of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), entitled Acquisition Policy, Acquisition Management, and Related Matters. Congress has been particularly active in legislating acquisition reform over the last three years. For FY2016-FY2018, NDAA titles specifically related to acquisition contained an average of 82 provisions (247 in total), compared to an average of 47 such provisions (466 in total) in the NDAAs for the preceding 10...

Iran’s Foreign and Defense Policies

Iran’s national security policy is the product of many, and sometimes competing, factors: the ideology of Iran’s Islamic revolution; Iranian leaders’ perception of threats to the regime and to the country; long-standing Iranian national interests; and the interaction of the Iranian regime’s various factions and constituencies.

Iran seeks to ensure that U.S. or other efforts to invade or intimidate it or to change its regime cannot succeed.

Iran has sought to take advantage of opportunities of regional conflicts overturn a power structure in the Middle East that Iran asserts favors the...

Government Contract Bid Protests In Brief: Analysis of Legal Processes and Recent Developments

Suppressed Summary –Terms for CRS Search Engine Procurement Government contract Bid protest Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Competition in Contracting Act of 1984 (CICA) U.S. Court of Federal Claims (COFC) Government Accountability Office (GAO) Automatic stay Procuring agency

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

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

Navy Columbia (SSBN-826) Class Ballistic Missile Submarine Program: Background and Issues for Congress

The Columbia (SSBN-826) class program, previously known as the Ohio replacement program (ORP) or SSBN(X) program, is a program to design and build a new class of 12 ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) to replace the Navy’s current force of 14 Ohio-class SSBNs. The Navy has identified the Columbia-class program as the Navy’s top priority program. The Navy wants to procure the first Columbia-class boat in FY2021. The Navy’s proposed FY2018 budget requests $842.9 million in advance procurement (AP) funding and $1,041.7 million in research and development funding for the program.

The Navy as...

Nuclear Cooperation with Other Countries: A Primer

In order for the United States to engage in significant civilian nuclear cooperation with other states, it must conclude a framework agreement that meets specific requirements under Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act (AEA). Significant nuclear cooperation includes the export of reactors, critical parts of reactors, and reactor fuel. The AEA also provides for export control licensing procedures and criteria for terminating cooperation. Congressional review is required for Section 123 agreements; the AEA establishes special parliamentary procedures by which Congress may act on a proposed agreement.

Cambodia: Background and U.S. Relations

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

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

SBA Veterans Assistance Programs: An Analysis of Contemporary Issues

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

In recent years, the...

Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy

Libya’s political transition has been disrupted by armed non-state groups and threatened by the indecision and infighting of interim leaders. After an armed uprising ended the 40-plus-year rule of Muammar al Qadhafi in late 2011, interim authorities proved unable to form a stable government, address pressing security issues, reshape the country’s public finances, or create a viable framework for post-conflict justice and reconciliation.

Elections for legislative bodies and a constitutional drafting assembly were held and transparently administered in 2012 and 2014, but were marred by...

Kosovo: Background and U.S. Relations

Following the conflicts in the late 1990s in the countries of the former Yugoslavia (Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Croatia, and Slovenia), the prospect of membership in the Euro-Atlantic community, and the active presence of the United States in the region referred to as the Western Balkans, provided a level of stability that allowed most of the countries of the region to pursue reform and adopt Western values. During this time, Slovenia (2004) and Croatia (2013) joined the European Union (EU). These countries, along with Albania (2009), also joined the North...

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

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal workers’ compensation program that covers certain private-sector maritime workers. Firms that employ these workers are required to purchase workers’ compensation or self-insure and are responsible for providing medical and disability benefits to covered workers who are injured or become ill on the job and survivors benefits to the families of covered workers who die on the job. The LHWCA is administered by the Department of Labor (DOL), and all benefit costs are paid by employers and their insurance carriers. In 2015,...

Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding

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

United States Fire Administration: An Overview

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

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 (P.L. 115-31) funded USFA at a total level of $44 million in FY2017. For FY2018, the Administration requested $43.41 million for USFA, slightly below the FY2017 level...

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

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

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. The United States held the two-year, rotating chairmanship of the Arctic Council from April 24, 2015, to May 11, 2017.

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...

Military Service Records, Awards, and Unit Histories: A Guide to Locating Sources

This guide provides information on locating military unit histories and individual service records of discharged, retired, and deceased military personnel. It also provides information on locating and replacing military awards and medals. Included is contact information for military history centers, websites for additional sources of research, and a bibliography of other publications, including related CRS reports.

This report will be updated as needed.

CRS Products on North Korea

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

The current and planned size and composition of the Navy, the rate of Navy ship procurement, and the prospective affordability of the Navy’s shipbuilding plans have been oversight matters for the congressional defense committees for many years. The Navy’s proposed FY2018 budget, as amended on May 24, 2017, requests the procurement of nine new ships, including one Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) class aircraft carrier, two Virginia-class attack submarines, two DDG-51 class destroyers, two Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs), one TAO-205 class oiler, and one towing, salvage, and rescue ship.

On December...

Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class Aircraft Carrier Program: Background and Issues for Congress

CVN-78, CVN-79, CVN-80, and CVN-81 are the first four ships in the Navy’s new Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (CVNs).

CVN-78 was procured in FY2008. The Navy’s proposed FY2018 budget estimates the ship’s procurement cost at $12,907.0 million (i.e., about $12.9 billion) in then-year dollars. The ship received advance procurement funding in FY2001-FY2007 and was fully funded in FY2008-FY2011 using congressionally authorized four-year incremental funding. To help cover cost growth on the ship, the ship received an additional $1,374.9 million in...

Federal Freight Policy: In Brief

freight, cargo, truck, rail, maritime, barge, shipping, port, congestion, infrastructure, RRIF, train, locks, inland waterways, army corps, dredging, harbor, surface transportation board, STB, jones act, cabotage, railroad, highway, longshore, marine highways, Title XI, shipyard, shipbuilding, ship construction, intermodal, Jones Act, FAST Act, P.L. 114-94

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

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

The 2017 National Security Strategy: Issues for Congress

On December 18, 2017, the Trump Administration released its first National Security Strategy (NSS). The document maintains that, in addition to the threats posed to the United States by rogue regimes and violent extremist organizations that have been a central focus of national security policy since the end of the Cold War, great power rivalry and competition have once again become a central feature of the international security landscape. To advance U.S. interests effectively within this strategic context, the Administration argues, the United States must improve domestic American...

The Purple Heart: Background and Issues for Congress

The Purple Heart is one of the oldest and most recognized American military medals, awarded to servicemembers who were killed or wounded by enemy action. The conflicts of the last decade have greatly increased the number of Purple Hearts awarded to servicemembers.

Events over the past few years have spurred debate on the eligibility criteria for the Purple Heart. Shootings on U.S. soil and medical conditions such as traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have prompted changes to the eligibility requirements for the Purple Heart. Some critics believe that...

Mixed-Oxide Fuel Fabrication Plant and Plutonium Disposition: Management and Policy Issues

The Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF) in South Carolina has been a key component of the current U.S. strategy for disposing of surplus weapons plutonium from the Cold War. Disposition of surplus plutonium is required by a 1998 agreement, amended in 2010, between the United States and the Russian Federation. Each country agreed to convert 34 metric tons of surplus weapons-grade plutonium to a form that could not be returned to nuclear weapons, to begin in 2018. Russia suspended its participation in the agreement in October 2016 due to what it called “hostile actions” by the...

FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Issues

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

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

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

Cluster Munitions: Background and Issues for Congress

Cluster munitions are air-dropped or ground-launched weapons that release a number of smaller submunitions intended to kill enemy personnel or destroy vehicles. Cluster munitions were developed in World War II and are part of many nations’ weapons stockpiles. Cluster munitions have been used frequently in combat, including the early phases of the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cluster munitions have been highly criticized internationally for causing a significant number of civilian deaths, and efforts have been undertaken to ban and regulate their use. The Department of Defense...

China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress

The question of how the United States should respond to China’s military modernization effort, including its naval modernization effort, is a key issue in U.S. defense planning and budgeting.

China has been steadily building a modern and powerful navy since the early to mid-1990s. China’s navy has become a formidable military force within China’s near-seas region, and it is conducting a growing number of operations in more-distant waters, including the broader waters of the Western Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and waters around Europe.

Observers view China’s improving naval capabilities as...

Navy Ship Names: Background for Congress

Names for Navy ships traditionally have been chosen and announced by the Secretary of the Navy, under the direction of the President and in accordance with rules prescribed by Congress. Rules for giving certain types of names to certain types of Navy ships have evolved over time. There have been exceptions to the Navy’s ship-naming rules, particularly for the purpose of naming a ship for a person when the rule for that type of ship would have called for it to be named for something else. Some observers have perceived a breakdown in, or corruption of, the rules for naming Navy ships. On...

A Shift in the International Security Environment: Potential Implications for Defense—Issues for Congress

World events in recent years have led observers, particularly since late 2013, to conclude that the international security environment in recent years has undergone a shift from the post-Cold War era that began in the late 1980s and early 1990s, also sometimes known as the unipolar moment (with the United States as the unipolar power), to a new and different situation that features, among other things, renewed great power competition with China and Russia and challenges by these two countries and others to elements of the U.S.-led international order that has operated since World War II.

A...

Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Programs

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

Maritime Territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Disputes Involving China: Issues for Congress

China’s actions for asserting and defending its maritime territorial and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) claims in the East China (ECS) and South China Sea (SCS) have heightened concerns among observers that China may be seeking to dominate or gain control of its near-seas region, meaning the ECS, the SCS, and the Yellow Sea. Chinese domination over or control of this region could substantially affect U.S. strategic, political, and economic interests in the Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere.

China is a party to multiple territorial disputes in the SCS and ECS, including, in particular,...

Navy DDG-51 and DDG-1000 Destroyer Programs: Background and Issues for Congress

The Navy has been procuring Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) class Aegis destroyers since FY1985. The two DDG-51s requested for procurement in FY2018 are to be the 78th and 79th ships in the class.

DDG-51s procured in FY2013-FY2017 were procured under a multiyear procurement (MYP) contract. As part of its FY2018 budget submission, the Navy is requesting authority to use another MYP contract to procure DDG-51s in FY2018-FY2022. The Navy plans to shift in FY2016 or FY2017 to a new variant of the DDG-51, called the Flight III DDG-51, that is to incorporate a new and more capable radar called the Air...

Navy Frigate (FFG[X]) Program: Background and Issues for Congress

As part of its FY2018 budget submission, the Navy has initiated a new program, called the FFG(X) program, to build a new class of 20 guided-missile frigates (FFGs). The Navy wants to procure the first FFG(X) in FY2020, the second in FY2021, and the remaining 18 at a rate of two per year in FY2022-FY2030. Given current Navy force-structure goals, the Navy wants to procure a notional total of 20 FFG(X)s. The Navy’s proposed FY2018 budget requests $143.5 million in research and development funding for the program.

U.S. Navy frigates are smaller, less capable, and less expensive to procure and...

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

The Navy has been procuring Virginia (SSN-774) class nuclear-powered attack submarines since FY1998. The two Virginia-class boats requested for procurement in FY2018 are to be the 27th and 28th boats in the class. The 10 Virginia-class boats programmed for procurement in FY2014-FY2018 (two per year for five years) are being procured under a multiyear-procurement (MYP) contract.

The Navy estimates the combined procurement cost of the two Virginia-class boats requested for procurement in FY2018 at $5,532.7 million, or an average of $2,766.4 million each. The boats have received a total of...

Navy LX(R) Amphibious Ship Program: Background and Issues for Congress

The LX(R) program is a program to build a new class of amphibious ships for the Navy. LX(R)s are to replace 12 aging Whidbey Island/Harpers Ferry (LSD-41/49) class amphibious ships, the first of which will reach age 40 in 2025.

Under the Navy’s previous force-level goal to achieve and maintain a fleet of 308 ships, including 34 amphibious ships, the Navy had planned to procure a total of 11 LX(R)s. In December 2016, the Navy released a new force-level goal to achieve and maintain a fleet of 355 ships, including 38 amphibious ships. Under this new force level goal, the total planned number...

Navy John Lewis (TAO-205) Class Oiler Shipbuilding Program: Background and Issues for Congress

The John Lewis (TAO-205) class oiler shipbuilding program, previously known as the TAO(X) program, is a program to build a new class of 20 fleet oilers for the Navy. The primary role of Navy fleet oilers is to transfer fuel to Navy surface ships that are operating at sea, so as to extend the operating endurance of these surface ships and their embarked aircraft. The first ship in the TAO-205 program was funded in FY2016 at a cost of $674.2 million and is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy in November 2020.

As part of its proposed FY2018 budget, the Navy is requesting the procurement of...

Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background and Issues for Congress

The Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program is a program to procure a total of about 32 relatively inexpensive surface combatants equipped with modular mission packages. The first LCS was procured in FY2005, and a total of 29 have been procured through FY2017.

For FY2018, the Navy is requesting the procurement of the 30th and 31st LCSs. The Navy’s FY2018 five-year shipbuilding plan includes a 32nd LCS in FY2019. Starting in FY2020, the Navy wants to shift from procuring LCSs to procuring a new guided-missile frigate called the FFG(X). The design of the FFG(X) is to be based on either the...

Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program: Background and Issues for Congress

The Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) program, which is carried out by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Navy, gives Navy Aegis cruisers and destroyers a capability for conducting BMD operations. Under the FY2018 budget submission, the number of BMD-capable Aegis ships is scheduled to be 36 at the end of FY2018 and 51 at the end of FY2022.

Two Japan-homeported Navy BMD-capable Aegis destroyers included in the above figures—the Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and the John S McCain (DDG-56)—were seriously damaged in collisions with merchant ships in waters off the coasts of Japan and...

Navy Irregular Warfare and Counterterrorism Operations: Background and Issues for Congress

In the years following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Navy has carried out a variety of irregular warfare (IW) and counterterrorism (CT) activities. Among the most readily visible of these were operations carried out by Navy sailors serving ashore in the Middle East and Afghanistan, and the May 1-2, 2011, U.S. military operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed Osama bin Laden.

During these years, the Navy took certain actions intended to improve its IW capabilities. For example, the Navy established the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) informally in October...

Navy Lasers, Railgun, and Hypervelocity Projectile: Background and Issues for Congress

The Navy is currently developing three potential new weapons that could improve the ability of its surface ships to defend themselves against enemy missiles—solid state lasers (SSLs), the electromagnetic railgun (EMRG), and the hypervelocity projectile (HVP).

Any one of these new weapon technologies, if successfully developed and deployed, might be regarded as a “game changer” for defending Navy surface ships against enemy missiles. If two or three of them are successfully developed and deployed, the result might be considered not just a game changer, but a revolution. Rarely has the Navy...

Lebanon

Since having its boundaries drawn by France after the First World War, Lebanon has struggled to define its national identity. Unlike other countries in the region, its population included Christian, Sunni Muslim, and Shia Muslim communities of roughly comparable size, and with competing visions for the country. Seeking to avoid sectarian conflict, Lebanese leaders created a confessional system that allocated power among the country’s religious sects according to their percentage of the population. The system was based on Lebanon’s last official census, which was conducted in 1932.

As...

Advanced Pilot Training (T-X) Program

NOTE: This report was originally written by Ceir Coral while he was an Air Force Fellow at the Congressional Research Service. Since his departure, it has been maintained by Jeremiah Gertler of CRS.

On December 30, 2016, the United States Air Force (USAF) issued a final solicitation and request for proposal (RFP) to industry to replace the USAF trainer fleet of T-38C Talon aircraft and associated ground-based training systems. The USAF intends to buy 350 Advanced Pilot Training (APT T-X) aircraft and 46 Ground-Based Training Systems (GBTS), a contract valued at roughly $1.5 billion for the...

Russian Compliance with the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty: Background and Issues for Congress

The United States and Soviet Union signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in December 1987. Negotiations on this treaty were the result of a “dual-track” decision taken by NATO in 1979. At that time, in response to concerns about the Soviet Union’s deployment of new intermediate-range nuclear missiles, NATO agreed both to accept deployment of new U.S. intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles and to support U.S. efforts to negotiate with the Soviet Union to limit these missiles. In the INF Treaty, the United States and Soviet Union agreed that they would ban all...

FEMA’s Firefighter Assistance Grants: Reauthorization or Sunset?

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

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

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

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

Nuclear Negotiations with North Korea: In Brief

Some analysts have suggested that, in response to the accelerated pace of North Korea’s nuclear and missile testing programs and its continued threats against the United States and U.S. allies, the United States might engage in an aggressive negotiation strategy. Since the early 1990s, successive U.S. Presidents have faced the question of whether to negotiate with the North Korean government to halt Pyongyang’s nuclear program and ambitions. Questions for policymakers include the utility, timing, scope, and goals of diplomatic talks with Pyongyang.

The United States has engaged in four...

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

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

Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress

The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2018 budget requests $19 million in acquisition funding for a new polar icebreaker that the Coast Guard wants to begin building in FY2019. The project to acquire a new polar icebreaker was initiated in the Coast Guard’s FY2013 budget submission and has received about $190.6 million in acquisition funding through FY2017. The total acquisition cost of a new polar icebreaker had been estimated informally at roughly $1 billion, but the Coast Guard and Navy now believe the ship could cost less than $1 billion.

The operational U.S. polar icebreaking fleet currently...

Concurrent Receipt: Background and Issues for Congress

“Concurrent receipt” refers to the simultaneous receipt of two types of monetary benefits: military retired pay and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation. Prior to 2004, existing laws and regulations dictated that a military retiree could not receive two payments from federal agencies for the same purpose. As a result, military retirees with physical disabilities recognized by the VA would have their retired pay “offset” or reduced dollar-for-dollar by the amount of their VA compensation.

Proponents for the concurrent receipt of both military retired pay and VA...

Military Benefits for Former Spouses: Legislation and Policy Issues

In 1981, the Supreme Court ruled that the former spouse of a military member or retiree could not be awarded any share of that member’s/retiree’s retired pay as a part of a divorce property settlement in a community property state. In response, Congress enacted the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) in 1982. Under the USFSPA, state courts can treat disposable military retired pay as divisible property in divorce cases. However, state laws may vary on these concepts. The USFSPA makes no assumption of such a division nor does it presume how much of a division should...

Colombia’s Changing Approach to Drug Policy

Colombia is one of the largest producers of cocaine globally, and it also produces heroin bound for the United States. Counternarcotics policy has long been a key component of the U.S.-Colombian relationship, which some analysts have described as “driven by drugs.” In recent years, Colombia revised its approach to counternarcotics policy, which may have implications for the U.S.-Colombian relationship going forward. On September 13, 2017, President Trump cited the recent spike in Colombia’s cocaine production as the reason he was reserving the option to decertify Colombia as a cooperating...

Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress

The Coast Guard’s acquisition program of record (POR) calls for procuring 8 National Security Cutters (NSCs), 25 Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPCs), and 58 Fast Response Cutters (FRCs) as replacements for 90 aging Coast Guard cutters and patrol craft. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2018 budget requests a total of $794 million in acquisition funding for the NSC, OPC, and FRC programs.

NSCs are the Coast Guard’s largest and most capable general-purpose cutters. They have an estimated average procurement cost of about $695 million per ship. The first six are now in service (the sixth was...

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...

Nuclear Energy: Overview of Congressional Issues

The policy debate over the role of nuclear power in the nation’s energy mix is rooted in the technology’s fundamental characteristics. Nuclear reactors can produce potentially vast amounts of useful energy with relatively low consumption of natural resources and emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. However, facilities that produce nuclear fuel for civilian power reactors can also produce materials for nuclear weapons. In addition, the process of nuclear fission (splitting of atomic nuclei) to generate power produces radioactive material that can remain hazardous for...

Saudi Arabia: Background and U.S. Relations

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

The Campus-Based Financial Aid Programs: Background and Issues

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

The campus-based programs are among...

Iraq: Background and U.S. Policy

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

Australia: Background and U.S. Relations

The Commonwealth of Australia and the United States enjoy a close alliance relationship. Australia shares many cultural traditions and values with the United States and has been a treaty ally since the signing of the Australia-New Zealand-United States (ANZUS) Treaty in 1951. Australia made major contributions to the allied cause in the First and Second World Wars, and the conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Australia is also a close intelligence partner through the “Five Eyes” group of nations. U.S. Marines are conducting rotational deployments in northern Australia. This...

Monuments and Memorials Authorized Under the Commemorative Works Act in the District of Columbia: Current Development of In-Progress and Lapsed Works

Under the Commemorative Works Act (CWA) of 1986, Congress may authorize commemorative works to be placed in the District of Columbia or its environs. Once a commemorative work has been authorized, Congress continues to be responsible for statutorily designating a memorial site location.

This report provides a status update on 12 in-progress memorials and 4 memorials with lapsed authorizations. For each monument or memorial, the report provides a rationale for the work as expressed in the Congressional Record or a House or Senate committee report; its statutory authority; the group or...

Colombia: Background and U.S. Relations

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

Cybersecurity: Cybercrime and National Security Authoritative Reports and Resources

As online attacks grow in volume and sophistication, the United States is expanding its cybersecurity efforts. Cybercriminals continue to develop new ways to ensnare victims, whereas nation-state hackers compromise companies, government agencies, and businesses to create espionage networks and steal information. Threats come from both criminals and hostile countries, especially China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

Much is written on this topic, and this CRS report directs the reader to authoritative sources that address many of the most prominent issues. The annotated descriptions of...

Resolutions of Inquiry: An Analysis of Their Use in the House, 1947-2017

A resolution of inquiry is a simple resolution making a direct request or demand of the President or the head of an executive department to furnish the House with specific factual information in the Administration’s possession. Under the rules and precedents of the House of Representatives, such resolutions, if properly drafted, are given a privileged parliamentary status. This means that, under certain circumstances, a resolution of inquiry can be brought to the House floor for consideration even if the committee to which it was referred has not reported it and the majority party...

FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act

This report discusses the FY2018 defense budget request and provides a summary of congressional action on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year (FY) 2018. The annual NDAA authorizes appropriations for the Department of Defense (DOD) and defense-related nuclear energy programs of the Department of Energy and typically includes provisions affecting DOD policies or organization. Unlike an appropriations bill, the NDAA does not provide budget authority for government activities.

The Trump Administration’s FY2018 budget request, released on May 23, 2017, included a total...

The Rohingya Crises in Bangladesh and Burma

A series of interrelated humanitarian crises, stemming from more than 600,000 ethnic Rohingya who have fled Burma into neighboring Bangladesh in less than 10 weeks, pose challenges for the Trump Administration and Congress on how best to respond.

The flight of refugees came following attacks on security outposts in Burma’s Rakhine State, reportedly by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), an armed organization claiming it is defending the rights of the region’s predominately Muslim Rohingya minority, and an allegedly excessive military response by Burma’s military. Some of the...

The North Korean Nuclear Challenge: Military Options and Issues for Congress

North Korea’s apparently successful July 2017 tests of its intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities, along with the possibility that North Korea (DPRK) may have successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead, have led analysts and policymakers to conclude that the window for preventing the DPRK from acquiring a nuclear missile capable of reaching the United States is closing. These events appear to have fundamentally altered U.S. perceptions of the threat the Kim Jong-un regime poses to the continental United States and the international community, and escalated the standoff on the...

El Salvador: Background and U.S. Relations

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

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

Clearing the Air on the Debt Limit

The statutory debt limit, currently suspended through December 8, 2017, provides Congress a means of controlling federal borrowing. As the date when that suspension will lapse approaches, discussions about the role of the debt limit among the media, researchers, and Members of Congress promise to become more frequent. In recent discussions, misleading or less than fully accurate claims have, at times, surfaced. This report provides clarifications on five common debt limit contentions.

Some of those points in need of clarification relate to the congressional power of the purse, which stems...

Ukraine: Background and U.S. Policy

In February 2014, protests over the Ukrainian government’s decision to postpone concluding an association agreement that would lead to closer relations with the European Union (EU) culminated in violence and the collapse of then-President Viktor Yanukovych’s government. The government that followed pledged to embrace pro-Western reforms, and an energized civil society supported its efforts. Within weeks, the new government was forced to confront Russian armed interventions in southern and eastern Ukraine. These culminated in Russia’s occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea region in March 2014 and...

Options to Cease Implementing the Iran Nuclear Agreement

In an October 13, 2017, announcement of a new U.S. strategy on Iran, President Donald Trump asserted that the 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement with Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), does not address the full range of potential threats posed by Iran, or permanently ensure that Iran cannot develop a nuclear weapon. Trump asserted that, by supporting terrorist groups in the Middle East region and furthering its ballistic missile program, “Iran is not living up to the spirit of the deal.” The President also announced that he would not certify to Congress under the Iran...

Presidential Appointments to Full-Time Positions in Executive Departments During the 114th Congress

The President makes appointments to positions within the federal government, either using the authorities granted by law to the President alone, or with the advice and consent of the Senate. There are some 350 full-time leadership positions in the 15 executive departments for which the Senate provides advice and consent. This report identifies all nominations submitted to the Senate during the 114th Congress for full-time positions in these 15 executive departments.

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

Taiwan: Issues for Congress

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

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

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

Iran Nuclear Agreement

On July 14, 2015, Iran and the six powers that negotiated with Iran about its nuclear program since 2006 (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, and Germany—collectively known as the P5+1) finalized a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The JCPOA required constraints that seek to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program can be used for purely peaceful purposes in exchange for a broad lifting of U.S., European Union (EU), and United Nations (U.N.) sanctions on Iran. The agreement replaced a Joint Plan of Action (JPA) interim nuclear accord in effect from 2014 to...

Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity in the Armed Services: Background and Issues for Congress

Under Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, Congress has the authority to raise and support armies; provide and maintain a navy; and provide for organizing, disciplining, and regulating them. Congress has used this authority to establish criteria and standards that must be met for individuals to be recruited into the military, to advance through promotion, and to be separated or retired from military service. Throughout the history of the armed services, Congress has established some of these criteria based on demographic characteristics such as race, sex, and sexual orientation....

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

The overall U.S. role in the world since the end of World War II in 1945 (i.e., over the past 70 years) is generally described as one of global leadership and significant engagement in international affairs. A key aim of that role has been to promote and defend the open international order that the United States, with the support of its allies, created in the years after World War II. In addition to promoting and defending the open international order, the overall U.S. role is generally described as having been one of promoting freedom, democracy, and human rights, while criticizing and...

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

Introduction

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

Bangladesh and Bangladesh-U.S. Relations

Bangladesh (the former East Pakistan) is a Muslim-majority nation in South Asia, bordering India, Burma, and the Bay of Bengal. It is the world’s eighth most populous country with nearly 160 million people living in a land area about the size of Iowa. It is an economically poor nation, and it suffers from high levels of corruption. In recent years, its democratic system has faced an array of challenges, including political violence, weak governance, poverty, demographic and environmental strains, and Islamist militancy. The United States has a long-standing and supportive relationship with...

The Palestinians: Background and U.S. Relations

This report covers current issues in U.S.-Palestinian relations. It also contains an overview of Palestinian society and politics, along with descriptions of key Palestinian individuals and groups —chiefly the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the Palestinian Authority (PA), Fatah, Hamas (a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization), and the Palestinian refugee population. The “Palestinian question” is important not only to Palestinians, Israelis, and their Arab state neighbors, but to many countries and nonstate actors in the region and around the world—including the United...

Arms Sales in the Middle East: Trends and Analytical Perspectives for U.S. Policy

This report analyzes state-to-state arms sales in the Middle East with a particular focus on U.S. transfers, as authorized and reviewed by Congress. The information in this report, including sales data, is drawn from a number of official and unofficial open sources.

Arms sales are an important tool that states can use to exercise their influence. The Middle East has long been a key driver of the global trade in weapons, disproportionately so when accounting for population. Some states in this heavily-militarized and contested region are major arms purchasers, empowered by partnerships with...

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

Many wars or conflicts in U.S. history have federally designated “periods of war,” dates marking their beginning and ending. These dates are important for qualification for certain veterans’ pension or disability benefits. Confusion can occur because beginning and ending dates for “periods of war” in many nonofficial sources are often different from those given in treaties and other official sources of information, and armistice dates can be confused with termination dates. This report lists the beginning and ending dates for “periods of war” found in Title 38 of the Code of Federal...

The Army’s Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Program

What Is WIN-T? The WIN-T program is the Army’s high-speed, high-capacity tactical communications network to distribute classified and unclassified information through all echelons of Army command by means of voice, data, and real-time video. WIN-T was being developed and fielded in three increments. WIN-T Increment 1 WIN-T Increment 1 is a stationary network for command posts and units at battalion-level and above. It provides a full range of at-the-halt data, voice, and video communications. The Army began fielding WIN-T Increment 1 in 2004 and completed fielding in 2012. WIN-T Increment...

GI Bills Enacted Prior to 2008 and Related Veterans’ Educational Assistance Programs: A Primer

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), previously named the Veterans Administration, has been providing veterans educational assistance (GI Bill®) benefits since 1944. The benefits have been intended, at various times, to compensate for compulsory service, encourage voluntary service, avoid unemployment, provide equitable benefits to all who served, and promote military retention. In general, the benefits provide grant aid to eligible individuals enrolled in approved educational and training programs. Since three of the GI Bills have overlapping eligibility requirements and the...

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

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

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

Tanzania: Current Issues and U.S. Policy

Tanzania is an East African country comprising a union of Tanganyika, the mainland territory, and the semiautonomous Zanzibar archipelago. The United States has long considered Tanzania a partner in economic development and, increasingly, in regional security efforts. With nearly 54 million people, Tanzania is one of the largest countries in Africa by population and is endowed with substantial natural resource wealth and agricultural potential. Over the past decade, it has experienced robust economic growth based largely on favorably high gold prices and tourism; growth has averaged nearly...

PILT (Payments in Lieu of Taxes): Somewhat Simplified

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

Department of Homeland Security Appropriations: FY2017

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

The Obama Administration requested $40.62 billion...

Small Business Size Standards: A Historical Analysis of Contemporary Issues

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

Japan-U.S. Relations: Issues for Congress

Japan is a significant partner of the United States in a number of foreign policy areas, particularly in security concerns, which range from hedging against Chinese military modernization to countering threats from North Korea. The alliance facilitates the forward deployment of about 50,000 U.S. troops and other U.S. military assets based in Japan. While core elements of the alliance may endure, the overall relationship under President Donald Trump will likely differ somewhat from relations under the Obama Administration. On January 30, 2017, the United States formally withdrew as a...

Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) Mobility, Reconnaissance, and Firepower Programs

Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs) constitute the Army’s “light” ground forces and are an important part of the nation’s ability to project forces overseas. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as current thinking by Army leadership as to where and how future conflicts would be fought, suggest IBCTs are limited operationally by their lack of assigned transport and reconnaissance vehicles as well as firepower against hardened targets and armored vehicles.

There are three types of IBCTs: Light, Airborne, and Air Assault. Light IBCTs are primarily foot-mobile forces. Light IBCTs can...

Small Business Management and Technical Assistance Training Programs

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

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

Confederate Symbols: Relation to Federal Lands and Programs

In the wake of violent incidents in which symbols of the Civil War Confederacy have played a role, Congress is considering the relationship of Confederate symbols to federal lands and programs. A number of federal agencies administer assets or fund activities in which Confederate memorials and references to Confederate history are present. This report focuses on three federal entities—the National Park Service (NPS), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Department of Defense (DOD)—that manage multiple sites or programs involving Confederate symbols. The report discusses the...

Energy and Water Development: FY2018 Appropriations

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

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

Iran’s Nuclear Program: Tehran’s Compliance with International Obligations

Several U.N. Security Council resolutions required Iran to cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA’s) investigation of its nuclear activities, suspend its uranium enrichment program, suspend its construction of a heavy-water reactor and related projects, and ratify the Additional Protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement. However, Tehran has implemented various restrictions on, and provided the IAEA with additional information about, its uranium enrichment program and heavy-water reactor program pursuant to the July 2015 Joint Cooperative Plan of Action (JCPOA),...

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

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

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

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

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

Administration Action on Special Positions

It...

Redeploying U.S. Nuclear Weapons to South Korea: Background and Implications in Brief

Recent advances in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs have led to discussions, both within South Korea and, reportedly, between the United States and South Korean officials, about the possible redeployment of U.S. nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula. The United States deployed nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula between 1958 and 1991. Although it removed the weapons as a part of a post-Cold War change in its nuclear posture, the United States remains committed to defending South Korea under the 1953 Mutual Defense Treaty and to employing nuclear weapons, if necessary, in...

The Post-9/11 Veterans’ Educational Assistance Act of 2008 (Post-9/11 GI Bill): A Primer

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

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...

Wildfires: CRS Experts

The following table provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to wildfires. Policy areas identified include federal wildfire policy; federal forest management; federal firefighting assistance; federal emergency management policy; federal preparedness system and response plan; hazard mitigation; armed forces and national guard assistance; supplemental disaster funding; and disaster insurance.

The following table provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to wildfires. Policy areas identified...

U.S. Air Force Pilot Shortage

In his opening comments to the 2017 U.S. Air Force Posture Hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Chairman John McCain stated, “The force is short 1,500 pilots.... This is a full-blown crisis, and if left unresolved, it will call into question the Air Force’s ability to accomplish its mission.” According to current Air Force statistics, the service is 1,947 pilots short of its authorized strength. The shortage is most acute among fighter pilots: the Air Force predicts it will be 1,055 fighter pilots short of 3,781 authorized by the end of FY2017, following a deficiency of 873...

Flooding Events: CRS Experts

The following table provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to flooding events 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 relief and...

U.S.-UK Free Trade Agreement: Prospects and Issues for Congress

Prospects for a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) between the United States and the United Kingdom (UK) are of increasing interest for both sides. In a national referendum held on June 23, 2016, a majority of British voters supported the UK exiting the European Union (EU), a process known as “Brexit.” The Brexit referendum has prompted calls from some Members of Congress and the Trump Administration to launch U.S.-UK FTA negotiations, though other Members have moderated their support with calls to ensure that such negotiations do not constrain the promotion of broader transatlantic...

Defense Authorization and Appropriations Bills: FY1961-FY2017

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

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

Small Business: Access to Capital and Job Creation

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

Congressional Action on the FY2013 Disaster Supplemental

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

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

Natural Disasters and Hazards: CRS Experts

The following table provides access to 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...

Hurricane Events: CRS Experts

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

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors: Status and Issues

Small modular reactors (SMRs) are nuclear reactors that are sized to be suitable for modular construction. SMRs are generally defined as having electric generating capacity of 300 megawatts (MWe) or less, in contrast to existing nuclear power reactors, which typically exceed 1,000 MWe. A wide variety of nuclear technologies could be used in SMRs, in addition to the conventional light water reactor (LWR) technology in existing U.S. commercial nuclear plants. Many SMR designs are still in development stages, and the projected timelines for initial deployment of SMRs generally range from the...

SBA Surety Bond Guarantee Program

The Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) Surety Bond Guarantee Program is designed to increase small businesses’ access to federal, state, and local government contracting, as well as private-sector contracts, by guaranteeing bid, performance, and payment bonds for small businesses that cannot obtain surety bonds through regular commercial channels. The program guarantees individual contracts of up to $6.5 million, and up to $10 million if a federal contracting officer certifies that such a guarantee is necessary. The SBA’s guarantee currently ranges from 80% to 90% of the surety’s loss...

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

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

State, Foreign Operations Appropriations: A Guide to Component Accounts

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

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

Select Acquisition Reform Provisions in the House and Senate Versions of the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act

Congress continues to focus on reforming defense acquisition. Both chambers’ versions of the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act include a large number of provisions dealing with defense acquisition, particularly in each bill’s Title VIII, Acquisition Policy, Acquisition Management, and Related Matters. These provisions build on the large number of acquisition provisions enacted in the last two years.

The House bill—passed by the House on July 14, 2017—includes 48 provisions, 15 of which were first introduced in a stand-alone acquisition reform bill by Chairman of the House Armed...

Russia: Background and U.S. Policy

Over the last five years, Congress and the executive branch have closely monitored and responded to new developments in Russian policy. These developments include the following: increasingly authoritarian governance since Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidential post in 2012; Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and support of separatists in eastern Ukraine; violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty; Moscow’s intervention in Syria in support of Bashar al Asad’s government; increased military activity in Europe; and cyber-related influence...

DOD Plan to Split Acquisition Duties

On August 2, 2017, DOD provided Congress its plan for breaking the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s acquisition office—the Under Secretary of Defense (USD) for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L)—into two separate organizations, as required by the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Section 901. The NDAA conference report laid out the concerns that drove the split:

“Three broad priorities framed the conference discussions: (1) elevate the mission of advancing technology and innovation within the Department; (2) foster distinct technology and acquisition cultures...

Cuba Sanctions: Legislative Restrictions Limiting the Normalization of Relations

U.S. economic sanctions on Cuba date back to the early 1960s when the Cuban government under Fidel Castro began to build a repressive communist dictatorship and aligned with the Soviet Union. The trade embargo was first imposed in 1962 under the authority of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Trading with the Enemy Act and soon broadened to include a prohibition on most financial transactions with Cuba. In 1963, the Department of the Treasury issued the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR); they remain the main body of embargo regulations today, and have been amended many times...

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

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

Public Health and Emergency Management: CRS Experts

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

In Brief: Highlights of the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act

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

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

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

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

Burundi’s Political Crisis: In Brief

This report provides context on the political crisis in Burundi, which is rooted in President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term in 2015, in violation of a landmark peace accord. The crisis has spurred a low-intensity conflict and serious human rights violations, sparking a refugee influx into neighboring states and undermining Burundi’s hard-won stability following a civil war in the 1990s. Coinciding with a parallel stand-off over term limits in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the situation in Burundi has implications for longstanding U.S. efforts to...

Global Engagement Center: Background and Issues

The State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) is tasked with countering foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation targeting the United States and U.S. interests. A number of recent reports have stated that the GEC has not been given access to authorized funds for FY2017, leading to speculation and concern in some quarters about its continued role and operations.

Counterterrorism Communications in the State Department

The GEC is the latest iteration of State Department efforts to coordinate interagency communications countering the messaging and influence of...

U.S.-South Korea Relations

Overview

South Korea (officially the Republic of Korea or ROK) is one of the United States’ most important strategic and economic partners in Asia. Since the early 1950s, the U.S.-ROK Mutual Defense Treaty commits the United States to help South Korea defend itself. Approximately 28,500 U.S. troops are based in the ROK, which is included under the U.S. “nuclear umbrella.” Washington and Seoul cooperate in addressing the challenges posed by North Korea. The two countries’ economies are joined by the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA). South Korea is the United States’...

In Brief: Highlights of FY2018 Defense Appropriations Actions

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

As reported by the House...

Arms Sales: Congressional Review Process

This report reviews the process and procedures that currently apply to congressional consideration of foreign arms sales proposed by the President. This includes consideration of proposals to sell major defense equipment, defense articles and services, or the retransfer to third-party states of such military items. Under Section 36(b) of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), Congress must be formally notified 30 calendar days before the Administration can take the final steps to conclude a government-to-government foreign military sale of major defense equipment valued at $14 million or...

The Current State of Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform and Management

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has reported that the federal government budgets more than $80 billion each year on information technology (IT) investments and in FY2017, GAO estimates that this investment will increase to more than $89 billion. Historically, the projects supported by these investments have often incurred “multi-million dollar cost overruns and years-long schedule delays.” In addition, GAO has reported that these projects may contribute little to mission-related outcomes and, in some cases, may fail altogether. These undesirable results, according to GAO, “can...

Human Rights in China and U.S. Policy: Issues for the 115th Congress

This report examines human rights conditions in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and policy options for Congress. The PRC government under the leadership of Chinese Communist Party General Secretary and State President Xi Jinping has implemented a clampdown on political dissent, civil society, human rights activists and lawyers, and the religious, cultural, and linguistic practices of Tibetans and Uyghurs. Other major human rights violations in China include the practice of incommunicado detention, torture of persons in custody, censorship of the Internet, and restrictions on the...

History of the ESEA Title I-A Formulas

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

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

Overview of U.S. Sanctions Regimes on Russia

Background

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

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

The Nuclear Ban Treaty: An Overview

Since the founding of the United Nations in 1945, the First Committee of the UN General Assembly (UN GA) has called for nuclear disarmament. UNGA Resolution A/71/258 (2016) called on UN member states to negotiate in 2017 a legally binding Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, also known as the nuclear “ban treaty.” Negotiations were held in New York, February 27-March 31, and June 15-July 7. At the end of the conference, 122 countries voted to approve the treaty. Singapore abstained, and the Netherlands voted against it, citing conflicts between the treaty and the Netherland’s...

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

Conventional prompt global strike (CPGS) weapons would allow the United States to strike targets anywhere on Earth in as little as an hour. This capability may bolster U.S. efforts to deter and defeat adversaries by allowing the United States to attack high-value targets or “fleeting targets” at the start of or during a conflict. Congress has generally supported the PGS mission, but it has restricted funding and suggested some changes in funding for specific programs.

CPGS weapons would not substitute for nuclear weapons, but would supplement U.S. conventional capabilities. They would...

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

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

Commemorative Days, Weeks, and Months: Background and Current Practice

Typically, each Congress, hundreds of legislative measures are introduced to recognize, support, honor, or acknowledge certain days, weeks, and months. Some scholars have observed that commemorative legislation has universal and patriotic appeal and also provides an opportunity to connect directly with constituents, which can help fulfill representational responsibilities to Members’ districts or states.

Often used to commemorate an individual, group, or event, these measures can be divided into three categories: (1) federal holidays; (2) patriotic and national observances; and (3)...

Defense: FY2017 Budget Request, Authorization, and Appropriations

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

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

Energy and Water Development: FY2017 Appropriations

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

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

DOD Security Cooperation: Assessment, Monitoring, and Evaluation

Introduction

As part of recent efforts to modify existing security cooperation authorities, the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (P.L. 114-328) enacted several new provisions that modify the budgeting, execution, administration, and evaluation of Department of Defense (DOD) security cooperation programs and activities.

To date, the Department of Defense (DOD) has spent billions of dollars on efforts to train, equip, and otherwise support foreign military and security forces. In the 114th Congress, both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees examined various aspects...

India-U.S. Relations: Issues for Congress

India will soon be the world’s most populous country, home to about one of every six people. Many factors combine to infuse India’s government and people with “great power” aspirations: the Asian giant’s rich civilization and history, expanding strategic horizons, energetic global and international engagement, critical geography (with more than 9,000 total miles of land borders, many of them disputed) astride vital sea and energy lanes, major economy (at times the world’s fastest growing) with a rising middle class and an attendant boost in defense and power projection capabilities...

Argentina: Background and U.S. Relations

Argentina, a South American country with a population of almost 44 million, has had a vibrant democratic tradition since its military relinquished power in 1983. Current President Mauricio Macri—the leader of the center-right Republican Proposal and the candidate of the Let’s Change coalition representing center-right and center-left parties—won the 2015 presidential race. He succeeded two-term President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, from the center-left faction of the Peronist party known as the Front for Victory, who in turn had succeeded her husband, Néstor Kirchner, in 2007. Macri’s...

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

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

Defining Readiness: Background and Issues for Congress

Many defense observers and government officials, including some Members of Congress, are concerned that the U.S. military faces a readiness crisis. The Department of Defense has used readiness as a central justification for its FY2017 and FY2018 funding requests. Yet what makes the U.S. military ready is debated.

This report explains how differing uses of the term readiness cloud the debate on whether a readiness crisis exists and, if so, what funding effort would best address it.

CRS has identified two principal uses of the term readiness. One, readiness is used in a broad sense to...

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

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

FY2018 Defense Budget Request: The Basics

The President’s FY2018 budget request includes $677.1 billion for national defense (budget function 050), of which $646.9 billon is allocated for the DOD (budget subfunction 051). The funding request for national defense discretionary spending ($602.9 billion) is $54 billion—or 9%—above the FY2018 limit imposed on discretionary defense spending by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA/P.L. 112-25).

Of the DOD total, $574.5 billion covers the base, discretionary spending. An additional $64.6 billion of the DOD total is to support Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). These operations include...

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

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

Air Force B-21 Raider Long-Range Strike Bomber

The Department of Defense is developing a new long-range bomber aircraft, the B-21 Raider (previously known as LRS-B), and proposes to acquire at least 100 of them. B-21s would initially replace aging B-1 and B-52 bombers, and would possibly replace B-2s in the future.

B-21 development was highly classified until the summer of 2015, when the Air Force revealed initial details of the aircraft and the program. Although technical specifications and other data remain out of public view, many details of the budget, acquisition strategy, procurement quantities, and other aspects of the B-21...

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.)...

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2017

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

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

In dollars, the largest increases in...

The Crime Victims Fund: Federal Support for Victims of Crime

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

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

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

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

The Islamic State and U.S. Policy

The Islamic State (IS, aka the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL/ISIS, or the Arabic acronym Da’esh) is a transnational Sunni Islamist insurgent and terrorist group that seized large areas of Iraq and Syria, has affiliates in several other countries, has attracted a network of global supporters, and disrupts international security with its campaigns of violence and terrorism. A U.S.-led coalition military campaign against the Islamic State organization in Iraq and Syria has evolved since 2014, reducing the area controlled by the group considerably and eliminating thousands of its...

Science and Technology Issues in the 115th Congress

Science and technology (S&T) have a pervasive influence over a wide range of issues confronting the nation. Public and private research and development spur scientific and technological advancement. Such advances can drive economic growth, help address national priorities, and improve health and quality of life. The constantly changing nature and ubiquity of science and technology frequently create public policy issues of congressional interest.

The federal government supports scientific and technological advancement directly by funding and performing research and development and...

Additional Troops for Afghanistan? Considerations for Congress

The Trump Administration is reportedly considering proposals to deploy additional ground forces to Afghanistan and somewhat broaden their mission. These forces would likely be part of the Resolute Support Mission (RSM), the ongoing NATO mission to train and support Afghan security forces. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 9, 2017, General John Nicholson, Commander U.S. Forces–Afghanistan, noted based on a mission review that he had adequate forces for the U.S. counterterrorism mission but there was “a shortfall of a few thousand troops” for RSM if a...

The Protection of Classified Information: The Legal Framework

This report provides an overview of the relationship between executive and legislative authority over national security information. It summarizes the current laws that form the legal framework protecting classified information, including current executive orders and some agency regulations pertaining to the handling of unauthorized disclosures of classified information by government officers and employees. The report also summarizes criminal laws that pertain specifically to the unauthorized disclosure of classified information, as well as civil and administrative penalties. Finally, the...

Buying American: Protecting U.S. Manufacturing Through the Berry and Kissell Amendments

The Berry and Kissell Amendments are two separate but closely related laws requiring that certain goods purchased by national security agencies be produced in the United States.

The Berry Amendment (10 U.S.C. §2533a) is the popular name for a law requiring textiles, clothing, food, and hand or measuring tools purchased by the Department of Defense (DOD) to be grown, reprocessed, reused, or produced wholly in the United States. Congress over the decades has varied the list of products covered by the law. Under the Kissell Amendment (6 U.S.C. §453b), textile, apparel, and footwear products...

Fact Sheet: FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) DOD Reform Proposals

This fact sheet offers Members a side-by-side comparison of key Department of Defense (DOD) reform proposals that were considered during the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act debates, along with proposals that were eventually enacted. As such, it includes key provisions incorporated in H.R. 4909, the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) reported by the House Armed Services Committee on May 4, 2016 (H.Rept. 114-537); S. 2943, the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act reported by the Senate Armed Services Committee on May 18, 2016 (S.Rept. 114-255); and S. 2943, the...

A Little Old, a Little New: The Cybersecurity Executive Order

The President signed Executive Order 13800 (EO) on May 11, 2017, titled “Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure.” Combined with the President’s budget blueprint and recent EO establishing the American Technology Council, these documents lay out the Administration’s policy agenda concerning national cybersecurity—which to date focuses on improving federal information technology (IT) systems. The proposals contained in the EO echo proposals from the previous Administration and recent legislative activity.

Federal Network Cybersecurity

The new EO...

Presidential Transitions: Issues Involving Outgoing and Incoming Administrations

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

Selected Homeland Security Issues in the 115th Congress

In 2001, in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, “homeland security” went from being a concept discussed among a relatively small cadre of policymakers and strategic thinkers to a broadly discussed issue among policymakers, including those in Congress. Debates over how to implement coordinated homeland security policy led to the passage of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-296) and the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Evolution of America’s response to terrorist threats has continued under the leadership of different Administrations,...

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

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

U.S. Agent Orange/Dioxin Assistance to Vietnam

U.S. assistance to Vietnam for the environmental and health damage attributed to a dioxin contained in Agent Orange and other herbicides sprayed over much of the southern portion of the country during the Vietnam War remains a major bilateral issue. Between fiscal years (FY) 2007 and 2017, Congress appropriated over $192 million to address these two issues.

Most of the appropriated funds have been used by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for the environmental cleanup of Danang airport, one of the major airbases used for storing and spraying the herbicides between 1961...

Terrorism in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is home to more than 625 million people and around 15% of the world’s Muslim population. The region has faced the threat of terrorism for decades, but threats in Southeast Asia have never been considered as great as threats in some other regions. However, the rise of the Islamic State poses new, heightened challenges for Southeast Asian governments and for U.S. policy towards the region.

Southeast Asia has numerous dynamic economies and three Muslim-majority states, including the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, Indonesia, which also is the world’s third largest...

The Meaning of “Made in U.S.A.”

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

Presidential Appointee Positions Requiring Senate Confirmation and Committees Handling Nominations

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

France’s 2017 Presidential Election: In Brief

French voters will elect France’s next president in a runoff election scheduled for May 7, 2017. They will choose between the top two finishers of the presidential election’s first round, held on April 23—Emmanuel Macron of the centrist En Marche! (Moving Forward) political movement and Marine Le Pen of the far-right, nationalist Front National (National Front).

The presidential campaign has exposed apparent wide-scale public dissatisfaction both with the presidency of outgoing President François Hollande and, more broadly, with a French political establishment perceived by many as...

Advanced Gene Editing: CRISPR-Cas9

Scientists have long sought the ability to control and modify DNA—the code of life. A new gene editing technology known as CRISPR-Cas9 offers the potential for substantial improvement over previous technologies in that it is simple to use and inexpensive and has a relatively high degree of precision and efficiency. These characteristics have led many in the scientific and business communities to assert that CRISPR-Cas9 will lead to groundbreaking advances in many fields, including agriculture, energy, ecosystem conservation, and the investigation, prevention, and treatment of...

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 National Security Council: Background and Issues for Congress

On April 4, 2017, the Trump Administration issued National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM)-4: Organization of the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council, and Subcommittees. NSPM-4 details how the executive branch intends to manage and coordinate national and homeland security issues among relevant departments and agencies. This NSPM augments an earlier articulation from the Trump Administration regarding the management of national security matters, as expressed in NSPM-2, which was issued on January 28, 2017.

This report offers a brief historical overview of the...

Department of Defense Contractor and Troop Levels in Iraq and Afghanistan: 2007-2017

Throughout its history, the Department of Defense (DOD) has relied on contractors to support a wide range of military operations. Operations over the last thirty years have highlighted the critical role that contractors play in supporting U.S. troops—both in terms of the number of contractors and the type of work being performed. During recent U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, contractors often accounted for 50% or more of the total DOD presence in-country.

Terms for metadata: Iraq, Afghanistan, contractors, troop levels, Overseas Contingency Operations, OCO, private...

Iran’s Nuclear Program: Status

Iran’s nuclear program began during the 1950s. The United States has expressed concern since the mid-1970s that Tehran might develop nuclear weapons. Iran’s construction of gas centrifuge uranium enrichment facilities is currently the main source of proliferation concern. Gas centrifuges can produce both low-enriched uranium (LEU), which can be used in nuclear power reactors, and weapons-grade highly enriched uranium (HEU), which is one of the two types of fissile material used in nuclear weapons.

The United States has assessed that Tehran has technological and industrial capacity to...

The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA): Workers’ Compensation for Federal Employees

The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) is the workers’ compensation program for federal employees. Like all workers’ compensation programs, FECA pays disability, survivors, and medical benefits, without fault, to employees who are injured or become ill in the course of their federal employment and the survivors of employees killed on the job. The FECA program is administered by the Department of Labor (DOL) and the costs of benefits are paid by each employee’s host agency. U.S. Postal Service (USPS) employees currently comprise the largest group of FECA beneficiaries and are...

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

Following lengthy congressional deliberations on deficit reduction, the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA/P.L. 112-25) was enacted on August 2, 2011. The BCA contained several measures intended to reduce the budget deficit by $2.1 trillion over the period FY2012-FY2021. The BCA established limits on the level of discretionary spending in order to achieve projected savings of approximately $1.0 trillion over the period. In addition, the BCA required approximately $1.1 trillion in savings to be generated from a plan developed by the congressionally established, bipartisan, Joint Committee on...

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...

Gun Control, Veterans Benefits, and Mental Incompetency Determinations

On March 16, 2017, the House of Representatives passed the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act (H.R. 1181) by a roll call vote (240-175). Under H.R. 1181, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) would be prohibited from determining any beneficiary for whom a fiduciary is appointed, because he or she “lacks the capacity to contract or handle his or her own affairs,” as “adjudicated as a mental defective” for the purposes of gun control, unless a magistrate or judicial authority also rules that the beneficiary is a danger to himself or herself or others.

Pursuant to the Brady Handgun...

Military Pay: Key Questions and Answers

From the earliest days of the republic, the federal government has compensated members of the armed forces for their services. While the original pay structure was fairly simple, over time a more complex system of compensation has evolved. The current military compensation system includes cash payments such as basic pay, special and incentive pays, and various allowances. Servicemembers also receive noncash benefits such as health care and access to commissaries and recreational facilities, and may eventually qualify for deferred compensation in the form of retired pay and other retirement...

The Trump Administration’s March 2017 Defense Budget Proposals: Frequently Asked Questions

On March 16, 2017, the Trump Administration released two defense budget proposals—a proposal for national defense (budget function 050) discretionary spending for fiscal year (FY) 2018 as part of the Administration’s Budget Blueprint for federal spending, and a detailed request for additional FY0217 funding for Department of Defense (DOD) military activities.

For FY2017, the Administration is seeking $30 billion for DOD military activities (budget subfunction 051) in addition to the amounts requested by the Obama Administration. Of this amount, $24.9 billion is slated for base budget...

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

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

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

The War Powers Resolution: Concepts and Practice

This report discusses and assesses the War Powers Resolution and its application since enactment in 1973, providing detailed background on various cases in which it was used, as well as cases in which issues of its applicability were raised. It will be revised biannually.

In the post-Cold War world, Presidents have continued to commit U.S. Armed Forces into potential hostilities, sometimes without a specific authorization from Congress. Thus the War Powers Resolution and its purposes continue to be a potential subject of controversy. On June 7, 1995, the House defeated, by a vote of...

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...

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

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

U.S. World War I (1917-1918) Centennial

Background and Congressional Action

April 6, 2017, marks the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Declaration of War resolution against Germany and subsequent entry in “The Great War” (World War I). The United States remained neutral as war raged in Europe from summer 1914 to spring 1917. However, matters changed when Germany broke its pledge to limit submarine warfare in January 1917.

In response to the breaking of the Sussex pledge, the United States severed diplomatic relations with Germany. On January 16, 1917, British cryptographers deciphered a telegram from German Foreign Minister Arthur...

Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity

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

Criminal Prohibitions on Leaks and Other Disclosures of Classified Defense Information

Recent unauthorized disclosures of information concerning activities in the White House, and the publication of large quantities of classified information by WikiLeaks and other organizations and news outlets, have prompted congressional interest in criminal prohibitions on disclosure of classified information. While some have described recent leaks of classified information as “illegal” and “criminal,” there is no single statute that criminalizes any unauthorized disclosure of classified information. Instead, the legal framework is based on a complex and often overlapping set of statutes...

Federal Land Ownership: Overview and Data

The federal government owns roughly 640 million acres, about 28% of the 2.27 billion acres of land in the United States. Four major federal land management agencies administer 610.1 million acres of this land (as of September 30, 2015). They are the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and National Park Service (NPS) in the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Forest Service (FS) in the Department of Agriculture. In addition, the Department of Defense (excluding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) administers 11.4 million acres in the United States (as of...

GI Bill Legislation Enacted in the 114th Congress

The GI Bills® provide financial assistance to individuals, whose eligibility is based on their or a family member’s experience in the uniformed services, while they are enrolled in approved programs of education, including training programs. In FY2017, the GI Bills are estimated to provide over $14 billion in benefits to over 1 million veterans and servicemembers and their dependents. The largest program, the Post-9/11 GI Bill, is estimated to account for approximately 93% of the benefits and 80% of the participants. This report provides a description of and background information on...

Anti-Money Laundering: An Overview for Congress

Anti-money laundering (AML) refers to efforts to prevent criminal exploitation of financial systems to conceal the location, ownership, source, nature, or control of illicit proceeds. Despite the existence of long-standing domestic regulatory and enforcement mechanisms, as well as international commitments and guidance on best practices, policymakers remain challenged to identify and address policy gaps and new laundering methods that criminals exploit. According to United Nations estimates recognized by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, criminals in the United States generate some $300...

Federally Funded Academic Research Requirements: Background and Issues in Brief

For decades, the federal government and academic research institutions have been partners in supporting American innovation, competitiveness, and economic growth. The federal government is the largest source of academic research and development (R&D) funding in the United States, providing funds through more than two dozen federal agencies, with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) providing the largest portions of federal R&D funding to U.S. colleges and universities.

As part of oversight of federal funding for academic research, Congress and...

The European Union: Current Challenges and Future Prospects

The European Union (EU) is a unique partnership in which member states have pooled sovereignty in certain policy areas and harmonized laws on a wide range of economic and political issues. The EU is the latest stage in a process of European integration begun after World War II, initially by six Western European countries, to promote peace, security, and economic development. The EU currently consists of 28 member states, including the formerly communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

EU members share a customs union; a single market in which goods, services, people, and capital...

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...

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

War and humanitarian suffering in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have long preoccupied U.S. policymakers, including many Members of Congress. Since the 1990s, cyclical conflicts in eastern DRC have caused regional instability and impeded investment, becoming the focus of international attention toward the country. Since 2015, attention has turned toward DRC’s political trajectory as President Joseph Kabila’s efforts to remain in office past the end of his second elected term in 2016 (his last, under the constitution) have sparked unrest. Unable for now to amend constitutional term...

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

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

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

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

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

Current Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Issues

Little detail is currently available about the Trump Administration’s agenda for missile defense and whether current policy or program direction might change. The Administration has thus far said only that it will “develop a state-of-the-art missile defense system to protect against missile-based system attacks from states like Iran and North Korea.” A detailed defense budget will not be presented until later this spring, so there is uncertainty as to what precisely the BMD budget and program will look like. Ongoing BMD issues of interest to Congress are summarized below.

Legislative...

Congressional Gold Medals, 1776-2016

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

Withdrawal from International Agreements: Legal Framework, the Paris Agreement, and the Iran Nuclear Agreement

The legal procedure through which the United States withdraws from treaties and other international agreements has been the subject of long-standing debate between the legislative and executive branches. Recently, questions concerning the role of Congress in the withdrawal process have arisen in response to statements made by President Donald J. Trump that he may consider withdrawing the United States from certain high-profile international commitments. This report outlines the legal framework for withdrawal from international agreements under domestic and international law, and it...

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): Proposed Legislation in the 114th Congress

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA; P.L. 103-3, as amended) entitles eligible employees to unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical needs, with continuation of group health plan benefits.

Through the act, Congress sought to strike a balance between workplace responsibilities and workers’ growing need to take leave for significant family and medical events. Subsequently, Congress added new categories of leave that allow eligible employees to address certain military exigencies stemming from the deployment of a close family member to a foreign country and to...

Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs)

The executive order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” issued on January 27, 2017, includes provisions to generally suspend the entry into the United States of immigrant and nonimmigrant visa holders from seven countries. These provisions have raised questions about the Iraqi and Afghan special immigrant visa (SIV) programs, which enable certain individuals who have worked for the U.S. government in Iraq or Afghanistan to become lawful permanent residents (LPRs) of the United States. Iraq is among the seven countries referenced in the executive...

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

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

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

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

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

Overseas Contingency Operations Funding: Background and Status

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

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

The Pacific Islands: Policy Issues

The Pacific Islands region, also known as the South Pacific or Southwest Pacific, presents

Congress with a diverse array of policy issues. It is a strategically important region with which the United States shares many interests with Australia and New Zealand. The region has attracted growing diplomatic and economic engagement from China, a potential competitor to the influence of the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. Congress plays key roles in approving and overseeing the administration of the Compacts of Free Association that govern U.S. relations with the Marshall Islands,...

Trump Administration Changes to the National Security Council: Frequently Asked Questions

On January 28, 2017, the Trump Administration issued National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM) 2: Organization of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council. The memorandum details how the executive branch intends to manage and coordinate national and homeland security issues among relevant departments and agencies. In keeping with the practices of prior administrations, the White House issued the memorandum early in its tenure. Since the memorandum was signed, some media reports have incorrectly characterized the manner in which the Trump administration appears...

The 2015 National Security Strategy: Authorities, Changes, Issues for Congress

The Obama Administration released a new National Security Strategy (NSS) on February 6, 2015. It was the second NSS document to be published by the Administration; the first was published in May 2010. The 2015 document states that its purpose is to “set out the principles and priorities to guide the use of American power and influence in the world.” The NSS is a congressionally mandated document, originating in the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-433, §603/50 U.S.C §3043).

The 2015 NSS emphasizes the role of U.S. leadership; the words “lead,”...

Executive Authority to Exclude Aliens: In Brief

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides that individual aliens outside the United States are “inadmissible”—or barred from admission to the country—on health, criminal, security, and other grounds set forth in the INA. However, the INA also grants the Executive several broader authorities that could be used to exclude certain individual aliens or classes of aliens for reasons that are not specifically prescribed in the INA.

Section 212(f) of the INA is arguably the broadest and best known of these authorities. It provides, in relevant part, that

Whenever the President finds...

Venezuela: Issues for Congress, 2013-2016

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

FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Issues

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

The Selective Service System and Draft Registration: Issues for Congress

The Military Selective Service Act (MSSA), first enacted as the Selective Service Act of 1948, provides the statutory authority for the federal government to maintain a Selective Service System (SSS) as an independent federal agency responsible for delivering appropriately qualified civilian men for induction into the Armed Forces of the United States as authorized by Congress. The annual budget for the agency is just under $23 million and the budget has remained stable at about $25 million in current dollars since the 1980s. One of the SSS’s main functions is to maintain a database of...

Selected Foreign Counterparts of U.S. Army Ground Combat Systems and Implications for Combat Operations and Modernization

Many nations maintain armies whose ultimate responsibility is to defeat other nations’ combat formations on the battlefield. In order to accomplish this, nations indigenously develop, maintain, and improve a variety of ground combat systems or purchase them from other nations. Ground combat system development and improvement is informed by existing and emerging technologies and budgetary factors as well as observations from current land conflicts. As this process is also intended to address potential future battlefield threats, beliefs as to what the future combat operational environment...

Reserve Component Personnel Issues: Questions and Answers

The Constitution provides Congress with broad powers over the Armed Forces, including the power to "to raise and support Armies," "to provide and maintain a Navy," "to make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces" and "to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States.... " In the exercise of this constitutional authority, Congress has historically shown great interest in various issues that bear on the vitality of the reserve components, such as funding,...

Cuba: Issues and Actions in the 114th Congress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wetlands: An Overview of Issues

Recent Congresses have considered numerous policy topics that involve wetlands. Many reflect issues of long-standing interest, such as applying federal regulations on private lands, wetland loss rates, and restoration and creation accomplishments.

The issue receiving the greatest attention recently has been determining which wetlands should be included and excluded from requirements of the Clean Water Act (CWA), especially the Section 404 permit program that regulates waste discharges affecting wetlands, which is administered by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection...

Sri Lanka: Background, Reform, Reconciliation, and Geopolitical Context

Sri Lanka is a nation of geopolitical importance despite its relatively small size. Strategically positioned near key maritime sea lanes that transit the Indian Ocean and link Asia with Europe and Africa, Sri Lanka’s external orientation, in particular its ties to China, are of great interest to nearby India. Some observers view China’s involvement in the Sri Lankan port at Hanbantota to be part of Beijing’s strategy to secure sea lanes through the Indian Ocean.

United States-Sri Lanka relations are expanding significantly, creating new opportunities for Congress to play a role in shaping...

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

U.S. Interests and Policy

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

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

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

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

The Role of State Approving Agencies in the Administration of GI Bill Benefits

State Approving Agencies (SAAs) play an important role in the administration of GI Bill® benefits. GI Bill benefits provide educational assistance payments to eligible veterans and servicemembers and their families enrolled in approved programs of education. The SAA role is intended to ensure that veterans and other GI Bill participants have access to a range of high-quality education and training programs at which to use their GI Bill benefits. In FY2017, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) is estimated to distribute over $14 billion in GI Bill benefits to over 1 million eligible...

Kurds in Iraq and Syria: U.S. Partners Against the Islamic State

Since 2014, the United States and members of a coalition it leads have partnered with a politically diverse set of Kurdish groups to combat the Islamic State organization (IS, also known as ISIS/ISIL or by the Arabic acronym Da’esh). For background information on these groups and their relationships in the region, see CRS In Focus IF10350, The Kurds in Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and Iran, by Jim Zanotti and Bolko J. Skorupski.

The capabilities of various Kurdish ground forces have advanced some U.S. objectives in connection with ongoing anti-IS operations. At the same time, as these operations...

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...

Defense Acquisitions: How and Where DOD Spends and Reports Its Contracting Dollars

The Department of Defense (DOD) has long relied on contractors to provide the U.S. military with a wide range of goods and services, including weapons, vehicles, food, uniforms, and operational support. Without contractor support, the United States would be currently unable to arm and field an effective fighting force. Costs and trends associated with contractor support provides Congress more information upon which to make budget decisions and weigh the relative costs and benefits of different military operations—including contingency operations and maintaining bases around the...

Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2008-2015

This report provides Congress with official, unclassified, quantitative data on conventional arms transfers to developing nations by the United States and foreign countries for the preceding eight calendar years for use in its policy oversight functions. All agreement and delivery data in this report for the United States are government-to-government Foreign Military Sales (FMS) transactions. Similar data are provided on worldwide conventional arms transfers by all government suppliers, but the principal focus is the level of arms transfers by major weapons supplying governments to nations...

Fact Sheet: Selected Highlights of the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4909, S. 2943)

This Fact Sheet summarizes selected highlights of the conference agreement on the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The conference report (H.Rept. 114-840), filed in the House on November 30, 2016, is a result of negotiations between the House and Senate on House-passed H.R. 4909 and Senate-passed S. 2943. The agreement authorizes $611.2 billion in discretionary funding for defense activities within the jurisdictions of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, including $523.7 billion in base discretionary funding for the Department of Defense, $67.8 billion for...

U.S. Foreign Aid to the Palestinians

Since the establishment of limited Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the mid-1990s, the U.S. government has committed more than $5 billion in bilateral economic and non-lethal security assistance to the Palestinians, who are among the world’s largest per capita recipients of international foreign aid. Successive Administrations have requested aid for the Palestinians in apparent support of (1) promoting the prevention or mitigation of terrorism against Israel; (2) fostering stability, prosperity, and self-governance in the West Bank that may aid Israeli-Palestinian...

U.S. International Broadcasting: Background and Issues for Reform

Since the beginning of modern U.S. international broadcasting during World War II, debates over the effectiveness, strategic direction, and necessity of broadcasting activities have persisted. Longstanding arguments over the structure and operation of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) have only added to these debates, prompting recurring efforts to reform the organization and its programs. Many Members of Congress have consistently shown concerted interest in U.S. international broadcasting, conducting oversight over the BBG and its individual broadcasters, and calling for...

Latin America: Terrorism Issues

Compared to other parts of the world, the potential threat emanating from terrorism is low in most countries in Latin America. Most terrorist acts occur in the Andean region of South America, committed by two Colombian guerrilla groups—the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN)—and one Peruvian guerrilla group, the Shining Path (SL). All three of these groups have been designated by the U.S. State Department as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs). The FARC, however, has been engaged in peace negotiations with the Colombian government since...

Military Construction: Process and Outcomes

Military installations often provide the most tangible evidence of the economic impact of the Department of Defense (DOD) on local communities. and demonstrate American commitment to foreign countries. Congress provides DOD with a military construction appropriation of several billion dollars annually and authorizes the Secretary of Defense and the military departments of the Army, Air Force, and Navy to plan, program, design, and build the runways, piers, warehouses, barracks, schools, hospitals, child development centers, and other facilities needed to support U.S. military forces at...

Women in Combat: Issues for Congress

Over the past two decades of conflict, women have served with valor and continue to serve on combat aircraft, naval vessels, and in support of ground combat operations. The expansion of roles for women in the Armed Forces has evolved since the early days of the military when women were restricted by law and policy from serving in certain occupations and units. Women have not been precluded by law from serving in any military unit or occupational specialty since 1993 when Congress repealed the remaining prohibitions on women serving on combatant aircraft and vessels. However, Department of...

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

The Department of Defense (DOD) conducts research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) in support of its mission requirements. The work funded by these appropriations plays a central role in the nation’s security and an important role in U.S. global leadership in science and technology. DOD alone accounts for nearly half of all federal R&D appropriations ($65.5 billion of $135.8 billion, or 48.2%, in FY2015).

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

The National Space Council

According to press reports, the Trump Administration may reestablish the National Space Council, a coordinating body in the Executive Office of the President that was last active in 1993. The National Space Council was established in 1989 “to provide a coordinated process for developing a national space policy and strategy and for monitoring its implementation.” It was chaired by the Vice President and included the Secretaries of State, Treasury, Defense, Commerce, and Transportation, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the President’s Chief of Staff, the Assistant to the...

Commercial Space Industry Launches a New Phase

Rockets, satellites, and the services they provide, once the domain of governments, are increasingly launched and managed by privately owned companies. Although private aerospace firms have contracted with federal agencies since the onset of the Space Age six decades ago, U.S. government policy has sought to spur innovation and drive down costs by expanding the roles of satellite manufacturers and commercial launch providers.

Global spending on space activity reached an estimated $323 billion in 2015. Of this amount, nearly 40% was generated by commercial space products and services and...

Creating a Federal Advisory Committee in the Executive Branch

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

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

The Trump-Tsai Call and the United States’ “Unofficial” Relationship with Taiwan

President-elect Donald J. Trump’s telephone call with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on December 2, 2016, and subsequent Tweets, broke precedent. No previous U.S. president or president-elect is known to have spoken directly to a president of Taiwan, which officially calls itself the Republic of China (ROC), since the United States broke diplomatic relations with the ROC and established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on January 1, 1979. The call has raised questions about whether Trump was simply taking “a very modest step toward providing Taiwan with some...

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

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

In 2002, Congress...

Federal Land Ownership: Acquisition and Disposal Authorities

The federal government owns roughly 640 million acres, heavily concentrated in 12 western states. Four agencies—the National Park Service (NPS), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the Department of the Interior, and the U.S. Forest Service (FS) in the Department of Agriculture—administer about 95% of those lands.

The extent to which these four federal agencies have authority to acquire and dispose of land varies considerably. The BLM has relatively broad authority for both acquisitions and disposals under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of...

Small Business Administration Trade and Export Promotion Programs

According to Census Bureau data, approximately 1% of small businesses in the United States currently export. With roughly three-quarters of world purchasing power and almost 95% of world consumers living outside U.S. borders, more attention is being paid to the potential of small business export promotion programs to grow small businesses and contribute to national economic output. In addition, some Members of Congress believe the contributions of small businesses to commercial innovation and economic opportunities for firms and workers could be enhanced through greater access to growing...

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA): Selected Legal Issues

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) (16 U.S.C. §§703-712) is a criminal environmental statute, enacted in 1918 to implement a 1916 treaty signed by the United States and Great Britain (acting for Canada) aimed at protecting birds that migrate between the two countries. The MBTA prohibits the taking and killing of migratory birds, but does not itself define the term “take.” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS’s) regulations define “take” as “to pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect” or to attempt to do so.

The courts are divided on whether federal agencies are...

The Civil Defense Acquisition Workforce: Enhancing Recruitment Through Hiring Flexibilities

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

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

Internet Governance and the Domain Name System: Issues for Congress

The Internet is often described as a “network of networks” because it is not a single physical entity, but hundreds of thousands of interconnected networks linking hundreds of millions of computers around the world. As such, the Internet is international, decentralized, and comprised of networks and infrastructure largely owned and operated by private sector entities. As the Internet grows and becomes more pervasive in all aspects of modern society, the question of how it should be governed becomes more pressing.

Currently, an important aspect of the Internet is governed by a private...

Naval Station Guantanamo Bay: History and Legal Issues Regarding Its Lease Agreements

This report briefly outlines the history of the establishment of the U.S. naval station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during the first decade of the twentieth century, its changing relationship to the community around it, and its heightened importance with military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. It also explains in detail the legal status of the lease of the land on which the naval station stands, the statutory and treaty authorities granted to the President with regard to any potential closure of the naval station, and the second-order effects on such a closure that Cuba sanctions laws...

NATO’s Warsaw Summit: In Brief

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO’s) 2016 summit was held in Warsaw, Poland, on July 8-9, 2016. The summit was the second meeting of the alliance’s 28 heads of state and government since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and began providing large-scale military support to separatist forces fighting in Ukraine. Russia’s actions in Ukraine and Eastern Europe more broadly have upended NATO’s post-Cold War transformation from a military alliance focused solely on deterring Russia to a globally oriented security organization. Over the last two years, NATO has taken major steps to...

Navy Force Structure: A Bigger Fleet? Background and Issues for Congress

Current Navy plans call for achieving and maintaining a fleet of 308 ships of certain types and numbers. Some observers have advocated increasing the Navy’s force-level goal to about 350 ships. The Navy is currently conducting a force structure assessment (FSA), and some observers anticipate that this FSA will lead to a new Navy force-level goal of more than 308 ships, although not necessarily 350 ships. The Navy’s actual size in recent years has generally been in the range of 270 to 290 ships.

Those who advocate increasing the planned size of the Navy to something more than 308 ships...

Intelligence Community Spending: Trends and Issues

This report examines Intelligence Community (IC) funding over the past several decades, with an emphasis on the period from 2007-2017—the period in which total national and military intelligence program (NIP and MIP) spending dollars have been publicly disclosed on an annual basis. Intelligence-related spending (such as the Homeland Security Intelligence Program) that does not fall within the NIP and MIP is outside the scope of this report.

Total intelligence spending is usually understood as the combination of (1) the National Intelligence Program (NIP), which covers the programs,...

Intelligence Community Programs, Management, and Enduring Issues

Congress’s and the American public’s ability to oversee and understand how intelligence dollars are spent is limited by the secrecy that surrounds the intelligence budget process. Yet, total spending on the Intelligence Community (IC) programs discussed in this report equates to approximately $70 billion dollars—roughly 10% of national defense spending. This report is designed to shed light on the IC budget—in terms of its programs, management, and enduring issues—using unclassified materials available in the public domain.

This report focuses those IC programs, grouped, for the most part,...

The Vessel Incidental Discharge Act in the 114th Congress: Background and Issues

Today stakeholders broadly agree on the need for strong measures to control vessel discharges, especially ballast water discharges, which can introduce a wide range of contaminants into U.S. and international waters. Ballast water has been identified as a major pathway for introduction of aquatic nuisance, or invasive, species that can harm aquatic ecosystems. Vessel discharge requirements in the United States are a result of U.S. Coast Guard regulations; a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) permit; and individual state requirements that apply in nearly one-half of the states....

Security Cooperation: Comparison of Proposed Provisions for the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

During the lame duck session, the 114th Congress is expected to consider various provisions in the annual defense authorization bill that address U.S. security sector cooperation. If enacted, the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) could significantly alter the way in which the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) engages and partners with foreign security forces.

Policy Debate in Context

Successive U.S. Administrations have emphasized the importance of strengthening foreign military partnerships to achieve shared security goals. Over time, the legal authorities underpinning some...

Uruguay: In Brief

Uruguay is a small nation of 3.4 million people located on the Atlantic coast of South America between Brazil and Argentina. The country stands out in Latin America for its strong democratic institutions; high per capita income; and low levels of corruption, poverty, and inequality. As a result of its domestic success and commitment to international engagement, Uruguay plays a more influential role in regional and international affairs than its size might suggest.

Uruguay has drawn increased congressional attention in recent years as a result of several high-profile and controversial...

Israel: Background and U.S. Relations

Since Israel’s founding in 1948, successive U.S. Presidents and many Members of Congress have demonstrated a commitment to Israel’s security and to close U.S.-Israel cooperation. Perceptions of shared democratic values and religious affinities have contributed to strong bilateral ties. The question of Israel’s security regularly influences U.S. policy considerations regarding the Middle East, and Congress provides active oversight of executive branch dealings with Israel and other actors in the region. Israel is a leading recipient of U.S. foreign aid and a frequent purchaser of major U.S....

Department of Homeland Security Preparedness Grants: A Summary and Issues

Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Congress increased focus on state and local homeland security assistance by, among other things, establishing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and authorizing DHS to administer federal homeland security grant programs. These homeland security grants have been administered by numerous DHS entities, and these grants have focused on such preparedness activities as assistance to states and localities to prepare and respond to terrorist attacks, securing critical infrastructure such as rail and ports, securing nonprofit...

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

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

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

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

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

The Help America Vote Act and Election Administration: Overview and Selected Issues for the 2016 Election

The deadlocked November 2000 presidential election focused national attention on previously obscure details of election administration. Congress responded with the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA; P.L. 107-252). HAVA created the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), established a set of election administration requirements, and provided federal funding, but it did not supplant state and local control over election administration. Several issues have arisen or persisted in the years since HAVA was enacted.

Some observers have criticized the EAC for being obtrusive, slow, ineffectual,...

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...

Recent Developments in U.S.-Russian Nonproliferation Cooperation

On October 3, 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree suspending participation in a bilateral U.S.-Russia weapons plutonium disposal agreement (the 2000 Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement, or PMDA). The next day, Russia suspended participation in a 2013 cooperative agreement on nuclear- and energy-related research and terminated a third from 2010 on exploring options for converting research reactors from weapons-usable fuel.

These agreements are part of a suite of nonproliferation and nuclear security agreements the two countries concluded starting in the 1990s...

EPA’s Vessel General Permits: Background and Issues

In November 2011 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed two Clean Water Act (CWA) permits to regulate certain types of vessel discharges into U.S. waters. The proposed permits would replace a single Vessel General Permit (VGP) issued in 2008 that was due to expire in December 2013. As proposed, the permits would apply to approximately 71,000 large domestic and foreign vessels and perhaps as many as 138,000 small vessels. This universe of regulated entities is diverse as well as large, consisting of tankers, freighters, barges, cruise ships and other passenger vessels, and...

Federal Government Employment: Veterans’ Preference in Competitive Examination

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

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

Military Construction: FY2017 Appropriations

Military construction for active and reserve components of the Armed Forces, military family housing construction and operations, the U.S. contribution to the NATO Security Investment Program, military base closures and realignment actions, and the military housing privatization initiative will be funded through Title I and Title IV of the FY2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The act is associated with three separate bill numbers: H.R. 4974, S. 2806, and H.R. 2577.

For FY2017, the President requested $7.44 billion in new budget authority...

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...

Statutorily Required Federal Advisory Committees that Began Operations in FY2015

Congress regularly establishes federal advisory committees—sometimes called task forces, panels, commissions, working groups, boards, councils, or conferences. Many of these committees are required to operate pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA; 5 U.S.C. Appendix), which seeks to make advisory committee operations more accessible and transparent. Federal advisory committees are one of only a few formalized mechanisms for private-sector citizens to participate in the executive branch’s policymaking process. FACA committees are prohibited from creating policy or issuing...

Saudi Military Campaign in Yemen Draws Congressional Attention to U.S. Arms Sales

Some lawmakers have introduced legislation seeking to condition or prohibit the sale or transfer of certain weapons and the provision of some U.S. foreign assistance to Saudi Arabia. These proposals have come amid reports of Yemeni civilian casualties resulting from Saudi-led coalition military operations in Yemen, which resumed in August 2016. Some lawmakers suggest that U.S. arms sales and military support to Saudi Arabia are enabling alleged Saudi violations of international humanitarian law. Human rights organizations seek further investigations into the alleged Saudi violations, and...

Department of State and Foreign Operations Appropriations: History of Legislation and Funding in Brief

Congress currently appropriates foreign affairs funding through annual Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPs) appropriations. This was not always the case, however. Prior to FY2008, Congress provided funding for the Department of State, international broadcasting, and related programs within the Commerce, Justice, State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies appropriations. In those years, Congress separately appropriated funding for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and foreign aid within the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and...

Domestic Content Restrictions: The Buy American Act and Complementary Provisions of Federal Law

Broadly understood, domestic content restrictions are provisions which require that items purchased using specific funds appropriated or otherwise made available by Congress be produced or manufactured in the United States. Federal law contains a number of such restrictions, each of which applies to different entities and supplies, and imposes somewhat different requirements. Some of these restrictions have, however, been waived pursuant to the Trade Agreements Act (TAA).

The Buy American Act of 1933 is the earliest and arguably the best known of the major domestic content restrictions. It...

Immigration Legislation and Issues in the 114th Congress

The House and the Senate have considered immigration measures on a variety of issues in the 114th Congress. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (P.L. 114-113) extends four immigration programs through September 30, 2016: the EB-5 immigrant investor Regional Center Pilot Program, the E-Verify employment eligibility verification system, the Conrad State program for foreign medical graduates, and the special immigrant religious worker program. P.L. 114-113 also contains provisions on the Visa Waiver Program and certain nonimmigrant visa categories.

Other enacted immigration-related...

Leadership Succession in Uzbekistan

Background

On August 28, 2016, Uzbekistan announced its President, Islam Karimov, had been hospitalized, but officials gave few details about his condition. On September 2 after a week of conflicting reports, the government confirmed that Karimov had died and the following day a funeral was held in his hometown of Samarkand.

The 78-year-old Karimov served as Uzbekistan’s only President from the time of its independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991. Prior to his death, his deteriorating health caused observers to speculate about the insular country’s process for choosing a new...

How Big Should the Army Be? Considerations for Congress

Article I, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution vests Congress with broad powers over the Armed Forces, including the power "To raise and support Armies" and “To provide and maintain a Navy.” As such, the size of the Armed Forces is a topic of perennial congressional interest and debate. Congress annually sets minimum and maximum strength levels for the active components and maximum strength levels for the reserve components.

The House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2017 authorized differing levels for active duty personnel in each of the...

Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty: Background and Current Developments

A ban on all nuclear tests is the oldest item on the nuclear arms control agenda. Three treaties that entered into force between 1963 and 1990 limit, but do not ban, such tests. In 1996, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which would ban all nuclear explosions. In 1997, President Clinton sent the CTBT to the Senate, which rejected it in October 1999. In a speech in Prague in April 2009, President Obama said, “My administration will immediately and aggressively pursue U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.” However,...

The Future of Internet Governance: Should the United States Relinquish Its Authority over ICANN?

Currently, the U.S. government retains limited authority over the Internet’s domain name system, primarily through the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions contract between the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). By virtue of the IANA functions contract, the NTIA exerts a legacy authority and stewardship over ICANN, and arguably has more influence over ICANN and the domain name system (DNS) than other national governments. Currently the IANA functions contract with NTIA...

Northeast Asia and Russia’s “Turn to the East”: Implications for U.S. Interests

Since Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and its annexation of the Crimea in March 2014, Moscow’s already tense relationship with the United States and Europe has grown more fraught. After the imposition of sanctions on Russia by much of the West, Russian President Vladimir Putin has turned to East Asia, seeking new partnerships to counter diplomatic isolation and secure new markets to help Russia’s struggling economy. His outreach to Beijing, Tokyo, Seoul, and Pyongyang has met varying degrees of success. The most high-profile outreach was a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in May...

Army and Marine Corps Active Protection System (APS) Efforts

Active Protection Systems (APSs) are subsystems integrated into or installed on a combat vehicle to automatically acquire, track, and respond with hard or soft kill capabilities to a variety of threats, including rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). APS technologies are not new, and a number of nations have already employed APS on the battlefield. The U.S. military is now beginning to include APS as part of its formal combat vehicle modernization plans and, if the initial deployment of APS proves successful, could expand the use of APS to potentially...

Gangs in Central America

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

Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations

Several Turkish domestic and foreign policy issues have significant relevance for U.S. interests, and Congress plays an active role in shaping and overseeing U.S. relations with Turkey. Members of Congress regularly engage in oversight or legislative activities on the following subjects with respect to Turkey, among others: U.S.-Turkey military cooperation, including arms sales and aid; Turkey’s interactions with countries such as Armenia, Cyprus, and Israel; general Turkish domestic issues; concerns regarding Christians, Jews, and other religious minorities in Turkey; and bilateral trade....

Federal Support for Reproductive Health Services: Frequently Asked Questions

This report provides answers to frequently asked questions concerning the provision, funding, and coverage of reproductive health services. The report is organized by the federal program that pays for or directly provides these services. It concludes with questions about coverage requirements for reproductive health services under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, P.L. 111-148, as amended), and discussions of various federal programs that provide grants to non-governmental entities to provide reproductive health services.

Search terms: family planning, abortion,...

Coalition Contributions to Countering the Islamic State

On September 10, 2014, President Obama announced the formation of a global coalition to “degrade and ultimately defeat” the Islamic State. Subsequently, 66 nations and partner organizations have agreed to participate, contributing either military forces or resources (or both) to the campaign. The military component of the counter-IS campaign is Operation Inherent Resolve, which has three primary elements: targeted special operations out of northern Iraq and northern Syria, airstrikes, and training and equipping of local forces. All of these activities are designed to empower Iraqis and...

DOD Security Cooperation: An Overview of Authorities and Issues

Over the past decade, Congress has authorized the Department of Defense (DOD) to conduct a wide range of security cooperation programs. As the scope, pace, and cost of activities to train, equip, and otherwise support foreign security forces have increased, however, some policymakers believe that the DOD’s growing authority may undermine the State Department’s lead role in foreign assistance. To others, DOD’s expanded role is a necessary response to the perceived inadequacies of the existing legal regime through which Congress has authorized the State Department and DOD to provide security...

China: Economic Sanctions

United States-China relations, since 1969, when the process of normalization began under President Richard M. Nixon, have advanced to a point that relatively few restrictions affecting trade remain. This report summarizes the United States’ economic sanctions on China. The United States, in its relationship with China, limits U.S. foreign assistance and State Department programs; limits U.S. support for China’s requests for funding in the international banks; prohibits the exportation of defense articles and defense services to China; prohibits the importation of munitions and ammunition...

Fact Sheet: Selected Highlights of the FY2017 Military Construction Appropriations Bills

This fact sheet summarizes selected highlights of the military construction and military family housing portions of the FY2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The act is associated with three separate bill numbers: H.R. 4974, S. 2806, and H.R. 2577.

Congressional action on FY2017 military construction appropriations legislation has been heavily influenced by the statutorily mandated discretionary spending caps established by P.L. 114-74, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (BBA). A significant issue before Congress is the extent to which...

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy: Considering “No First Use”

Recent press reports indicate that the Obama Administration might adopt a declaratory policy stating that the United States will not be the first to use nuclear weapons in conflict. These reports have reignited debate about the benefits and risks of this policy, known as a “no first use” pledge. U.S. officials have repeatedly stated that the United States could, under certain circumstances, use nuclear weapons against a state, even if the latter has not already done so. The absence of a “no first use” pledge dates back to the Cold War when the United States sought to deter a Soviet attack...

Trafficking in Persons and U.S. Foreign Policy Responses in the 114th Congress

Trafficking in persons, or human trafficking, refers to the subjection of men, women, and children to exploitative conditions that may be tantamount to slavery. Reports suggest that human trafficking is a global phenomenon, victimizing millions of people each year and contributing to a multi-billion dollar criminal industry. Common forms of human trafficking include trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, and debt bondage. Other forms of human trafficking include trafficking for domestic servitude and the use of children in armed conflict (e.g., child soldiers).

Human...

Overview of Funding Mechanisms in the Federal Budget Process, and Selected Examples

Every year, Congress considers numerous pieces of legislation that would create or modify federal government programs and activities. The variety of approaches used across the federal budget to fund these programs and activities involve different timelines for budgetary decisionmaking, and different processes (and committees) within Congress to make those decisions. How a particular funding mechanism is structured requires tradeoffs between the frequency of congressional review and the predictability of funding for the program. The purpose of this report is to explain these approaches,...

A New Aid Package for Israel

Overview

As the United States and Israel continue to discuss the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on U.S. assistance for the period FY2019-FY2028, Members of Congress are considering legislation that could impact the contours of such an agreement. Lawmakers in both chambers are working on foreign operations and defense appropriations bills that contain proposed increases for various types of aid to Israel. The Administration has objected to some proposed increases, perhaps out of concern that congressional action during MOU discussions might affect the U.S. negotiating...

Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons

Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal probably consists of approximately 110-130 nuclear warheads, although it could have more. Islamabad is producing fissile material, adding to related production facilities, and deploying additional nuclear weapons and new types of delivery vehicles. Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is widely regarded as designed to dissuade India from taking military action against Pakistan, but Islamabad’s expansion of its nuclear arsenal, development of new types of nuclear weapons, and adoption of a doctrine called “full spectrum deterrence” have led some observers to express concern...

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

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

Federal 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...

The U.S.-Japan Alliance

The U.S.-Japan alliance has long been an anchor of the U.S. security role in Asia. Forged in the U.S. occupation of Japan after its defeat in World War II, the alliance provides a platform for U.S. military readiness in the Pacific. About 50,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Japan and have the exclusive use of 85 facilities. In exchange for the use of these bases, the United States guarantees Japan’s security. Security challenges in the region, particularly nuclear and missile tests by North Korea and increased Chinese maritime activities, have reinforced U.S.-Japan cooperation in recent...

Security Cooperation and the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

Introduction

Provisions in the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) have elevated ongoing debates over U.S. security sector assistance to foreign countries—and raised questions over whether the policy architecture is suited to meet current and emerging requirements. The State Department has historically served as the lead agency for overarching policy in this area, with primary security assistance authorities outlined in Title 22 (Foreign Relations) of the U.S. Code. Over time, Congress has granted the Department of Defense (DOD) new mechanisms under Title 10 (Armed Services)...

U.S. Electronic Attack Aircraft

Electronic warfare (EW) has been an important component of military air operations since the earliest days of radar. The advent of the airplane enabled the United States to project power faster than land and naval forces had ever done. It also spurred the development of technologies, such as radar, that could detect and track enemy aircraft, thereby protecting military forces, infrastructure, and populations from aerial threats.

Department of Defense EW Activities

The Department of Defense (DOD) is engaged in numerous developmental EW activities. These activities include research and...

Burma’s Political Prisoners and U.S. Sanctions

The release of all Burma’s political prisoners is one of the fundamental goals of U.S. policy towards the nation. Several of the laws imposing sanctions on Burma—including the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003 (BFDA, P.L. 108-61) and the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE (Junta’s Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act of 2008 (JADE Act, P.L. 110-286)—require the release of all political prisoners before the sanctions contained in those laws can be terminated.

Although the outgoing President Thein Sein provided pardons or amnesty for more than 1,000 alleged political prisoners, security forces...

U.S. Foreign Assistance as Colombia’s Peace Talks on Cusp of Completion

On July 18, 2016, the Colombian Constitutional Court approved a plebiscite to allow Colombian voters to decide the fate of the peace accord under negotiation between the government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the country’s largest insurgent group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). After nearly four years of negotiations, a peace accord with FARC is close to signature. The leftist FARC has fought the Colombian government for 52 years with financing derived from extortion, drug trafficking, and other illicit activities.

By early July 2016, the FARC and government...

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program

The largest procurement program in the Department of Defense (DOD), the F-35 Lightning II is a strike fighter aircraft being procured in different versions for the United States Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy. Current DOD plans call for acquiring a total of 2,457 F-35s. Allies are expected to purchase hundreds of additional F-35s, and eight nations are cost-sharing partners in the program with the United States.

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

Iran-North Korea-Syria Ballistic Missile and Nuclear Cooperation

Congress has at times expressed concern regarding ballistic missile and nuclear programs in Iran, North Korea, and Syria. This report focuses primarily on unclassified and declassified U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) assessments over the past two decades. These assessments indicate that

there is no evidence that Iran and North Korea have engaged in nuclear-related trade or cooperation with each other, although ballistic missile technology cooperation between the two is significant and meaningful, and

Syria has received ballistic missiles and related technology from North Korea and Iran...

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.

Terrorism and Violent Extremism in Africa

The pace of high-profile terrorist attacks in Sub-Saharan Africa has intensified in recent years, and the death toll now rivals that of other regions where violent Islamist extremist groups are active. This report provides context for these trends, including a summary of sub-regional dynamics, factors affecting radicalization, and U.S. responses. It focuses primarily on Sunni Islamist terrorism, given the ideological underpinnings of the African groups currently designated by the U.S. State Department as Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Select issues for Congress are also explored....

Acquisition Reform in the House and Senate Versions of the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act

For purposes of this analysis, CRS selected 31 sections of the House-passed version of FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4909), and 68 sections of the Senate-passed version of FY2017 NDAA (S. 2943) that appear closely linked to the respective committee’s stated efforts to reform the acquisition system. Acquisition reform. Each section is identified as fitting into one (or more) of the following six overarching categories:

Gathering information for future action,

Streamlining the current process (focusing on schedule and minimizing bureaucratic effort),

Improving the...

Arbitration Case Between the Philippines and China Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

On July 12, 2016, an arbitral tribunal constituted under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is expected to issue a ruling in a case between the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China (PRC or China). The Philippines, a U.S. ally, initiated the case in January 2013 under the convention’s compulsory dispute settlement provisions, seeking primarily to clarify the two countries’ potential maritime rights in the South China Sea. The Philippines and China are both parties to UNCLOS. The United States has a policy of operating consistent with the convention, but...

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

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

“Right-Sizing” the National Security Council Staff?

Currently, the main vehicle through which coordination among different U.S. government agencies on national security matters takes place is the National Security Council (NSC). As part of its defense reform deliberations, Congress is considering whether the modern National Security Council and its staff—established in 1947 to help oversee U.S. global security interests—is optimized to enable the United States to meet current and emerging threats (see CRS Report R44508, Fact Sheet: FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) DOD Reform Proposals, by Kathleen J. McInnis).

What is the...

U.S. Semiconductor Manufacturing: Industry Trends, Global Competition, Federal Policy

Invented and pioneered in the United States shortly after World War II, semiconductors are the enabling technology of the information age. Because of semiconductors new industries have emerged and existing ones, such as aerospace and automotive, have been transformed. Semiconductors have contributed in powerful and unique ways to nearly all fields of science and engineering, and semiconductors’ economic and military importance has made the industry’s health a focus of congressional interest for nearly 70 years. In July 2015, Congress formed the Semiconductor Caucus, a group that seeks to...

Trade-Based Money Laundering: Overview and Policy Issues

Trade-based money laundering (TBML) involves the exploitation of the international trade system for the purpose of transferring value and obscuring the true origins of illicit wealth. TBML schemes vary in complexity but typically involve misrepresentation of the price, quantity, or quality of imports or exports. Financial institutions may wittingly or unwittingly be implicated in TBML schemes when such institutions are used to settle, facilitate, or finance international trade transactions (e.g., through the processing of wire transfers, provision of trade finance, and issuance of letters...

U.S. Crude Oil and Natural Gas Production in Federal and Nonfederal Areas

A number of legislative proposals designed to increase domestic energy supply, enhance security, and/or amend the requirements of environmental statutes that apply to energy development are before the 114th Congress. Proposals range from leasing primarily in the Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) via the Proposed Five-Year Program (PP) for FY2017-FY2022 or to implement the Proposed Draft for FY2010-FY2015 (a plan prepared by the Bush Administration), to a proposal to prohibit new fossil fuel leases on federal land. Several proposals include new revenue sharing provisions for...

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

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

Social Media for Emergencies and Disasters: Overview and Policy Considerations

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

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

Athletic Footwear for the Military: The Berry Amendment Controversy

The Berry Amendment, a 1941 federal law (10 U.S.C. §2533a), requires the Department of Defense (DOD) to purchase only wholly American-made clothing, textiles, and other essential items for the military (see CRS Report RL31236, The Berry Amendment: Requiring Defense Procurement to Come from Domestic Sources). Some in Congress seek to bring athletic footwear for new recruits under the Berry Amendment. Currently, most new recruits receive vouchers to buy running shoes, which need not be domestic in origin. Provisions in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), of which one version...

Canada-U.S. Relations

Relations between the United States and Canada have generally been cordial. Bound together by a common 5,500 mile border—“the longest undefended border in the world”—as well as shared democratic traditions, the two countries are also increasingly integrated economically through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The two North American countries continue to cooperate widely on international security and political issues, both bilaterally and through numerous international organizations. Canada’s foreign and defense policies are usually in harmony with those of the United...

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...

India-U.S. Relations and the Visit of Prime Minister Modi

Introduction

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is in Washington, DC, this week for a “working visit” that will include addressing Congress, the first such address by an Indian leader since 2005. House Speaker Paul Ryan invited Modi so Congress could “hear from the elected leader of the world’s most populous democracy on how our two nations can work together to promote our shared values and to increase prosperity.” For some, the event completes a “political rehabilitation” of a foreign leader who had been denied a U.S. visa over concerns...

Goldwater-Nichols at 30: Defense Reform and Issues for Congress

Thirty years after its enactment, Congress has undertaken a review of the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act (GNA) as well as the broader organization and structure of the contemporary Department of Defense (DOD) more broadly. Most observers agree that in principle a comprehensive review of the Goldwater-Nichols legislation is warranted at this juncture. Further, a broad consensus appears to exist among observers that DOD must become considerably more agile while retaining its strength in order to enable the United States to meet a variety of critical emerging...

Military Lending Act: Timeline, New Rules, and Issues

New rules under the Military Lending Act (MLA) that change the definition of consumer credit for covered servicemembers and dependents will apply to transactions or accounts that are established on or after October 3, 2016. These rules may have an impact on the regulatory burdens for businesses that provide credit products to the military and may also affect military readiness.

Legislative Timeline and Existing Rules

The MLA was enacted with the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007. The impetus for the law was to protect servicemembers from certain “predatory” lending...

The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA): Frequently Asked Questions

Federal agencies rely on information technology (IT) to conduct their work, requiring extensive investments in both updating existing IT and developing new IT. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has reported that the federal government budgets more than $80 billion each year for IT investment. In FY2017, that investment will be more than $89 billion. Unfortunately, these investments often incur “multi-million dollar cost overruns and years-long schedule delays,” may contribute little to mission-related outcomes, and in some cases fail altogether. The Federal Information Technology...

Taliban Leadership Succession

On May 23, President Obama confirmed that a U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle strike on a remote village just over the Pakistan border had killed the leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour. The strike was conducted after U.S. intelligence reportedly tracked Mansour crossing back into Pakistan from Iran. U.S. officials asserted that Mansour posed an imminent threat to the approximately 9,800 U.S. forces in Afghanistan, who are training and advising the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) and conducting counter-terrorism missions against Al Qaeda and the...

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

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

Military Funeral Honors for Veterans

Eligible veterans are entitled to receive military honors at their funerals. Federal law, enacted in 1999 (P.L. 105-261) and amended in 2000 (P.L. 106-65) provides that each eligible veteran shall be provided, at minimum, a two-person funeral honors detail, the playing of taps, and the folding and presentation of a U.S. flag to the family. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issues these honors at no cost to the veteran’s family. These honors can be augmented to include color guards, pallbearers, and firing parties provided either by the military or civilians in approved veterans or...

Status of the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa: Overview and Issues for Congress

The 2014-2015 outbreak and spread of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD, or Ebola) in West Africa became an international public health emergency that, in no small part due to international intervention, abated significantly by the end of 2015 and early 2016. The issue remains of interest toward the end of the 114th Congress for a number of reasons, including ongoing concerns about the status of disease and risks of future outbreaks, and interest in the disposition of funds appropriated by Congress in response to Ebola, especially in view of the more recent health challenge posed by the Zika virus....

Unaccompanied Alien Children: CRS Experts

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In Re Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001: Claims Against Saudi Defendants Under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA)

Practical and legal hurdles, including the difficulty of locating hidden Al Qaeda members and the infeasibility of enforcing judgments in terrorism cases, hinder victims’ attempts to establish liability in U.S. courts against, and recover financially from, those they argue are directly responsible for the September 11 terrorist attacks. Instead, victims have sued numerous individuals and entities with only indirect ties to the attacks, including defendants who allegedly provided monetary support to Al Qaeda prior to September 11, 2001. Within the consolidated case In re Terrorist Attacks...

National Security Space Launch at a Crossroads

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

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

The Nunn-McCurdy Act: Background, Analysis, and Issues for Congress

The Nunn-McCurdy Act (10 U.S.C. §2433) requires the Department of Defense (DOD) to report to Congress whenever a Major Defense Acquisition Program (MDAP) experiences cost overruns that exceed certain thresholds. A program whose cost growth exceeds the statutory thresholds is said to have a Nunn-McCurdy breach.

There are two types of breaches: significant breaches and critical breaches. A significant breach is when the Program Acquisition Unit Cost (the total cost of development, procurement, and construction divided by the number of units procured) or the Procurement Unit Cost (the total...

Federal Prison Industries: Background, Debate, Legislative History, and Policy Options

The Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (FPI), is a government-owned corporation that employs offenders incarcerated in correctional facilities under the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The FPI manufactures products and provides services that are sold to executive agencies in the federal government. The FPI was created to serve as a means for managing, training, and rehabilitating inmates in the federal prison system through employment in one of its industries.

The FPI is intended to be economically self-sustaining and it does not receive funding through congressional appropriations. In...

Military Officer Personnel Management: Key Concepts and Statutory Provisions

Congress and the executive branch are currently considering changes to the officer personnel management system. Some of these proposed changes would require changes to the laws, including provision enacted by the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act (DOPMA) and the Goldwater-Nichols Act (GNA).

Contemporary debates over officer personnel management policy often revolve around the fundamental questions of “what type of officers do we need to win the next war?” and “what skills does the officer corps need to enable the military services to perform their missions?” These questions are...

Information Warfare: DOD’s Response to the Islamic State Hacking Activities

The Islamic State (IS) has pursued a strategy of accessing U.S. government computer systems for a variety of purposes. IS pursues five primary categories of activity when targeting U.S. computer systems: defacement, distributed denial of service, data theft, disabling websites, and data breaches. The Department of Defense (DOD) is pursuing a number of activities aimed at detecting, deterring, and thwarting IS hacking activities.

In May 2015, FBI Director James Comey stated, “ISIS is waking up’ to the idea of using sophisticated malware to cyberattack critical infrastructure in the U.S.”...

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...

The Buy American Act—Preferences for “Domestic” Supplies: In Brief

The Buy American Act of 1933 is the earliest and arguably the best known of various statutes regarding federal procurement of domestic products. Essentially, the act attempts to protect U.S. businesses and labor by restricting the acquisition and use of end products or construction materials that are not “domestic.” For purposes of the act, domestic end products and domestic construction materials include (1) unmanufactured end products or construction materials mined or produced in the United States, as well as (2) end products or construction materials manufactured in the United States,...

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...

Border Security: Immigration Enforcement Between Ports of Entry

Border enforcement is a core element of the Department of Homeland Security’s effort to control unauthorized migration, with the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) within the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as the lead agency along most of the border. Border enforcement has been an ongoing subject of congressional interest since the 1970s, when unauthorized immigration to the United States first registered as a serious national problem; and border security has received additional attention in the years since the terrorist attacks of 2001.

Since the 1990s, migration control at the border...

Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems: Issues for Congress

The current research and future deployment of lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) is actively under discussion throughout the military, nongovernmental, and international communities. This discussion is focused, to various degrees, on the military advantage to be gained from current and future systems, the risks and potential benefits inherent in the research and deployment of autonomous weapon systems, and the ethics of their use. Restrictions, if any, in treaty and domestic law, as well as the specific rules governing procurement and use of LAWS by the military, will all rely to...

Export-Import Bank: Frequently Asked Questions

The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank or the Bank), a wholly owned federal government corporation, is the official export credit agency (ECA) of the U.S. government. Its mission is to assist in financing and facilitating U.S. exports of goods and services to support U.S. employment. Ex-Im Bank operates under a renewable general statutory charter (Export-Import Bank Act of 1945, as amended). In the 114th Congress, Ex-Im Bank’s charter was extended through September 30, 2019, by the Export-Import Bank Reform and Reauthorization Act of 2015 (Division E of P.L. 114-94, a...

Arms Control and Nonproliferation: A Catalog of Treaties and Agreements

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

Nigeria’s Boko Haram: Frequently Asked Questions

Boko Haram, a violent Nigerian Islamist movement, has grown increasingly active and deadly in its attacks against state and civilian targets in recent years, drawing on narratives of religious exclusivism, victimization, and vengeance for state abuses to elicit sympathizers and recruits. The group’s April 2014 abduction of almost 300 schoolgirls drew particular international attention, including from the Obama Administration and Members of Congress. Boko Haram’s high death toll and its pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State (IS, aka ISIL or ISIS) in March 2015 have further raised the...

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

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

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

Unaccompanied Children from Central America: Foreign Policy Considerations

Since FY2011, the number of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) traveling to the United States from the “northern triangle” nations of Central America—El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—has increased sharply. U.S. authorities encountered more than 52,000 unaccompanied minors from the region at the U.S. border in FY2014, a more than 1,200% increase compared to FY2011. This unexpected surge of children strained U.S. government resources and created a complex crisis with humanitarian implications. U.S. apprehensions of unaccompanied minors from the northern triangle declined by 45% in...

The Army’s M-1 Abrams, M-2/M-3 Bradley, and M-1126 Stryker: Background and Issues for Congress

The M-1 Abrams Tank, the M-2/M-3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV), and the M-1126 Stryker Combat Vehicle are the centerpieces of the Army’s Armored Brigade Combat Teams (ABCTs) and Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (SBCTs).

In addition to the military effectiveness of these vehicles, Congress is also concerned with the economic aspect of Abrams, Bradley, and Stryker recapitalization and modernization. Due to force structure cuts and lack of Foreign Military Sales (FMS) opportunities, Congress has expressed a great deal of concern with the health of the domestic armored combat vehicle industrial...

Telehealth and Telemedicine: Description and Issues

Telehealth is the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support remote clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health, and other health care delivery functions. A narrower concept, telemedicine, refers to clinical services that are provided remotely via telecommunications technologies. Some sources use the two terms interchangeably, and there is no consensus among federal programs and among health care providers on the definition of either term.

Federal involvement in telehealth is varied. As of 2014, more than 20...

Additional U.S. Ground Troops to Counter the Islamic State? Five Questions

This report addresses common questions regarding Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR)--the military campaign to counter the Islamic State (IS)--which has three primary components: coordinated air strikes, training and equipping local security forces, and targeted special operations based out of northern Iraq.

The Chinese Military: Overview and Issues for Congress

China is building a modern and regionally powerful military with a limited but growing capability for conducting operations away from China’s immediate periphery. The question of how the United States should respond to China’s military modernization effort is a central issue in U.S. defense planning and foreign policy. Congress’s decisions on this issue could affect U.S. defense strategy, budgets, plans, and programs, and the U.S. defense industrial base.

China has engaged in a sustained and broad effort over more than 25 years to transform its military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA),...

The March 2016 Nuclear Security Summit

This report discusses the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS), a biennial summit which aims to focus global attention at the highest level of government on the threat of nuclear terrorism.

Wartime Detention Provisions in Recent Defense Authorization Legislation

In recent years, Congress has included provisions in annual defense authorization bills addressing issues related to detainees at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and, more broadly, the disposition of persons captured in the course of hostilities against Al Qaeda and associated forces. The National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012 (2012 NDAA; P.L. 112-81) arguably constituted the most significant legislation informing wartime detention policy since the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF; P.L. 107-40), which serves as the primary legal authority for...

Nigeria: Current Issues and U.S. Policy

The U.S. government considers its relationship with Nigeria, Africa’s largest producer of oil and its largest economy, to be among the most important on the continent. The country is Africa’s most populous, with more than 180 million people, roughly evenly divided between Muslims and Christians. Nigeria, which transitioned from military to civilian rule in 1999, ranked until recently among the top suppliers of U.S. oil imports, and is a major recipient of U.S. foreign aid. It is an influential actor in African politics and a major troop contributor to U.N. peacekeeping missions.

Nigeria is...

Poland and Its Relations with the United States

Over the past 25 years, the relationship between the United States and Poland has been close and cooperative. The United States strongly supported Poland’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1999 and backed its entry into the European Union (EU) in 2004. In recent years, Poland has made significant contributions to U.S.- and NATO-led military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Poland and the United States continue working together on issues such as democracy promotion, counterterrorism, and improving NATO capabilities.

Given its role as a close U.S. ally...

Iraq: Politics and Governance

Iraq’s sectarian and ethnic divisions—muted toward the end of the 2003-2011 U.S. military intervention in Iraq—are fueling a major challenge to Iraq’s stability and to U.S. policy in Iraq and the broader Middle East region. The resentment of Iraq’s Sunni Arabs toward the Shiite-dominated central government facilitated the capture in 2014 of nearly one-third of Iraqi territory by the Sunni Islamist extremist group called the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIL, ISIS, or the Arabic acronym Da'esh). Iraq’s Kurds are separately embroiled in political, territorial, and economic disputes with...

International Trade and Finance: Key Policy Issues for the 114th Congress, 2nd Session

The U.S. Constitution grants authority to Congress to regulate commerce with foreign nations. Congress exercises this authority in numerous ways, including through oversight of trade policy and consideration of legislation to approve trade agreements and authorize trade programs. Policy issues cover such areas as U.S. trade negotiations, U.S. trade and economic relations with specific regions and countries, international institutions focused on trade, tariff and nontariff barriers, worker dislocation due to trade liberalization, trade remedy laws, import and export policies, international...

Department of Veterans Affairs FY2016 Appropriations: In Brief

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides benefits to veterans who meet certain eligibility criteria. Benefits range from disability compensation and pensions to hospital and medical care. The VA provides these benefits through three major operating units: the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and the National Cemetery Administration (NCA).

The President submitted his FY2016 budget request to Congress on February 2, 2015. The President requested $164.6 billion for VA. This amount includes $70.1 billion for VA discretionary programs...

Health Care for Veterans: Suicide Prevention

This report focuses on suicide prevention activities of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VHA’s approach to suicide prevention is based on a public health framework, which has three major components: (1) surveillance, (2) risk and protective factors, and (3) interventions.

Surveillance, or systematic collection of data on completed (i.e., fatal) suicides, is essential to define the scope of the problem (i.e., the suicide rate among veterans), identify characteristics associated with higher or lower risk of suicide, and track...

The Federal Excise Tax on Motor Fuels and the Highway Trust Fund: Current Law and Legislative History

The federal government levies an excise tax on various motor fuels. Under current law, the tax rate is 18.3 cents per gallon on gasoline and 24.3 cents per gallon on diesel fuel. A 0.1 cents per gallon tax is also levied on top of these fuel tax rates to help fund expenses associated with fuel regulation. These rates are not automatically adjusted for inflation. Specific tax rates also apply to special motor fuels. Under current law, federal motor fuels excise tax collections are credited to two federal spending accounts: the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and the Leaking Underground Storage...

Crude Oil Exports and Related Provisions in P.L. 114-113: In Brief

On December 18, 2015, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (H.R. 2029), which was signed by the President and became P.L. 114-113. Included in P.L. 114-113 is a provision that repeals Section 103 of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA; P.L. 94-163), which directs the President to promulgate a rule prohibiting crude oil exports. For nearly four decades, repeal of EPCA was generally not a policy issue since oil production was declining and imports were rising. However, increasing U.S. light oil production starting in the 2010/2011 timeframe, projected...

General and Flag Officers in the U.S. Armed Forces: Background and Considerations for Congress

In the exercise of its constitutional authority over the Armed Forces, Congress has enacted an array of laws which govern important aspects of military officer personnel management, including appointments, assignments, grade structure, promotions, and separations. Some of these laws are directed specifically at the most senior military officers, known as general and flag officers (GFOs). Congress periodically reviews these laws and considers changes as it deems appropriate. Areas of congressional interest have included the number of GFOs authorized, the proportion of GFOs to the total...

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...

IAEA Budget and U.S. Contributions: In Brief

The United States, along with European Union and the P5+1 partners and Iran, agreed on July 14, 2015 to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that is intended to end decades of economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program. The accord designates the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to monitor and verify Iranian compliance with the JCPOA and report on these activities regularly. With this in mind, the second session of the 114th Congress may be interested in the funding of the IAEA.

The IAEA is an autonomous intergovernmental...

FY2016 Changes to DOD's 1033 Program

This report briefly discusses the current status of the Department of Defense's (DOD's) 1033 Program, under which excess DOD property -- such as personal computers, vehicles, and firearms -- are made available to qualified federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies.

Federal Support for Graduate Medical Education: An Overview

Access to health care is, in part, determined by the availability of physicians, a function of the physician supply. Policymakers have demonstrated a long-standing interest in access to care, both in general and for specific populations. Moreover, federal support for medical residency training (a.k.a., graduate medical education [GME]) is the largest source of federal support for the health care workforce. Although the health workforce includes a number of professions, the size of the federal investment in GME—estimated at $15 billion in FY2012—makes it a policy lever often considered to...

FY2017 Defense Budget Request: In Brief

The Administration’s FY2017 budget request includes $619.5 billion for national defense of which $590.6 billion is for the Department of Defense (DOD). Of the DOD total, $523.9 billion covers the base budget, discretionary spending subject to the spending caps established for FY2017 by the Balanced Budget Act (BBA) of 2015. An additional $58.8 billion of the DOD total is to support Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). OCO funding supports the continued U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and assistance to Iraqi and Syrian opposition forces. The OCO request also includes $3.4 billion to...

Brazil: Background and U.S. Relations

The United States traditionally has enjoyed robust economic and political relations with Brazil, which is the fifth most populous country and ninth-largest economy in the world. Brazil is recognized by the Obama Administration as a “major global player” and an “indispensable partner” on issues ranging from international development to climate change. Administration officials have often highlighted Brazil’s status as a multicultural democracy, referring to the country as a natural partner that shares values and goals with the United States. Bilateral ties have been strained from time to...

National Commission on the Future of the Army (NCFA): Background and Issues for Congress

Title XVII of the Carl Levin and Howard P. “Buck” McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 (P.L. 113-291) established the National Commission on the Future of the Army (NCFA) to conduct a comprehensive study of the structure of the Army. The NCFA reported its findings to Congress and the Administration on January 28, 2016, and made a number of recommendations that may or may not be acted upon.

Some have suggested the historical post-war practice of reducing defense budgets contributed to the perceived need for a commission to address proposed changes to the Army. The...

Military Maternity and Parental Leave Policies

This report briefly discusses the U.S. Department of Defense's (DOD) new policies for maternity and parental leave as part of the department's "Force of the Future" initiative.

Set-Asides for Small Businesses: Legal Requirements and Issues

It has long been the “declared policy of the Congress” that a “fair proportion” of federal contracts be awarded to small businesses. In support of this policy, Congress has enacted various statutes authorizing procuring agencies to conduct competitions in which only small businesses may compete, or to make noncompetitive (“sole-source”) awards to such firms in circumstances when similar awards could not be made to other firms.

Federal agencies can award contracts to small businesses by several different methods, depending upon the value of the contract and the number of small businesses...

Energy and Water Development: FY2016 Appropriations

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

President Obama’s FY2016 budget request was released February 2, 2015. Including adjustments, the request for Energy and Water Development agencies totaled $36.04 billion, compared with a total of $34.78...

Iran: U.S. Economic Sanctions and the Authority to Lift Restrictions

The United States has led the international community in imposing economic sanctions on Iran, in an effort to change the government of that country’s support of acts of international terrorism, poor human rights record, weapons and missile development and acquisition, role in regional instability, and development of a nuclear program.

This report identifies the legislative bases for sanctions imposed on Iran, and the nature of the authority to waive or lift those restrictions. It comprises two tables that present legislation and executive orders that are specific to Iran and its...

The U.S. Military Presence in Okinawa and the Futenma Base Controversy

Although the U.S.-Japan alliance is often labeled as “the cornerstone” of security in the Asia Pacific region, local concerns about the U.S. military presence on the Japanese island of Okinawa have challenged the management of the alliance for decades. The Japanese archipelago serves as the most significant forward-operating platform for the U.S. military in the region; approximately 53,000 military personnel (39,000 onshore and 14,000 afloat in nearby waters), 43,000 dependents, and 5,000 Department of Defense civilian employees live in Japan. With the United States rebalancing its...

GAO Bid Protests: An Overview of Time Frames and Procedures

For purposes of federal law, a bid protest involves a written objection to the conduct of government agencies in acquiring supplies and services for their direct use or benefit. Such conduct can include (1) soliciting or otherwise requesting offers; (2) cancelling such solicitations or requests; (3) awarding or proposing to award a contract; (4) terminating or cancelling a contract due to improprieties involving its award; or (5) converting functions performed by government employees to private sector performance. Bid protests are of perennial interest to Congress, in part, because of the...

North Korea: U.S. Relations, Nuclear Diplomacy, and Internal Situation

North Korea has presented one of the most vexing and persistent problems in U.S. foreign policy in the post-Cold War period. The United States has never had formal diplomatic relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (the official name for North Korea), although since 2000 contact at a lower level has ebbed and flowed. Negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program have occupied the past three U.S. administrations, even as some analysts anticipated a collapse of the isolated authoritarian regime. North Korea has been the recipient of over $1 billion in U.S. aid...

North Korea: A Comparison of S. 1747, S. 2144, and H.R. 757

This report compares S. 1747, the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act of 2015, as introduced in the Senate by Senator Menendez on July 9, 2015; S. 2144, the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2015, introduced in the Senate by Senator Gardner on October 6, 2015; and H.R. 757, the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act of 2015, introduced in the House by Representative Royce on February 5, 2015, and passed, as amended by the Committee on Foreign Affairs, by the House on January 12, 2016, by a vote of 418-2.

Continuing Resolutions: Overview of Components and Recent Practices

Congress uses an annual appropriations process to fund the routine activities of most federal agencies. This process anticipates the completion of 12 regular appropriations bills to fund these activities before the beginning of the fiscal year. Over the past half century, the timing of congressional action on regular appropriations bills has varied considerably, but enactment after the start of the fiscal year has been a recurring issue. Until regular appropriations for a fiscal year are enacted, one or more continuing appropriations acts (commonly known as continuing resolutions or CRs)...

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...

Goldwater-Nichols and the Evolution of Officer Joint Professional Military Education (JPME)

In November 2015, the Senate Armed Services Committee initiated a review of the Goldwater-Nichols Act (GNA). This piece of legislation, enacted in 1986 and amended in subsequent years, led to major reforms in defense organization. The year 2016 will mark the 30th anniversary of this landmark legislation, and lawmakers have expressed interest in whether the changes, as implemented, are achieving the goals of the reform, and whether further reforms are needed to achieve current and future national security goals.

One of Congress’s main goals of the legislation was to improve joint...

Intelligence Authorization Legislation for FY2014 and FY2015: Provisions, Status, Intelligence Community Framework

Two Intelligence Authorization Acts (IAAs) were passed in 2014. The IAA for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 (P.L. 113-126) was passed in July and an IAA for FY2015 (P.L. 113-293) was passed in December. This report examines selected provisions in the legislation and provides an intelligence community framework in the Appendix. Summary of Selected Legislative Provisions

Title IAA FY2014 (P.L. 113-126)IAA FY2015 (P.L. 113-293) I. Intelligence ActivitiesSection104 supports the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity.

III. General Matters Section 305 codifies provisions already in E.O....

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

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

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

Perspectives on Enhanced Interrogation Techniques

This report briefly summarizes what constituted Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EITs), provides background on their adoption and use, and discusses differing views on three questions that underpin discussion and debate of this topic.

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

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

U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: Recent Trends and FY2016 Appropriations

Geographic proximity has forged strong linkages between the United States and the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, with critical U.S. interests encompassing economic, political, and security concerns. U.S. policymakers have emphasized different strategic interests in the region at different times, from combating Soviet influence during the Cold War to advancing democracy and open markets since the 1990s. Current U.S. policy is designed to promote economic and social opportunity, ensure the safety of the region’s citizens, strengthen effective democratic institutions, and secure...

North Korea's January 6, 2016, Nuclear Test

This report provides a brief background about North Korea's announcement that it successfully tested a "hydrogen bomb" (its fourth nuclear test) on January 6, 2016. The official statement also called the device an experimental or "pilot H-bomb."

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2016 Budget and Appropriations

On February 2, 2015, the Obama Administration submitted to Congress its budget request for FY2016. The request for State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) totals $54.08 billion, or a 4% increase from FY2015-estimated levels. Within that amount

$47.04 billion is requested for enduring or core funding and $7.05 billion is designated as Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding, excluding add-ons and rescissions;

$17.55 billion of the total request is for State Department Operations and related agencies (10.6% increase over FY2015 estimates);

$36.53 billion is for Foreign...

The “8(a) Program” for Small Businesses Owned and Controlled by the Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: Legal Requirements and Issues

Commonly known as the “8(a) Program,” the Minority Small Business and Capital Ownership Development Program is one of several federal contracting programs for small businesses. The 8(a) Program provides participating small businesses with training, technical assistance, and contracting opportunities in the form of set-asides and sole-source awards. A “set-aside” is an acquisition in which only certain contractors may compete, while a sole-source award is a contract awarded, or proposed for award, without competition. In FY2014, the federal government spent over $16 billion on contracts and...

Using Data to Improve Defense Acquisitions: Background, Analysis, and Questions for Congress

Many analysts believe that data analysis is a critical element in making smart, informed, policy decisions and in managing government programs. Without data, there may not be an appropriate basis for making policy decisions, measuring or assessing the effectiveness of government programs, or providing transparency into government operations. Despite the importance of data, most observers believe that the Department of Defense (DOD), and other government agencies lag behind the private sector in effectively incorporating data analyses into decisionmaking. These analysts argue that by using...

Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2007-2014

This report provides Congress with official, unclassified, quantitative data on conventional arms transfers to developing nations by the United States and foreign countries for the preceding eight calendar years for use in its policy oversight functions. All agreement and delivery data in this report for the United States are government-to-government Foreign Military Sales (FMS) transactions. Similar data are provided on worldwide conventional arms transfers by all government suppliers, but the principal focus is the level of arms transfers by major weapons supplying governments to nations...

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

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

“Disadvantaged” Small Businesses: Definitions and Designations for Purposes of Federal and Federally Funded Contracting Programs

Three primary categories of “disadvantaged” small businesses are currently eligible for various contracting programs under federal law: (1) small businesses participating in the Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) Minority Small Business and Capital Ownership Development Program (commonly known as the 8(a) Program) (8(a) participants); (2) “small disadvantaged businesses” (SDBs); and (3) “disadvantaged business enterprises” (DBEs). All programs are based in statute. Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act authorizes the 8(a) Program; Section 8(d) of the Small Business Act, the SDB...

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

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

What Is “Building Partner Capacity?” Issues for Congress

Since 2001, successive U.S. administrations have increasingly prioritized efforts to build foreign security forces—particularly in weak and failing states—arguing that doing so advances U.S. national security objectives. In turn, the Department of Defense (DOD) has invested billions of dollars in “Building Partner Capacity,” a term that refers to a broad set of missions, programs, activities, and authorities intended to improve the ability of other nations to achieve those security-oriented goals they share with the United States. As a consequence, these efforts and programs have been a...

The Air Force Aviation Investment Challenge

The U.S. Air Force is in the midst of an ambitious aviation modernization program, driven primarily by the age of its current aircraft fleets. Four major programs are in procurement, with five more in research and development (R&D).

The need to replace several types of aircraft simultaneously poses challenges to future budgets, as the new programs compete with existing program commitments and normal program growth under a restricted service topline. The impending expiration of caps imposed by the Balanced Budget Act coincides with when modernization programs can be expected to experience...

FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Issues

This report summarizes selected highlights of S. 1356, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (FY2016 NDAA), which was passed by the House of Representatives on November 5, 2015, passed by the Senate on November 10, 2015, and signed by the President on November 25, 2015 (P.L. 114-92), and an initial bill, H.R. 1735, that was passed by both the House and the Senate.

The President had vetoed H.R. 1735, an earlier version of the FY2016 NDAA, on October 22, 2015. In his veto message, the President objected that the bill would have provided more funding for defense-related...

Energy and Water Development: FY2016 Appropriations for Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Stewardship

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

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

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

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

Federal Contracting and Subcontracting with Small Businesses: Legislation in the 113th Congress

Congress has generally broad authority to impose requirements upon the federal procurement process (i.e., the process whereby agencies acquire supplies and services from other entities for the agency’s direct benefit or use). One of the many ways in which Congress has exercised this authority is by enacting measures that encourage agencies to contract and subcontract with “small businesses.” For purposes of federal procurement law, the term small business generally denotes a business that (1) is independently owned and operated, (2) is not dominant in its field of operations, and (3) has...

Spain and Its Relations with the United States: In Brief

The United States and Spain have extensive cultural ties and a mutually beneficial economic relationship, and the two countries cooperate closely on numerous diplomatic and security issues. Spain has been a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) since 1982 and a member of the European Union (EU) since 1986.

Given its role as a close U.S. ally and partner, developments in Spain and its relations with the United States are of continuing interest to the U.S. Congress. This report provides an overview and assessment of some of the main dimensions of these topics.

Domestic...

Nepal: Political Developments and U.S. Relations

Nepal is a poor country of an estimated 31 million people that has undergone a radical political transformation since 2006, when a 10-year armed struggle by Maoist insurgents, which claimed at least 13,000 lives, officially came to an end. The country’s king stepped down in 2006, and two years later Nepal declared itself a republic, electing a Constituent Assembly (CA) in 2008 to write a new constitution. A second CA elected in 2013 reached agreement on a new constitution in September 2015. Though the process of democratization begun in 2006 has had setbacks and has been marked by...

Fact Sheet: Selected Highlights of the FY2016 Defense Budget Debate and the National Defense Authorization Acts (H.R. 1735 and S. 1356)

This fact sheet summarizes selected highlights of the versions of S. 1356, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2016, which was passed by the House of Representatives on November 5, 2015, passed by the Senate on November 10, 2015, and signed by the President on November 25, 2015 (P.L. 114-92 ).

The President had vetoed H.R. 1735, an earlier version of the FY2016 NDAA, on October 22, 2015. In his veto message, the President objected that the bill would have provided more funding for defense-related activities than would be allowed under spending caps that then were in...

The National Nanotechnology Initiative: Overview, Reauthorization, and Appropriations Issues

Nanotechnology—a term encompassing the science, engineering, and applications of submicron materials—involves the harnessing of unique physical, chemical, and biological properties of nanoscale substances in fundamentally new and useful ways. The economic and societal promise of nanotechnology has led to investments by governments and companies around the world. In 2000, the United States launched the world’s first national nanotechnology program. From FY2001 through FY2015, the federal government invested approximately $20.9 billion in nanoscale science, engineering, and technology...

The Islamic State—Frequently Asked Questions: Threats, Global Implications, and U.S. Policy Responses

In the wake of the deadly November 13, 2015, terrorist attacks in Paris, U.S. policymakers are faced with a wide range of strategy and operational considerations related to the activities of and threats emanating from the Islamic State (IS). A terrorist attack such as this prompts an examination of U.S. domestic security precautions; the role of allies and coalition partners; the appropriate military and diplomatic reactions; the safety and security of infrastructure and that of travelers; and numerous additional discrete issues that require the active involvement of dozens of federal,...

The November 2015 Terrorist Siege in Mali

On November 20, 2015, gunmen laid siege to the Radisson Blu, a hotel popular with foreigners in Mali's capital, Bamako. This report discusses issues for Congress in the wake of the attack.

The Evolution of Cooperative Threat Reduction: Issues for Congress

The United States uses a number of policy tools to address the threat of attack using chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons. These include a set of financial and technical programs known, variously, as cooperative threat reduction (CTR) programs, nonproliferation assistance, or, global security engagement. Congress has supported these programs over the years, but has raised a number of questions about their implementation and their future direction.

Over the years, the CTR effort shifted from an emergency response to impending chaos in the Soviet Union to a broader...

Chile: Background and U.S. Relations

Chile, located along the Pacific coast of South America, is a politically stable, upper-middle-income nation of 18 million people. In 2013, Michelle Bachelet and her center-left “New Majority” coalition won the presidency and sizeable majorities in both houses of the Chilean Congress after campaigning on a platform of ambitious reforms designed to reduce inequality and improve social mobility. Since her inauguration to a four-year term in March 2014, President Bachelet has signed into law significant changes to the tax, education, and electoral systems. She has also proposed a number of...

The Family and Medical Leave Act: An Overview of Title I

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA; P.L. 103-3, as amended) entitles eligible employees to unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons, with continued group health plan coverage.

FMLA requires that covered employers grant up to 12 workweeks in a 12-month period to eligible employees for one or more of the following reasons:

the birth and care of the employee’s newborn child, provided that leave is taken within 12 months of the child’s birth;

the placement of an adopted or fostered child with the employee, provided that leave is taken within 12 months...

Cybersecurity and Information Sharing: Comparison of H.R. 1560 (PCNA and NCPAA) and S. 754 (CISA)

Effective sharing of information in cybersecurity is generally considered an important tool for protecting information systems from unauthorized access. Five bills on such sharing have been introduced in the 114th Congress—H.R. 234, H.R. 1560, H.R. 1731, S. 456, and S. 754, and relevant provisions have appeared in other bills. The White House has also submitted a legislative proposal and issued an executive order on the topic.

H.R. 1560, the Protecting Cyber Networks Act (PCNA), and H.R. 1731, the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act of 2015 (NCPAA), passed the House the week...

The Iran Hostages: Efforts to Obtain Compensation

Even today, after the passage of some three decades, the 1979-1981 Iran Hostage Crisis remains an event familiar to most Americans. Many might be unaware that the 52 American mostly military and diplomatic personnel held hostage in Tehran for 444 days continue to strive for significant compensation for their ordeal. The former hostages and their families did receive a number of benefits under various civil service laws, and each hostage received from the U.S. government a cash payment of $50 for each day held hostage. The hostages have never received any compensation from Iran through...

The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases

Congress has always restricted federal debt. The Second Liberty Bond Act of 1917 included an aggregate limit on federal debt as well as limits on specific debt issues. Through the 1920s and 1930s, Congress altered the form of those restrictions to give the U.S. Treasury more flexibility in debt management and to allow modernization of federal financing. In 1939, a general limit was placed on federal debt.

Federal debt accumulates when the government sells debt to the public to finance budget deficits and to meet federal obligations or when it issues debt to government accounts, such as the...

Aiding Israel after the Iran Nuclear Deal: Issues for Congress

This report discusses recent indications from the Obama administration that the United States may provide Israel with additional military aid during the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran.

Cargo Preferences for U.S.-Flag Shipping

Long-standing U.S. policy has treated the U.S.-flag international fleet as a naval auxiliary to be available in times of war or national emergency. When the United States is involved in an extended military conflict overseas, 90% or more of military cargoes are typically carried by ship. To support the U.S. merchant marine, Congress has required that “government-impelled” cargo sent overseas be carried on U.S.-flag ships. Government-impelled cargo (a.k.a. “preference cargo”) is government-owned cargo, such as military supplies and food aid, and any cargo that is somehow financed by the...

Air Force Bomber Contract Awarded

This report briefly discusses the Department of Defense's recent announcement of its intention to award the contract to build the new Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) to Northrop Grumman Corporation. The program will continue under the LRS-B name; the Air Force has not yet assigned the aircraft a "B-3"-style type designation.

U.S. Foreign Assistance to the Middle East: Historical Background, Recent Trends, and the FY2016 Request

This report is an overview of U.S. foreign assistance to the Middle East and North Africa. It includes a review of the President’s FY2016 request for the region, a description of selected country programs, and an analysis of current foreign aid issues. We anticipate updating it annually.

Since 1946, the United States has provided an estimated total of between $282 billion to $292 billion (obligations in current dollars) in foreign assistance to the region. For FY2016, overall non-humanitarian bilateral aid requested for Middle East and North Africa countries amounts to $7.14 billion, or...

Impact Aid, Title VIII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act: A Primer

The Impact Aid program, administered by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and authorized by Title VIII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is one of the oldest federal education programs, dating from 1950. Impact Aid compensates local educational agencies (LEAs) for “substantial and continuing financial burden” resulting from federal activities. These activities include federal ownership of certain lands, as well as the enrollments in LEAs of children whose parents work or live on federal land and children living on Indian lands. The federal government provides...

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...

Presidential Vetoes of Annual Defense Authorization Bills

This report briefly discusses the historical precedent of Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter's recommendation that President Obama veto the conference report on H.R. 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2016. If Obama were to veto the measure, it would mark the fifth time since 1961 that a president has vetoed that measure.

The Lord’s Resistance Army: The U.S. Response

The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), led by Joseph Kony, is a small, dispersed armed group active in remote areas of Central Africa. The LRA’s infliction of widespread human suffering and its potential threat to regional stability have drawn significant attention in recent years, including in Congress. Campaigns by U.S.-based advocacy groups have contributed to policymakers’ interest.

Since 2008, the United States has provided support to Ugandan-led military operations to capture or kill LRA commanders, which since 2012 have been integrated into an African Union (AU) “Regional Task Force”...

Zivotofsky v. Kerry: The Jerusalem Passport Case and Its Potential Implications for Congress’s Foreign Affairs Powers

The Supreme Court in its last term by a vote of 6-3 invalidated a statute passed by Congress touching on the status of Jerusalem, affirming the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit decision in Zivotofsky v. Secretary of State that the President’s power to recognize foreign sovereigns is exclusive and trumps Congress’s authority to regulate passports. The Court’s decision in Zivotofsky v. Kerry (Zivotofsky II) represents the first time the Court has struck down a congressionally enacted law on the basis of a separation-of-powers infringement involving a matter of foreign affairs. At...

Selected Legal Mechanisms Whereby the Government Can Hold Contractors Accountable for Failure to Perform or Other Misconduct

Reports of “waste, fraud, and abuse” in federal contracting often prompt questions about what the government can do to hold its vendors accountable for failure to perform as required under their contracts, or for legal violations or other misconduct unrelated to contract performance. Broadly speaking, the government can be seen as having two types of legal recourse available to it in such situations. The first type involves rights provided to the government as terms of its contracts, which the government may exercise without resort to judicial proceedings. The second type involves other...

Human Rights in China and U.S. Policy: Issues for the 114th Congress

This report examines human rights issues in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), including ongoing rights abuses, and legal developments. Major events of the past two years include a clampdown on political dissent and civil society and an escalation of violence in Xinjiang, which many experts attribute at least in part to repressive government policies. Some observers view the closing of the “Re-education Through Labor” penal system as a potentially positive development, although many PRC citizens still are subject to various forms of extra-legal detention. Other, ongoing human rights...

Long Range Strike Bomber Begins to Emerge

This report discusses the U.S. Air Force's top three procurement priorities, including the LRS-B program, which is intended to yield 80 to 100 strategic bombers to replace aging B-52s and B-1s, beginning in the mid-2020s.

Arms Control Ratification: Opportunities for Modifying Agreements

This report briefly examines arms control ratification and opportunities for modifying agreements. On July 14, 2015, Iran, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, and Germany (the P5+1) finalized a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)--an agreement that restricts Iran's nuclear program in an effort to ensure that it can only be used for peaceful purposes.

Renegotiating Arms Control Agreements: A Brief Review

This report discusses previous arms control agreements that affected U.S. weapons programs or military activities. On July 14, 2015, Iran, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, and Germany finalized a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)--an agreement that restricts Iran's nuclear program in an effort to ensure that it can only be used for peaceful purposes.

How Many UAVs for DOD?

This report briefly discusses the Department of Defense's (DOD) projected procurement levels for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or "drones") over the next several years.

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

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

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

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

Bundling and Consolidation of Contract Requirements Under the Small Business Act: Legal Overview

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R41133 Summary When used in reference to federal procurement contracts, “bundling” and “consolidation” are technical terms, whose meaning is prescribed by statute. Specifically, “bundling” denotes “consolidating 2 or more ... requirements for goods or services previously provided or performed under separate smaller contracts” into a solicitation for a single contract that is likely to be unsuitable for award to a small business due to its size or scope. “Consolidation” is similarly defined to mean soliciting a single contract to satisfy two...

Medal of Honor: History and Issues

The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest military award for bravery. It is awarded by the President in the name of Congress. For this reason, it is often referred to as the Congressional Medal of Honor. Since it was first presented in 1863, the medal has been awarded 3,512 times to 3,493 recipients. Nineteen individuals have been double recipients of the award.

Recipients of the Medal of Honor are afforded a number of benefits as a result of this award.

Since the award’s inception, the laws and regulations that apply to it have changed. In certain cases, the award has been rescinded....

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

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

U.S.-China Nuclear Cooperation Agreement

Negotiated by the Reagan Administration nearly 30 years ago, the current U.S. peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is set to expire on December 30, 2015. President Obama submitted a new 30-year U.S.-China nuclear cooperation agreement for congressional review on April 21, 2015. Among other provisions, the agreement would allow for uranium enrichment up to a level less than 20% U-235 and Chinese reprocessing of U.S.-obligated material at safeguarded facilities. The required congressional review period ended on July 31.

Such agreements are often...

Iran Nuclear Agreement: CRS Experts

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R44139 Summary Congress is currently in a period of formal review, being conducted on the basis of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (P.L. 114-17), of the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA) nuclear agreement concluded between Iran and six negotiating powers (“P5+1”) on July 14. The period for initial congressional review under the Act is to conclude on September 17. The agreement has raised a wide variety of questions in Congress. Issues include the specific terms of the deal; the implications for inspections, proliferation,...

Overview and Issues for Implementation of the Federal Cloud Computing Initiative: Implications for Federal Information Technology Reform Management

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R42887 Summary Cloud computing is a new name for an old concept: the delivery of computing services from a remote location, analogous to the way electricity, water, and other utilities are provided to most customers. Cloud computing services are delivered through a network, usually the Internet. Some cloud services are adaptations of familiar applications, such as e-mail and word processing. Others are new applications that never existed as a local application, such as online maps and social networks. Since 2009, the federal government has...

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

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

Trafficking in Persons: International Dimensions and Foreign Policy Issues for Congress

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R42497 Summary Trafficking in persons, or human trafficking, refers to the subjection of men, women, and children to exploitative conditions that can be tantamount to slavery. Reports suggest that human trafficking is a global phenomenon, victimizing millions of people each year and contributing to a multi-billion dollar criminal industry. It is a centuries-old problem that, despite international and U.S. efforts to eliminate it, continues to occur in virtually every country in the world. Human trafficking is also an international and...

Political Transition in Tunisia

Tunisia has taken key steps toward democracy since the “Jasmine Revolution” in 2011, and has so far avoided the violent chaos and/or authoritarian resurrection seen in other “Arab Spring” countries. Tunisians adopted a new constitution in January 2014 and held national elections between October and December 2014, marking the completion of a four-year transitional period. A secularist party, Nidaa Tounes (“Tunisia’s Call”), won a plurality of seats in parliament, and its leader Béji Caïd Essebsi was elected president. The results reflect a decline in influence for the country’s main...

Iran Nuclear Agreement: Selected Issues for Congress

The nuclear agreement between Iran and six negotiating powers (“P5+1:” United States, France, Britain, Germany, Russia, and China), finalized on July 14, 2015, raises a wide variety of issues as Congress undertakes a formal review under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (P.L. 114-17). The Administration submitted the 150+ page text (including annexes) of the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” (JCPOA) to Congress on July 19, 2015, and the period for congressional review under the act is to conclude on September 17. Should the agreement stand after review processes in Congress and in...

Guinea: In Brief

Guinea is one of three countries most affected by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which has affected the country’s economy, social relations, food security, and politics. A former French colony on West Africa’s Atlantic coast with a population of about 11 million, Guinea is rich in natural resources, but poverty is widespread. President Alpha Condé, a former opposition leader, was voted into office in 2010 in Guinea’s first ever presidential election organized by an independent electoral commission and without an incumbent candidate. His inauguration brought an end to a turbulent period...

“Fast Track” Legislative Procedures Governing Congressional Consideration of a Defense Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) Commission Report

In 1988, 1991, 1993, 1995, and 2005, an independent Defense Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) Commission was authorized by law to recommend the disposal of unneeded defense facilities throughout the United States. The Department of Defense (DOD) formally asked Congress to provide it with statutory authority to conduct another round of base closures and realignments in 2015, but no new round was authorized.

Under the terms of the statutes that authorized these previous BRAC rounds, the BRAC Commission’s recommendations automatically take effect unless, within a stated period after the...

Questions of the Privileges of the House: An Analysis

A question of the privileges of the House is a formal declaration by a Member of the House asserting that a situation has arisen affecting “the rights of the House collectively, its safety, dignity and the integrity of its proceedings.” Once a question of the privileges of the House is raised, the Speaker must, at some point, entertain the question and rule on its validity. The Speaker makes such a ruling with guidance from the House Parliamentarian based on House rule and precedent. If it is ruled to be valid, a question of the privileges of the House will be considered and possibly voted...

Thailand: Background and U.S. Relations

Thailand is a long-time military ally and a significant trade and economic partner for the United States. For many years, Thailand was seen as a model democracy in Southeast Asia, although this image, along with U.S.-Thai relations, has been complicated by deep political and economic instability in the wake of two military coups in the past nine years. The first, in 2006, displaced Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a popular but polarizing figure who is currently living in exile. The second, in 2014, deposed an acting prime minister after Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, was ousted...

Defense Health Program Funding Shortfall for Fiscal Year 2015

This report describes the defense health program (DHP) and discusses the DHP budget.

U.S.-Kenya Relations: Current Political and Security Issues

The U.S. government views Kenya as a strategic partner and a key regional actor in East Africa, and as critical to regional counterterrorism efforts. Kenya has repeatedly been a target of terrorist attacks, and, as the deadly September 2013 assault on a Nairobi shopping mall and subsequent attacks have underscored, terrorist threats in Kenya remain a serious concern. Heightened threats have led the U.S. government to reevaluate the size of its presence in the country, which hosts the largest U.S. diplomatic mission in Africa and one of four major U.N. offices worldwide.

Kenya’s military...

Laws Affecting the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program

For more than 50 years, the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program has been providing health insurance coverage to federal employees, retirees, and their dependents. It is the largest employer-sponsored health insurance program in the country, covering about 8.2 million enrollees each year.

The program was created by the Federal Employees Health Benefits Act of 1959 (FEHBA; P.L. 86-382). FEHBA and its subsequent amendments established the parameters for eligibility; election of coverage; the types of health plans and benefits that may be offered; and the level of the government’s...

War Funding and the Budget Control Act: In Brief

In the FY2016 debate on the level of defense spending, Congress is considering how to stay within the spending limits, or caps, set by the Budget Control Act (BCA). Under the BCA, all defense spending for the defense base budget—excluding amounts designated for “Overseas Contingency Operations” (OCO) or emergencies—is subject to annual BCA caps.

For funds to be counted as OCO funding that is essentially exempt from BCA caps, Congress must first designate funds in law on an account-by-account basis, and the President must subsequently do the same. The OCO designation therefore requires a...

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID): Background, Operations, and Issues

This report provides background information on the institutional makeup and operations of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the leading international humanitarian and development arm of the U.S. government. The report then discusses in greater depth several aspects of the agency that might be of particular congressional interest.

In FY2015, USAID is responsible for more than $20 billion in appropriations, representing more than one-third of the International Affairs 150 budget function and more than half of total foreign assistance encompassed by the State, Foreign...

GAO Bid Protests: Trends and Analysis

Bid protests on federal government contracts filed with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have received congressional scrutiny due to protests of high-profile awards and reports that the number of protests is increasing. Concerns over delays in contract award or performance triggered by a GAO protest, coupled with the increasing number of GAO protests, have prompted concerns about the potential impact of protests upon government agency operations, especially in the Department of Defense (DOD). Both the House- and Senate- passed versions of the FY2016 National Defense Authorization...

Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order: Questions and Answers

On July 31, 2014, President Obama issued Executive Order 13673, Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces, with the stated intent of “increas[ing] efficiency and cost savings in the work performed by parties who contract with the Federal Government by ensuring that they understand and comply with labor laws.” The order requires that executive branch procurement contractors disclose information about their compliance with 14 specified federal labor laws and their state equivalents as part of the award process. It also requires that agency contracting officers take these disclosures into consideration...

U.S. Command and Control and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Aircraft

The fleet of manned aircraft accomplishing the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) Command and Control (C2) and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions for the joint military community (E-8, E-3, RC-135, WC-135, OC-135, and E-6) is primarily based on Boeing 707 aircraft procured from the 1960s to the early 1990s. As the age of these legacy C2ISR aircraft increases, understanding the Air Force and Navy modernization and recapitalization plans is likely important for Congress. This report examines the Air Force’s and Navy’s current sustainment, modernization, and...

Presidential Appointments to Full-Time Positions in Executive Departments During the 113th Congress

The President makes appointments to positions within the federal government, either using the authorities granted by law to the President alone, or with the advice and consent of the Senate. There are some 351 full-time leadership positions in the 15 executive departments for which the Senate provides advice and consent. This report identifies all nominations submitted to the Senate during the 113th Congress for full-time positions in these 15 executive departments.

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

The Tibetan Policy Act of 2002: Background and Implementation

The Tibetan Policy Act of 2002 (TPA) is a core legislative measure guiding U.S. policy toward Tibet. Its stated purpose is “to support the aspirations of the Tibetan people to safeguard their distinct identity.” Among other provisions, the TPA establishes in statute the State Department position of Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues and defines the Special Coordinator’s “central objective” as being “to promote substantive dialogue” between the government of the People’s Republic of China and Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, or his representatives. The Special...

Kazakhstan

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Budget for FY2016

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) conducts scientific research in areas such as ecosystems, climate, global climate change, weather, and oceans; supplies information and data on the oceans and atmosphere; and manages coastal and marine organisms and environments. In 1970, Reorganization Plan No. 4 created NOAA in the Department of Commerce. Reorganization Plan No. 4 brought together environmental agencies from within the Department of Commerce, such as the National Weather Service, and from other departments and agencies, such as the Department of the Interior’s...

Acquisition Reform in House- and Senate-Passed Versions of the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1735)

For purposes of this analysis, CRS selected 35 sections of the House-passed version of FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1735), and 47 sections of the Senate-passed version of FY2016 NDAA (also H.R. 1735) that appear closely linked to the respective committee’s efforts to reform the acquisition system (excluding Sense of Congress). Each section is identified as fitting into one (or more) of the following four overarching categories: gathering information for future action, streamlining the current process, improving the effectiveness of the current process, and/or improving...

U.S.-Republic of Korea Nuclear Cooperation Agreement

The United States and South Korea have cooperated in the peaceful use of nuclear energy for over 50 years. This cooperation includes commercial power reactor projects as well as research and development work on safety, safeguards, advanced nuclear reactors, and fuel cycle technologies. This report discusses the new civilian nuclear cooperation agreement between the United States and South Korea.

Recruiting and Retention: An Overview of FY2013 and FY2014 Results for Active and Reserve Component Enlisted Personnel

Congress has historically been quite interested in recruiting and retention of personnel in the nation’s Armed Forces, since maintaining a fully manned and capable workforce is a key component of military readiness. This report provides a brief overview of the recruiting and retention results for Active and Reserve Component enlisted personnel during FY2013 and FY2014.

Recruiting and Retention Metrics

Recruiting performance for enlisted personnel is principally measured in terms of meeting quantity and quality goals. Quantity goals are based on the projected need for new personnel each...

U.S. Air Force Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Sustainment, Modernization, and Recapitalization: Background and Issues for Congress

Determining the future role of U.S. nuclear weapons within the U.S. national security strategy is currently a topic of much debate. Many senior leaders are determined to design a strategy that defines a new role for U.S. nuclear weapons and makes those weapons responsive and relevant in today’s global threat environment. The current U.S. nuclear enterprise consists of a triad of options: Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs), and long-range bombers. All three legs of the nuclear triad are aging, since they were largely built to counter...

Navy Shipboard Lasers for Surface, Air, and Missile Defense: Background and Issues for Congress

This report focuses on potential Navy shipboard lasers for countering surface, air, and ballistic missile threats. It does not discuss the use of lasers on Navy aircraft or submarines, or the use of lasers by other military services. This report is based on unclassified, open-domain information from the Navy, industry, and research organizations such as RAND.

Federal Student Loans Made Under the Federal Family Education Loan Program and the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program: Terms and Conditions for Borrowers

The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (DL) program, authorized under Title IV, Part D of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), as amended, is the primary federal student loan program administered by the U.S. Department of Education (ED). The program makes available loans to undergraduate and graduate students and the parents of dependent undergraduate students to help them finance their postsecondary education expenses. Four types of loans are offered: Subsidized Stafford Loans for undergraduate students; Unsubsidized Stafford Loans for undergraduate and graduate students; PLUS Loans...

Chinese Land Reclamation in the South China Sea: Implications and Policy Options

Since September 2013, China has undertaken extensive reclamation and construction on several reefs in the Spratly Island chain in the South China Sea, raising a variety of concerns in the United States and Asia. The reclamation has created over 2,000 acres (809 hectares) of artificial landmasses on Chinese-occupied reefs that are disputed between several countries and are located in some of the world’s most heavily trafficked waters. China announced on June 16, 2015, that its reclamation work would be completed “in the upcoming days,” and that when reclamation was finished, it would turn...

Cybersecurity and Information Sharing: Comparison of H.R. 1560 and H.R. 1731 as Passed by the House

Effective sharing of information in cybersecurity is generally considered an important tool for protecting information systems and their contents from unauthorized access by cybercriminals and other adversaries. Five bills on such sharing have been introduced in the 114th Congress—H.R. 234, H.R. 1560, H.R. 1731, S. 456, and S. 754. The White House has also submitted a legislative proposal and issued an executive order on the topic.

In the House, H.R. 1560, the Protecting Cyber Networks Act (PCNA), was reported out of the Intelligence Committee. H.R. 1731, the National Cybersecurity...

The United Kingdom: Background and Relations with the United States

Many U.S. officials and Members of Congress view the United Kingdom (UK) as the United States’ closest and most reliable ally. This perception stems from a combination of factors, including a sense of shared history, values, and culture, as well as extensive and long-established cooperation on a wide range of foreign policy and security issues. In the minds of many Americans, the UK’s strong role in Iraq and Afghanistan during the past decade reinforced an impression of closeness and solidarity.

2015 Election Result

The Conservative Party, led by incumbent Prime Minister David Cameron, won...

Intelligence Authorization Legislation for FY2016: Selected Provisions

This report briefly highlights key provisions of H.R. 2596, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (IAA for FY2016), which provides guidance to, and authorizes appropriations for, components of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC).

Critical Infrastructures: Background, Policy, and Implementation

The nation’s health, wealth, and security rely on the production and distribution of certain goods and services. The array of physical assets, functions, and systems across which these goods and services move are called critical infrastructures (e.g., electricity, the power plants that generate it, and the electric grid upon which it is distributed).

The national security community has been concerned for some time about the vulnerability of critical infrastructure to both physical and cyberattack. In May 1998, President Clinton released Presidential Decision Directive No. 63. The Directive...

Cybersecurity: Authoritative Reports and Resources, by Topic

Cybersecurity Issues for the Bulk Power System

In the United States, it is generally taken for granted that the electricity needed to power the U.S. economy is available on demand and will always be available to power our machines and devices. However, in recent years, new threats have materialized as new vulnerabilities have come to light, and a number of major concerns have emerged about the resilience and security of the nation’s electric power system. In particular, the cybersecurity of the electricity grid has been a focus of recent efforts to protect the integrity of the electric power system.

The increasing frequency of cyber...

Train and Equip Program for Syria: Authorities, Funding, and Issues for Congress

In 2014, Congress for the first time provided the President with authority and funds to overtly train and lethally equip vetted members of the Syrian opposition for select purposes. These purposes include supporting U.S. efforts to combat the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations in Syria and setting the conditions for a negotiated settlement to Syria’s civil war. The FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, P.L. 113-291) and the FY2015 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (P.L. 113-235) provided that up to $500 million could be transferred from...

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...

Procurement Debarment and Suspension of Government Contractors: Legal Overview

Debarment and suspension (collectively known as “exclusion”) are of perennial interest to Congress because exclusion is one of the primary techniques that federal agencies use to avoid dealings with vendors who have failed, or are deemed likely to fail, to meet their obligations under federal law or government contracts. Debarred contractors are generally ineligible for new federal contracts for a fixed period of time, while suspended contractors are generally ineligible for the duration of any investigation or litigation involving their conduct. Federal law specifies various grounds for...

In Brief: Options to Help Meet a Congressional Requirement for Nuclear Weapon “Pit” Production

A pit is the plutonium core of a thermonuclear weapon. Imploding it with conventional explosives provides the energy to detonate the rest of the weapon. The Rocky Flats Plant made up to 2,000 pits per year (ppy) through 1989; since then, the United States has made 29 pits for the stockpile. Yet the FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act requires the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which manages the nuclear weapons program, to produce at a rate of 80 ppy for 90 days in 2027. How can that requirement be met?

Pits are to be made at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s main...

Selected Issues in Homeland Security Policy for the 114th Congress

In 2001, in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, “homeland security” went from being a concept discussed among a relatively small cadre of policymakers and strategic thinkers to a broadly discussed issue in Congress. Debates over how to implement coordinated homeland security policy led to the passage of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-296) and the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Evolution of America’s response to terrorist threats has continued under the leadership of different Administrations, Congresses, and in a shifting...

Nuclear Weapon “Pit” Production: Options to Help Meet a Congressional Requirement

A pit is the plutonium core of a thermonuclear weapon. Imploding it with conventional explosives provides the energy to detonate the rest of the weapon. The Rocky Flats Plant made up to 2,000 pits per year (ppy) through 1989; since then, the United States has made 29 pits for the stockpile. Yet the FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act requires the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which manages the nuclear weapons program, to produce at a rate of 80 ppy for 90 days in 2027. How can that requirement be met?

Pits are to be made at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s main...

Deployable Federal Assets Supporting Domestic Disaster Response Operations: Summary and Considerations for Congress

For most disasters across the nation, the affected local, state, or tribal governments have sufficient capabilities to respond to the incident. However, for disasters with consequences that require unique capabilities or that overwhelm the existing capabilities of a respective state or tribal government, Congress has authorized and appropriated a suite of deployable federal assets to support domestic disaster response operations. This report reviews several key concepts about these federal assets, and highlights possible issues Congress may consider when evaluating their authorization and...

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies: FY2015 Appropriations

The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies appropriations bill provides funding for the planning, design, construction, alteration, and improvement of facilities used by active and reserve military components worldwide. It capitalizes military family housing and the U.S. share of the NATO Security Investment Program and finances the implementation of installation closures and realignments. It underwrites veterans benefit and health care programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), provides for the creation and maintenance of U.S. cemeteries and...

Contracting with Inverted Domestic Corporations: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Recent reports that certain entities continued to receive federal government contracts after reincorporating overseas have prompted questions about current and proposed restrictions on contracting with “inverted domestic corporations.” These questions are shaped, in part, by the broader debate over whether such corporations are to be seen as “deserters,” who change their corporate citizenship to avoid paying U.S. taxes, or as evidencing systemic problems in the U.S. tax code. However, they also reflect long-standing debate over whether and to what degree the federal procurement process...

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...

In-Country Refugee Processing: In Brief

The Obama Administration has established a new refugee program for certain minors in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras with a parent who is lawfully present in the United States. Created in response to the FY2012-FY2014 surge in unaccompanied child arrivals to the United States from these countries, the Administration has described the new Central American Minors (CAM) program as providing an alternative to a dangerous journey to the United States.

The CAM program is an in-country refugee processing program, which means that eligible minors will be processed by the U.S. government from...

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy: Issues for the 114th Congress

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

International Air Service Controversies: Frequently Asked Questions

“Open skies” agreements are a form of international civil air service agreement that facilitates international aviation in a deregulated environment. They eliminate government involvement in airline decisionmaking about international routes, capacity, and prices. Since 1992, the United States has reached 114 open skies agreements governing international air passenger and air freight services.

There are two ongoing controversies that are related to open skies agreements. One controversy involves some U.S. network airlines’ and labor unions’ opposition to the expansion of three fast-growing...

European Fighters in Syria and Iraq: Assessments, Responses, and Issues for the United States

The rising number of U.S. and European citizens traveling to fight with rebel and terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq has emerged as a growing concern for U.S. and European leaders, including Members of Congress. Several deadly terrorist attacks in Europe over the past year—including the killing of 17 people in Paris in January 2015—have heightened the perception that these individuals could pose a serious security threat. Increasingly, terrorist suspects in Europe appear to have spent time with groups fighting in the Middle East, especially with the Islamic State organization (also known...

FY2016 Military Construction Appropriations: President's Request and House Markup Compared

This report briefly discusses the financing of military construction. Military construction is normally funded through Title I of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies appropriations bill and provides funding for the planning, design, construction, alteration, and improvement of facilities used by active and reserve military components worldwide.

Locate an Agency or Program Within Appropriations Bills

This report provides an alphabetical listing of federal agencies and programs, and it is an aid to identify the major source of their appropriated funding. A listing of House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees is provided. Finding an agency.

2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force: Issues Concerning Its Continued Application

In response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States, Congress enacted the Authorization for Use of Military Force (2001 AUMF; P.L. 107-40; 50 U.S.C. §1541 note) to authorize the use of military force against those who perpetrated or provided support for the attacks. Under the authority of the 2001 AUMF, U.S. Armed Forces have conducted military operations in Afghanistan since October 2001. As armed conflict against Al Qaeda and the Taliban progressed, and U.S. counterterrorism strategy evolved, U.S. use of military force has expanded outside Afghanistan to...

Islamic State Financing and U.S. Policy Approaches

Countering the financial resources of the Islamic State, which has seized significant territory in Iraq and Syria and threatened to conduct attacks against the United States and its citizens, has become a significant national security priority for policymakers, including Members of Congress. By undermining the financial strength of the group, also known as ISIL or ISIS, policymakers seek to reduce its capability to conduct terrorist attacks, as well as to ultimately “degrade and ultimately destroy” the group. This effort includes a comprehensive look at how the group generates...

Military Funeral Honors and Military Cemeteries: Frequently Asked Questions

This report is written in response to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about military funeral honors and military cemeteries. It provides information to questions in three general areas: implementation of the funeral honors and eligibility criteria; components of the honor detail and the funeral ceremony; and specific questions on burial and honors at Arlington National Cemetery. It also cites legislation requiring the Department of Defense (DOD) to make military funeral honors available to every eligible veteran upon request.

Ballistic Missile Defense in the Asia-Pacific Region: Cooperation and Opposition

The growing number and modernization of ballistic missiles in the Asia-Pacific region poses a security challenge for the United States and its allies and is thus a concern for many in Congress. The United States has made ballistic missile defense (BMD) a central component of protection for forward-deployed U.S. forces and extended deterrence for allied security. The configuration of sensors, command-and-control centers, and BMD assets in the region has slowly evolved with contributions from treaty allies, primarily Japan, Australia, and South Korea.

Observers believe that North Korea has...

Cyberwarfare and Cyberterrorism: In Brief

Recent incidents have highlighted the lack of consensus internationally on what defines a cyberattack, an act of war in cyberspace, or cyberterrorism. Cyberwar is typically conceptualized as state-on-state action equivalent to an armed attack or use of force in cyberspace that may trigger a military response with a proportional kinetic use of force. Cyberterrorism can be considered “the premeditated use of disruptive activities, or the threat thereof, against computers and/or networks, with the intention to cause harm or further social, ideological, religious, political or similar...

Status of the Federal Perkins Loan Program: Frequently Asked Questions

The Federal Perkins Loan program authorizes the allocation of federal funds to institutions of higher education to assist them in capitalizing revolving loan funds for the purpose of making low-interest loans to students with exceptional financial need. Institutions participating in the program are required to provide matching funds equal to one-third of the federal funds they receive. Authorization of appropriations for the Perkins Loan program is due to expire at the end of FY2015, and the future operation of the program is uncertain. This report answers several frequently asked...

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

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

FY2015 Funding to Counter Ebola and the Islamic State (IS)

In 2014, two major global threats—the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the Islamic State (IS) in the Middle East—caused serious concern within the Obama Administration and among Members of Congress. In November 2014, the President requested a total of $11.7 billion for responding to the Ebola crisis and combatting the Islamic State.

On November 5, 2014, the President requested $6.18 billion in FY2015 emergency appropriations for Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of State and international assistance programs, and DOD to address the Ebola crisis domestically and overseas. The...

Federal Employees’ Retirement System: The Role of the Thrift Savings Plan

Federal employees participate in one of two retirement systems. The Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) was established in 1920 and covers only employees hired before 1984. Participants in the CSRS do not pay Social Security payroll taxes and they do not earn Social Security benefits. For a worker retiring after 30 years of federal service, a CSRS annuity will be equal to 56.25% of the average of his or her highest three consecutive years of basic pay.

The Social Security Amendments of 1983 (P.L. 98-21) required federal employees hired after 1983 to participate in Social Security....

Commemorative Works in the District of Columbia: Background and Practice

In 1783, the Continental Congress authorized the first memorial in American history, an equestrian statue to honor George Washington that was to be constructed by the “best artist” in Europe. Since that time, Congress has authorized more than 100 commemorative works in the District of Columbia. Even with multiple authorized works, however, no specific process existed for the creation of commemorative works for almost two centuries. While Congress has long been responsible for authorizing memorials on federal land, the process for approving site locations, memorial design plans, and funding...

Health Care for Veterans: Traumatic Brain Injury

In recent years, Congress, the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have increased attention to traumatic brain injury (TBI), which is known as a “signature wound” of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF). Although the early stages of TBI treatment may occur within the military health care system (if the injury occurs during military service), this report focuses on the VA health care system. In FY2015, VA spending for TBI is estimated to be $234 million. The VA projects the 10-year (FY2016–FY2025) costs of TBI to be $2.2 billion...

Internet Domain Names: Background and Policy Issues

Navigating the Internet requires using addresses and corresponding names that identify the location of individual computers. The Domain Name System (DNS) is the distributed set of databases residing in computers around the world that contain address numbers mapped to corresponding domain names, making it possible to send and receive messages and to access information from computers anywhere on the Internet. Many of the technical, operational, and management decisions regarding the DNS can have significant impacts on Internet-related policy issues such as intellectual property, privacy,...

Legal Authorities Governing Federal Contracting and Subcontracting with Small Businesses

Congress has generally broad authority to impose requirements upon the federal procurement process (i.e., the process whereby agencies obtain supplies and services from the private sector). One of the many ways in which Congress has exercised this authority is by enacting measures intended to promote contracting and subcontracting with “small businesses” by federal agencies. Among other things, these measures (1) declare a congressional policy of ensuring that a “fair proportion” of federal contract and subcontract dollars are awarded to small businesses; (2) establish government-wide and...

Climate Change Adaptation by Federal Agencies: An Analysis of Plans and Issues for Congress

Though Congress has debated the significance of global climate change and what federal policies, if any, should address them, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) since 2013 has identified the changing climate as one of the 30 most significant risks facing the federal government. President Obama established adaptation as a prominent part of his Climate Action Plan in June 2013. The November 2013 Executive Order 13653, Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change, directed agencies to undertake vulnerability assessments and planning for adaptation. The Administration...

Yemen: Background and U.S. Relations

This report provides an overview and analysis of U.S.-Yemeni relations amidst evolving political change in Yemeni leadership, ongoing U.S. counterterrorism operations against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operatives in Yemen’s hinterlands, and international efforts to bolster the country’s stability despite an array of daunting socio-economic problems. Along with determining how best to counter terrorist threats emanating from Yemen, Congress and U.S. policy makers also may consider the priority level and resources that should be accorded to attempts to stabilize Yemen and to...

Evaluating the “Past Performance” of Federal Contractors: Legal Requirements and Issues

Poor performance under a federal contract can have immediate consequences for contractors, who could be denied award or incentive fees, required to pay damages, or terminated for default. In addition, it could affect their ability to obtain future contracts because federal law generally requires agencies to evaluate contractors’ past performance and consider past performance information when making source selection decisions in negotiated procurements and determining whether prospective contractors are “responsible.” “Past performance” refers to performance on “active and physically...

The United States and Europe: Current Issues

Due to extensive cooperation on a wide range of issues, the relationship between the United States and Europe is often called the transatlantic partnership. The two sides have many common values and concerns, and have grown increasingly interdependent in terms of security and prosperity. The transatlantic relationship and the main areas of U.S.-European cooperation and shared interest are likely to have continuing implications for U.S. policy during the 114th Congress. Members of Congress may have an interest in considering the dimensions and dynamics of current issues in U.S.-European...

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...

China's Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ)

In November 2013, the People’s Republic of China (PRC, or China) announced that it would establish an “East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ),” covering a large swath of airspace over the East China Sea, including over small islands that are the subject of a territorial dispute among Japan, the PRC, and Taiwan. Beijing did not formally consult with other countries prior to the announcement, and its initial statement seemed to warn that China might use force against aircraft that did not follow its ADIZ guidelines. Senior officials from the United States and East Asian...

Energy and Water Development: FY2015 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), for the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), and the Department of Energy (DOE), as well as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and several other independent agencies.

President Obama’s FY2015 budget request for Energy and Water Development was released in March 2014. Including adjustments, the request totaled $34.26 billion, compared with a total of $34.13 billion appropriated for FY2014. The House approved the Energy and...

Issues in the Reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

The funding authorization for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), included in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-95), expires on September 30, 2015. In addition to setting spending levels, FAA authorization acts typically set policy on a wide range of issues related to civil aviation. This report considers topics that are likely to arise as the 114th Congress debates reauthorization.

Most FAA programs are financed through the Airport and Airway Trust Fund (AATF), sometimes referred to as the Aviation Trust Fund. The financial health of the AATF, which is funded...

Defense: FY2015 Authorization and Appropriations

In contrast with the debate over the FY2014 defense budget, congressional action on the FY2015 Department of Defense (DOD) “base budget” (that is, the part of the budget not associated with operations in Afghanistan or other situations designated by the President as emergencies) was not complicated by disputes over the total amount at issue. For both the FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the FY2015 Defense Appropriations Act, President Obama’s request, and versions of the legislation that were passed by the House, approved by the relevant Senate committees, and finally...

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2015 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for most of the Department of the Interior (DOI) and for agencies within other departments—including the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service within the Department of Health and Human Services. It also provides funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), arts and cultural agencies, and numerous other entities.

For FY2015, the President requested $30.69 billion for the approximately 30 agencies and entities typically funded in the annual Interior,...

Border Security: Immigration Inspections at Ports of Entry

About 362 million travelers (citizens and non-citizens) entered the United States in FY2013, including about 102 million air passengers and crew, 18 million sea passengers and crew, and 242 million land travelers. At the same time about 205,000 aliens were denied admission at ports of entry (POEs); and about 24,000 persons were arrested at POEs on criminal warrants.

Within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Office of Field Operations (OFO) is responsible for conducting immigration inspections at America’s 329 POEs. CBP’s primary...

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Legislation in the 113th Congress

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

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

The OSH Act: A Legal Overview

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

Competition in Federal Contracting: Legal Overview

Competition in federal procurement contracting has long been of interest to Congress and the executive branch, in part because of the belief that increased competition among potential vendors results in lower prices for the government. President Obama issued a memorandum calling for increased competition in federal contracting on March 4, 2009, shortly after taking office, and his Administration has sought to reduce the number of “noncompetitive” contracts by various means, including by issuing guidance on “Increasing Competition and Structuring Contracts for Best Results” in October 2009....

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2015 Budget and Appropriations

On December 16, 2014, Congress presented the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (H.R. 83), to the President, who signed it into law (P.L. 113-235) that same day. In Division J of that act, Congress appropriated $51.98 billion for the Department of State and Foreign Operations, including $9.26 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) and $2.53 billion to address the Ebola crisis.

The annual State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill (also referred to here as “foreign affairs appropriations” or “foreign affairs funding”) is the...

Morocco: Current Issues

Successive U.S. Administrations have viewed Morocco as an important regional ally, a partner in counterterrorism, and a free trade counterpart. Morocco receives substantial U.S. development aid, and bilateral trade and investment have increased following a 2006 Free Trade Agreement. Morocco also benefits from U.S. security assistance and military cooperation, and is a purchaser of U.S. defense articles, including F-16 jets. Some observers have placed greater emphasis on the U.S.-Morocco relationship amid regional turmoil and terrorist threats emanating from neighboring states in North...

Contemporary Federal Museum Authorizations in the District of Columbia: Past Practices and Options for Congress

Congress has played a role in establishing museums that have become part of the Smithsonian Institution (e.g., the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of African American History and Culture) and museums that operate independently (e.g., the National Gallery of Art and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum). Historically, for most museums operated in whole or in part by the federal government, congressional authorization has been required.

Congressional action is likely required to authorize a new federal museum. In the 113th Congress (2013-2014),...

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

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

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

Biomass: Comparison of Definitions in Legislation

The use of biomass as an energy feedstock has regularly been presented as a potentially viable alternative to address U.S. energy security concerns, foreign oil dependence, and rural economic development, and as a tool to possibly help improve the environment (e.g., through greenhouse gas emission reduction). Biomass (organic matter that can be converted into energy) may include food crops, crops grown specifically to produce energy (e.g., switchgrass or prairie perennials), crop residues, wood waste and byproducts, and animal manure. Most legislation involving biomass has focused on...

Proposed Retirement of A-10 Aircraft: Background in Brief

The Administration’s fiscal 2015 budget proposed to retire the entire fleet of A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft beginning in FY2016. This report covers the background to that decision and legislative action as of the end of 2014.

U.S.-Taiwan Relationship: Overview of Policy Issues

This CRS Report, updated through the 113th Congress, provides an overview with analysis of the major issues in U.S. policy on Taiwan. Taiwan formally calls itself the Republic of China (ROC), tracing its political lineage to the ROC set up after the revolution in 1911 in China. The ROC government retreated to Taipei in 1949. The United States recognized the ROC until the end of 1978 and has maintained a non-diplomatic relationship with Taiwan after recognition of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1979. The Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) of 1979, P.L. 96-8, has governed policy in...

China/Taiwan: Evolution of the “One China” Policy—Key Statements from Washington, Beijing, and Taipei

Despite broadly consistent statements, the U.S. “one China” policy concerning Taiwan remains somewhat ambiguous and subject to different interpretations. Apart from questions about what the policy entails, issues have arisen about whether U.S. Presidents have stated clear positions and have changed or should change policy, affecting U.S. interests in security and democracy. This CRS Report, updated through the 113th Congress, analyzes the “one China” policy since U.S. Presidents began in 1971 to reach understandings with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Taiwan calls itself the...

U.S.-China Military Contacts: Issues for Congress

This CRS Report, updated through the 113th Congress, discusses policy issues regarding military-to-military (mil-to-mil) contacts with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and records major contacts and crises since 1993. The United States suspended military contacts with China and imposed sanctions on arms sales in response to the Tiananmen Crackdown in 1989. In 1993, President Clinton reengaged with the top PRC leadership, including China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Renewed military exchanges with the PLA have not regained the closeness reached in the 1980s, when...

Guam: U.S. Defense Deployments

Since 2000, the U.S. military has been building up forward-deployed forces on the westernmost U.S. territory of Guam (west of Hawaii) to increase U.S. operational presence, deterrence, and power projection for potential responses to crises, disasters, or other contingencies to support Japan, Republic of Korea (ROK), the Philippines, Taiwan, or others in Asia. Since 2006, Valiant Shield exercises based at Guam have boosted U.S. military readiness for joint operations in the Pacific. The defense buildup on Guam has been moderate. China has concerns, suspecting Guam’s buildup to be directed...

China and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Missiles: Policy Issues

Congress has long been concerned about whether policy advances the U.S. interest in reducing the role of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and missiles that could deliver them. Recipients of PRC technology included Pakistan, North Korea, and Iran. This CRS Report, updated through the 113th Congress, discusses the security problem of China’s role in weapons proliferation and issues related to the U.S. policy response since the mid-1990s. China has taken some steps to mollify U.S. and other foreign concerns about its role in...

Cyber Operations in DOD Policy and Plans: Issues for Congress

Cyberspace is defined by the Department of Defense as a global domain consisting of the interdependent networks of information technology infrastructures and resident data, including the Internet, telecommunications networks, computer systems, and embedded processors and controllers. Attacks in cyberspace have seemingly been on the rise in recent years with a variety of participating actors and methods. As the United States has grown more reliant on information technology and networked critical infrastructure components, many questions arise about whether the nation is properly organized...

Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990

This report, updated through the 113th Congress, discusses U.S. security assistance to Taiwan (calling itself Republic of China (ROC)), including policy issues for Congress and legislation. Congress has oversight of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), P.L. 96-8, which has governed arms sales to Taiwan since 1979, when the United States recognized the People’s Republic of China (PRC) instead of the ROC. The U.S.-ROC Mutual Defense Treaty terminated in 1979. Two other relevant parts of the “one China” policy are the August 17, 1982, U.S.-PRC Joint Communique and the “Six Assurances” to Taiwan....

Contract Types: Legal Overview

This report provides an overview of the various contract types (e.g., fixed-price, cost-reimbursement) used in federal procurement and the legal requirements and issues pertaining to each. The types of contracts used by federal agencies have long been of interest to Congress and the executive branch, as they have sought to ensure that the most appropriate type of contract is used to acquire particular supplies or services.

Cuba: U.S. Policy and Issues for the 113th Congress

Cuba remains a one-party communist state with a poor record on human rights. The country’s political succession in 2006 from the long-ruling Fidel Castro to his brother Raúl was characterized by a remarkable degree of stability. In February 2013, Castro was reappointed to a second five-year term as President (until 2018, when he would be 86 years old), and selected 52-year old former Education Minister Miguel Díaz-Canel as his First Vice President, making him the official successor in the event that Castro cannot serve out his term. Raúl Castro has implemented a number of gradual economic...

U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: Recent Trends and FY2015 Appropriations

Geographic proximity has forged strong linkages between the United States and the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, with critical U.S. interests encompassing economic, political, and security concerns. U.S. policy makers have emphasized different strategic interests in the region at different times, from combating Soviet influence during the Cold War to advancing democracy and open markets since the 1990s. Current U.S. policy is designed to promote economic and social opportunity, ensure citizen security, strengthen effective democratic institutions, and secure a clean energy...

Definitions of “Inherently Governmental Function” in Federal Procurement Law and Guidance

Functions that federal law and policy require to be performed by government personnel, not contractor employees, are known as “inherently governmental functions.” Such functions have been a topic of interest in recent Congresses, in part, because of questions about sourcing policy (i.e., whether specific functions should be performed by government personnel or contractor employees). There have also been questions about the various definitions of inherently governmental function given in federal law and policy and, particularly, whether the existence of multiple definitions of this term may...

Securing U.S. Diplomatic Facilities and Personnel Abroad: Legislative and Executive Branch Initiatives

The September 11, 2012, attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, prompted sustained congressional attention on the specific circumstances of the events in question, as well as broader questions regarding how U.S. diplomatic personnel and facilities abroad are secured. Ensuring that the Department of State is better prepared for the possibility of similar attacks in the future has been a central congressional concern.

The Department of State undertook a number of measures in response to the attack, including immediate steps to bolster security at posts around the world; an...

NASA: Issues for Authorization, Appropriations, and Oversight in the 114th Congress

Spaceflight fascinates and inspires many Americans, but in a time of constrained federal budgets, it must compete with a multitude of other national priorities. As the 114th Congress conducts oversight and considers authorization and appropriations legislation for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), an overarching question will be how NASA should move forward within budget constraints.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-267) set a new direction for NASA’s human spaceflight programs. For access to low Earth orbit,...

Latin America and the Caribbean: Key Issues for the 113th Congress

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

Congressional Oversight Manual

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

Presidential Advisers’ Testimony Before Congressional Committees: An Overview

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

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

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

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

FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Issues

Military personnel issues typically generate significant interest from many Members of Congress and their staffs. Ongoing operations in Afghanistan, along with the regular use of the reserve component personnel for operational missions, further heighten interest in a wide range of military personnel policies and issues.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has selected a number of the military personnel issues considered in deliberations on H.R. 4435, the initial House-passed version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015; S. 2410, the version of the NDAA...

Fact Sheet: Some Highlights of H.R. 83, Division C, FY2015 Defense Appropriations Act

This Fact Sheet summarizes selected highlights of H.R. 83, Division C: the Department of Defense (DOD) Appropriations Act for FY2015.

Overview of Federal Real Property Disposal Requirements and Procedures

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

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

Addressing the Long-Run Budget Deficit: A Comparison of Approaches

A small share of federal spending is for direct provision of domestic government services, which many people may think of when considering federal spending. Because this spending is normally about 10% of total federal spending and about 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) and deficits are projected to be 2.8% of GDP and rising in the future, cutting this type of spending can make only a limited contribution to reducing the deficit. (Note that direct provision of domestic services by the federal government is smaller than the total of nondefense discretionary spending, about 17% of spending,...

The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11

With enactment of the FY2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act on January 1, 2014 (H.R. 3547/P.L. 113-73), Congress has approved appropriations for the past 13 years of war that total $1.6 trillion for military operations, base support, weapons maintenance, training of Afghan and Iraq security forces, reconstruction, foreign aid, embassy costs, and veterans’ health care for the war operations initiated since the 9/11 attacks.

Of this $1.6 trillion total, CRS estimates that the total is distributed as follows:

$686 billion (43%) for Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) for Afghanistan and other...

Security Assistance Reform: “Section 1206” Background and Issues for Congress

Section 1206 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2006, as amended and regularly extended, provides the Secretary of Defense with authority to train and equip foreign military forces for two specified purposes—counterterrorism and stability operations—and foreign security forces for counterterrorism operations. Section 1206 authority now extends through FY2017.

The conference version of the FY2015 NDAA somewhat modifies a Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) proposal it its version of the FY2015 NDAA to codify this authority as permanent law under Title 10....

Nuclear Energy Cooperation with Foreign Countries: Issues for Congress

U.S. civil nuclear cooperation agreements (“123” agreements), which are bilateral agreements with other governments or multilateral organizations, have several important goals, including promoting the U.S. nuclear industry, which is increasingly dependent on foreign customers and suppliers, and preventing nuclear proliferation. Increased international interest in nuclear power has generated concern that additional countries may obtain fuel-making technology that could also be used to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. Ensuring the peaceful use of transferred nuclear technology...

Army Active Component (AC)/Reserve Component (RC) Force Mix: Considerations and Options for Congress

The Army is composed of both an Active Component (AC) and a Reserve Component (RC). The AC consists of soldiers who are in the Army as their full-time occupation. The RC is composed primarily of soldiers who serve part-time but who can be ordered to full-time duty. The Army’s RC is made up of both the Army National Guard (ARNG) and the United States Army Reserve (USAR). AC/RC force mix refers to the distribution of units between the active and reserve components of the armed forces.

The congressional role in AC/RC force mix is most obvious in its authorization of end strengths for the...

Fact Sheet: Selected Highlights of H.R. 3979, the Carl Levin and Howard “Buck” McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for FY2015

Following are selected highlights of S. 1847, the version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2015, agreed to on December 2, 2014, by negotiators for the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.

On May 22, 2014, by a vote of 325-98, the House passed H.R. 4435, a version of the FY2015 NDAA that had been reported by the House Armed Services Committee. On the same day, the Senate Armed Services Committee reported S. 2410, its version of the FY2015 NDAA. To expedite final action on the bill (since the Senate did not take up S. 2410), negotiators from the House and Senate...

Medal of Honor Recipients: 1979-2014

The Medal of Honor (MOH) is the nation’s highest award for military valor. It is presented by the President in the name of Congress and is often called the Congressional Medal of Honor. Since its first presentation in 1863, nearly 3,500 MOHs have been awarded. In 1973, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs issued a committee print, Vietnam Era Medal of Honor Recipients 1964-72, followed by the committee print, Medal of Honor Recipients: 1863-1978, in 1979. Both committee prints list recipients and provide the full text of the citation, which describes the actions that resulted in the...

The Budget Control Act and Trends in Discretionary Spending

Discretionary spending is provided and controlled through appropriations acts, which fund many of the activities commonly associated with such federal government functions as running executive branch agencies, congressional offices and agencies, and international operations of the government. Essentially all spending on federal wages and salaries is discretionary. Spending can be measured by budget authority (BA; what agencies can legally obligate the government to pay) or outlays (disbursements from the U.S. Treasury). This report mostly discusses trends in outlays.

Federal spending in...

Veterans Affairs: Presumptive Service Connection and Disability Compensation

The United States has provided benefits in varying degrees to those who have worn the uniform and suffered disabilities in service to the nation. In general, a veteran is entitled to compensation for disabilities incurred in or aggravated during active military, naval, or air service. It should be noted that not all persons who served in the military are considered veterans for purposes of veterans benefits. Veterans could meet the burden of proving that their disabilities are service-connected through their military records, which may clearly describe and document the circumstances and...

When Will DOD Modernize its Electronic Health Records Systems?

This report discusses the Departments of Defense (DOD) efforts to mover from joint single integrated electronic health record to an "off-the-shelf" acquisition and VA announced it would pursue an "open-source" strategy.

U.S. Geological Survey: Background, Appropriations, and Issues for Congress

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) aims to provide unbiased scientific information to describe and understand the geological processes of the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources; and enhance and protect the nation’s quality of life. The USGS is a scientific agency that is housed within the Department of the Interior. Its primary mission is conducting science; it has no regulatory authority, nor does it manage any significant federal lands. The USGS also collects and stores scientific information that is...

Qatar: Background and U.S. Relations

Qatar, a small peninsular country in the Persian Gulf, emerged as a partner of the United States in the mid-1990s and currently serves as host to major U.S. military facilities. Qatar holds the third-largest proven natural gas reserves in the world, and is the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas. Its small citizenry enjoys the world’s highest per capita income. Since the mid-1990s, Qatari leaders have overseen a course of major economic growth, increased diplomatic engagement, and limited political liberalization. The Qatari monarchy founded Al Jazeera, the first all-news Arabic...

Immigration Legislation and Issues in the 113th Congress

Immigration reform was an active legislative issue in the first session of the 113th Congress. The Senate passed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744), a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes provisions on border security, interior enforcement, employment eligibility verification and worksite enforcement, legalization of unauthorized aliens, immigrant visas, nonimmigrant visas, and humanitarian admissions. For its part, the House took a different approach to immigration reform. Rather than considering a single comprehensive...

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

The Defense Production Act (DPA) of 1950 (P.L. 81-774, 50 U.S.C. Appx §2061 et seq.), as amended, confers upon the President a broad set of authorities to influence domestic industry in the interest of national defense. The authorities can be used across the federal government to shape the domestic industrial base so that, when called upon, it is capable of providing essential materials and goods needed for the national defense.

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

Nuclear Energy Policy

Nuclear energy issues facing Congress include reactor safety and regulation, radioactive waste management, research and development priorities, federal incentives for new commercial reactors, nuclear weapons proliferation, and security against terrorist attacks.

The earthquake and resulting tsunami that severely damaged Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on March 11, 2011, raised questions in Congress about the disaster’s possible implications for nuclear safety regulation, U.S. nuclear energy expansion, and radioactive waste policy. The tsunami knocked out electric power at the...

Increased Department of Defense Role in U.S. Ebola Response

On September 16, 2014, President Obama announced a major increase in the United States response to the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The Department of Defense (DOD) submitted requests to Congress to make excess Overseas Contingency Operations funds appropriated for FY2014 available to support this effort. This report briefly outlines these requests.

Phased Retirement: In Brief

On July 6, 2012, P.L. 112-141, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), was signed into law. Section 100121 of P.L. 112-141 provides authority for a new phased retirement option for certain federal employees.

Phased retirement allows eligible, full-time employees covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS) to move to a part-time work schedule while simultaneously receiving partial retirement benefits. Employees participating in phased retirement, with the exception of U.S. Postal Service employees, must...

Syria's Chemical Weapons: Progress and Continuing Challenges

This report briefly covers the formal declaration and subsequent destruction of Syria's chemical weapons program. The report also mentions newer allegations of further use of chemical weapons that did not fall under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) ban.

Israel's Iron Dome Anti-Rocket System: U.S. Assistance and Coproduction

This report provides a background of Israel's Iron Dome anti-rocket system and then briefly touches on other topics including U.S.-Israeli co-production of the system, and proposed future U.S. funding.

India-U.S. Economic Relations: In Brief

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R43741 Summary As the world’s 3rd largest economy, India is an important trade and economic partner for the United States. The upcoming September 29-30 visit by recently elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his first to Washington, DC, has heightened congressional interest in the current status of the relationship. Modi’s visit provides the Obama Administration with an opportunity to advance the U.S.-India strategic partnership, including by discussing ways to foster greater trade and investment between the two nations. May 2014...

U.S. Military Action Against the Islamic State: Answers to Frequently Asked Legal Questions

Ongoing U.S. military operations against the Islamic State (which formerly referred to itself as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and is also commonly referred to as IS, ISIS, or ISIL) raise issues concerning the allocation of war powers between Congress and the President, including whether such operations have been (or are required to be) authorized by an act of Congress. In August 2014, President Obama ordered U.S. forces to commence airstrikes against IS targets in Iraq to assist the Iraqi government in combating the insurgent force, protect U.S. military and nonmilitary...

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

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

Ebola Virus Disease (Ebola or EVD): Experts List

Ebola virus disease (Ebola or EVD) is a severe, often fatal disease that was first detected near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 1976. Originating in animals, EVD is spread to and among humans through contact with the blood, other bodily fluids, organs, and corpses of those infected. It is not transmitted through the air. In March 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that an EVD outbreak had begun in Guinea. The outbreak has since spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Senegal.

Russia's Compliance with the INF Treaty

This report discusses the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the Obama administration's claim that Russia has violated the treaty by testing a land-based cruise missile with a range greater than 500 kilometers.

U.S.-Vietnam Nuclear Cooperation Agreement: Issues for Congress

U.S.-Vietnamese cooperation on nuclear energy and nonproliferation has grown in recent years along with closer bilateral economic, military, and diplomatic ties. In 2010, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding that Obama Administration officials said would be a “stepping stone” to a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement. This agreement was signed by the two countries on May 6, 2014, and transmitted to Congress for review on May 8. The required congressional review period for this agreement was completed in early September, and the agreement will enter into force after an...

The Islamic State: Q&A

This report provides answers to some of the basic question regarding the Islamic State (IS).

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...

Judicial Activity Concerning Enemy Combatant Detainees: Major Court Rulings

As part of the conflict with Al Qaeda and the Taliban, the United States has captured and detained numerous persons believed to have been part of or associated with enemy forces. Over the years, federal courts have considered a multitude of petitions by or on behalf of suspected belligerents challenging aspects of U.S. detention policy. Although the Supreme Court has issued definitive rulings concerning several legal issues raised in the conflict with Al Qaeda and the Taliban, many others remain unresolved, with some the subject of ongoing litigation.

This report discusses major judicial...

Offices of Inspectors General and Law Enforcement Authority: In Brief

Federal inspectors general (IGs) have been granted substantial independence and powers to combat waste, fraud, and abuse within designated federal departments and agencies. To execute their missions, offices of inspector general (OIGs) conduct and publish audits and investigations—among other duties. Established by public law as permanent, nonpartisan, and independent offices, OIGs exist in more than 70 federal agencies, including all departments and larger agencies, along with numerous boards and commissions and other entities. Many OIGs have been vested with law enforcement authority to...

Defense Surplus Equipment Disposal, Including the Law Enforcement 1033 Program

The effort to dispose of surplus military equipment dates back to the end of World War II when the federal government sought to reduce a massive inventory of surplus military equipment by making such equipment available to civilians. (The disposal of surplus real property, including land, buildings, commercial facilities, and equipment situated thereon, is assigned to the General Services Administration, Office of Property Disposal.)

The Department of Defense (DOD) through a Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) component called DLA Disposition Services has a policy for disposing of government...

Mongolia: Issues for Congress

Mongolia is a sparsely populated young democracy in a remote part of Asia, sandwiched between two powerful large neighbors, China and Russia. It made its transition to democracy and free market reforms peacefully in 1990, after nearly 70 years as a Soviet satellite state. A quarter of a century later, the predominantly Tibetan Buddhist nation remains the only formerly Communist Asian nation to have embraced democracy. Congress has shown a strong interest in Mongolia since 1990, funding assistance programs, approving the transfer of excess defense articles, ratifying a bilateral investment...

The “1033 Program,” Department of Defense Support to Law Enforcement

The United States has traditionally kept military action and civil law enforcement apart, codifying that separation in the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. On the other hand, Congress has occasionally authorized the Department of Defense (DOD) to undertake actions specifically intended to enhance the effectiveness of domestic law enforcement through direct or material support.

One such effort is the so-called “1033 Program,” named for the section of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 1997 that granted permanent authority to the Secretary of Defense to transfer defense material to...

Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program was established in 1982 by the Small Business Innovation Development Act (P.L. 97-219) to increase the participation of small innovative companies in federally funded R&D. The act requires federal agencies with extramural R&D budgets of $100 million or more to set aside a portion of these funds to finance an agency-run SBIR program. As of 2014, 11 federal agencies operate SBIR programs. A complementary program, the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, was created by the Small Business Research and Development Enhancement...

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

The Defense Production Act (DPA) of 1950 (P.L. 81-774, 50 U.S.C. Appx §2061 et seq.), as amended, confers upon the President a broad set of authorities to influence domestic industry in the interest of national defense. The authorities can be used across the federal government to shape the domestic industrial base so that, when called upon, it is capable of providing essential materials and goods needed for the national defense.

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

The "Militarization" of Law Enforcement and the Department of Defense's "1033 Program

This report discusses the response of SWAT teams to extraordinary cases that has raised questions about the so called "militarization" of law enforcement.

Manufacturing Nuclear Weapon “Pits”: A Decisionmaking Approach for Congress

A “pit” is the plutonium “trigger” of a thermonuclear weapon. During the Cold War, the Rocky Flats Plant (CO) made up to 2,000 pits per year (ppy), but ceased operations in 1989. Since then, the Department of Energy (DOE) has made at most 11 ppy for the stockpile, yet the Department of Defense stated that it needs DOE to have a capacity of 50 to 80 ppy to extend the life of certain weapons and for other purposes. This report focuses on 80 ppy, the upper end of this range.

Various options might reach 80 ppy. Successfully establishing pit manufacturing will require, among other things,...

Border Security: CRS Experts

The following table lists the names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns related to border security. Policy areas identified include the following: Mission: scope, magnitude, relationship to departmental mission, functions and their interrelationships. Border surveillance: airports and air space; detection of nuclear and radiological materials; land borders; seaports and waterways. Immigration and foreign visitors: immigration; border “look out” systems; illegal entry; visa issuance and alien tracking. Transnational issues: border violence; foreign cooperation with...

India’s New Government and Implications for U.S. Interests

The United States and India have been pursuing a “strategic partnership” since 2004, and a 5th Strategic Dialogue session was held in New Delhi in late July 2014. A May 2014 national election seated a new Indian government led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and new Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Top U.S. officials express eagerness to engage India’s new leadership and re-energize what some see as a relationship flagging in recent years. High hopes for the engagement have become moderated as expectations held in both capitals remain unmet, in part due to a global...

U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit: Frequently Asked Questions and Background

This report provides information about the early August 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, DC, and policy issues likely to be addressed by participants in the summit and other events being held in conjunction with it. In providing background on key U.S.-Africa policy issues, the report addresses: Africa’s development and economic challenges; U.S.-Africa trade, investment, and economic cooperation; U.S. aid to Africa; Governance, democracy, and human rights issues; and Peace and security issues, including selected U.S. responses. The summit is organized around the theme...

NATO: Response to the Crisis in Ukraine and Security Concerns in Central and Eastern Europe

Russia’s actions in Ukraine and its alleged role in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 have caused observers and policy makers on both sides of the Atlantic, including Members of Congress, to reassess the role of the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in upholding European security. The security concerns of NATO’s Central and Eastern European member states and non-NATO member states such as Moldova and Ukraine are of particular concern.

NATO has strongly condemned Russian actions in Ukraine and has taken steps aimed both at reassuring allies and...

Algeria: Current Issues

U.S.-Algeria ties are highly focused on counterterrorism cooperation and U.S. interest in Algeria’s oil and gas production. The Obama Administration has indicated a desire to deepen and broaden bilateral relations, including security assistance, while periodically urging greater political and economic openness. While both governments express appreciation for bilateral cooperation, U.S. officials may lack well-developed levers of influence in Algiers due to Algeria’s economic self-reliance and ties to non-Western strategic players such as Russia, along with Algerian leaders’ storied...

Possible Missile Attack on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

This report examines the circumstances surrounding the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17). The report considers several factors that lead investigators to believe that the plane may have been shot down by a surface-to-air missile fired from a Buk road-mobile missile erector-launcher, including the type of damage directly sustained by the plane, the large debris field, the crash's proximity to an active conflict zone in which military aircraft had recently been shot down and U.S. intelligence that detected a missile launch from the area around the time the plane was overhead.

Shipping U.S. Crude Oil by Water: Vessel Flag Requirements and Safety Issues

New sources of crude oil from North Dakota, Texas, and western Canada have induced new routes for shipping crude oil to U.S. and Canadian refineries. While pipelines have traditionally been the preferred method of moving crude overland, they either are not available or have insufficient capacity to move all the crude from these locations. While rail has picked up some of this cargo, barges, and to a lesser extent tankers, also are moving increasing amounts of crude in domestic trade.

The rather sudden shift in transportation patterns raises concerns about the safety and efficiency of oil...

Presidential Appointments to Full-Time Positions in Executive Departments During the 111th Congress, 2009-2010

This report explains the process for filling positions to which the President makes appointments with the advice and consent of the Senate (also referred to as PAS positions). It also identifies, for the 111th Congress, all nominations to full-time positions requiring Senate confirmation in the 15 executive departments. It excludes appointments to regulatory boards and commissions and independent and other agencies, which are covered in other CRS reports.

The appointment process for advice and consent positions consists of three main stages. The first stage is selection, clearance, and...

The Federal Prison Industries: An Analysis of Sales, FY1993-FY2013

The Federal Prison Industries (FPI) is a government-owned corporation that employs offenders incarcerated in correctional facilities operated by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The FPI was created to serve as a means for managing, training, and rehabilitating inmates in the federal prison system through employment in one of its industries.

The FPI manufactures products and provides services that are primarily sold to executive agencies in the federal government. In the past, federal departments and agencies were required to purchase products from the...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2014 Appropriations

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

Panama: Background and U.S. Relations

The Central American nation of Panama has had five successive elected civilian governments since its return to democratic rule in 1989, and a sixth is scheduled to assume power on July 1, 2014 with the inauguration of current Vice President Juan Carlos Varela as President. Hailing from the center-right Panameñista Party, Varela won the May 4, 2014 presidential election with 39% of the vote in a three-candidate race. Significantly, Varela defeated the candidate of the ruling Democratic Change party of current President Ricardo Martinelli, who was constitutionally prohibited from running for...

U.S.-Vietnam Relations in 2014: Current Issues and Implications for U.S. Policy

After communist North Vietnam’s victory over U.S.-backed South Vietnam in 1975, the United States and Vietnam had minimal relations until the mid-1990s. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1995, overlapping security and economic interests have led the two sides to expand relations across a wide range of sectors. In 2013, President Obama and his Vietnamese counterpart announced a “comprehensive partnership” that is to provide a framework for moving the relationship to a “new phase.” A key factor driving the two countries together is a shared concern about China’s increased...

C-130 Hercules: Background, Sustainment, Modernization, Issues for Congress

The United States primary tactical airlift aircraft is the C-130. Nicknamed the Hercules, this venerable aircraft has been the workhorse of U.S. tactical airlift for the past 57 years. The majority of C-130s in the U.S. government are assigned to the U.S. Air Force, but the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard also operate sizeable C-130 fleets. The potential concerns for Congress include oversight of and appropriations for an aging C-130 fleet.

As the C-130 fleet ages, management issues arise with reduced reliability, obsolescence and reduced parts availability, and changing aviation...

Iraq Crisis: CRS Experts

The table below provides names and contact information for CRS experts on various policy concerns of interest to Congress relating to the ongoing crisis in Iraq. Policy areas identified include the conflict in Iraq, al Qaeda affiliates, embassy security, military operations, war powers, sanctions, energy security, humanitarian issues and displaced persons, issues in the Middle East region, the United Nations, and other international actors.

U.S. Air Force Bomber Sustainment and Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress

The United States’ existing long-range bomber fleet of B-52s, B-1s, and B-2s are at a critical point in their operational life span. With the average age of each airframe being 50, 28, and 20 years old, respectively, military analysts are beginning to question just how long these aircraft can physically last and continue to be credible weapon systems. As potential adversaries acquire 21st century defense systems designed to prevent U.S. access to the global commons (sea, air, space, and cyberspace) and to limit U.S. forces’ freedom of action within an operational area, the ability of these...

Defense Acquisitions: How DOD Acquires Weapon Systems and Recent Efforts to Reform the Process

The Department of Defense (DOD) acquires goods and services from contractors, federal arsenals, and shipyards to support military operations. Acquisition is a broad term that applies to more than just the purchase of an item or service; the acquisition process encompasses the design, engineering, construction, testing, deployment, sustainment, and disposal of weapons or related items purchased from a contractor.

As set forth by statute and regulation, from concept to deployment, a weapon system must go through a three-step process of identifying a required (needed) weapon system,...

Defense Acquisition Reform: Background, Analysis, and Issues for Congress

The Department of Defense (DOD) relies extensively on contractors to equip and support the U.S. military in peacetime and during military operations, obligating more than $300 billion on contracts in FY2013.

Congress and the executive branch have long been frustrated with waste, mismanagement, and fraud in defense acquisitions and have spent significant resources attempting to reform and improve the process. These frustrations have led to numerous efforts to improve defense acquisitions. Since the end of World War II, every Administration and virtually every Secretary of Defense has...

The Republic of the Philippines and U.S. Interests—2014

The United States and the Republic of the Philippines maintain close ties stemming from the U.S. colonial period (1898-1946), the bilateral security alliance bound by the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951, and common strategic and economic interests. In the past decade, the Philippines has been one of the largest recipients of U.S. foreign assistance in Southeast Asia, including both military and development aid. Many observers say that U.S. public and private support to the Philippines following Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), which struck the central part of the country on November 8, 2013,...

Maritime Territorial Disputes in East Asia: Issues for Congress

Rising tensions stemming from maritime territorial disputes in East Asia have become a pressing challenge for U.S. policy makers, and pose one of the most complicated issues for the Obama Administration’s policy of strategic “rebalancing” towards the Asia-Pacific.

Since around 2005-2006, long-disputed waters and land features in the South China Sea and, more recently, the East China Sea have seen increasingly aggressive behavior from nations trying to strengthen claims to disputed areas. Although China is not the only nation that has sought to press its maritime territorial claims, actions...

Select Committee on Benghazi: CRS Experts

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

South Africa: Politics, Economy, and U.S. Relations

South Africa is a multi-racial, majority black southern African country of nearly 52 million. It held its first universal suffrage elections in 1994, after a transition from white minority rule under apartheid, a system of state-enforced racial segregation and socioeconomic discrimination. South Africa entered a period of mourning in late 2013, upon the death of its first post-apartheid president, Nelson Mandela. He is viewed as the founding father of the countrys nonracial democratic system, the 20th anniversary of which was recently celebrated prior to national elections on May 7. South...

Trafficking in Persons: U.S. Policy and Issues for Congress

Trafficking in persons (TIP) for the purposes of exploitation is believed to be one of the most prolific areas of contemporary international criminal activity and is of significant interest to the United States and the international community as a serious human rights concern. TIP is both an international and a domestic crime that involves violations of labor, public health, and human rights standards, and criminal law.

In general, the trafficking business feeds on conditions of vulnerability, such as youth, gender, poverty, ignorance, social exclusion, political instability, and ongoing...

Achievements of and Outlook for Sanctions on Iran

Most experts agree that the multilateral sanctions imposed on Iran since 2010 have contributed significantly to producing flexibility in Irans position on the scope of its nuclear program. There is similar agreement that the effect of sanctions on Irans foreign policyparticularly on its core interests in the Middle East regionand on its human rights practices, appear to have been minimal to date. In assessing effectiveness, however, it is difficult to separate the effect of sanctions from other variables such as Irans purported economic mismanagement, attitudes of the Iranian public, and...

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...

Declarations of War and Authorizations for the Use of Military Force: Historical Background and Legal Implications

From the Washington Administration to the present, Congress and the President have enacted 11 separate formal declarations of war against foreign nations in five different wars. Each declaration has been preceded by a presidential request either in writing or in person before a joint session of Congress. The reasons cited in justification for the requests have included armed attacks on United States territory or its citizens and threats to United States rights or interests as a sovereign nation.

Congress and the President have also enacted authorizations for the use of force rather than...

Military Uniform Procurement: Questions and Answers

Military uniforms are procured through the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), an agency of the Department of Defense (DOD). DLA is DODs largest combat support agency, providing worldwide logistics support for the United States military services, civilian agencies, and foreign countries. With headquarters in Fort Belvoir, VA, DLA operates three supply centers: DLA Aviation, DLA Land and Maritime, and DLA Troop Support. Military uniforms are procured through DLA Troop Support in Philadelphia, PA.

DLA Troop Support is responsible for procuring nearly all of the food, clothing, and medical...

The DHS S&T Directorate: Selected Issues for Congress

Policy makers generally believe that science and technology can and will play significant roles in improving homeland security. When Congress established the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), through the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-296), it included the Directorate of Science and Technology (S&T) to ensure that the new department had access to science and technology advice and research and development (R&D) capabilities.

The S&T Directorate is the primary organization for R&D in DHS. It conducts R&D in several DHS laboratories and funds R&D conducted by other government...

Lebanon: Background and U.S. Policy

Lebanons small geographic size and population belie the important role it has long played in the security, stability, and economy of the Levant and the broader Middle East. Congress and the executive branch have recognized Lebanons status as a venue for regional strategic competition and have engaged diplomatically, financially, and at times, militarily to influence events there. For most of its independent existence, Lebanon has been torn by periodic civil conflict and political battles between rival religious sects and ideological groups. External military intervention, occupation, and...

Global Security Contingency Fund: Summary and Issue Overview

The FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 112-81), Section 1207, created a new Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF) as a four-year pilot project to be jointly administered and funded by the Department of Defense (DOD) and the State Department. The purpose of the fund is to carry out security and counterterrorism training, and rule of law programs. (There also are three one-year transitional authorities for assistance to Africa and Yemen.) The GSCF is placed under the State Department budget. Although decisions are to be jointly made by the Secretaries of State and Defense, the...

Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Political Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests

The United States recognized the independence of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia when the former Soviet Union broke up at the end of 1991. The United States has fostered these states ties with the West in part to end their dependence on Russia for trade, security, and other relations. The United States has pursued close ties with Armenia to encourage its democratization and because of concerns by Armenian Americans and others over its fate. Close ties with Georgia have evolved from U.S. contacts with its pro-Western leadership. Successive Administrations have supported U.S. private...

Foreign Assistance to North Korea

Between 1995 and 2008, the United States provided North Korea with over $1.3 billion in assistance: slightly more than 50% for food aid and about 40% for energy assistance. Since early 2009, the United States has provided virtually no aid to North Korea, though episodically there have been discussions about resuming large-scale food aid. Additionally, the Obama Administration officials have said that they would be willing to consider other types of aid if North Korea takes steps indicating that it will dismantle its nuclear program, a prospect that most analysts view as increasingly...

Contractor Fraud Against the Federal Government: Selected Federal Civil Remedies

Because the federal government relies heavily on contractors to supply it with goods and services, fraud by these contractors potentially costs the government billions of dollars annually. Detecting, prosecuting, and deterring contractor fraud poses a challenge to federal agencies, which often possess limited resources. To combat contractor fraud, Congress has enacted several statutes that allow the federal government—and in some instances, private parties—to recover damages, civil penalties, or forfeitures against parties that make false or fraudulent claims for payment or engage in other...

Russian Political, Economic, and Security Issues and U.S. Interests

Russia made uneven progress in democratization during the 1990s, but this limited progress was reversed after Vladimir Putin rose to power in 1999-2000, according to many observers. During this period, the State Duma (lower legislative chamber) became dominated by government-approved parties, gubernatorial elections were abolished, and the government consolidated ownership or control over major media and industries, including the energy sector. The Putin government showed low regard for the rule of law and human rights in suppressing insurgency in the North Caucasus, according to critics....

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

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

Tort Suits Against Federal Contractors: Selected Legal Issues

Contractors have played a considerable role in U.S. military operations over the last decade, and some commentators anticipate they will continue to do so in the future. Due in part to their heavy involvement in military operations, contractors have faced numerous tort suits, or suits seeking remedy for civil wrongs, in recent years. Many of these tort suits have alleged that contractors negligence, or failure to take due care, in performing contractual obligations has caused harms to third/private parties (as opposed to the contracting agency). Contractors have often responded to such...

Central Asia: Regional Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests

This report discusses the current status of Central Asian states and U.S. policy, which has been aimed at facilitating their cooperation with U.S. and NATO stabilization efforts in Afghanistan and their efforts to combat terrorism, proliferation, and trafficking in arms, drugs, and persons.

Comparison of Rights in Military Commission Trials and Trials in Federal Criminal Court

The renewal of military commission proceedings against Khalid Sheik Mohammad and four others for their alleged involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks has focused renewed attention on the differences between trials in federal court and those conducted by military commission. The decision to try the defendants in military court required a reversal in policy by the Obama Administration, which had publicly announced in November 2009 its plans to transfer the five detainees from the U.S. Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, into the United States to stand trial in the U.S. District Court...

U.S. Nuclear Weapon “Pit” Production: Background and Options in Brief

Congress is involved in the long-running and costly decision regarding the future production of “pits”; a pit is a nuclear weapon’s plutonium core. Rocky Flats Plant (CO) mass-produced pits during the Cold War; production ceased in 1989. The Department of Energy (DOE), which maintains U.S. nuclear weapons, then established a small pit manufacturing capability at PF-4, a building at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) (NM). PF-4 has made at most 11 pits per year (ppy). DOE also proposed higher-capacity facilities; none came to fruition.

U.S. policy is to maintain existing nuclear weapons....

Military Base Closures: Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQs examine the provisions in the Constitution and in permanent statute that define and limit federal authority to disestablish or diminish employment at defense sites. They do not discuss the special, temporary BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) process that Congress has periodically authorized for the reduction of defense infrastructure.

The Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) Program: Background and Issues for Congress

In April 2009, then-Secretary of Defense Gates announced he intended to significantly restructure the Army’s Future Combat System (FCS) program. The FCS was a multiyear, multibillion dollar program that had been underway since 2000 and was at the heart of the Army’s transformation efforts. In lieu of the cancelled FCS manned ground vehicle (MGV), the Army was directed to develop a ground combat vehicle (GCV) that would be relevant across the entire spectrum of Army operations and would incorporate combat lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Army reissued a request for proposal (RFP) for...

U.S. Diplomatic Missions: Background and Issues on Chief of Mission (COM) Authority

“Chief of Mission,” or COM, is the title conferred on the principal officer in charge of each U.S. diplomatic mission to a foreign country, foreign territory, or international organization. Usually the term refers to the U.S. ambassadors who lead U.S. embassies abroad, but the term also is used for ambassadors who head other official U.S. missions and to other diplomatic personnel who may step in when no ambassador is present. Appointed by the President, each COM serves as the President’s personal representative, leading diplomatic efforts for a particular mission or in the country of...

Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006: Background and Performance

The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006 (Perkins IV; P.L. 109-270) supports the development of academic and career and technical skills among secondary education students and postsecondary education students who elect to enroll in career and technical education (CTE) programs, sometimes referred to as vocational education programs. Perkins IV was authorized through FY2012, which ended on September 30, 2012. The authorization was extended through FY2013 under the General Education Provisions Act, although the act continues to receive appropriations in...

Direct Overt U.S. Aid Appropriations for and Military Reimbursements to Pakistan, FY2002-FY2015

This report provides data regarding the direct overt U.S. aid appropriations and military reimbursements to Pakistan.

Department of Defense Trends in Overseas Contract Obligations

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

Marine Corps Drawdown, Force Structure Initiatives, and Roles and Missions: Background and Issues for Congress

The Marine Corps characterizes itself as a crisis response expeditionary force which is task organized and able to conduct operations across the entire spectrum of military operations. The Corps is a “middleweight force” that is designed to fill the void in our Nation’s defense structure between light Special Operations Forces (SOF) and heavier conventional units. The Marines’ missions are codified in U.S. Code, Title 10, Section 5063, United States Marine Corps: Composition and Functions, and marines are the nation’s primary amphibious force, capable of conducting amphibious assault...

Army Drawdown and Restructuring: Background and Issues for Congress

On January 26, 2012, senior DOD leadership unveiled a new defense strategy based on a review of potential future security challenges, current defense strategy, and budgetary constraints. This new strategy envisions a smaller, leaner Army that is agile, flexible, rapidly deployable, and technologically advanced. This strategy will rebalance the Army’s global posture and presence, emphasizing where potential problems are likely to arise, such as the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East.

As part of the Administration’s original proposal, two armored brigade combat teams (ABCTs) in Europe...

Energy and Water Development: FY2014 Appropriations

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

FY2013 Energy and Water Development appropriations were considered in the context of the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA, P.L. 112-25), which established discretionary spending limits for FY2012-FY2021. On March 26, 2013, the President signed H.R. 933, the FY2013 Defense and Military Construction/VA, Full Year...

FY2014 Continuing Resolutions: Overview of Components

Four continuing resolutions (CRs) were enacted during the FY2014 appropriations process, to provide temporary funding until the Consolidated Appropriations Act, FY2014, was enacted on January 17, 2014 (P.L. 113-76).

The first two CRs were enacted before and during the FY2014 funding gap, which commenced on October 1, 2013, and terminated on October 17, 2013. Both of these were “narrow” CRs, in that they only funded certain prior year projects and activities. The first CR, the Pay Our Military Act (H.R. 3210; P.L. 113-39), was enacted on September 30, 2013. It provided funds for certain...

Reform of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Courts: Disclosure of FISA Opinions

In response to the disclosure of various National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance and data collection programs, a number of legislative changes to the government’s intelligence operations authority have been suggested. Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA), the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) reviews government applications to conduct surveillance and engage in data collection for foreign intelligence purposes, and the FISA Court of Review reviews rulings of the FISC. Most FISA opinions are classified by the executive branch. Some have raised...

FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Issues

Military personnel issues typically generate significant interest from many Members of Congress and their staffs. Ongoing operations in Afghanistan, along with the operational role of the Reserve Components, further heighten interest in a wide range of military personnel policies and issues.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has selected a number of the military personnel issues considered in deliberations on the initial House-passed version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 and on the bill that was enacted and became law (P.L. 113-66). This report...

The 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) and Defense Strategy: Issues for Congress

By statute, the Department of Defense (DOD) is required, by Section 118, Title 10, U.S. Code, to submit to Congress a report based on its most recent Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) process, no later than the President submits his budget request for Fiscal Year 2015. The “2014 QDR” review process took place against the backdrop of key changes in the global strategic context, recent evolutions in U.S. strategic priorities, and a tighter fiscal context. The 2014 process also drew on a series of recent reviews and guidance documents—a 2011 DOD “comprehensive review” initially launched by...

The Berry Amendment: Requiring Defense Procurement to Come from Domestic Sources

This report examines the original intent and purpose of the Berry Amendment and legislative proposals to amend the application of domestic source restrictions, as well as potential options for Congress. In order to protect the U.S. industrial base during periods of adversity and war, Congress passed domestic source restrictions as part of the 1941 Fifth Supplemental Department of Defense (DOD) Appropriations Act. These provisions later became known as the Berry Amendment. The Berry Amendment (Title 10 United States Code [U.S.C.] §2533a, Requirement to Buy Certain Articles from American...

U.S. Nuclear Weapon “Pit” Production Options for Congress

A “pit” is the plutonium core of a nuclear weapon. Until 1989, the Rocky Flats Plant (CO) mass-produced pits. Since then, the United States has made at most 11 pits per year (ppy). U.S. policy is to maintain existing nuclear weapons. To do this, the Department of Defense states that it needs the Department of Energy (DOE), which maintains U.S. nuclear weapons, to produce 50-80 ppy by 2030. While some argue that few if any new pits are needed, at least for decades, this report focuses on options to reach 80 ppy.

Pit production involves precisely forming plutonium—a hazardous, radioactive,...

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....

Reducing Cost-of-Living Adjustments for Military Retirees and the Bipartisan Budget Act: In Brief

In addition to raising budget caps in FY2014 and FY2015, the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) reduced the cost of living adjustments (COLAs) provided to working-age military retirees under the age of 62 from the full Consumer Price Index (CPI) to the CPI less 1%. Military retirees would then receive a “bump-up” at age 62 that would raise their benefit level to an amount that included full rather than partial CPI adjustments for each year below the age of 62. This new benefit level would then be increased for full CPI adjustments in later years. According to CBO, this change would have saved the...

TRICARE and VA Health Care: Impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)

The 111th Congress passed, and the President signed into law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148; ACA), which was later amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-152; HCERA), and is hereinafter referred to as ACA. In general, ACA did not make any significant changes to the Department of Defense (DOD) TRICARE program or to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system. However, many have sought clarification as to whether certain provisions in ACA, such as a mandate for most individuals to have health insurance, or...

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...

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2014 Budget and Appropriations

On April 10, 2013, the Obama Administration submitted to Congress its budget request for FY2014. The request for State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs totaled $51.84 billion, which was about 2% below the FY2013 post-sequester estimated funding level of $52.88 billion. Within the request, $3.81 billion was designated as Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding, which was 68% below FY2013-estimated OCO funding of $11.92 billion. Of the total request, $16.88 billion was for State Department Operations and related agencies, a 5.8% decline from the FY2013 funding estimate of...

The Specialty Metal Clause: Oversight Issues and Options for Congress

This report examines the specialty metal clause, potential oversight issues, and options for Congress. The specialty metal clause in the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) prohibits the Department of Defense (DOD) from acquiring end units or components for aircraft, missile and space systems, ships, tank and automotive items, weapon systems, or ammunition unless these items have been manufactured with specialty metals that have been melted or produced in the United States. Thousands of products used for defense, aerospace, automotive, and renewable energy...

Bangladesh Apparel Factory Collapse: Background in Brief

The April 24, 2013, collapse of an eight-story garment factory, called Rana Plaza, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, resulted in the deaths of more than 1,100 workers. It is reportedly now considered the deadliest accident in the history of the apparel industry. Congress has had a long-standing interest in supporting internationally recognized worker rights in developing countries, and the building collapse has raised concerns about worker conditions in Bangladesh.

Rana Plaza was allegedly structurally unsound and poorly maintained for apparel production. Apparel production is generally known as an...

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,...

Navy Nuclear Aircraft Carrier (CVN) Homeporting at Mayport: Background and Issues for Congress

The Navy’s proposed FY2014 budget, like the Navy’s proposed FY2013 budget, requested no funding for Military Construction (MilCon) projects required to homeport a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier (CVN) at Mayport, FL. The Navy’s FY2013 budget deferred the Navy’s plan to homeport a CVN at Mayport, and the Navy’s FY2013-FY2017 Future Years Defense Plan (FYDP) contained no funding for MilCon projects required to homeport a CVN at Mayport. The Navy stated in its FY2013 budget submission: “Although the FY 2013 budget does not contain a construction project supporting the homeporting of a CVN in...

Algae’s Potential as a Transportation Biofuel

Congress continues to debate the federal role in biofuel research, biofuel tax incentives, and renewable fuel mandates. The debate touches on topics such as fuel imports and security, job creation, and environmental benefits, and is particularly significant for advanced biofuels, such as those produced by algae.

Congress established the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2), a mandate requiring that the national fuel supply contain a minimum amount of fuel produced from renewable biomass. The RFS2 is essentially composed of two biofuel mandates—one for unspecified biofuel, which is being met...

“Leahy Law” Human Rights Provisions and Security Assistance: Issue Overview

Congressional interest in the laws and processes involved in conditioning U.S. assistance to foreign security forces on human rights grounds has grown in recent years, especially as U.S. Administrations have increased emphasis on expanding U.S. partnerships and building partnership capacity with foreign military and other security forces. Congress has played an especially prominent role in initiating, amending, supporting with resources, and overseeing implementation of long-standing laws on human rights provisions affecting U.S. security assistance.

First sponsored in the late 1990s by...

Contractors and HealthCare.gov: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

The widely reported problems with the rollout of the HealthCare.gov website—the federal online health insurance portal called for by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148, as amended)—have prompted interest in the role that contractors played in developing this site. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) relied upon the services of over 50 vendors to build the site, which was reportedly largely unusable when it first became available to the public on October 1, 2013, and has been the subject of ongoing work since then.

Given HealthCare.gov’s...

Detention of U.S. Persons as Enemy Belligerents

The detainee provisions passed as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012, P.L. 112-81, affirm that the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), P.L. 107-40, in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, authorizes the detention of persons captured in connection with hostilities. The act provides for the first time a statutory definition of covered persons whose detention is authorized pursuant to the AUMF. During debate of the provision, significant attention focused on the applicability of this detention authority to U.S. citizens and other persons...

U.S. Naturalization Policy

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

Health Care for Rural Veterans: The Example of Federally Qualified Health Centers

This report discusses considerations that may arise during possible attempts to increase collaboration between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and describes policy levers Congress might use to encourage VA-FQHC collaboration. These approaches might also be employed to encourage collaboration between the VA and other types of facilities that may serve rural veterans.

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies: FY2013 Appropriations

The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies appropriations bill provides funding for the planning, design, construction, alteration, and improvement of facilities used by active and reserve military components worldwide. It capitalizes military family housing and the U.S. share of the NATO Security Investment Program and finances the implementation of installation closures and realignments. It underwrites veterans benefit and health care programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), provides for the creation and maintenance of U.S. cemeteries and...

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education: A Primer

The term “STEM education” refers to teaching and learning in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It typically includes educational activities across all grade levels—from pre-school to post-doctorate—in both formal (e.g., classrooms) and informal (e.g., afterschool programs) settings. Federal policy makers have an active and enduring interest in STEM education, and the topic is frequently raised in federal science, education, workforce, national security, and immigration policy debates. For example, more than 225 bills containing the term “science education”...

Defense: FY2014 Authorization and Appropriations

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

President Obama’s FY2014 base budget...

Threats to U.S. National Security Interests in Space: Orbital Debris Mitigation and Removal

After decades of activities in space, Earth’s orbit is littered with man-made objects that no longer serve a useful purpose. This includes roughly 22,000 objects larger than the size of a softball and hundreds of thousands of smaller fragments. This population of space debris potentially threatens U.S. national security interests in space, both governmental (military, intelligence, and civil) and commercial. Congress has broadly supported the full range of these national security interests and has a vested concern in ensuring a strong and continued U.S. presence in space.

Two events in...

Post-Employment, “Revolving Door,” Laws for Federal Personnel

Federal personnel may be subject to certain conflict of interest restrictions on private employment activities even after they leave service for the United States government. These restrictions—applicable when one enters private employment after having left federal government service—are often referred to as “revolving door” laws. For the most part, other than the narrow restrictions specific to procurement officials or bank examiners, these laws restrict only certain representational types of activities for private employers, such as lobbying or advocacy directed to, and which attempt to...

Next Steps in Nuclear Arms Control with Russia: Issues for Congress

In his 2013 State of the Union Address, President Obama stated that the United States would “engage Russia to seek further reductions in our nuclear arsenals.” These reductions could include limits on strategic, nonstrategic and nondeployed nuclear weapons. Yet, arms control negotiations between the United States and Russia have stalled, leading many observers to suggest that the United States reduce its nuclear forces unilaterally, or in parallel with Russia, without negotiating a new treaty. Many in Congress have expressed concerns about this possibility, both because they question the...

War in Afghanistan: Campaign Progress, Political Strategy, and Issues for Congress

This is a critical time for U.S. efforts in the war in Afghanistan. U.S. military engagement beyond December 2014, when the current NATO mission ends, depends on the achievement of a U.S.-Afghan Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), specifying the status of U.S. forces. Afghan President Hamid Karzai threw the BSA process into confusion by introducing new terms and conditions after a deal had been reached by negotiators. Even if a BSA is reached, U.S. decisions are still pending regarding the scope, scale, and timeline for any post-2014 U.S. force presence in Afghanistan. President Obama has...

Military Medical Care: Questions and Answers

The primary objective of the military health system, which includes the Defense Department’s hospitals, clinics, and medical personnel, is to maintain the health of military personnel so they can carry out their military missions and to be prepared to deliver health care during wartime. The military health system also covers dependents of active duty personnel, military retirees, and their dependents, including some members of the reserve components. The military health system provides health care services through either Department of Defense (DOD) medical facilities, known as “military...

Science and Technology Issues in the 113th Congress

Science and technology (S&T) have a pervasive influence over a wide range of issues confronting the nation. Public and private research and development spurs scientific and technological advancement. Such advances can drive economic growth, help address national priorities, and improve health and quality of life. The constantly changing nature and ubiquity of science and technology frequently create public policy issues of congressional interest.

The federal government supports scientific and technological advancement by directly funding research and development and indirectly by creating...

Rare Earth Elements in National Defense: Background, Oversight Issues, and Options for Congress

Some Members of Congress have expressed concern over U.S. acquisition of rare earth materials composed of rare earth elements (REE) used in various components of defense weapon systems. Rare earth elements consist of 17 elements on the periodic table, including 15 elements beginning with atomic number 57 (lanthanum) and extending through number 71 (lutetium), as well as two other elements having similar properties (yttrium and scandium). These are referred to as “rare” because although relatively abundant in total quantity, they appear in low concentrations in the earth’s crust and...

The Budget Control Act, Sequestration, and the Foreign Affairs Budget: Background and Possible Impacts

Congress has an interest in the cost and effectiveness of foreign affairs activities that promote U.S. interests overseas. The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA, P.L. 112-25), as amended by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-240/H.R. 8, signed into law on January 2, 2013) required across-the-board reductions (sequestration) in most federal defense and nondefense discretionary programs, projects, and activities including those in foreign affairs for FY2013, and additional spending reductions each year through FY2021. These automatic cuts for FY2013 were ordered on March 1,...

Environmental Laws: Summaries of Major Statutes Administered by the Environmental Protection Agency

With congressional approval, the Nixon Administration established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970 under an executive branch reorganization plan, which consolidated numerous federal pollution control responsibilities that had been divided among several federal agencies. EPA’s responsibilities grew over time as Congress enacted an increasing number of environmental statutes and major amendments to these statutes. EPA’s primary responsibilities have evolved to include the regulation of air quality, water quality, and chemicals in commerce; the development of regulatory...

Rare Earth Elements: The Global Supply Chain

The concentration of production of rare earth elements (REEs) outside the United States raises the important issue of supply vulnerability. REEs are used for new energy technologies and national security applications. Two key questions of interest to Congress are: (1) Is the United States vulnerable to supply disruptions of REEs? (2) Are these elements essential to U.S. national security and economic well-being?

There are 17 rare earth elements (REEs), 15 within the chemical group called lanthanides, plus yttrium and scandium. The lanthanides consist of the following: lanthanum, cerium,...

Turkmenistan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests

When Turkmenistan gained independence with the dissolution of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991, the former republic’s president and head of the Turkmen Communist Party, Saparamurad Niyazov, retained power. He was reelected president in another uncontested race in 1992, and a referendum in 1994 extended his term until 2002. Before facing reelection, however, constitutional amendments approved in 1999 proclaimed him president for life. The country’s May 1992 constitution granted Niyazov overwhelming powers to rule by decree as head of state and government. According to several...

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;...

The September 2013 Terrorist Attack in Kenya: In Brief

On September 21, 2013, masked gunmen attacked the upscale Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya taking hostages and killing at least 67 people. Almost 200 people, including at least five U.S. citizens, were wounded in the siege, which lasted four days. The attack is the most deadly terrorist incident in Kenya since the 1998 Al Qaeda bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi. A Somali Islamist insurgent group, Al Shabaab, which has ties to Al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the Westgate attack. Al Qaeda and affiliated groups like Al Shabaab have had a presence in East Africa for almost 20...

China’s Political Institutions and Leaders in Charts

This report provides a snapshot of China’s leading political institutions and current leaders in the form of nine organization charts and three tables. The report is a companion to CRS Report R41007, Understanding China’s Political System, by Susan V. Lawrence and Michael F. Martin, which provides a detailed explanation of China’s political system. This chart-based report is intended to assist Members and their staffs seeking to understand where political institutions and individuals fit within the broader Chinese political system and to identify which Chinese officials are responsible for...

The Defense Production Act of 1950 (DPA)

This report discusses the Defense Production Act of 1950 (DPA, 50 U.S.C. Appx § 2061 et seq.), which confers upon the President a broad set of authorities to influence domestic industry in the interest of national defense.

Georgia’s October 2013 Presidential Election: Outcome and Implications

This report discusses Georgia’s October 27, 2013, presidential election and its implications for U.S. interests. The election took place one year after a legislative election that witnessed the mostly peaceful shift of legislative and ministerial power from the ruling party, the United National Movement (UNM), to the Georgia Dream (GD) coalition bloc. The newly elected president, Giorgi Margvelashvili of the GD, will have fewer powers under recently approved constitutional changes.

Most observers have viewed the 2013 presidential election as marking Georgia’s further progress in...

Federal Financial Reporting: An Overview

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

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

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

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

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

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

Syria’s Chemical Weapons: Issues for Congress

Syria has produced, stored, and weaponized chemical agents, but it remains dependent on foreign suppliers for chemical precursors. The regime of President Bashar al Asad possesses stocks of nerve (sarin, VX) and blister (mustard gas) agents, possibly weaponized into bombs, shells, and missiles. The government also has associated production facilities. Chemical weapons and their agents can deteriorate depending on age and quality; little is known from open sources about the current condition of the stockpile. Syria continues to attempt to procure new supplies of chemical weapons precursors,...

Tajikistan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests

Tajikistan is a significant country in Central Asia by virtue of its geographic location bordering China and Afghanistan and its ample water and other resources, but it faces ethnic and clan schisms, deep poverty, poor governance, and other severe challenges. Tajikistan was one of the poorest of the new states that gained independence at the end of 1991 after the break-up of the former Soviet Union. The new country was soon plunged into a devastating civil conflict between competing regional and other interests that lasted until a peace settlement in 1997. Former state farm chairman...

Issues in Homeland Security Policy for the 113th Congress

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

The National Voter Registration Act of 1993: History, Implementation, and Effects

After the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. §1973–1973aa-6), legislation had been urged for over two decades that would create a national voter registration system designed to make registration easier and more uniform from state to state. The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA, P.L. 103-31, 107 Stat.77, [42 U.S.C. §1973gg et seq.]), the so-called “motor-voter” bill, was signed into law by President Clinton on May 20, 1993. It required states to establish voter registration procedures for federal elections so that eligible citizens might apply to register to...

Intelligence Spending and Appropriations: Issues for Congress

It is now publicly acknowledged that intelligence appropriations are a significant component of the federal budget, over $78 billion in FY2012 for both the national and military intelligence programs. Limited publicly available data suggest intelligence spending, measured in constant 2014 dollars, has roughly doubled since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and, before declines over the last three years, was almost double spending at its peak at the end of the Cold War. The recent disclosure by the Washington Post of details from the Administration’s FY2013 National Intelligence...

Chemical Weapons: A Summary Report of Characteristics and Effects

The potential for terrorist use of chemical agents is a noted concern highlighted by the Tokyo sarin gas attacks of 1995. The events of September 11, 2001, increased congressional attention towards reducing the vulnerability of the United States to such unconventional attacks. The possibility that terrorist groups might obtain insecure chemical weapons led to increased scrutiny of declared Libyan chemical weapon stockpiles following the fall of the Qadhafi regime. Experts have expressed similar concerns regarding the security and use of Syrian chemical weapons, reportedly including stocks...

U.S. Sanctions on Burma: Issues for the 113th Congress

In March 2011, Burma’s ruling military junta, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) formally dissolved itself and transferred power to a semi-military/semi-civilian government known as the Union Government, headed by President Thein Sein, ex-general and former prime minister for the SPDC. President Thein Sein, with the support of Burma’s Union Parliament, has implemented a number of political and economic reforms, to which the Obama Administration has responded by waiving or easing sanctions.

Although the presidential waivers effectively lift the sanctions, they do not revoke or...

Egypt in Crisis: Issues for Congress

This report provides a brief overview of the key issues for the 113th Congress related to Egypt.

Possible U.S. Intervention in Syria: Issues for Congress

Reports of a mass casualty chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus are reshaping the long-running and contentious debate over possible U.S. intervention in Syria’s bloody civil war. Obama Administration officials and some foreign governments report that on August 21, 2013, forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al Asad attacked opposition-controlled areas in the suburbs of the capital with chemical weapons, killing hundreds of civilians, including women and children. The Syrian government has denied the accusations categorically and blames the opposition for the attack. United...

Pakistan: U.S. Foreign Aid Conditions, Restrictions, and Reporting Requirements

The 113th Congress continues to debate levels of U.S. assistance to Pakistan in light of signs that Pakistan may not be a fully willing and effective U.S. partner, and that official Pakistani elements continue to support Islamist militant forces. During a period of economic and budget crises in the United States, Obama Administration officials and some senior Members of Congress have voiced concerns about the efficacy of continuing the flow of billions of U.S. aid dollars into Pakistan, with some in Congress urging more stringent conditions on, or even curtailment of, such aid. At issue is...

Sexual Assaults Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ): Selected Legislative Proposals

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

Under Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, Congress has the power to raise and support armies; provide and...

Sri Lanka: Background and U.S. Relations

The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, is a constitutional democracy with a relatively high level of development. For two and a half decades, political, social, and economic development was seriously constrained by years of ethnic conflict and war between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), also known as the Tamil Tigers. After a violent end to the civil war in May 2009, in which authorities crushed LTTE forces and precipitated a humanitarian emergency in Sri Lanka’s Tamil-dominated north, attention has turned to...

Possible Intervention in Syria: CRS Experts

The table below provides names and contact information for CRS experts on various policy concerns of interest to Congress relating to the prospect of international military responses to the suspected use of chemical weapons in Syria. Policy areas identified include the conflict in Syria, chemical weapons, military operations, intelligence issues, war powers, the humanitarian response, issues in the Middle East region, the United Nations, other international actors, and other foreign policy instruments.

China’s Holdings of U.S. Securities: Implications for the U.S. Economy

Given its relatively low savings rate, the U.S. economy depends heavily on foreign capital inflows from countries with high savings rates (such as China) to meet its domestic investment needs and to fund the federal budget deficit. The willingness of foreigners to invest in the U.S. economy and purchase U.S. public debt has helped keep U.S. real interest rates low. However, many economists contend that U.S. dependency on foreign savings exposes the U.S. economy to certain risks, and some argue that such low-cost capital inflows were a contributing factor to the U.S. housing bubble and...

Bangladesh: Political and Strategic Developments and U.S. Interests

Bangladesh (the former East Pakistan) is an Islamic-majority nation in South Asia, bordering the Bay of Bengal, dominated by low-lying riparian zones. It is the world’s eighth-largest country in terms of population, with 164 million people housed in a land mass the size of Iowa. Roughly 80% of Bangladesh’s population lives on less than $2 per day. It suffers from high levels of corruption and, at times, a faltering democratic system that has been subject to pressure from the military, though the nation has an established reputation as a largely moderate and democratic majority Muslim...

Health Workforce Programs in Title VII of the Public Health Service Act

Title VII of the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) supports health professions education and training through grants to and contractual agreements with institutions, and direct assistance to individuals. Institutions may receive Title VII support for such activities as residency programs at medical and dental schools, recruitment and retention initiatives in community-based educational settings, and health workforce data collection and analysis within state health departments. Individuals typically receive direct assistance through scholarships, loans, loan repayments, or fellowships. Title...

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Other Mental Health Problems in the Military: Oversight Issues for Congress

Military servicemembers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and depression, as well as military suicides, continue to be a major concern of Congress. Numerous legislative provisions have been enacted over the past years to address these issues. Members will likely seek to offer legislation in the 113th Congress to address this complex set of issues. This report is intended to provide assistance in understanding the issues associated with psychological health in the active duty forces, potential congressional responses, and what questions may...

National Security Strategy: Mandates, Execution to Date, and Issues for Congress

Strategy—together with decision-making, planning and execution, budgeting, and congressional oversight—is a critical component of U.S. government thinking and practice in the arena of national security. In theory, effective national security strategy-making can sharpen priorities and refine approaches; provide a single shared vision for all concerned agencies; clarify the roles and responsibilities of all concerned agencies so that they may more effectively plan and resource; offer a coherent baseline for congressional oversight; and communicate U.S. government intent to key audiences at...

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

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

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): An Overview

This report discusses the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), as amended, is intended to help employees balance work and family life. The act provides eligible employees with two types of job-protected leave: regular leave and military family leave. In turn, military family leave consists of qualifying exigency leave and military caregiver leave.

U.S.-China Relations: An Overview of Policy Issues

The United States relationship with China touches on an exceptionally broad range of issues, from security, trade, and broader economic issues, to the environment and human rights. Congress faces important questions about what sort of relationship the United States should have with China and how the United States should respond to China’s “rise.” After more than 30 years of fast-paced economic growth, China’s economy is now the second-largest in the world after that of the United States. With economic success, China has developed significant global strategic clout. It is also engaged in an...

Military Sexual Assault: Chronology of Activity in Congress and Related Resources

This report focuses on activity in Congress regarding recent high profile incidents of sexual assault in the military. Included are separate sections on the official responses related to these incidents by the Department of Defense (DOD), the Administration, and Congress including legislation in the 113th Congress. The last section is a resource guide for sources in this report and related materials on sexual assault and prevention.

U.S.-Cambodia Relations: Issues for the 113th Congress

The United States and the Kingdom of Cambodia have been expanding their once-limited ties for a number of years, although U.S. concerns about Cambodia’s human rights record still limit the scope of the bilateral relationship. The Obama Administration has taken steps to broaden engagement with Cambodia, partly in response to China’s growing diplomatic and economic influence in Cambodia and the Lower Mekong Delta region. U.S. interests in Cambodia include promoting development, trade and investment, regional security, civil society, democracy, and human rights. U.S. military engagement with...

International Illegal Trade in Wildlife: Threats and U.S. Policy

Global trade in illegal wildlife is a potentially vast illicit economy, estimated to be worth billions of dollars each year. Some of the most lucrative illicit wildlife commodities include elephant ivory, rhino horn, sturgeon caviar, and so-called “bushmeat.” Wildlife smuggling may pose a transnational security threat as well as an environmental one. Numerous sources indicate that some organized criminal syndicates, insurgent groups, and foreign military units may be involved in various aspects of international wildlife trafficking. Limited anecdotal evidence also indicates that some...

Kazakhstan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests

Kazakhstan is an important power in Central Asia by virtue of its geographic location, large territory, ample natural resources, and economic growth, but it faces ethnic, political, and other challenges to stability. Kazakhstan gained independence at the end of 1991 after the break-up of the former Soviet Union. Kazakhstan’s president at the time, Nursultan Nazarbayev, was one of the top leaders of the former Soviet Union and was instrumental in forming the successor Commonwealth of Independent States. He has been reelected president of Kazakhstan several times and in June 2010 was...

Air Force F-22 Fighter Program

Procurement of Air Force F-22 Raptor fighters began in FY1999, and a total of 195 (177 production aircraft, 16 test aircraft, and 2 development aircraft) were procured through FY2009. In the FY2010 budget, the Administration proposed to end F-22 procurement at 187, and Congress approved that termination. The F-22 assembly line in Marietta, GA, has been shut down, with its tools and equipment placed in storage.

Since 2010, operational issues have arisen. Following a November 2010 fatal crash of an F-22 in Alaska, the Air Force recorded at least 25 “physiological incidents” of F-22 pilots...

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

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

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

Pakistan: U.S. Foreign Assistance

In the post-2001 era, the United States has viewed Pakistan as a key ally, especially in the context of counterterrorism and Afghan and regional stability. Pakistan has been among the leading recipients of U.S. foreign assistance both historically and in recent years, although assistance levels have fluctuated considerably over the decades of Pakistani independence. In the wake of 9/11, however, aid to Pakistan increased steadily. Since 1948, the United States has pledged more than $30 billion in direct aid, about half for military assistance, and more than two-thirds appropriated in the...

Financial Services and General Government: FY2013 Appropriations

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

U.S. and South Korean Cooperation in the World Nuclear Energy Market: Major Policy Considerations

A South Korean consortium signed a contract in December 2009 to provide four commercial nuclear reactors to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), signaling a new role for South Korea in the world nuclear energy market. The $20 billion deal indicates that South Korea has completed the transition from passive purchaser of turn-key nuclear plants in the 1970s to major nuclear technology supplier, capable of competing with the largest and most experienced nuclear technology companies in the world.

In the 1970s, South Korea launched its nuclear power program through the government-owned Korea...

Georgia [Republic]: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests

The small Black Sea-bordering country of Georgia gained its independence at the end of 1991 with the dissolution of the former Soviet Union. The United States had an early interest in its fate, since the well-known former Soviet foreign minister, Eduard Shevardnadze, soon became its leader. Democratic and economic reforms faltered during his rule, however. New prospects for the country emerged after Shevardnadze was ousted in 2003 and the U.S.-educated Mikheil Saakashvili was elected president. Then-U.S. President George W. Bush visited Georgia in 2005, and praised the democratic and...

Department of Homeland Security: FY2013 Appropriations

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

Congress did not enact final FY2013 appropriations legislation...

Senegal: Background and U.S. Relations

Successive U.S. Administrations have viewed Senegal as a democratic leader in Africa, an anchor of regional stability, and a partner in addressing development challenges and combating transnational security threats. Senegalese President Macky Sall met with President Barack Obama at the White House in March 2013, and President Obama is expected to visit Senegal in late June. A small, arid nation on West Africa’s Atlantic coast, Senegal has struggled with widespread poverty and a long-running, low-level separatist insurgency in its southern Casamance region. Still, the country’s democratic...

Transforming Government Acquisition Systems: Overview and Selected Issues

Increasingly, the federal government uses technology to facilitate and support the federal acquisition process. Primary beneficiaries of this shift to online systems (websites and databases) are the government’s acquisition workforce and prospective and incumbent government contractors. The suite of web-based systems supports contracting officers’ efforts to ensure the government contracts only with responsible parties, is essential to the dissemination of information regarding contracting opportunities, and facilitates interagency contracting. From the contractor perspective, the...

Asian Pacific Americans in the United States Congress

This report presents information on Senators, Representatives, and Delegates, including previous occupations and leadership positions (such as committee and subcommittee chairmanships), and the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. It also provides a list of Members' and Delegates' party affiliations, length and dates of service, and committee assignments. Also included in the report is a map showing the total number of Asian Pacific Americans and the states or territories they represent in the 113th Congress.

The United States and Europe: Responding to Change in the Middle East and North Africa

U.S. and European Responses to Changes in the Middle East and North Africa

Over the last two years, many U.S. policymakers, Members of Congress, and their European counterparts have struggled with how best to respond to the wide range of challenges posed by the popular uprisings and political upheaval in many countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Almost immediately after the onset of the so-called “Arab Spring” in early 2011, U.S. and European leaders alike declared their intention to put greater emphasis than in the past on democratic reform and economic development in...

The “Deeming Resolution”: A Budget Enforcement Tool

“Deeming resolution” is a term that refers to legislation deemed to serve as an annual budget resolution for purposes of establishing enforceable budget levels for a budget cycle. A deeming resolution is used when the House and Senate have not agreed on a budget resolution.

The Congressional Budget Act of 1974 provides for the annual adoption of a budget resolution establishing aggregate levels of revenues, spending, the debt limit, and the surplus or deficit, as well as allocations of spending. Enforcement of the budget resolution relies primarily upon points of order and reconciliation...

Terrorism and Transnational Crime: Foreign Policy Issues for Congress

This report provides an overview of transnational security issues related to patterns of interaction among international terrorist and crime groups. In addition, the report discusses the U.S. government’s perception of and response to the threat. It concludes with an analysis of foreign policy options.

In recent years, the U.S. government has asserted that terrorism, insurgency, and crime interact in varied and significant ways, to the detriment of U.S. national security interests. Although unclassified anecdotal evidence largely serves as the basis for the current understanding of...

Peru: Overview of Political and Economic Conditions and Relations with the United States

This report provides an overview of Peru’s government and economy and a discussion of issues in relations between the United States and Peru.

Peru and the United States have a strong and cooperative relationship. Several issues in U.S.-Peru relations are likely to be considered in decisions by Congress and the Administration on future aid to and cooperation with Peru. The United States supports the strengthening of Peru’s democratic institutions, its respect for human rights, environmental protection, and counternarcotics efforts. A dominant theme in bilateral relations is the effort to...

Transfer and Reprogramming of Appropriations: An Overview of Authorities, Limitations, and Procedures

Enacted appropriations and other budgetary legislation may vary in the level of detail they provide regarding how agencies should spend the funds that have been provided. Even when the purpose of appropriations is specified in great detail, agencies may be provided with some flexibility to make budgetary adjustments throughout the fiscal year. These adjustments may be necessary due to changing or unforeseen circumstances. In some instances, agencies are provided with transfer authority (i.e., authority to shift funds from one appropriations or fund account to another). In addition,...

Military Parents and Child Custody: State and Federal Issues

The increased deployment of servicemembers beginning in 2001 as a result of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom has raised difficult military child custody issues that in some cases potentially affect the welfare of military children as well as servicemembers’ ability to effectively serve their country. Approximately 142,000 members of the Armed Forces (active, Guard, and Reserve) are single custodians of minor children. Temporary duty assignments, mobilization, and deployments to areas that do not allow the military member’s dependent(s) to accompany them require the servicemember to...

Closing the Guantanamo Detention Center: Legal Issues

Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Congress passed the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), which granted the President the authority “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those ... [who] planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks” against the United States. Many persons subsequently captured during military operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere were transferred to the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for detention and possible prosecution. Although nearly 800 persons have been held at Guantanamo since early 2002, the...

Department of Defense’s Use of Contractors to Support Military Operations: Background, Analysis, and Issues for Congress

Throughout its history, the Department of Defense (DOD) has relied on contractors to support a wide range of military operations. Operations over the last thirty years have highlighted the critical role that contractors play in supporting U.S. troops—both in terms of the number of contractors and the type of work being performed. Over the last decade in Iraq and Afghanistan, and before that, in the Balkans, contractors accounted for 50% or more of the total military force.

Regardless of whether future operations are similar to-or significantly different from- those of the past decade most...

Defense: FY2013 Authorization and Appropriations

President Obama requested $613.9 billion in discretionary budget authority for the Department of Defense in Fiscal Year 2013, which is $31.8 billion less than had been appropriated for the agency in FY2012. The end of U.S. combat in Iraq and the declining tempo of operations in Afghanistan accounted for the bulk of the overall reduction: The budget request for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO)—DOD activities in those two countries—was $88.5 billion, which is $26.6 billion less than was provided for those operations in FY2012.

However, the Administration’s $525.4 billion request for...

Air Force KC-46A Tanker Aircraft Program

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

The KC-46A acquisition program is a subject of intense interest because of the dollar value of the contract, the number of jobs it would create, the importance of tanker aircraft to U.S. military operations, and because DOD’s previous attempts to acquire a new tanker since 2001 had ultimately failed.

DOD’s...

Serbia: Current Issues and U.S. Policy

Serbia faces an important crossroads in its development. It is seeking to integrate into the European Union (EU), but its progress has been hindered by tensions with the United States and many EU countries over the independence of Serbia’s former Kosovo province. The global economic crisis poses serious challenges for Serbia. Painful austerity measures have been required for Serbia by the International Monetary Fund and other international financial institutions.

Serbia held parliamentary and presidential elections in May 2012. One party in the former government, the Socialist Party, did...

Government Procurement in Times of Fiscal Uncertainty

When confronted with actual or potential funding gaps, funding shortfalls, or budget cuts, the federal government has a number of options as to prospective and existing procurement contracts. Many of these options arise from contract law and, in particular, certain standard clauses included in federal procurement contracts. Among other things, these clauses may allow the government to (1) unilaterally change certain terms of the contract, such as the specifications or the method and manner of performing the work; (2) delay, suspend, or “stop work” on the contract; and (3) terminate the...

Energy and Water Development: FY2014 Appropriations, Preliminary Tables

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), for the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and the Department of Energy (DOE), and for a number of independent agencies.

FY2013 Energy and Water Development appropriations were considered in the context of the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA, P.L. 112-25), which established discretionary spending limits for FY2012-FY2021. On March 26, 2013, the President signed H.R. 933, the FY2013 Defense and Military Construction, and...

Kosovo: Current Issues and U.S. Policy

On February 17, 2008, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia. The United States and 22 of the 27 European Union countries have recognized Kosovo’s independence. The Kosovo government claims that 98 countries in all have extended diplomatic recognition to it. EULEX, a European Union-led law-and-order mission, is tasked with improving the rule of law in Kosovo. KFOR, a NATO-led peacekeeping force that includes more than 700 U.S. soldiers, has the mission of providing a secure environment.

Serbia strongly objects to Kosovo’s declaration of independence. It has used diplomatic means to...

No-Fly Zones: Strategic, Operational, and Legal Considerations for Congress

In conflicts in Kosovo, Iraq, and Libya, the United States has taken part in establishing and maintaining no-fly zones. As no-fly zones represent a significant commitment of U.S. forces, and may prove a precursor to other military actions, Congress may wish to consider issues surrounding the strategy, international authorization, congressional authorization, operations, and costs of establishing and maintaining no-fly zones.

The military strategy designed to support U.S. grand strategy, it has been suggested, might be based on these considerations: the operational-level military objectives...

Nuclear Weapons R&D Organizations in Nine Nations

Seven nations—China, France, India, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—possess nuclear weapons. North Korea tested a nuclear explosive device in 2006, and announced that it had conducted a test in 2009 and another in 2013. Israel is widely thought to have nuclear weapons. As an aid to Congress in understanding nuclear weapons, nuclear proliferation, and arms control matters, this report describes which agency is responsible for research and development (R&D) of nuclear weapons (i.e., nuclear explosive devices, as distinct from the bombers and missiles that deliver...

Energy and Water Development: FY2013 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), for the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and the Department of Energy (DOE), and for a number of independent agencies.

President Obama’s FY2013 budget request for Energy and Water Development was released in February 2012.

For FY2013 the level of overall spending has been a major issue. The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA, P.L. 112-25) contained an overall discretionary spending cap for FY2013 of $1.047 trillion. On March 29,...

Terrorism, Miranda, and Related Matters

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides in part that “No person ... shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” In Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme Court declared that statements of an accused, given during a custodial interrogation, could not be introduced in evidence in criminal proceedings against him, unless he were first advised of his rights and waived them. In Dickerson v. United States, the Court held that the Miranda exclusionary rule was constitutionally...

Intelligence Issues for Congress

To address the challenges facing the U.S. intelligence community in the 21st century, congressional and executive branch initiatives have sought to improve coordination among the different agencies and to encourage better analysis. In December 2004, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (P.L. 108-458) was signed, providing for a Director of National Intelligence (DNI) with authorities to manage the national intelligence effort. The legislation also established a Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Making cooperation effective presents substantial leadership...

Ricin: Technical Background and Potential Role in Terrorism

In April 2013, envelopes sent to President Obama and a U.S. Senator tested positive for ricin, a deadly toxin derived from castor beans. Ricin has been identified as a potential bioweapon. Ricin is extremely toxic by ingestion, inhalation, and injection. No treatment or prophylaxis currently exists, though research into new therapies and vaccines against ricin exposure continues. Additionally, research to improve ricin detection is ongoing. Although governments have investigated ricin’s potential use as a military weapon, individuals have used ricin in small quantities. Most experts...

Cybersecurity: Selected Legal Issues

This report discusses selected legal issues that frequently arise in the context of legislation to address vulnerabilities of private critical infrastructure to cyber threats, efforts to protect government networks from cyber threats, and proposals to facilitate and encourage sharing of cyber threat information amongst private sector and government entities. This report also provides an overview of the ways in which federal laws of these types may preempt or affect the applicability of state law.

Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Acquisition: Issues for Congress

Increasing calls for intelligence support and continuing innovations in intelligence technologies combine to create significant challenges for both the executive and legislative branches. Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems are integral components of both national policymaking and military operations, including counterterrorism operations, but they are costly and complicated and they must be linked in order to provide users with a comprehensive understanding of issues based on information from all sources. Relationships among organizations responsible for...

International Trade and Finance: Key Policy Issues for the 113th Congress

This report discusses a variety of issues faced by the 113th Congress. Topics include trade negotiations with China, export controls and sanctions, import policies, intellectual property rights, international investments and international financial institutions.

DOD Alternative Fuels: Policy, Initiatives and Legislative Activity

This report provides background information and identifies issues for Congress regarding Department of Defense (DOD) alternative fuel initiatives, a subject of debate at congressional hearings on DOD’s proposed FY2013 budget. The services (the Army, Navy, and Air Force) have spent approximately $48 million to purchase alternative fuels, and the Navy has proposed a $170 million investment in biofuel production capacity. The services have also spent funds on testing, certification and demonstrations of alternative fuels. By comparison, DOD purchases of petroleum fuels totaled approximately...

Covert Action: Legislative Background and Possible Policy Questions

Published reports have suggested that in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Pentagon has expanded its counterterrorism intelligence activities as part of what the Bush Administration termed the global war on terror. Some observers have asserted that the Department of Defense (DOD) may have been conducting certain kinds of counterterrorism intelligence activities that would statutorily qualify as “covert actions,” and thus require a presidential finding and the notification of the congressional intelligence committees.

Defense officials have asserted that none of DOD’s current...

FY2013 Continuing Resolutions: Analysis of Components and Congressional Action

This report provides analysis of the components of the two FY2013 continuing resolutions (CR) and congressional action on those CRs.

Prior to the beginning of the fiscal year, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees each reported 11 out of 12 regular appropriations bills. Seven regular appropriations bills were passed by the House; no regular appropriations bills were passed by the Senate. None of the regular appropriations bills were enacted into law. The first CR for FY2013 was signed into law on September 28, 2012 (H.J.Res. 117; P.L. 112-175). On March 26, 2013, H.R. 933 (P.L....

The European Union: Foreign and Security Policy

The United States often looks to Europe as its partner of choice in addressing important global challenges. Given the extent of the transatlantic relationship, congressional foreign policy activities and interests frequently involve Europe. The relationship between the United States and the European Union (EU) has become increasingly significant in recent years, and it is likely to grow even more important. In this context, Members of Congress often have an interest in understanding the complexities of EU policy making, assessing the compatibility and effectiveness of U.S. and EU policy...

U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: Recent Trends and FY2013 Appropriations

Geographic proximity has forged strong linkages between the United States and the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, with critical U.S. interests in the region encompassing economic, political, and security concerns. U.S. policymakers have emphasized different strategic interests in the region at different times, from combating Soviet influence during the Cold War to advancing democracy and open markets since the 1990s. Current U.S. policy toward the region is designed to promote economic and social opportunity, ensure citizen security, strengthen effective democratic...

El Salvador: Political and Economic Conditions and U.S. Relations

Congress has maintained a strong interest in developments in El Salvador, a small Central American country with a population of 6 million. During the 1980s, El Salvador was the largest recipient of U.S. aid in Latin America as its government struggled against the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) insurgency during a 12-year civil war. A peace accord negotiated in 1992 brought the war to an end and formally assimilated the FMLN into the political process as a political party. After the peace accords were signed, U.S. involvement shifted toward helping successive...

Alternative Fuels and Advanced Technology Vehicles: Issues in Congress

Alternative fuels and advanced technology vehicles are seen by proponents as integral to improving urban air quality, decreasing dependence on foreign oil, and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. However, major barriers—especially economics—currently prevent the widespread use of these fuels and technologies. Because of these barriers, and the potential benefits, there is continued congressional interest in providing incentives and other support for their development and commercialization.

Key tax incentives for the use of biofuels, for the expansion of alternative fuel infrastructure,...

Foreign Investment and National Security: Economic Considerations

The United States is the largest foreign direct investor in the world and also the largest recipient of foreign direct investment. This dual role means that globalization, or the spread of economic activity by firms across national borders, has become a prominent feature of the U.S. economy and that through direct investment the U.S. economy has become highly enmeshed with the broader global economy. This also means that the United States has important economic, political, and social interests at stake in the development of international policies regarding direct investment. With some...

North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons: Technical Issues

This report summarizes what is known from open sources about the North Korean nuclear weapons program—including weapons-usable fissile material and warhead estimates—and assesses current developments in achieving denuclearization. Little detailed open-source information is available about the DPRK’s nuclear weapons production capabilities, warhead sophistication, the scope and success of its uranium enrichment program, or extent of its proliferation activities. In total, it is estimated that North Korea has between 30 and 50 kilograms of separated plutonium, enough for at least half a...

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2013 Budget and Appropriations

International affairs expenditures typically amount to about 1.5% of the total federal budget. While some foreign policy and defense experts view that share as a small price to pay for a robust foreign affairs budget that they believe is essential to meeting national security and foreign policy objectives, others see international affairs spending, particularly foreign aid, as an attractive target for significant spending cuts in order to reduce deficit spending.

On February 13, 2012, the Obama Administration submitted its FY2013 budget proposal. The FY2013 request totaled $54.87 billion...

Department of Defense Energy Initiatives: Background and Issues for Congress

The Department of Defense (DOD) spends billions of dollars per year on fuel, and is pursuing numerous initiatives for reducing its fuel needs and changing the mix of energy sources that it uses. DOD’s energy initiatives pose several potential oversight issues for Congress, and have been topics of discussion and debate at hearings on DOD’s proposed FY2013 budget.

By some accounts, DOD is the largest organizational user of petroleum in the world. Even so, DOD’s share of total U.S. energy consumption is fairly small. DOD is by far the largest U.S. government user of energy. The amount of...

Intelligence Authorization Legislation: Status and Challenges

Since President Bush signed the FY2005 Intelligence Authorization Act (P.L. 108-487) in December 2004, no subsequent intelligence authorization legislation was enacted until the FY2010 bill was signed by President Obama in October 2010 (after the end of FY2010), becoming P.L. 111-259. Although the National Security Act requires intelligence activities to be specifically authorized, this requirement had been satisfied in previous years by one-sentence catchall provisions in defense appropriations acts authorizing intelligence activities. This procedure meets the statutory requirement but...

Understanding China’s Political System

This report is designed to provide Congress with a perspective on the contemporary political system of China, the only Communist Party-led state in the G-20 grouping of major economies. China’s Communist Party dominates state and society in China, is committed to maintaining a permanent monopoly on power, and is intolerant of those who question its right to rule. Nonetheless, analysts consider China’s political system to be neither monolithic nor rigidly hierarchical. Jockeying among leaders and institutions representing different sets of interests is common at every level of the system....

A Unified National Security Budget? Issues for Congress

In recent years a number of observers and practitioners have identified various facets of U.S. government national security practice—decision-making, strategy-making, budgeting, planning and execution, and congressional oversight—as inherently “cross-cutting.” They have in mind arenas—such as counterterrorism, and stabilization and reconstruction—that by definition involve multiple agencies, or for which responsibilities could be divided up in any number of ways among various agencies. For such facets of national security, they argue, the U.S. government is seldom able to conduct genuinely...

U.S. Policy Towards Burma: Issues for the 113th Congress

U.S. policy towards Burma has undergone a discernible shift in its approach since a quasi-civilian government was established in March 2011. While the overall objectives of U.S. policy towards the country remain in place—the establishment of civilian democratic government based on the rule of law and the protection of basic human rights—the Obama Administration has moved from a more reactive, “action-for-action” strategy and a skeptical and cautious attitude towards the newly created Union Government and Union Parliament to a more proactive mode. The new approach is designed to foster...

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

U.S. interest in deepening economic ties with certain countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has increased in light of the political unrest and transitions that have swept the region since early 2011. Policymakers in Congress and the Obama Administration are discussing ways that U.S. trade and investment can bolster long-term economic growth in the region. In May 2011, President Obama announced the MENA “Trade and Investment Partnership Initiative” (MENA-TIP), through which various federal government agencies are engaged in efforts to enhance trade and investment with the...

Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC): Transfer and Disposal of Military Property

The Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990 (P.L. 100-526) and the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 (P.L. 81-152) provide the basic framework for the transfer and disposal of military installations closed during the base realignment and closure (BRAC) process. In general, property at BRAC installations is first subjected to screening for use by the Department of Defense and by other federal agencies. If no federal use for the property can be found or if an application for transfer is rejected, the property is deemed “surplus” to the needs of the federal...

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).

Securing America’s Borders: The Role of the Military

The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is charged with preventing the entry of terrorists, securing the borders, and carrying out immigration enforcement functions. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a component of DHS, has primary responsibility for securing the borders of the United States, preventing terrorists and their weapons from entering the United States, and enforcing hundreds of U.S. trade and immigration laws. Within CBP, the U.S. Border Patrol’s mission is to detect and prevent the illegal entry of aliens across the nearly 7,000 miles of Mexican and...

Insourcing Functions Performed by Federal Contractors: Legal Issues

Recent Congresses and the Obama Administration have taken numerous actions to promote “insourcing,” or the use of government personnel to perform functions that contractors have performed on behalf of federal agencies. Among other things, the 109th through the 111th Congresses enacted statutes requiring the development of policies and guidelines to ensure that agencies “consider” using government employees to perform functions previously performed by contractors, as well as any new functions. The Obama Administration has similarly promoted insourcing, with officials calling for...

Summary Report: Congressional Action on the FY2013 Disaster Supplemental

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

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

Congressional Authority to Limit Military Operations

Controversy continues over the appropriate role that Congress should play in regulating U.S. military operations against foreign entities. U.S. action against Libya reignited consideration of long-standing questions concerning the President’s constitutional authority to use military force without congressional authorization, as well as congressional authority to regulate or limit the use of such force. There may be a renewed focus in the 113th Congress on whether or to what extent Congress has the constitutional authority to legislate limits on the President’s authority to conduct military...

FY2013 Supplemental Funding for Disaster Relief

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

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

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...

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS): Manufacturing Trends

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) represent a bright spot for the technology-intensive aerospace manufacturing sector, but military and civil government agencies will likely be the predominant customers for an extended period while such systems are integrated into the U.S. National Airspace System ("national airspace"). This report discusses the market for UAS in 2013 and briefly discusses UAS manufacturers.

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...

U.S.-India Security Relations: Strategic Issues

In today’s fluid geopolitical environment, the relationship between the United States, the world’s oldest democracy and an established global power, and India, its most populous democracy and an aspiring global power, is seen as a key variable in the unfolding international dynamics of the 21st century. As U.S. foreign policy attention shifts toward the Asia-Pacific (or Indo-Pacific) region, and as India’s economic and military capabilities grow, Washington’s pursuit of a strategic partnership with New Delhi demonstrates that the mutual wariness of the Cold War era has rapidly faded. A...

Federal Contracting and Subcontracting with Small Businesses: Issues in the 112th Congress

Congress has generally broad authority to impose requirements upon the federal procurement process, or the process whereby agencies obtain goods and services from the private sector. One of the many ways in which Congress has exercised this authority is by enacting measures intended to promote contracting and subcontracting with “small businesses” by federal agencies. Among other things, these measures (1) declare a congressional policy of ensuring that a “fair proportion” of federal contract and subcontract dollars are awarded to small businesses; (2) establish government-wide and...

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Current Issues and U.S. Policy

In recent years, many analysts have expressed concern that the international community’s efforts over the past 17 years to stabilize Bosnia and Herzegovina are failing. Milorad Dodik, president of the Republika Srpska (RS), one of the two semi-autonomous “entities” within Bosnia, has obstructed efforts to make Bosnia’s central government more effective. He has repeatedly asserted the RS’s right to secede from Bosnia, although he has so far refrained from trying to make this threat a reality. Some ethnic Croat leaders in Bosnia have called for more autonomy for Croats within Bosnia, perhaps...

FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Policy Issues

Military personnel issues typically generate significant interest from many Members of Congress and their staffs. Recent military operations in Iraq and ongoing operations in Afghanistan, along with the operational role of the Reserve Components, further heighten interest in a wide range of military personnel policies and issues.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has selected a number of the military personnel issues considered in deliberations on the House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2013. This report provides a brief synopsis of sections...

Circular A-76 and the Moratorium on DOD Competitions: Background and Issues for Congress

This report discusses the status of the ongoing moratorium on the conduct of Department of Defense (DOD) public-private competitions under Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-76, and potential issues for Congress.

OMB Circular A-76 is a federal executive branch policy for managing public-private competitions to perform functions for the federal government. A-76 states that, whenever possible, and to achieve greater efficiency and productivity, the federal government should conduct competitions between public agencies and the private sector to determine who should perform the...

United Nations System Funding: Congressional Issues

The congressional debate over United Nations funding focuses on several questions, including (1) What is the appropriate level of U.S. funding for U.N. system operations and programs? (2) What U.S. funding actions are most likely to produce a positive continuation of U.N. system reform efforts?

The U.N. system includes the United Nations, a number of specialized or affiliated agencies, voluntary and special funds and programs, and U.N. peacekeeping operations. Participating states finance the system with assessed contributions to the budgets of the United Nations and its specialized...

Cuba: Issues for the 112th Congress

Cuba remains a one-party communist state with a poor record on human rights. The country’s political succession in 2006 from the long-ruling Fidel Castro to his brother Raúl was characterized by a remarkable degree of stability. The government of Raúl Castro has implemented limited economic policy changes, including an expansion of self-employment. A party congress held in April 2011 laid out numerous economic goals that, if implemented, could significantly alter Cuba’s state-dominated economic model. Few observers expect the government to ease its tight control over the political system....

Organized Crime: An Evolving Challenge for U.S. Law Enforcement

In the last two decades, organized crime has grown more complex, posing evolving challenges for U.S. federal law enforcement. These criminals have transformed their operations in ways that broaden their reach and make it harder for police to combat them. They have adopted more-networked structural models, internationalized their operations, and grown more tech savvy. They are a significant challenge to U.S. law enforcement.

Modern organized criminals often prefer cellular or networked structural models for their flexibility and avoid the hierarchies that previously governed more...

Venezuela: Issues for Congress, 2009-2012

Under the rule of populist President Hugo Chávez, first elected in 1998, Venezuela has undergone enormous political changes, with a new constitution and unicameral legislature, and even a new name for the country, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Human rights organizations have expressed concerns about the deterioration of democratic institutions and threats to freedom of expression under the Chávez government. President Chávez won reelection to another six-year term on October 7, 2012, by a margin of 11%, capturing about 55% of the vote compared to 44% for opposition candidate...

Abortion Services and Military Medical Facilities

In 1993, President Clinton modified the military policy on providing abortions at military medical facilities. Under the change directed by the President, military medical facilities were allowed to perform abortions if paid for entirely with non-Department of Defense (DOD) funds (i.e., privately funded). Although arguably consistent with statutory language barring the use of Defense Department funds, the President’s policy overturned a former interpretation of existing law barring the availability of these services. On December 1, 1995, H.R. 2126, the FY1996 DOD appropriations act, became...

Environmental Considerations in Federal Procurement: An Overview of the Legal Authorities and Their Implementation

Coupled with increasing concerns about the environment, the magnitude of federal spending on contracts has prompted questions from Members of Congress and the public about the role of environmental considerations in federal procurement. These include: to what extent do agencies consider environmental factors when procuring goods or services? What legal authorities presently require or allow agencies to take environmental factors into account when acquiring goods or services? How are existing provisions authorizing agencies to consider environmental factors implemented? This report provides...

Ghana: Recent Developments and U.S. Relations

Ghana: Bilateral Cooperation and Leadership Engagement

Ghana is considered a model for many of the outcomes that many Members of Congress have long sought to achieve in sub-Saharan Africa in the areas of authorizations; appropriations and program guidance; and oversight. Ghana has received a large U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact and may soon receive a second. It is also a recipient of substantial U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and State Department bilateral aid, much of which is channeled through three presidential development initiatives:

the Global...

The Unified Command Plan and Combatant Commands: Background and Issues for Congress

The Unified Command Plan (UCP) and associated Combatant Commands (COCOMs) provide operational instructions and command and control to the Armed Forces and have a significant impact on how they are organized, trained, and resourced—areas over which Congress has constitutional authority. The UCP is a classified executive branch document prepared by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) and reviewed and updated every two years that assigns missions; planning, training, and operational responsibilities; and geographic areas of responsibilities to COCOMs. Functional COCOMs operate...

Latin America and the Caribbean: U.S. Policy and Key Issues for Congress in 2012

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

The Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: Issues for Congress

On December 22, 2010, President Obama signed P.L. 111-321 into law. It called for the repeal of the existing law (Title 10, United States Code, §654) barring open homosexuality in the military by prescribing a series of steps that must take place before repeal occurs. One step was fulfilled on July 22, 2011, when the President signed the certification of the process ending the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, which was repealed on September 20, 2011. However, in repealing the law and the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, a number of issues have been raised, but were not addressed by...

Peacekeeping and Stabilization Missions Abroad: The Development of Civilian Capabilities, 2004-2011

In November 2011, the Obama Administration announced the creation of a new State Department Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO) to provide the institutional focus for policy and “operational solutions” to prevent, respond to, and stabilize crises in priority states. This bureau represents a “second generation” effort to develop civilian capacity to deal with conflict, integrating the “first generation” Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS).

Congress established S/CRS by law in the Reconstruction and Stabilization Civilian Management Act,...

Nuclear Regulatory Commission 10 C.F.R. 37, A New Rule to Protect Radioactive Material: Background, Summary, Views from the Field

This report analyzes 10 C.F.R. 37, a forthcoming rule promulgated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Physical Protection of Byproduct Material. Byproduct material includes specified types of radioactive material other than uranium or plutonium. The rule regulates byproduct material of types and in quantities that could be used to make a dirty bomb.

Congress may find this analysis of interest for several reasons: Congress attaches great importance to protecting the United States against terrorist threats; the rule will affect the many industrial, research, and medical activities...

Iran’s Ballistic Missile and Space Launch Programs

Iran has long been a source of concern for the United States and other countries because its goals are at odds with core U.S. objectives in the Middle East. Although it is not certain that Iran has made the decision to develop a nuclear weapon, it is taking steps to drastically reduce the time needed to obtain nuclear weapons should a decision be made to do so. It is the prospect of an Iranian nuclear weapon mated to an effective missile delivery capability that is especially worrisome to most.

Congress has long been interested in these matters. Congress has held numerous hearings on Iran,...

In Brief: Next Steps in the War in Afghanistan? Issues for Congress

On May 1, 2012, President Obama gave a speech from Bagram Air Field in which he laid out U.S. government approaches for “winding down” the war in Afghanistan. While a number of observers have challenged the logical plausibility of a unilateral decision to “wind down” a war, the Administration’s commitment to decreasing U.S. involvement in the war in Afghanistan is clear.

Many observers point to a coalescing vision of the way forward—shared by the governments of the United States, Afghanistan, and other international partners—that includes bringing the current campaign to a close by the end...

Technology Transfer: Use of Federally Funded Research and Development

The federal government spends approximately one-third of its annual research and development (R&D) budget for intramural work to meet mission requirements in over 700 government laboratories (including Federally Funded Research and Development Centers). The technology and expertise generated by this endeavor may have application beyond the immediate goals or intent of federally funded R&D. These applications can result from technology transfer, a process by which technology developed in one organization, in one area, or for one purpose is applied in another organization, in another area,...

Cooperative R&D: Federal Efforts to Promote Industrial Competitiveness

In response to the foreign challenge in the global marketplace, the United States Congress has explored ways to stimulate technological advancement in the private sector. The government has supported various efforts to promote cooperative research and development activities among industry, universities, and the federal R&D establishment designed to increase the competitiveness of American industry and to encourage the generation of new products, processes, and services.

Collaborative ventures are intended to accommodate the strengths and responsibilities of all sectors involved in...

Industrial Competitiveness and Technological Advancement: Debate Over Government Policy

There is ongoing interest in the pace of U.S. technological advancement due to its influence on U.S. economic growth, productivity, and international competitiveness. Because technology can contribute to economic growth and productivity increases, congressional attention has focused on how to augment private-sector technological development. Legislative activity over the past 30 or more years has created a policy for technology development, albeit an ad hoc one. Because of the lack of consensus on the scope and direction of a national policy, Congress has taken an incremental approach...

Federal Emergency Management: A Brief Introduction

The federal government plays a significant role in emergency management, which generally refers to activities associated with avoiding and responding to natural and human-caused hazards. Emergency management in the United States is highly decentralized and contextual in nature: activities often involve multiple jurisdictions as well as a vast number of agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and private sector entities. In addition, the number and type of actors involved in an incident will vary tremendously depending on the context and severity of the event. Similarly, the legal...

Vietnamese Victims of Agent Orange and U.S.-Vietnam Relations

Since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, there has been a gradual warming of bilateral relations between the United States and Vietnam, culminating in the appointment of the first U.S. ambassador to Vietnam in 1996 and the granting of permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) to Vietnam in 2007. Over the last three decades, many—but not all—of the major issues causing tension between the two nations have been resolved.

One major legacy of the Vietnam War that remains unresolved is the damage that Agent Orange, and its accompanying dioxin, have done to the people and the environment of...

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....

Terrorism and Security Issues Facing the Water Infrastructure Sector

Damage to or destruction of the nation’s water supply and water quality infrastructure by terrorist attack or natural disaster could disrupt the delivery of vital human services in this country, threatening public health and the environment, or possibly causing loss of life. Interest in such problems increased after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States.

Across the country, water infrastructure systems extend over vast areas, and ownership and operation responsibility are both public and private, but are overwhelmingly non-federal. Since the attacks, federal dam...

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

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

Panama: Political and Economic Conditions and U.S. Relations Through 2012

With five successive elected civilian governments, the Central American nation of Panama has made notable political and economic progress since the 1989 U.S. military intervention that ousted the regime of General Manuel Antonio Noriega from power. Current President Ricardo Martinelli of the center-right Democratic Change (CD) party was elected in May 2009, defeating the ruling center-left Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) in a landslide. Martinelli was inaugurated to a five-year term on July 1, 2009. Martinellis Alliance for Change coalition with the Panameñista Party (PP) also...

DOD Purchase of Renewable Energy Credits Under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012

The Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005 established renewable energy goals for federal government agencies. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 directs the Secretary of Defense “to establish a policy to maximize savings for the bulk purchase of replacement renewable energy certificates in connection with the development of facility energy projects using renewable energy sources.” This requires that each service purchase replacement renewable energy certificates (RECs) through either a centralized purchasing authority within the respective department, or the Defense...

Gun Control Legislation

Congress has debated the efficacy and constitutionality of federal regulation of firearms and ammunition, with strong advocates arguing for and against greater gun control. During the 112th Congress, several mass-casualty shootings punctuated public discourse on gun control. In a January 8, 2011, Tucson, AZ, shooting, 6 people were killed and 14 wounded, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was grievously wounded. In a July 20, 2012, Aurora, CO, theater shooting, 12 people were killed and 58 wounded. In an August 5, 2012, Milwaukee, WI, Sikh temple shooting, 6 people were...

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

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

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program

This report discusses the Small Business Innovation Development Act (P.L. 97-219. The report also discusses the program's extensions and reauthorization activity over the years.

India-U.S. Security Relations: Current Engagement

U.S.-India engagement on shared security interests is a topic of interest to the U.S. Congress, where there is considerable support for a deepened U.S. partnership with the world’s largest democracy. Congressional advocacy of closer relations with India is generally bipartisan and widespread; House and Senate caucuses on India and Indian-Americans are the largest of their kind. Caucus leaders have encouraged the Obama Administration to work toward improving the compatibility of the U.S. and Indian defense acquisitions systems, as well as to seek potential opportunities for co-development...

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...

Australia and the U.S. Rebalancing to Asia Strategy

Australia, a traditionally staunch U.S. ally, is exploring ways to support the U.S. strategy of increasing its involvement in Asia—often called the rebalancing to Asia strategy—at a time when Australia has embarked on significant cuts to its defense budget. Australia is seeking to strengthen its long-standing defense alliance with the United States without jeopardizing its important trade relationship with China. Australia’s strategic geography is increasingly focused on its north and west at a time when the United States is also increasingly focused on the same areas, namely Southeast...

Proliferation Control Regimes: Background and Status

Weapons of mass destruction (WMD), especially in the hands of radical states and terrorists, represent a major threat to U.S. national security interests. Multilateral regimes were established to restrict trade in nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and missile technologies, and to monitor their civil applications. Congress may consider the efficacy of these regimes in the 112th Congress. This report provides background and current status information on the regimes.

The nuclear nonproliferation regime encompasses several treaties, extensive multilateral and bilateral diplomatic...

The 2012 Farm Bill: A Comparison of Senate-Passed S. 3240 and the House Agriculture Committee’s H.R. 6083 with Current Law

Congress periodically establishes agricultural and food policy in an omnibus farm bill. The 112th Congress faces reauthorization of the current five-year farm bill (the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, P.L. 110-246) because many of its provisions expire in 2012. The 2008 farm bill contained 15 titles covering farm commodity support, horticulture, livestock, conservation, nutrition assistance, international trade and food aid, agricultural research, farm credit, rural development, bioenergy, and forestry, among others.

The Senate approved its version of the 2012 omnibus farm...

U.S. Sanctions on Burma

Existing U.S. sanctions on Burma are based on various U.S. laws and presidential executive orders. This report provides a brief history of U.S. policy towards Burma and the development of U.S. sanctions, a topical summary of those sanctions, and an examination of additional sanctions that have been considered, but not enacted, by Congress, or that could be imposed under existing law or executive orders. It also discusses recent easing of some of those sanctions and provisions under which additional sanctions could be waived or removed. The report concludes with a discussion of options for...

Managing the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Policy Implications of Expanding Global Access to Nuclear Power

After several decades of widespread stagnation, nuclear power has attracted renewed interest in recent years. New license applications for 30 reactors have been announced in the United States, and another 548 are under construction, planned, or proposed around the world. In the United States, interest appears driven, in part, by tax credits, loan guarantees, and other incentives in the 2005 Energy Policy Act, as well as by concerns about carbon emissions from competing fossil fuel technologies.

A major concern about the global expansion of nuclear power is the potential spread of nuclear...

In Brief: State Department Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO)

[Suppress Summary and Table of Contents] Key Words: State Department, stabilization, reconstruction, conflict, conflict management, conflict prevention, conflict transitions, peacebuilding, post-conflict, stability operations, interagency, foreign assistance.

Sudan and South Sudan: Current Issues for Congress and U.S. Policy

Congress has played an active role in U.S. policy toward Sudan for more than three decades. Efforts to support an end to the country’s myriad conflicts and human rights abuses have dominated the agenda, as have counterterrorism concerns. When unified (1956-2011), Sudan was Africa’s largest nation, bordering nine countries and stretching from the northern borders of Kenya and Uganda to the southern borders of Egypt and Libya. Strategically located along the Nile River and the Red Sea, Sudan was historically described as a crossroads between the Arab world and Africa. Domestic and...

Sequestration: A Review of Estimates of Potential Job Losses

Policymakers and economists have expressed concern that spending cuts and tax increases (commonly referred to as the “fiscal cliff”) may push a slowly growing economy into recession in 2013. In summer 2012, policymakers particularly focused on how sequestration as delineated in the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011 (P.L. 112-25) might affect employment in the near term. (Sequestration refers to an automatic cancellation of a portion of federal agencies’ budgetary resources.) Effective on January 2, 2013, the BCA imposes across-the-board spending cuts split about equally (in dollar terms)...

Israel: Possible Military Strike Against Iran’s Nuclear Facilities

Several published reports indicate that top Israeli decisionmakers are seriously considering whether to order a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, and if so, when. Twice in Israel’s history, it has conducted air strikes aimed at halting or delaying what Israeli policymakers believed to be efforts to acquire nuclear weapons by a Middle Eastern state—destroying Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1981 and a facility the Israelis identified as a reactor under construction in Syria in 2007. Today, Israeli officials generally view the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran as an unacceptable threat...

U.S. Public Diplomacy: Legislative Proposals to Amend Prohibitions on Disseminating Materials to Domestic Audiences

Public diplomacy involves U.S. government activities to conduct U.S. foreign policy and promote U.S. national interests through direct outreach and communication with the population of foreign countries. Public diplomacy and international broadcasting activities, conducted by the Department of State, U.S. diplomatic personnel abroad, and U.S. international broadcasters such as the Voice of America, include providing information to foreign publics through broadcast and Internet media and at libraries and other outreach facilities in foreign countries; conducting cultural diplomacy, such as...

The Senior Executive Service: Background and Options for Reform

The Senior Executive Service (SES) was established by the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSRA; P.L. 95-454, 92 Stat. 1111). Congress created the SES to provide a government-wide, mobile corps of managers within federal agencies. The SES, comprising mostly career appointees who are chosen through a merit staffing process, is the link between the politically appointed heads of agencies and the career civil servants within those agencies. The creators of the SES envisioned it as a cadre of high-level managers in the government who would provide leadership for agencies across...

Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2004-2011

This report is prepared annually to provide Congress with official, unclassified, quantitative data on conventional arms transfers to developing nations by the United States and foreign countries for the preceding eight calendar years for use in its policy oversight functions. All agreement and delivery data in this report for the United States are government-to-government Foreign Military Sales (FMS) transactions. Similar data are provided on worldwide conventional arms transfers by all suppliers, but the principal focus is the level of arms transfers by major weapons suppliers to nations...

Afghanistan: U.S. Foreign Assistance

The U.S. program of assistance to Afghanistan is intended to stabilize and strengthen the Afghan economic, social, political, and security environment so as to blunt popular support for extremist forces in the region. Since 2001, nearly $83 billion has been appropriated toward this effort.

Since FY2002, nearly two-thirds of U.S. assistance—roughly 62%—has gone to the training and equipping of Afghan forces. The remainder has gone to development and humanitarian-related activities from infrastructure to private sector support, governance and democratization efforts, and counter-narcotics...

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

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

The Executive Budget Process: An Overview

The U.S. Constitution vests Congress with the power to raise revenue and borrow money. Those funds may only be drawn from the Treasury in consequence of appropriations made by law. The Constitution, however, is largely silent with respect to the President’s role in the budget process. Instead, the current executive budget process is largely the result of statutes enacted by Congress.

The executive budget process consists of three main phases: development of the President’s budget proposal, submission and justification of the President’s budget proposal, and execution of enacted...

Presidential Authority to Impose Requirements on Federal Contractors

Executive orders requiring agencies to impose certain conditions on federal contractors as terms of their contracts have raised questions about presidential authority to issue such orders. Such executive orders typically cite the President’s constitutional authority, as well as his authority pursuant to the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 (FPASA). FPASA authorizes the President to prescribe any policies or directives that he considers necessary to promote “economy” or “efficiency” in federal procurement.

There have been legal challenges to orders (1) encouraging...

U.S. Nuclear Cooperation with India: Issues for Congress

India, which has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and does not have International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards on all of its nuclear material, exploded a “peaceful” nuclear device in 1974, convincing the world of the need for greater restrictions on nuclear trade. The United States created the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) as a direct response to India’s test, halted nuclear exports to India a few years later, and worked to convince other states to do the same. India tested nuclear weapons again in 1998. However, President Bush announced July 18, 2005, he would “work to...

The Navy Biofuel Initiative Under the Defense Production Act

The Secretaries of Energy, Agriculture, and the Navy have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to “assist the development and support of a sustainable commercial biofuels industry.” The objective of the MOU is the construction or retrofitting of multiple domestic commercial or pre-commercial scale advanced drop-in biofuel plants and refineries. The MOU would support the Navy’s goal of deploying a “Green Strike Group” by the end of 2012, and “Great Green Fleet” by 2016 fueled in part with a 50/50 blend of hydrotreated renewable jet fuel (biofuel). The Navy proposes to use...

Military Construction: A Snapshot of the President’s FY2013 Appropriations Request

The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies appropriations bill provides funding for the planning, design, construction, alteration, and improvement of facilities used by active and reserve military components worldwide. Title I of the bill capitalizes military family housing and the U.S. share of the NATO Security Investment Program and finances the implementation of installation closures and realignments. Other titles within the legislation fund veterans benefit and health care programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), provide for the...

Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI)

The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) was formed to increase international cooperation in interdicting shipments of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), their delivery systems, and related materials. The Initiative was announced by President Bush on May 31, 2003. PSI does not create a new legal framework but aims to use existing national authorities and international law to achieve its goals. Initially, 11 nations signed on to the “Statement of Interdiction Principles” that guides PSI cooperation. As of May 2012, 98 countries (plus the Holy See) have committed formally to the PSI...

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act: A Summary of Superfund Cleanup Authorities and Related Provisions of the Act

Congress enacted the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA; P.L. 96-510) in response to a growing desire for the federal government to ensure the cleanup of the nation’s most contaminated sites to protect the public from potential harm. The Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-499, SARA) clarified the applicability of the statute’s requirements to federal facilities, and modified various response, liability, and enforcement provisions. Several other laws also have amended CERCLA for specific purposes, including relief...

Congressional Oversight and Related Issues Concerning International Security Agreements Concluded by the United States

The United States is a party to numerous security agreements with other nations. The topics covered, along with the significance of the obligations imposed upon agreement parties, may vary. Some international security agreements entered by the United States, such as those obliging parties to come to the defense of another in the event of an attack, involve substantial commitments and have traditionally been entered as treaties, ratified with the advice and consent of the Senate. Other agreements dealing with more technical matters, such as military basing rights or the application of a...

Pakistan-U.S. Relations

In a security alliance since 2004 and “strategic partners” since 2006, the United States and Pakistan for decades experienced major shifts in the nature and tone of their relations. In the post-9/11 period, assisting in the creation of a more stable, democratic, and prosperous Pakistan actively combating religious militancy has been among the most important U.S. foreign policy efforts. Vital U.S. interests are seen to be at stake in its engagement with Pakistan related to regional and global terrorism; efforts to stabilize neighboring Afghanistan; nuclear weapons proliferation; links...

Proliferation of Precision Strike: Issues for Congress

Iron emerged in the eighth century B.C., helping to usher in the use of cavalry instead of chariots. Today’s new technologies, including the development of precision-guided weaponry, have given rise to new methods of war fighting, thus bringing dramatic change to the operational battlefield. As will other decision makers, Members of Congress will confront significant challenges in making their choices about how to adapt to the continually evolving environment, particularly with respect to what are called “precision strike” capabilities.

The United States took the early lead in the...

NATO’s Chicago Summit

NATO’s 2012 summit of alliance heads of state and government is scheduled to take place in Chicago on May 20-21. U.S. and NATO officials have outlined what they expect to be the Summit’s three main agenda items:

Defining the next phase of formal transition in Afghanistan and shaping a longer term NATO commitment to the country after the planned end of combat operations by the end of 2014;

Securing commitments to maintain and develop the military capabilities necessary to meet NATO’s defense and security goals, including through a new “Smart Defense” initiative; and

Enhancing NATO’s...

China’s Rare Earth Industry and Export Regime: Economic and Trade Implications for the United States

Over the past few years, the Chinese government has implemented a number of policies to tighten its control over the production and export of “rare earths”—a unique group of 17 metal elements on the periodic table that exhibit a range of special properties, such as magnetism, luminescence, and strength. Rare earths are important to a number of high technology industries, including renewable energy and various defense systems.

China’s position as the world’s dominant producer and supplier of rare earths (97% of total output) and its policies to limit exports have raised concerns among many...

Fact Sheet: The FY2013 State and Foreign Operations Budget Request

On February 13, 2012, the Obama Administration submitted to Congress its FY2013 budget request for State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs totaling $54.7 billion, $8.2 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. Of the total request, $18.6 billion is for State Department Operations and related agencies (a 4.6% increase over FY2012 funding) and $36.1 billion is for Foreign Operations (an increase of 0.1% over the FY2012 level). This fact sheet provides a brief overview of that request. A full report on FY2013 State and Foreign Operations budget and appropriations...

The Commercial Space Industry and Launch Market

The space industry refers to economic activities related to the manufacture and delivery of components that go into Earth’s orbit or beyond. The space industry is a subset of the U.S. aerospace industry and U.S. strength in aerospace has helped to provide U.S. strength in space. The space industry was originally developed by government entities, and government policies and spending continue to exercise a strong influence on commercial space activities in the United States and elsewhere. Space-oriented manufacturing, which includes launch vehicles, spacecraft, satellites, and parts and...

FY2013 Defense Budget Request: Overview and Context

This report analyzes President Obama’s FY2013 defense budget request and the long-term deficit reduction issues relevant to congressional discussion of that request. Congressional action on the FY2013 defense budget will be analyzed in a separate report.

The FY2013 Department of Defense (DOD) budget request includes a total of $613.9 billion in discretionary budget authority: $525.4 billion for the so-called “base budget” (excluding operations in Afghanistan and Iraq), and $88.5 billion for war costs or “Overseas Contingency Operations” (OCO). Overall, that request is $31.8 billion less...

V-22 Osprey Tilt-Rotor Aircraft Program

The V-22 Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft that takes off and lands vertically like a helicopter and flies forward like an airplane. Department of Defense plans call for procuring a total of 458 V-22s, including 360 MV-22s for the Marine Corps; 50 CV-22 special operations variants for U.S. Special Operations Command, or USSOCOM (funded jointly by the Air Force and USSOCOM); and 48 HV-22s for the Navy.

Through FY2012, a total of 282 V-22s have been procured—241 MV-22s for the Marine Corps and 41 CV-22s for USSOCOM. These totals include several V-22s that have been procured in recent years...

Foreign Assistance Act of 1961: Authorizations and Corresponding Appropriations

The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (P.L. 87-195; 22 U.S.C. 2151 et seq.) serves as the cornerstone for the United States’ foreign assistance policies and programs. Written, passed, and signed into law at what some consider the height of the Cold War, the act is seen by some today as anachronistic. Ironically, when President Kennedy urged the 87th Congress to enact foreign aid legislation that would exemplify and advance the national interests and security strategies of the United States post-World War II, he described the existing foreign aid mechanisms as bureaucratic, fragmented,...

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 Republic of the Philippines and U.S. Interests

The United States and the Republic of the Philippines maintain close ties stemming from the U.S. colonial period, the bilateral security alliance, extensive military cooperation, and common strategic and economic interests. Although the United States closed its military bases in the Philippines in 1992, the two treaty allies have continued joint military activities related to counterterrorism and maritime security. This report looks at the U.S. foreign policy towards the Philippines.

Trade Law: An Introduction to Selected International Agreements and U.S. Laws

The United States has trade obligations under multilateral trade agreements, including the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the other World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements, as well as bilateral and regional trade agreements. A variety of domestic laws implement these agreements, prescribe U.S. trade policy goals, or regulate international trade to achieve specific foreign policy objectives. This report provides an overview of both international and domestic trade law, focusing on a select group of international agreements and statutes that are most commonly implicated...

Pivot to the Pacific? The Obama Administration’s “Rebalancing” Toward Asia

In the fall of 2011, the Obama Administration issued a series of announcements indicating that the United States would be expanding and intensifying its already significant role in the Asia-Pacific, particularly in the southern part of the region. The fundamental goal underpinning the shift is to devote more effort to influencing the development of the Asia-Pacific’s norms and rules, particularly as China emerges as an ever-more influential regional power. Given that one purpose of the “pivot” or “rebalancing” toward the Asia-Pacific is to deepen U.S. credibility in the region at a time of...

Latin America and the Caribbean: Illicit Drug Trafficking and U.S. Counterdrug Programs

Drug trafficking is viewed as a primary threat to citizen security and U.S. interests in Latin America and the Caribbean despite decades of anti-drug efforts by the United States and partner governments. The production and trafficking of popular illicit drugs—cocaine, marijuana, opiates, and methamphetamine—generate a multi-billion dollar black market in which Latin American criminal and terrorist organizations thrive. These groups challenge state authority in source and transit countries where governments are often fragile and easily corrupted. According to the Department of Justice,...

Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA): What Is It, and How Has It Been Utilized?

The deadly attacks on Afghan civilians allegedly by a U.S. servicemember have raised questions regarding the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in place between the United States and Afghanistan that would govern whether Afghan law would apply in this circumstance. SOFAs are multilateral or bilateral agreements that generally establish the framework under which U.S. military personnel operate in a foreign country and how domestic laws of the foreign jurisdiction apply toward U.S. personnel in that country.

Formal requirements concerning form, content, length, or title of a SOFA do not...

Russia’s March 2012 Presidential Election: Outcome and Implications

Challenges to Russia’s democratic development have long been of concern to Congress as it has considered the course of U.S.-Russia cooperation. The Obama Administration has been critical of the apparently flawed Russian presidential election which took place on March 4, 2012, but has called for continued engagement with Russia and newly elected President Vladimir Putin on issues of mutual strategic concern. Some in Congress also have criticized the conduct of the election, but have endorsed continued engagement, while others have called for stepping back and reevaluating the...

Veterans Affairs: A Preliminary Analysis of the FY2013 Budget Proposal

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

This report provides a preliminary analysis of the President’s budget request for FY2013 for the...

Securing Nuclear Materials: The 2012 Summit and Issues for Congress

In an April 2009 speech in Prague, President Obama pledged that his Administration would launch “a new international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years.” To motivate world leaders to achieve this goal, the President hosted a Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, DC, on April 12-13, 2010. Leaders of 47 countries attended the summit, including many heads of state. Attendees represented a wide geographic range of states and nuclear capabilities, and include China, India, Israel, and Pakistan. The summit resulted in a joint statement saying...

Financial Services and General Government: FY2012 Appropriations

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

Nonproliferation and Threat Reduction Assistance: U.S. Programs in the Former Soviet Union

Congress passed the Nunn-Lugar amendment, authorizing U.S. threat reduction assistance to the former Soviet Union, in November 1991, after a failed coup in Moscow and the disintegration of the Soviet Union raised concerns about the safety and security of Soviet nuclear weapons. The annual program has grown from $400 million in the DOD budget to over $1 billion per year across three agencies—DOD, DOE, and the State Department. It has also evolved from an emergency response to impending chaos in the Soviet Union, to a more comprehensive threat reduction and nonproliferation effort, to a...

Rising Gasoline Prices 2012

Homeland Security Department: FY2012 Appropriations

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

Net...

Sourcing Policy: Statutes and Statutory Provisions

This report discusses the federal government's sourcing policy, which dates to the 1950s with the publication of three Bureau of the Budget bulletins. Congressional interest and involvement in sourcing policy, as measured by legislation that has been enacted, has grown over the years. Recently enacted provisions have addressed, for example, protest rights for federal government employees, funding limits on competitive sourcing activities, the development of a single consistent definition of “inherently governmental,” and the development of “insourcing” guidelines.

NATO Common Funds Burdensharing: Background and Current Issues

For decades, Congress has maintained an interest in burdensharing arrangements with allies, particularly with those of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The 28 NATO member states contribute to the activities of the alliance in several ways, the chief of which is through the deployment of their own armed forces, funded by their individual national budgets. Certain commonly conducted activities, however, are paid for out of three NATO-run budgets. These three accounts—the civil budget, the military budget, and the security investment program—are funded by individual...

Defense: FY2012 Budget Request, Authorization and Appropriations

President Obama’s FY2012 budget request, sent to Congress on February 14, 2011, included $670.9 billion in discretionary budget authority for the Department of Defense (DOD), of which $553.1 billion was for the so-called “base budget” of the department (that is, the cost of routine, peacetime operations excluding the cost of ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan). The remaining $117.8 billion in the DOD budget request was to cover the cost of so-called “overseas contingency operations (OCO),” including operations in those two countries.

However, the Budget Control Act (BCA) enacted in...

A Historical Perspective on “Hollow Forces”

Senior Department of Defense (DOD) leaders have invoked the specter of a “hollow force” to describe what could happen to the U.S. Armed Forces if significant cuts to the defense budget are enacted. While some Members and staff might be familiar with the hollow force and its causes, newer Members and staff might not have a similar understanding of the conditions that led to the hollow force and what actions were taken to improve the condition of the U.S. Armed Forces.

After several years of rapid growth in defense budgets, measures to reduce federal budget deficits have led to projections...

Building Civilian Interagency Capacity for Missions Abroad: Key Proposals and Issues for Congress

Within the past two decades, prominent foreign policy organizations and foreign policy experts have perceived serious deficiencies in the authorities, organizations, and personnel used to conduct interagency missions that prevent the United States from exercising its power to full advantage. For the 112th Congress, proposals to address these problems may be of interest for their perceived potential not only to enhance performance, but also to save money by streamlining processes, encouraging interagency cooperation, and reducing duplication. These proposals also provide context for current...

Military Base Closures: Socioeconomic Impacts

The most recent Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission submitted its final report to the Administration on September 8, 2005. Implementation of the BRAC round was officially completed on September 15, 2011. In the report, the commission rejected 13 of the initial Department of Defense recommendations, significantly modified the recommendations for 13 other installations, and approved 22 major closures. The loss of related jobs, and efforts to replace them and to implement a viable base reuse plan, can pose significant challenges for affected communities. However, while base...

Sourcing Policy: Selected Developments and Issues

Dating back to the 1950s, federal sourcing policy generally has focused on the premise that the government should rely on the private sector for the provision of certain goods and services. Additionally, it has centered around guidance for conducting public-private competitions to determine whether federal employees, or contractor employees, should be selected to perform certain agency functions. The Administration of President George W. Bush, in particular, emphasized subjecting eligible agency functions to public-private competitions. Branding this policy, and related guidance, as...

Energy and Water Development: FY2012 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of Energy (DOE), and a number of independent agencies.

President Obama’s FY2012 budget request for Energy and Water Development was released in February 2011, but the Congress was concerned for the first months of the year with completing the appropriations cycle for FY2011. As with other funding bills, the FY2011 Energy and Water Development bill was not taken to the floor in either the...

Lebanon and the Uprising in Syria: Issues for Congress

As Congress exercises oversight and prepares to consider programs for Lebanon in the coming year, some observers have expressed fear that Syrian instability may negatively affect Lebanon. Syria exerts a strong political influence on Lebanon and Syrian business interests remain prominent in the Lebanese economy. Both Lebanon and Syria have diverse societies where ethnic and sectarian groups compete and cooperate as they seek power within the confines of a rigid political system. Primary concerns about the implications of Syrian unrest include:

Negative effects on the Lebanese economy;...

Federal Agency Authority to Contract for Electric Power and Renewable Energy Supply

The federal government purchases roughly 57 million megawatt-hours of electricity annually (based on FY2007 data, the latest information available), making it the single largest U.S. energy consumer. The Department of Defense (DOD) alone consumes over 29 million megawatt-hours. The federal Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs) sell electricity at more than twice the volume of federal power purchases, over 127 million megawatt-hours of hydropower annually, and are projected to produce wind-generated energy far in excess of the 2005 Energy Policy Act (EPAct) mandates for increasing federal...

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies: FY2012 Appropriations

The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies appropriations bill provides funding for the planning, design, construction, alteration, and improvement of facilities used by active and reserve military components worldwide. It capitalizes military family housing and the U.S. share of the NATO Security Investment Program and finances the implementation of installation closures and realignments. It underwrites veterans benefit and health care programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), provides for the creation and maintenance of U.S. cemeteries and...

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...

Iran’s Threat to the Strait of Hormuz

Some officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran have recently renewed threats to close or exercise control over the Strait of Hormuz. Iran’s threats appear to have been prompted by the likely imposition of new multilateral sanctions targeting Iran’s economic lifeline—the export of oil and other energy products. In the past, Iranian leaders have made similar threats and comments when the country’s oil exports have been threatened. However, as in the past, the prospect of a major disruption of maritime traffic in the Strait risks damaging Iranian interests. U.S. and allied military...

Coast Guard Deepwater Acquisition Programs: Background, Oversight Issues, and Options for Congress

The term Deepwater referred to more than a dozen separate Coast Guard acquisition programs for replacing and modernizing the service’s aging fleet of deepwater-capable ships and aircraft. Until April 2007, the Coast Guard pursued these programs as a single, integrated acquisition program that was known as the Integrated Deepwater System (IDS) program or Deepwater program for short. Since April 2007, the Coast Guard has pursued them as separate acquisition programs. These acquisition programs include plans for, among other things, 91 new cutters, 124 new small boats, and 247 new or...

Jurisdiction over Challenges to “Large” Orders Under Federal Contracts

On December 31, 2011, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012. This act amends Title 41 of the United States Code to extend the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO’s) jurisdiction over protests involving “large” orders issued under civilian agency contracts and clarifies that protests of such orders may not be heard after September 30, 2016, if this jurisdiction is not reauthorized (P.L. 112-81, § 813). Title 41’s provisions regarding the protests of “large” orders previously had a May 27, 2011, sunset date. However, the language of these provisions was...

Kim Jong-il’s Death: Implications for North Korea’s Stability and U.S. Policy

North Korea represents one of the United States’ biggest foreign policy challenges due to its production and proliferation of nuclear weapons and missiles, the threat of attacks against South Korea, its record of human rights abuses, and the possibility that its internal problems could destabilize Northeast Asia. The North Korean government’s December 19, 2011 announcement of the death of the country’s “Dear Leader,” Kim Jong-il, has the potential to be a watershed moment in the history of the Korean Peninsula and the region. Ever since the death of his father, the “Great Leader” Kim Il...

F-35 Alternate Engine Program: Background and Issues for Congress

On December 2, 2011, General Electric and Rolls-Royce announced that they were ending development of the F136 alternate engine for the F-35, ending what had been a contentious and long-running battle.

The alternate engine program began in FY1996, when defense authorization conferees directed DOD to ensure that the JSF (then “JAST”) program “provides for adequate engine competition” and required the Department of Defense to develop an alternative to the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine that currently powers the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). Development of the alternative, the General...

Navy LPD-17 Amphibious Ship Procurement: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress

The Navy’s proposed FY2012 budget requested funding for the procurement of an 11th and final San Antonio (LPD-17) class amphibious ship. The ship had received $184.0 million in prior-year advance procurement (AP) funding, and the Navy’s proposed FY2012 budget requested the remaining $1,847.4 million needed to complete the ship’s estimated procurement cost of $2,031.4 million.

The Navy’s FY2012 30-year shipbuilding plan calls for the procurement of a new class of amphibious ship called the LSD(X) starting in FY2017. Some observers have suggested using the LPD-17 design as the basis for the...

Horn of Africa Region: The Humanitarian Crisis and International Response

As a result of the worst drought in 60 years, regional conflicts, and conflict within states, a humanitarian emergency of massive proportion has unfolded over the past year in the Horn of Africa region. Current estimates suggest that more than 13.3 million people are currently affected, 250,000 of whom need food assistance in the near term to avoid death. Somalia has been hardest hit so far, creating population displacement within its borders and a refugee crisis of nearly 1 million people in the region, primarily in Kenya and Ethiopia.

The international community continues to respond...

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2012 Budget and Appropriations

Some in the 112th Congress view the foreign affairs budget as a place to cut funds in order to reduce the budget deficit. Foreign affairs expenditures typically amount to about 1% of the annual budget. Others, including Members of Congress of both political parties, view a robust foreign affairs budget as essential for America’s national security and foreign policy interests.

The State Department, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies appropriations bills, in addition to funding U.S. diplomatic and foreign aid activities, have been the primary legislative vehicle through which Congress...

Gray Area Retirees—Issues and Legislation

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides a broad range of benefits and services to American veterans and to certain members of their families. In addition, the Department of Defense (DOD) offers a variety of benefits to veterans who are also military retirees. When members of the National Guard or the reserves who have not yet reached the age of 60 retire (usually after at least 20 years of service), they may not necessarily meet the statutory definition of “veterans” for VA purposes or be eligible for DOD health benefits. These military retirees are commonly known as...

FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Policy Issues

Military personnel issues typically generate significant interest from many Members of Congress and their staffs. Recent military operations in Iraq and ongoing operations in Afghanistan, along with the operational role of the Reserve Components, further heighten interest in a wide range of military personnel policies and issues.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has selected a number of the military personnel issues considered in deliberations on the House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012. This report provides a brief synopsis of sections...

Presidential Signing Statements: Constitutional and Institutional Implications

Presidential signing statements are official pronouncements issued by the President contemporaneously to the signing of a bill into law that, in addition to commenting on the law generally, have been used to forward the President’s interpretation of the statutory language; to assert constitutional objections to the provisions contained therein; and, concordantly, to announce that the provisions of the law will be administered in a manner that comports with the administration’s conception of the President’s constitutional prerogatives. While the history of presidential issuance of signing...

U.S. Unmanned Aerial Systems

Unmanned aerial systems comprise a rapidly growing portion of the military budget, and have been a long-term interest of Congress. At times, Congress has encouraged the development of such systems; in other instances, it has attempted to rein in or better organize the Department of Defense’s efforts.

Unmanned aircraft are commonly called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and when combined with ground control stations and data links, form UAS, or unmanned aerial systems.

The use of UAS in conflicts such as Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and humanitarian relief operations such as Haiti,...

The National Security Council: An Organizational Assessment

The National Security Council (NSC) was established by statute in 1947 to create an inter-departmental body to advise the President with respect to the integration of domestic, foreign, and military policies relating to the national security so as to enable the military services and the other departments and agencies of the government to cooperate more effectively in matters involving the national security. Currently, statutory members of the Council are the President, Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and, since 2007, the Secretary of Energy; but, at the...

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...

Monitoring and Verification in Arms Control

The United States and Russia signed a new START Treaty on April 8, 2010, and the treaty entered into force on February 5, 2011. Many analysts, both in the United States and Russia, supported negotiations on a new treaty so that the two sides could continue to implement parts of the complex monitoring and verification regime in the 1991 START Treaty. This regime was designed to build confidence in compliance with the START and to provide transparency and cooperation during the treaty’s implementation. The verification regime in the new START Treaty differs in some respects from the regime...

Intelligence Estimates: How Useful to Congress?

National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) are often of considerable interest to many Members of Congress. They represent the most formal assessment of a given national security issue by the U.S. intelligence community. The intelligence process, however, is not an exact science and, on occasion, NIEs have proved unreliable because they were based on insufficient evidence or contained faulty analysis. This was demonstrated in the NIE produced in 2002 on Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction, parts of which were significantly inaccurate.

At best NIEs provide an in-depth understanding of a complex...

Detainee Provisions in the National Defense Authorization Bills

The House and Senate bills competing to become the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012 contain a subtitle addressing issues related to detainees at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and more broadly, hostilities against Al Qaeda and other entities. At the heart of both bills’ detainee provisions appears to be an effort to confirm or, as some observers view it, expand the detention authority that Congress implicitly granted the President via the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF, P.L. 107-40) in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11,...

REINS Act: Number and Types of “Major Rules” in Recent Years

Under the Congressional Review Act (CRA, 5 U.S.C. §§801-808), a covered agency regulation takes effect as provided by law unless Congress disapproves the rule with a joint resolution of disapproval. In contrast, the Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act (H.R. 10 and S. 299, 112th Congress) would (if enacted) generally require the enactment of a joint resolution of approval before any “major rule” could take effect (e.g., rules that are expected to have a $100 million annual impact on the economy). The REINS Act was reported by the House Committee on the Judiciary...

Military Retirement Reform: A Review of Proposals and Options for Congress

Few military subjects have generated as much interest or commentary as the military retirement system and efforts to reform the system have been many. Heightened concern over the national debt crisis, the economic recession, and stubbornly high unemployment has resulted in renewed congressional interest in the cost and effectiveness of the system. This report reviews various reform proposals and presents several potential options for Congress, ranging from maintaining the current system to a national commission to review military compensation, benefits, and retirement.

The military...

Wartime Contracting in Afghanistan: Analysis and Issues for Congress

Government contracting in Afghanistan and other wartime environments is different than contracting in peacetime. In peacetime, the goal of contracting is generally to obtain the good or service that is required. The measurements of success are generally getting the right good or service, on schedule, and at a fair price. In wartime, however—and particularly in a counterinsurgency environment—cost, schedule, and performance are often secondary to larger strategic goals of promoting security and denying popular support for the insurgency.

From FY2005 through 2011, the U.S. government...

Federal Research and Development Funding at Historically Black Colleges and Universities

The historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), which have traditionally educated a significant number of the nation’s blacks, have faced, and continue to face, substantial challenges in attempting to enhance their academic and research capabilities. Some of these institutions have a myriad of problems—aging infrastructures, limited access to digital and wireless networking technology, absence of state-of-the-art equipment, low salary structures, small endowments, and limited funds for faculty development and new academic programs for students. While many of these problems exist...

Presidential Policy Directive 8 and the National Preparedness System: Background and Issues for Congress

Presidential Policy Directive 8: National Preparedness (PPD-8) was signed and released by President Barack Obama on March 30, 2011. PPD-8 and its component policies intend to guide how the nation, from the federal level to private citizens, can “prevent, protect against, mitigate the effects of, respond to, and recover from those threats that pose the greatest risk to the security of the Nation.” These threats include terrorist acts, natural disasters, and other man-made incidents. PPD-8 evolves from, and supersedes, Homeland Security Presidential Directive 8, which was released under...

Navy F/A-18E/F and EA-18G Aircraft Program

The Navy’s proposed FY2012 budget requests about $2.4 billion for the procurement of 28 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet strike fighters and about $1.1 billion for the procurement of 12 EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft. The F-18s will be procured under a multiyear procurement contract approved by Congress in FY2011.

FY2012 defense authorization bill:

The House Armed Services Committee funded the F-18 program at the requested level. The Senate Armed Services Committee cut $495 million and nine aircraft from the request for F/A-18E/Fs, citing Navy projections that the fighter shortfall would...

The Helium-3 Shortage: Supply, Demand, and Options for Congress

The world is experiencing a shortage of helium-3, a rare isotope of helium with applications in homeland security, national security, medicine, industry, and science. For many years the supply of helium-3 from the nuclear weapons program outstripped the demand for helium-3. The demand was small enough that a substantial stockpile of helium-3 accumulated. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the federal government began deploying neutron detectors at the U.S. border to help secure the nation against smuggled nuclear and radiological material. The deployment of this equipment...

Performance of Inherently Governmental and Critical Functions: The Obama Administration’s Final Policy Letter

On September 12, 2011, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued its final policy letter on Performance of Inherently Governmental and Critical Functions. The policy letter is to guide executive branch agencies in (1) identifying inherently governmental and critical functions; (2) ensuring that only federal employees perform inherently governmental functions or work that “otherwise needs to be reserved to the public sector;” and (3) managing functions that are closely associated with inherently governmental functions and...

National Security Professionals and Interagency Reform: Proposals, Recent Experience, and Issues for Congress

There is a growing consensus among many practitioners and scholars, across the political spectrum, broadly in favor of reforming the U.S. government interagency system to encourage a more effective application of all elements of national power. The reform debates have included proposals and initiatives to establish and foster an interagency community of national security professionals (NSPs) from all relevant departments and agencies. According to proponents, NSPs, through participating in activities that might include shared educational and training opportunities, and rotational tours in...

Rothe Development Corporation v. Department of Defense: The Constitutionality of Federal Contracting Programs for Minority-Owned and Other Small Businesses

This report discusses Rothe Development Corporation v. Department of Defense, a case involving a constitutional challenge to a minority contracting program authorized under Section 1207 of the Department of Defense (DOD) Authorization Act of 1987. This program allowed DOD to take 10% off the price of offers submitted by “small disadvantaged businesses” in determining which offer had the lowest price or represented the best value for the government. Section 1207 also incorporated a presumption that minorities are socially and economically disadvantaged.

On November 4, 2008, the U.S. Court...

Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2003-2010

This report is prepared annually to provide Congress with official, unclassified, quantitative data on conventional arms transfers to developing nations by the United States and foreign countries for the preceding eight calendar years for use in its policy oversight functions. All agreement and delivery data in this report for the United States are government-to-government Foreign Military Sales (FMS) transactions. Similar data are provided on worldwide conventional arms transfers by all suppliers, but the principal focus is the level of arms transfers by major weapons suppliers to nations...

Africa: U.S. Foreign Assistance Issues

This report discusses the issue of U.S. economic assistance to sub-Saharan Africa, highlighting the importance of continued assistance in light of U.S. national security and also various U.S.-led efforts to promote reform amongst African citizens themselves. U.S. assistance finds its way to Africa through a variety of channels, including the USAID-administered DA program, food aid programs, and indirect aid provided through international financial institutions and the United Nations.

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....

India: Domestic Issues, Strategic Dynamics, and U.S. Relations

South Asia emerged in the 21st century as increasingly vital to core U.S. foreign policy interests. India, the region’s dominant actor with more than 1 billion citizens, is often characterized as a nascent great power and “indispensable partner” of the United States, one that many analysts view as a potential counterweight to China’s growing clout. Since 2004, Washington and New Delhi have been pursuing a “strategic partnership” based on shared values and apparently convergent geopolitical interests. Numerous economic, security, and global initiatives, including plans for civilian nuclear...

Somalia: Current Conditions and Prospects for a Lasting Peace

Proposals to Reform “Holds” in the Senate

“Holds” are an informal senatorial custom unrecognized in Senate rules or precedents. They allow Senators to give notice to their respective party leader that certain measures or matters should not be brought up on the floor. This report examines, over a more than three-decade period, a wide range of proposals to reform holds.

Tanzania: Background and Current Conditions

This report discusses the current political climate in Tanzania, an important U.S. ally in Africa. The report also provides some general background information.

Russian Military Reform and Defense Policy

Russia has undertaken several largely piecemeal and halting efforts to revamp the armed forces it inherited from the Soviet Union. In 2007, near the end of then-President Vladimir Putin’s second term in office, he appointed Anatoliy Serdyukov—the former head of the Federal Tax Service—as defense minister as part of an effort to combat corruption in the military and carry out reforms. After the August 2008 Russia-Georgia conflict revealed large-scale Russian military operational failures, the leadership became more determined to boost military capabilities. U.S. government and congressional...

The Budget Control Act of 2011

The Budget Control Act (BCA) is the result of negotiations between the President and Congress held in response to the federal government having nearly reached its borrowing capacity.

The BCA authorized increases in the debt limit of at least $2.1 trillion dollars (and up to $2.4 trillion under certain conditions), subject to a disapproval process that would likely require securing the support of two-thirds of each chamber to prevent a debt limit increase. It established caps on the amount of money that could be spent through the annual appropriations process for the next 10 years, which...

The State Secrets Privilege: Preventing the Disclosure of Sensitive National Security Information During Civil Litigation

The state secrets privilege is a judicially created evidentiary privilege that allows the federal government to resist court-ordered disclosure of information during litigation if there is a reasonable danger that such disclosure would harm the national security of the United States. Although the common law privilege has a long history, the Supreme Court first described the modern analytical framework of the state secrets privilege in the 1953 case of United States v. Reynolds, 345 U.S. 1 (1953). In Reynolds, the Court laid out a two-step procedure to be used when evaluating a claim of...

The National Guard State Partnership Program: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress

The State Partnership Program (SPP) is a Department of Defense (DOD) security cooperation program run by the National Guard. It also serves as a mechanism for training National Guard personnel. Since the program began in 1992, it has expanded to the point where nearly every state National Guard participates, as do the National Guard of Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia.

The SPP relates to several areas of potential interest to Congress, including improving the capabilities of partner nations to protect their citizens; strengthening relationships with...

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,...

Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected (MRAP) Vehicles: Background and Issues for Congress

Congress has played a central role in the MRAP program, suggesting to defense and service officials that MRAPs would provide far superior protection for troops than the up-armored High Mobility, Multi-Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs ). Congressional support for MRAPs, as well as fully funding the program, has been credited with getting these vehicles to Iraq and Afghanistan in a relatively short timeframe, thereby helping to reduce casualties. Congress will likely continue to be interested in the MRAP program to ensure that the appropriate types and numbers are fielded, as well as to monitor the...

U.S. Policy Towards Burma: Issues for the 112th Congress

A robust discussion has arisen around U.S. policy towards Burma. Some Members of Congress, senior officials in the Obama Administration, noted Burma scholars, and representatives of various interest groups have weighed in on this discussion, offering their views on the merits of current U.S. policy towards Burma and what policy changes ought to be made.

Among the commentators, there is general agreement that more than 20 years of political and economic sanctions, and nearly two years of “pragmatic engagement,” have not led to the achievement of the stated goals of U.S. policy towards...

Set-Asides for Small Businesses: Recent Developments in the Law Regarding Precedence Among the Set-Aside Programs and Set-Asides Under Indefinite-Delivery/Indefinite-Quantity Contracts

In government contracting law, a “set-aside” is a procurement in which only certain businesses can compete. Set-asides can be exclusive or partial, depending upon whether the entire procurement, or just part of it, is so restricted. Eligibility for set-asides is typically based on business size, as well as demographic characteristics of the business owners. Currently, federal law provides, in various ways, for set-asides for (1) small businesses generally, (2) small businesses located in Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZones) (HUBZone small businesses), (3) service-disabled...

The Debt Limit: CRS Experts

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...

International Criminal Court Cases in Africa: Status and Policy Issues

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has, to date, opened cases exclusively in Africa. Cases concerning 25 individuals are open before the Court, pertaining to crimes allegedly committed in six African states: Libya, Kenya, Sudan (Darfur), Uganda (the Lord’s Resistance Army, LRA), the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic. A 26th case, against a Darfur rebel commander, was dismissed. The ICC Prosecutor has yet to secure any convictions. In addition, the Prosecutor has initiated preliminary examinations—a potential precursor to a full investigation—in Côte...

Africa Command: U.S. Strategic Interests and the Role of the U.S. Military in Africa

In recent years, analysts and U.S. policymakers have noted Africa’s growing strategic importance to U.S. interests. Among those interests are the increasing importance of Africa’s natural resources, particularly energy resources, and mounting concern over violent extremist activities and other potential threats posed by under-governed spaces, such as maritime piracy and illicit trafficking. In addition, there is ongoing concern for Africa’s many humanitarian crises, armed conflicts, and more general challenges, such as the devastating effect of HIV/AIDS. In 2006, Congress authorized a...

Other Transaction (OT) Authority

An other transaction (OT) is a special vehicle used by federal agencies for obtaining or advancing research and development (R&D) or prototypes. An OT is not a contract, grant, or cooperative agreement, and there is no statutory or regulatory definition of "other transaction." Only those agencies that have been provided OT authority may engage in other transactions.

Military Construction: Analysis of the FY2012 Appropriation and Authorization

This report focuses on those government activities funded under the FY2012 military construction appropriation, examines trends in military construction funding, and outlines military construction issues extant in each of the major regions of U.S. military activity.

President Barack Obama submitted his FY2012 appropriations request to Congress on February 14, 2011. His military construction appropriations request for $14.7 billion in new budget authority fell approximately $9.9 billion below the amount enacted for FY2010 and $3.0 billion below that enacted for FY2011. Much of that...

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...

“Dirty Bombs”: Technical Background, Attack Prevention and Response, Issues for Congress

Congress has long sought, through legislation and oversight, to protect the United States against terrorist threats, especially from chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons. Radiological dispersal devices (RDDs) are one type of CBRN weapon. Explosive-driven “dirty bombs” are an often-discussed type of RDD, though radioactive material can also be dispersed in other ways. This report provides background for understanding the RDD threat and responses, and presents issues for Congress.

Radioactive material is the necessary ingredient for an RDD. This material is composed...

Congressionally Chartered Nonprofit Organizations (“Title 36 Corporations”): What They Are and How Congress Treats Them

The chartering by Congress of organizations with a patriotic, charitable, historical, or educational purpose is essentially a 20th century practice. There are currently some 92 nonprofit corporations listed in Title 36, Subtitle II, of the U.S. Code. These so-called “Title 36 corporations,” such as the Girl Scouts of America and the National Academy of Public Administration, are typically incorporated first under state law, then request that Congress grant them a congressional or federal charter.

Chartered corporations listed in Title 36 are not agencies of the United States, and their...

Veterans Medical Care: FY2011 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 the VHA. The VHA is primarily a direct service provider of primary care, specialized care, and related medical and social support services to veterans through the...

Uganda: Current Conditions and the Crisis in North Uganda

Kenya: Current Conditions and the Challenges Ahead

Tax Expenditures and the Federal Budget

Interagency Collaborative Arrangements and Activities: Types, Rationales, Considerations

Interagency collaboration among federal agencies with overlapping jurisdictions and shared responsibilities is not a new phenomenon. Attempts to foster cooperation among agencies, reduce their number in particular policy areas, or clarify the division of labor among them date to the early days of the republic. Such arrangements are increasing in the contemporary era in number, prominence, and proposals across virtually all policy areas. The reasons for the current upsurge are the growth in government responsibilities, cross-cutting programs, and their complexity; certain crises which...

New Zealand: Background and Bilateral Relations with the United States

New Zealand is increasingly viewed as a stalwart partner of the United States that welcomes U.S. presence in its region. New Zealand and the United States enjoy very close bilateral ties across the spectrum of relations between the two countries. These ties are based on shared cultural traditions and values as well as on common interests. New Zealand is a stable and active democracy with a focus on liberalizing trade in the Asia-Pacific region. New Zealand also has a history of fighting alongside the United States in most of its major conflicts including World War I, World War II, Korea,...

Sending Mail to Members of the Armed Forces at Reduced or Free Postage: An Overview

Members of the Armed Forces on duty in designated combat areas can send personal correspondence, free of postage, to addresses in the United States. However, there is not a comparable policy to permit individuals in the United States to send letters and packages to troops serving overseas free of charge.

H.R. 1935 has been introduced in the 112th Congress to establish a new, free postage benefit. Military personnel who are deployed in Afghanistan or Iraq, or who are hospitalized as a result of such deployment, would receive one postage voucher or coupon per month. The recipient may then...

U.S. Foreign Assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa: The FY2012 Request

Sub-Saharan Africa, the world’s poorest region, receives over a quarter of all U.S. bilateral foreign assistance. Aid to Africa more than quadrupled over the past decade, primarily due to sizable increases in global health spending during the Bush Administration and more measured increases in development, economic, and security assistance. The Obama Administration’s FY2012 bilateral Africa aid budget request, at $7.8 billion, represents an increase of roughly 10% compared to FY2010, albeit at a more restrained growth rate than in previous years (see “The FY2012 Request by the Numbers”)....

Defense: FY2011 Authorization and Appropriations

The President’s FY2011 budget request, released February 1, 2010, requested authorization of $725.9 billion in new budget authority in the FY2011 National Defense Authorization Act. In addition to $548.9 billion for the regular (non-war) operations of the Department of Defense (DOD), the authorization request included $159.3 billion for ongoing military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, bringing the total DOD request for FY2011 to $708.2 billion. The request also included $17.7 billion for defense-related activities of the Department of Energy.

The President’s FY2011 DOD appropriations...

Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico: CRS Experts

The Department of Defense’s Use of Private Security Contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq: Background, Analysis, and Options for Congress

The United States relies on contractors to provide a wide variety of services in Afghanistan and Iraq, including armed security. While DOD has previously contracted for security in Bosnia and elsewhere, it appears that in Afghanistan and Iraq DOD is for the first time relying so heavily on armed contractors to provide security during combat or stability operations. Much of the attention given to private security contractors (PSCs) by Congress and the media is a result of numerous high-profile incidents in which security contractors have been accused of shooting civilians, using excessive...

Department of Defense Contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq: Background and Analysis

The critical role contractors play in supporting military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq necessitates that the Department of Defense (DOD) effectively manage contractors during contingency operations. Lack of sufficient contract management can delay or even prevent troops from receiving needed support and can also result in wasteful spending. Some analysts believe that poor contract management has played a role in permitting abuses and crimes committed by certain contractors against local nationals, which may have undermined U.S. counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

DOD...

Energy and Water Development: FY2011 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of Energy (DOE), and a number of independent agencies.

As with other funding bills, the FY2011 Energy and Water Development bill was not taken to the floor in either the House or the Senate in the 111th Congress. Funding for its programs was included in a series of continuing resolutions, and at the beginning of the 112th Congress was part of a major debate over overall spending levels....

Osama bin Laden’s Death: Implications and Considerations

The May 1, 2011, killing of Osama bin Laden (OBL) by U.S. forces in Pakistan has led to a range of views about near- and long-term security and foreign policy implications for the United States. Experts have a range of views about the killing of OBL. Some consider his death to be a largely symbolic event, while others believe it marks a significant achievement in U.S. counterterrorism efforts. Individuals suggesting that his death lacks great significance argue that U.S. and allied actions had eroded OBL’s ability to provide direction and support to Al Qaeda (AQ). For these analysts, OBL’s...

Building the Capacity of Partner States Through Security Force Assistance

Historically, the U.S. military’s Special Operations Forces (SOF) have had primary responsibility for training, advising, and assisting foreign military forces. Today, although this mission has not been completely relegated to conventional forces, the National Security Strategies of the current and previous administrations direct the U.S. military services (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines) to organize, train, and equip themselves to carry out these activities on a larger scale with conventional (non-SOF) forces. This responsibility in its broad sense of building the capacity of partner...

Piracy off the Horn of Africa

Pirate attacks in the waters off Somalia and the Horn of Africa, including those on U.S.-flagged vessels, have brought renewed international attention to the long-standing problem of maritime piracy. According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), at least 219 attacks occurred in the region in 2010, with 49 successful hijackings. Somali pirates have attacked ships in the Gulf of Aden, along Somalia’s eastern coastline, and outward into the Indian Ocean. Using increasingly sophisticated tactics, these pirates now operate as far east as the Maldives in good weather, and as far south as...

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2011 Budget and Appropriations

The annual State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill has been the primary legislative vehicle through which Congress reviews the U.S. international affairs budget and influences executive branch foreign policy making in recent years, as Congress has not regularly considered these issues through a complete authorization process for State Department diplomatic activities since 2003 and for foreign aid programs since 1985. Funding for Foreign Operations and State Department/Broadcasting programs has been steadily rising since FY2002, after a period of decline in the...

The Kaesong North-South Korean Industrial Complex

This purpose of this report is to provide an overview of the role, purposes, and results of the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) and examine U.S. interests, policy issues, options, and legislation. The KIC is a six-year-old industrial park located in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) just across the demilitarized zone from South Korea. As of the end of 2010, over 120 medium-sized South Korean companies were employing over 47,000 North Korean workers to manufacture products in Kaesong. The facility, which in 2010 produced $323 million in output, has the land...

France: Factors Shaping Foreign Policy, and Issues in U.S.-French Relations

The factors that shape French foreign policy have changed since the end of the Cold War. The perspectives of France and the United States have diverged in some cases. More core interests remain similar. Both countries’ governments have embraced the opportunity to build stability in Europe through an expanded European Union (EU) and NATO. Each has recognized that terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction are the most important threats to their security today.

Several factors shape French foreign policy. France has a self-identity that calls for efforts to spread French...

Survey of Federal Laws Containing Goals, Set-Asides, Priorities, or Other Preferences Based on Race, Gender, or Ethnicity

This report provides a broad, but by no means exhaustive, survey of federal statutes that specifically refer to race, gender, or ethnicity as factors to be considered in the administration of any federal program. Such measures may include, but are not limited to, goals, timetables, set-asides, quotas, priorities, and preferences, as those terms are generally (however imperfectly) understood. Based on searches of the LEXIS/NEXIS and WESTLAW legal databases using a variety of search strategies, the compilation seeks to be as comprehensive as possible. With certain noted exceptions, the...

Military Construction: Analysis of the President’s FY2012 Appropriations Request

President Barack Obama submitted his Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 request for appropriations to Congress on Monday, February 14, 2012. At the time, the federal government was operating under the fourth FY2011 continuing appropriation. Congress is currently considering H.R. 1473, the eighth continuing appropriation.

This report explains those government activities funded under the military construction appropriation, examines trends in military construction funding over the past few years, and outlines military construction issues extant in each of the major regions of U.S. military activity.

As...

Turkey-U.S. Defense Cooperation: Prospects and Challenges

Congress and the Obama Administration are seeking to manage longstanding bilateral and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-based defense cooperation with Turkey at a time when a more independent Turkish foreign policy course and changes in regional security conditions are creating new challenges for both countries. Defense cooperation rooted in shared threat perceptions from the Cold War era and built on close U.S. ties with the Turkish military leadership now must be reconciled with a decline of the military’s political influence in Turkish society and some negative turns in Turkish...

Japan 2011 Disaster: CRS Experts

Tort Suits Against Federal Contractors: An Overview of the Legal Issues

This report provides an overview of key legal issues that have been raised to date in recent tort suits against government contractors. Most of these issues pertain to jurisdiction, or the court’s power over the parties or subject matter of the case. A number of cases are pending that could affect courts’ treatment of the issues discussed here.

Nepal: Political Developments and Bilateral Relations with the United States

Nepal has undergone a radical political transformation since 2006, when a 10-year armed struggle by Maoist insurgents, which claimed at least 13,000 lives, officially came to an end. The country’s king stepped down in 2006, and two years later Nepal declared itself a republic, electing a Constituent Assembly in 2008 to write a new constitution, which is currently being drafted. Though the process of democratization has had setbacks and been marked by violence at times, Nepal has conducted reasonably peaceful elections, brought former insurgents into the political system, and in a broad...

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...

Operation Odyssey Dawn (Libya): Background and Issues for Congress

This report provides an overview of military operations in Libya under U.S. command from March 19 to March 29, 2011, and the most recent developments with respect to the transfer of command of military operations from the United States to NATO on March 30.

The ongoing uprising in Libya against the government of Muammar al Qadhafi has been the subject of evolving domestic and international debate about potential international military intervention, including the proposed establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya. On March 17, 2011, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution...

Educational Assistance Programs Administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

This report provides a detailed description of the six educational assistance programs that are available to veterans or other eligible individuals through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Although the programs are administered by the VA, some of the funding for the programs is provided by the Department of Defense (DOD), which transfers monies from its education trust fund to the VA for disbursement.

The Marines’ Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV): Background and Issues for Congress

The Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) is an armored amphibious vehicle program that originated two decades ago to replace the 1970s-era Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV). Like current AAVs, the EFV is designed to roll off a Navy amphibious assault ship, move under its own power to the beach, and cross the beach and operate inland. The EFV has experienced a variety of developmental difficulties, resulting in significant program delays and cost growth. The EFV is currently in its second systems design and development (SDD) phase attempting to improve the EFV’s overall poor reliability and...

Fact Sheet: The FY2012 State and Foreign Operations Budget Request

This fact sheet provides a brief overview of the Obama Administration's request for International Affairs programs.

War in Afghanistan: Strategy, Operations, and Issues for Congress

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States launched and led military operations in Afghanistan in order to end the ability of the Taliban regime to provide safe haven to al Qaeda and to put a stop to al Qaeda’s use of the territory of Afghanistan as a base of operations for terrorist activities. Many observers argue that in succeeding years, as U.S. and world attention shifted sharply to the war in Iraq, the Afghan war became the “other war” and suffered from neglect. The Obama Administration, however, has made the war in Afghanistan a higher...

Department of Defense “Section 1207” Security and Stabilization Assistance: Background and Congressional Concerns, FY2006-FY2010

Now expired, Section 1207 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2006 (P.L. 109-163) provided authority for the Department of Defense (DOD) to transfer to the State Department up to $100 million per fiscal year in defense articles, services, training or other support for reconstruction, stabilization, and security activities in foreign countries. From FY2006 through FY2010, Section 1207 funded $445.2 million in projects in 23 countries on a bilateral basis and in five countries on a multilateral basis (including one also funded bilaterally). Section 1207 authority...

U.S. Immigration Policy on Temporary Admissions

U.S. law provides for the temporary admission of various categories of foreign nationals, who are known as nonimmigrants. Nonimmigrants are admitted for a designated period of time and a specific purpose. They include a wide range of visitors, including tourists, foreign students, diplomats, and temporary workers. There are 24 major nonimmigrant visa categories. These visa categories are commonly referred to by the letter and numeral that denotes their subsection in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA); for example, B-2 tourists, E-2 treaty investors, F-1 foreign students, H-1B...

FY2011 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Policy Issues

Military personnel issues typically generate significant interest from many Members of Congress and their staffs. Ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with the emerging operational role of the Reserve Components, further heighten interest in a wide range of military personnel policies and issues.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has selected a number of the military personnel issues considered in deliberations on the House-passed and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2011. This report provides a brief synopsis of sections that...

Foreign Aid Reform, National Strategy, and the Quadrennial Review

Several development proponents, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and policymakers have pressed Congress to reform U.S. foreign aid capabilities to better address 21st century development needs and national security challenges. Over the past 50 years, the legislative foundation for U.S. foreign aid has evolved largely by amending the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (P.L. 87-195), the primary statutory basis for U.S. foreign aid programs, and enacting separate freestanding laws to reflect specific U.S. foreign policy interests. Many describe U.S. aid programs as fragmented, cumbersome,...

The Family and Medical Leave Act: Current Legislative Activity

This report offers a brief overview of the major features of the Family and Medical Leave Act(FMLA) and its regulations. The various proposals made to amend the Act since its inception are then categorized and discussed. It closes with a review of legislative activity.

United Nations Peacekeeping: Issues for Congress

A major issue facing the United Nations, the United States, and the 111th Congress is the extent to which the United Nations has the capacity to restore or keep the peace in the changing world environment. Associated with this issue is the expressed need for a reliable source of funding and other resources for peacekeeping and improved efficiencies of operation.

For the United States, major congressional considerations on U.N. peacekeeping stem from executive branch commitments made in the U.N. Security Council. The concern with these commitments, made through votes in the Council, is the...

Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Officials: Process for Adjusting Pay and Current Salaries

Leaders and Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, the Vice President, individuals in positions on the Executive Schedule (EX), and federal justices and judges—all hereafter referred to as federal officials—are to receive an annual pay adjustment under the Ethics Reform Act of 1989, P.L. 101-194 (103 Stat. 1716, at 1769, 5 U.S.C. §5318 note). The percentage change in the wages and salaries for the private industry workers element of the Employment Cost Index (ECI), minus 0.5% (December indicator), provides the basis for the pay adjustment. In January 2011, the Vice...

Conversion from the National Security Personnel System to Other Pay Schedules: Issues for Congress

Most federal employees (59.1%) are paid on the General Schedule (GS), a pay scale that consists of 15 pay grades in which an employee’s pay increases are to be based on performance and length of service. Some Members of Congress, citizens, and public administration scholars have argued that federal employee pay advancement should be more closely linked to job performance than it currently is on the GS. With these concerns in mind and with explicit congressional authorization, the Department of Defense (DOD) began developing the National Security Personnel System (NSPS) in 2003 as a unique...

Federal Efforts to Address the Threat of Bioterrorism: Selected Issues and Options for Congress

Reports by congressional commissions, the mention of bioterrorism in President Obama’s 2010 State of the Union address, and issuance of executive orders have increased congressional attention to the threat of bioterrorism. Federal efforts to combat the threat of bioterrorism predate the anthrax attacks of 2001 but have significantly increased since then. The U.S. government has developed these efforts as part of and in parallel with other defenses against conventional terrorism. Continued attempts by terrorist groups to launch attacks targeted at U.S. citizens have increased concerns that...

Nuclear Arms Control: The Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty

On May 24, 2002, President Bush and Russia’s President Putin signed the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (known as the Moscow Treaty). It mandated that the United States and Russia reduce their strategic nuclear weapons to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads by December 31, 2012. The U.S. Senate gave its advice and consent to ratification on March 6, 2003; the Russian Parliament did the same on May 14, 2003. The treaty entered into force on June 1, 2003, and lapsed on February 5, 2011, when the New START Treaty entered into force.

Russia entered the negotiations seeking a “legally...

Military Personnel and Freedom of Religion: Selected Legal Issues

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides the freedom to individuals to exercise their religious beliefs without governmental interference, and simultaneously prohibits government actions that benefit followers of one faith over another. At times, when government actions would otherwise burden individuals’ religious exercise, the government makes efforts to accommodate the religious practice. However, accommodation of religion to prevent violations of the Free Exercise Clause must be carefully considered in order to prevent violation of the Establishment Clause.

The tension...

Lebanon: Background and U.S. Relations

Lebanon is a religiously diverse country transitioning toward independence and democratic consolidation after a ruinous civil war and the subsequent Syrian and Israeli occupations. The United States and Lebanon have historically enjoyed a good relationship due in part to cultural and religious ties; the democratic character of the state; a large Lebanese American community in the United States; and the pro-western orientation of Lebanon, particularly during the Cold War. Current policy priorities of the United States include strengthening the weak democratic institutions of the state,...

The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010, As Enacted

This report identifies and examines selected changes that the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 makes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill and other GI Bills, including expanded eligibility.

Indonesia: Domestic Politics, Strategic Dynamics, and U.S. Interests

With a population of 240 million, Indonesia is the largest country in Southeast Asia and the most populous Muslim-majority nation in the world. Its size, its emerging democracy and economic vibrancy, and its strategic position across critical sea lanes linking the Middle East with East Asia have led many to consider it an emerging middle-tier power. The U.S. maintains close relations with Indonesia, with considerable security, economic, and trade ties, although human rights concerns about the Indonesian armed forces have long been a thorn in the relationship.

In the 12 years since a...

The Future of NASA: Space Policy Issues Facing Congress

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-267) authorized major changes of direction for NASA. Among these, it called for the development of a new, crew-capable, heavy-lift rocket, and it provided for the development of commercial services to transport NASA crews into low Earth orbit. However, under the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 (P.L. 111-242 as amended by P.L. 111-322), NASA continues to operate under a requirement to proceed with its previous human spaceflight program. Moreover, in a period of fiscal constraint, it is unclear whether...

Medicare Provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA): Summary and Timeline

Medicare is a federal program that pays for covered health services for most persons 65 years old and older and for most permanently disabled individuals under the age of 65. The rising cost of health care, the impact of the aging baby boomer generation, and declining revenues in a weakened economy continue to challenge the program’s ability to provide quality and effective health services to its 47 million beneficiaries in a financially sustainable manner.

On March 23, 2010, the President signed into law H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA; P.L. 111-148), as...

The National Response Framework: Overview and Possible Issues for Congress

In response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress and President Bush moved to consolidate numerous federal emergency plans into a single, unified national response plan. The end product of these efforts was the National Response Plan (NRP), which established broad lines of authority for agencies responding to emergencies and major disasters.

Perceived problems with the implementation of the NRP during Hurricane Katrina led Congress to enact the Post-Katrina Management Reform Act (P.L. 109-295) to integrate preparedness and response authorities. The legislation directed...

U.S. Security Assistance to Lebanon

The United States has provided security assistance to Lebanon in various forms since the 1980s, and the program has expanded considerably in recent years. Since fiscal year 2007, the United States has provided more than $700 million in security assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and Internal Security Forces (ISF) to equip those forces to combat terrorism and secure Lebanon’s borders against weapons smuggling to Hezbollah and other armed groups. U.S. security assistance is part of a broader assistance program designed to foster a stable, independent Lebanese government. Primary...

Navy Aegis Cruiser and Destroyer Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress

The Navy has begun a program to modernize its 22 in-service Aegis cruisers and the 62 Aegis destroyers procured in FY2005 and prior years. Under Navy plans, the modernization of these 84 ships would occur over a period of more than 20 years. The program’s estimated total cost is about $16.6 billion in constant FY2010 dollars. The modernizations are intended to ensure that the ships can be operated cost-effectively throughout their entire 35- or 40-year intended service lives. The modernizations of all 62 destroyers and at least 10 of the cruisers are to include the installation of a...

U.S.-Australia Civilian Nuclear Cooperation: Issues for Congress

Australia and the United States have cooperated in the peaceful use of nuclear energy since the mid-1950s. The framework for this cooperation is a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement as required by section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act. President Obama transmitted the text of the latest renewal agreement to Congress on May 5, 2010, along with the required Nuclear Proliferation Assessment Statement (NPAS) and his determination that the agreement promotes U.S. national security. Congress had 30 days of continuous session for consultations with the Administration, followed by an additional...

Navy Nuclear-Powered Surface Ships: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress

All of the Navy’s aircraft carriers, but none of its other surface ships, are nuclear-powered. Some Members of Congress, particularly on the House Armed Services Committee, have expressed interest in expanding the use of nuclear power to a wider array of Navy surface ships, starting with the CG(X), a planned new cruiser that the Navy had wanted to start procuring around FY2017. Section 1012 of the FY2008 Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4986/P.L. 110-181 of January 28, 2008) made it U.S. policy to construct the major combatant ships of the Navy, including ships like the CG(X), with...

Economic Development Assistance for Communities Affected by Employment Changes Due to Military Base Closures (BRAC)

This report is intended to discuss the geographic impact of base closures and realignments; provide an analysis of federal economic assistance programs for communities and individuals affected by military base closures and realignments (BRAC); and analyze possible policy issues for Congress.

Unlike previous rounds, the 2005 BRAC round is focused on creating the infrastructure needed to support a transformed, expeditionary armed force—concentrated more on shifting forces and installation assets to promote the centralization of units in places from which they can be deployed rapidly. Thus,...

Can Marine Highways Deliver?

Policymakers have been discussing the potential for shifting some freight traffic from roads to river and coastal waterways as a means of mitigating highway congestion. While waterways carry substantial amounts of bulk commodities (e.g., grain and coal), seldom are they used to transport containerized cargo (typically finished goods and manufactured parts) between points within the contiguous United States. Trucks, which carry most of this cargo, and railroads, which carry some of it in combination with trucks, offer much faster transit. Yet, at a time when many urban highways are...

Guantanamo Detention Center: Legislative Activity in the 111th Congress

The detention of alleged enemy belligerents at the U.S. Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, together with proposals to transfer some such individuals to the United States for prosecution or continued detention, has been a subject of considerable interest for Congress. Several authorization and appropriations measures enacted during the 111th Congress addressed the disposition and treatment of Guantanamo detainees. This report analyzes legislation enacted in the 111th Congress concerning persons held at the Guantanamo detention facility.

Nine laws that were enacted during the 111th...

Pakistan: Key Current Issues and Developments

A stable, democratic, prosperous Pakistan actively combating religious militancy is considered vital to U.S. interests. U.S. concerns regarding Pakistan include regional and global terrorism; efforts to stabilize neighboring Afghanistan; nuclear weapons proliferation; the Kashmir problem and Pakistan-India tensions; democratization and human rights protection; and economic development. Pakistan is praised by U.S. leaders for its ongoing cooperation with U.S.-led counterterrorism and counterinsurgency efforts, although long-held doubts exist about Islamabad’s commitment to some core U.S....

Navy CG(X) Cruiser Program: Background for Congress

The Navy’s FY2011 budget proposed canceling the CG(X) program as unaffordable and instead building an improved version of the Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) class Aegis destroyer called the Flight III version. This report provides background information on the CG(X) program as it existed prior to its proposed cancellation. For further discussion of the proposal to build Flight III DDG-51s in lieu of CG(X)s, see CRS Report RL32109, Navy DDG-51 and DDG-1000 Destroyer Programs: Background and Issues for Congress.

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the 111th Congress: Conflicting Values and Difficult Choices

The Endangered Species Act (ESA; P.L. 93-205, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1531-1543) has been one of the more contentious environmental laws. This may stem from its strict substantive provisions, which can affect the use of both federal and nonfederal lands and resources. Under ESA, species of plants and animals (both vertebrate and invertebrate) can be listed as endangered or threatened according to assessments of their risk of extinction. Once a species is listed, powerful legal tools are available to aid its recovery and protect its habitat. ESA may also be controversial because dwindling species are...

The Military Survivor Benefit Plan: A Description of Its Provisions

The military Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) was created in 1972. Since its creation, it has been subjected to many legislative changes. This report describes the basic provisions of the military Survivor Benefit Plan and all relevant changes or modifications that have occurred.

Specifically, the military Survivor Benefit Plan is described and explained in terms of its eligibility provisions, costs, benefits, and its current or former integration with other federal programs (including Social Security and Department of Veterans Affairs Dependency and Indemnity Compensation) for members and...

Missile Defense and NATO’s Lisbon Summit

For several years, the United States and NATO have pursued parallel paths to develop a ballistic missile defense (BMD) capability to defend U.S. troops and European populations against potential ballistic attacks from countries such as Iran. At the November 2010 Lisbon Summit, alliance heads of state approved a plan to integrate existing NATO member BMD capabilities as part of the overall alliance defense posture. NATO officials have placed the estimated cost of the new territorial BMD system at 200 million euros (approximately $260 million), to be borne among all 28 member states over the...

Interagency Contracting: An Overview of Federal Procurement and Appropriations Law

Recently, federal agencies have increasingly resorted to interagency contracting, relying on the contracts or contracting operations of other agencies to acquire goods and services. This increased use of interagency contracting has made it a topic of interest to some members of Congress. This report provides an overview of the federal procurement and appropriations laws governing interagency contracting. It defines key terms used in discussing interagency contracting; surveys the various interagency contracting vehicles; and describes recently enacted and proposed amendments to the laws...

U.S.-Russian Civilian Nuclear Cooperation Agreement: Issues for Congress

The bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement between the United States and Russia entered into force after an exchange of diplomatic notes on January 11, 2011. The United States and Russia signed a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement on May 6, 2008. President Bush submitted the agreement to Congress on May 13. The agreement was withdrawn from congressional consideration by President George W. Bush on September 8, 2008, in response to Russia’s military actions in Georgia. President Obama transmitted the proposed text of the agreement to Congress on May 10, 2010, along with the required...

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): Background and Implementation

Beginning in the late 1950s and through the 1960s, Congress reacted to increasing public concern about the impact that human activity could have on the environment. A key legislative option to address this concern was the declaration of a national environmental policy. Advocates of this approach argued that without a specific policy, federal agencies were neither able nor inclined to consider the environmental impacts of their actions in fulfilling the agency’s mission. The statute that ultimately addressed this issue was the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA, 42 U.S.C. §§...

Critical Infrastructure Security: CRS Experts

The following table provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to critical infrastructure security. Policy areas identified include: mission, magnitude, importance, relationship to departmental mission; policy, organization, and operations across all infrastructures; information disclosure, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA); security services, airport screeners, guards; specific sectors, assessing vulnerabilities, planning and implementation; agriculture; banking and finance; chemical; defense industry; emergency systems; energy;...

Research and Development (R&D) to Enhance Homeland Security: CRS Experts

The following table provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to research and development (R&D) to enhance homeland security. Policy areas identified include: mission, scope, magnitude, relationship to other federal homeland security goals; developing countermeasures policy and strategic plan; access to scientific and technical information; establishing R&D policy and priorities; conducting and coordinating homeland security R&D; Department of Homeland Security; Department of Agriculture; Department of Defense; Department of Health and...

South Africa: Current Issues and U.S. Relations

Over fifteen years after the South African majority gained its independence from white minority rule under apartheid, a system of racial segregation, the Republic of South Africa is firmly established as a regional power. With Africa’s largest Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a diverse economy, and a government that has played an active role in promoting regional peace and stability, South Africa is poised to have a substantial impact on the economic and political future of Africa. The country is also playing an increasingly prominent role in the G20 and other international fora. South Africa...

Cuba: Issues for the 111th Congress

Cuba remains a one-party communist state with a poor record on human rights. The country’s political succession in 2006 from the long-ruling Fidel Castro to his brother Raúl was characterized by a remarkable degree of stability. The government of Raúl Castro implemented limited economic policy changes in 2008 and 2009, and in September 2010 began a significant series of reforms to reduce the public sector and increase private enterprise. Few observers expect the government to ease its tight control over the political system, although it has reduced the number of political prisoners...

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...

U.S. Initiatives to Promote Global Internet Freedom: Issues, Policy, and Technology

Modern means of communications, led by the Internet, provide a relatively inexpensive, open, easy-entry means of sharing ideas, information, pictures, and text around the world. In a political and human rights context, in closed societies when the more established, formal news media is denied access to or does not report on specified news events, the Internet has become an alternative source of media, and sometimes a means to organize politically.

The openness and the freedom of expression allowed through blogs, social networks, video sharing sites, and other tools of today’s...

Inherently Governmental Functions and Other Work Reserved for Performance by Federal Government Employees: The Obama Administration’s Proposed Policy Letter

On March 31, 2010, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a proposed policy letter on inherently governmental functions and other “work reserved for performance by federal government employees.” While not final, the policy letter represents the Obama Administration’s proposed guidance for agencies determining (1) whether particular functions are inherently governmental and (2) when functions closely associated with the performance of inherently governmental functions and critical functions should be performed by government...

Hezbollah: Background and Issues for Congress

Lebanon’s Hezbollah is a Shiite Islamist militia, political party, social welfare organization, and U.S. State Department-designated terrorist organization. Its armed element receives support from Iran and Syria and possesses significant paramilitary and unconventional warfare capabilities. In the wake of the summer 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah and an armed domestic confrontation between Hezbollah and rival Lebanese groups in May 2008, Lebanon’s political process is now intensely focused on Hezbollah’s future role in the country. Lebanese factions are working to define Hezbollah’s...

The Inapplicability of Limitations on Subcontracting to “Preference Contracts” for Small Businesses: Washington-Harris Group

This report discusses Washington-Harris Group, a protest filed with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) alleging, among other things, that an agency improperly awarded a “preference contract” to a service-disabled veteran-owned small business that proposed to subcontract a greater percentage of work on the contract than allowed under the Small Business Administration’s limitations on subcontracting. GAO denied the protest, in part, because it found that limitations on subcontracting apply only to contracts “set aside” for small business, not to preference contracts. A preference...

Location-Based Preferences in Federal and Federally Funded Contracting: An Overview of the Law

This report discusses constitutional and other legal issues related to the creation and implementation of location-based preferences in federal contracting, as well as summarizes key authorities requiring or allowing federal agencies to "favor" contractors located in specific places. The report does not address federal preferences for domestic products or provisions of federal law that could, depending upon their implementation, effectively prefer local contractors, such as project labor agreements.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: Military Policy and the Law on Same-Sex Behavior

In 1993, new laws and regulations pertaining to homosexuality and U.S. military service came into effect reflecting a compromise in policy. This compromise, colloquially referred to as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” (DADT), holds that the presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in same-sex acts would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion which are the essence of military capability. Under this policy, but not the law, service members are not to be asked about nor allowed to...

The United Arab Emirates Nuclear Program and Proposed U.S. Nuclear Cooperation

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has embarked on a program to build civilian nuclear power plants and is seeking cooperation and technical assistance from the United States and others. The 111th Congress approved a U.S.-UAE bilateral agreement on peaceful nuclear cooperation pursuant to Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act (AEA) of 1954. Then-U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed the proposed agreement on peaceful nuclear cooperation with the UAE January 15, 2009. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg signed a new version of the agreement May 21, 2009; the Obama Administration...

Military Recruitment on High School and College Campuses: A Policy and Legal Analysis

In recent years, many academic institutions have enacted rules that protect individuals who are gay from discrimination on campus. As a result, some high schools and institutions of higher education have sought to bar military recruiters from their campuses and/or to eliminate Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs on campus in response to the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy, which prohibits homosexual conduct by members of the armed services. These efforts, however, have largely been thwarted due to several laws that bar giving federal funds to campuses that block...

The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and All-Hazard Warnings

The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is built on a structure conceived in the 1950s when over-the-air broadcasting was the best-available technology for widely disseminating emergency alerts. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) jointly administers EAS with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in cooperation with the National Weather Service (NWS), an organization within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The NOAA/NWS weather radio system has been upgraded to include an all-hazard warning capability. Measures to improve the NOAA network and a new...

The Stuxnet Computer Worm: Harbinger of an Emerging Warfare Capability

In September 2010, media reports emerged about a new form of cyber attack that appeared to target Iran, although the actual target, if any, is unknown. Through the use of thumb drives in computers that were not connected to the Internet, a malicious software program known as Stuxnet infected computer systems that were used to control the functioning of a nuclear power plant. Once inside the system, Stuxnet had the ability to degrade or destroy the software on which it operated. Although early reports focused on the impact on facilities in Iran, researchers discovered that the program had...

The Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act

Since 1995, legislation that would guarantee collective bargaining rights for state and local public safety officers has been introduced in Congress. The Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act (PSEECA)—introduced in the 111th Congress as H.R. 413 by Representative Dale E. Kildee, S. 1611 by Senator Judd Gregg, and S. 3194 and S. 3991 by Senator Harry Reid—would recognize such rights by requiring compliance with federal regulations and procedures if these rights are not provided under state law. Supporters of the measure maintain that strong partnerships between public safety...

Securing America’s Borders: The Role of the Intelligence Community

Maintaining the security of U.S. borders is a fundamental responsibility of the federal government. Various border security missions are assigned to the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and other federal agencies that work in cooperation with state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies. The success of their efforts depends on the availability of reliable information on the nature of potential threats to border security.

Given the extent of the land borders and the long coastlines of the United States and the number of individuals and vehicles crossing...

Hamas: Background and Issues for Congress

This report and its appendixes provide background information on Hamas, or the Islamic Resistance Movement, and U.S. policy towards it. It also includes information and analysis on (1) the threats Hamas currently poses to U.S. interests, (2) how Hamas compares with other Middle East terrorist groups, (3) Hamas’s ideology and policies (both generally and on discrete issues), (4) its leadership and organization, and (5) its sources of assistance. Finally, the report raises and discusses various legislative and oversight options related to foreign aid strategies, financial sanctions, and...

Ghana, an Emergent Oil Producer: Background and U.S. Relations

This report provides information on current developments in Ghana and Ghanaian-U.S. relations, which are close. Warm bilateral relations were signaled by President Barack Obama's July 2009 trip to Ghana. Ghana was chosen for his first travel as president to Africa because of its democratic and economic development successes. In Ghana, President Obama made the last of a four-part thematic series of major overseas speeches on key foreign policy issues. The speech in Ghana, to the national parliament, centered on the integral relationship between democracy, good governance, and development in...

Nuclear, Biological, Chemical, and Missile Proliferation Sanctions: Selected Current Law

The proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, and the means to deliver them, are front and center today for policy makers who guide and form U.S. foreign policy and national security policy, and economic sanctions are considered a valuable asset in the national security and foreign policy toolbox. The United States currently maintains robust sanctions regimes against foreign governments it has identified as proliferators (particularly Iran, North Korea, and Syria). If the 112th Congress takes up even a fraction of the proposals introduced by its predecessor involving...

Hate Crime Legislation

This report provides an overview of the hate crime debate, with background on current law and hate crime statistics, and a legislative history of hate crime prevention bills in recent Congresses. This report does not analyze the constitutional or other legal issues that often arise as part of the hate crime debate.

Turkey: Selected Foreign Policy Issues and U.S. Views

This report focuses on the foreign policy of Turkey, a long-time valued U.S. NATO ally, and examines the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) recalculation of the country's approach to foreign affairs and its possible effects on relations with the United States. This report surveys Turkish foreign policy issues that are of critical interest to U.S. officials and Members of Congress.

North Korea’s 2009 Nuclear Test: Containment, Monitoring, Implications

On May 25, 2009, North Korea announced that it had conducted its second underground nuclear test. Unlike its first test, in 2006, there is no public record that the second one released radioactive materials indicative of a nuclear explosion. How could North Korea have contained these materials from the May 2009 event and what are the implications?

As background, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) would ban all nuclear explosions. It was opened for signature in 1996. Entry into force requires ratification by 44 states specified in the treaty, including the United States and...

Presidential Appointments to Full-Time Positions in Executive Departments During the 110th Congress, 2007-2008

The appointment process for advice and consent positions consists of three main stages. The first stage is selection, clearance, and nomination by the President. This step includes preliminary vetting, background checks, and ethics checks of potential nominees. At this stage, the president may also consult with Senators who are from the same party if the position is located in a state. The second stage of the process is consideration of the nomination in the Senate, most of which takes place in committee. Finally, if a nomination is approved by the full Senate, the nominee is given a...

House Legislative Procedures and House Committee Organization: Options for Change in the 112th Congress

Members and leaders of both parties have questioned whether legislative practices, while consistent with House rules, have gotten out of balance, with too much deliberation sacrificed to efficiency or electioneering. They have made speeches, introduced resolutions, and, when in the minority, issued critiques of the House’s legislative management. Practices targeted have included waivers of layover rules, use of structured and closed special rules, and waivers of committee assignment limitations. The purpose of this report is to provide Members with an analysis of House legislative rules...

Countering Terrorism in East Africa: The U.S. Response

The United States government has implemented a range of programs to counter violent extremist threats in East Africa in response to Al Qaeda’s bombing of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998 and subsequent transnational terrorist activity in the region. These programs include regional and bilateral efforts, both military and civilian. The programs seek to build regional intelligence, military, law enforcement, and judicial capacities; strengthen aviation, port, and border security; stem the flow of terrorist financing; and counter the spread of extremist ideologies. Current...

History of the Joint Committee on Reduction of Non-Essential Federal Expenditures (1941-1974), with Observations on Oversight Today

With today’s large federal deficit, some Members of Congress have become interested in institutional mechanisms that Congress has used in the past in attempts to address one component of this issue—federal spending. One mechanism that has drawn interest is the Joint Committee on Reduction of Non-Essential Federal Expenditures, which existed from 1941 to 1974. It was also known eponymously as the Byrd committee, after its advocate and long-time chair, Senator Harry F. Byrd. The joint committee was established by Section 601 of the Revenue Act of 1941, and terminated by the Congressional...

Defense Acquisition: Use of Lead System Integrators (LSIs)—Background, Oversight Issues, and Options for Congress

Some in Congress have expressed concern about the government’s use of private-sector lead system integrators (LSIs) for executing large, complex, defense-related acquisition programs. LSIs are large, prime contractors hired to manage such programs. Supporters of the LSI concept argue that it is needed to execute such complex acquisition efforts, and can promote better technical oversight and innovation. Two LSI-managed programs—the U.S. Army’s Future Combat System (FCS) and the U.S. Coast Guard’s Deepwater program—have been strongly criticized by some observers because of cost and schedule...

Federal Land Management Agencies’ Mandatory Spending Authorities

The four major land management agencies have numerous special funds and trust funds that have mandatory spending authority, with the money available to be spent without further action by Congress. The four agencies have 81 accounts with mandatory spending authority, averaging $2.7 billion in annual budget authority for FY2005-FY2009, more than a quarter of annual agency funding. Most accounts are funded with receipts from the sale or lease of federal lands and resources; other sources include excise taxes, licensing fees, import duties, donations, and more. Many accounts fund agency...

Improper Payments Information Act of 2002: Background, Implementation, and Assessment

This report discusses the Improper Payments Information Act (IPIA), which was signed into law in 2002 with the intention of increasing financial accountability in the federal government, thereby reducing wasteful spending.

Inherently Governmental Functions and Other Work Reserved for Performance by Federal Government Employees: The Obama Administration's Proposed Policy Letter

On March 31, 2010, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a proposed policy letter on inherently governmental functions and other "work reserved for performance by federal government employees." While

not final, the policy letter represents the Obama Administration's proposed guidance for agencies determining (1) whether particular functions are inherently governmental and (2) when functions closely associated with the performance of inherently governmental functions and critical functions should be performed by government...

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies: FY2011 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...

Veterans Affairs: Health Care and Benefits for Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange

This report provides an overview of health care services and disability compensation benefits available to Vietnam veterans, Children of Vietnam Era veterans, and non-Vietnam veterans

exposed to herbicides. This is followed by a discussion of litigation pertaining to Navy veterans of the Vietnam Era who served offshore and were never physically present on Vietnamese soil. The report concludes with a discussion of epidemiologic research conducted to study the health effects of Agent Orange and dioxin exposure on Vietnam veterans.

Defense Logistical Support Contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan: Issues for Congress

This report examines Department of Defense (DOD) logistical support contracts for troop support services in Iraq and Afghanistan administered through the U.S. Army’s Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP), as well as legislative initiatives which may impact the oversight and management of logistical support contracts. LOGCAP is an initiative designed to manage the use of civilian contractors that perform services during times of war and other military mobilization. The first LOGCAP was awarded in 1992. Four LOGCAP contracts have been awarded for combat support services in Iraq and...

Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2002-2009

This report provides Congress with official, unclassified, quantitative data on conventional arms transfers to developing nations by the United States and foreign countries for the preceding eight calendar years for use in its policy oversight functions.

International Travel by Congress: Legislation in the 111th Congress, Background, and Potential Policy Options

International travel by Members of Congress and their staff is an issue of longstanding interest among some members of the public, media outlets, and Members. Questions regarding the purposes and destinations of international travel by Congress frequently arise, as do questions about the ability to track the costs and benefits of such travel. This report provides information and analysis on the use of foreign currency expended in support of congressional travel to international destinations that is paid for with appropriated funds and authorized by the House or Senate; on measures related...

Independent Evaluators of Federal Programs: Approaches, Devices, and Examples

Congress and the executive, as well as outside organizations, have long been attentive to the evaluation of federal programs, with frequent interest paid to the independent status of the evaluator. This interest continues into the current era, with numerous illustrations of the multi-faceted approaches adopted and proposed.

An evaluation may provide information at any stage of the policy process about how a federal government policy, program, activity, or agency is working. Congress has required evaluations through legislation (or requested these via its committee and Member offices); and...

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;...

Sudan: The Crisis in Darfur and Status of the North-South Peace Agreement

This report discusses the history of Sudan's civil unrest and the subsequent crisis in Darfur, as well as United Nations and United States aid and peacekeeping efforts, and current related policy under the Obama Administration.

Afghanistan: Narcotics and U.S. Policy

Opium poppy cultivation and drug trafficking have eroded Afghanistan’s fragile political and economic order over the last 30 years. In spite of ongoing counternarcotics efforts by the Afghan government, the United States, and their partners, Afghanistan remains the source of over 90% of the world’s illicit opium. Since 2001, efforts to provide viable economic alternatives to poppy cultivation and to disrupt drug trafficking and related corruption have succeeded in some areas. However, insecurity, particularly in the southern province of Helmand, and widespread corruption fueled a surge in...

U.S.-China Counterterrorism Cooperation: Issues for U.S. Policy

After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the United States faced a challenge in enlisting the full support of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the counterterrorism fight against Al Qaeda. This effort raised short-term policy issues about how to elicit cooperation and how to address PRC concerns about the U.S.-led war (Operation Enduring Freedom). Longer-term issues have concerned whether counterterrorism has strategically transformed bilateral ties and whether China’s support was valuable and not obtained at the expense of other U.S. interests.

The extent of U.S.-China...

Instability and Humanitarian Conditions in Chad

As the Sahel region weathers another year of drought and poor harvests, the political and security situation in Chad remains volatile, compounding a worsening humanitarian situation in which some 2 million Chadians are at risk of hunger. In the western Sahelian region of the country, the World Food Program warns that an estimated 60% of households, some 1.6 million people, are currently food insecure. Aid organizations warn that the situation is critical, particularly for remote areas in the west with little international aid presence, and that the upcoming rainy season is likely to...

North Korea: Back on the Terrorism List?

Whether North Korea should be included on the U.S. list of terrorism-supporting countries has been a major issue in U.S.-North Korean diplomacy since 2000, particularly in connection with negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear program. North Korea demanded that the Clinton and Bush Administrations remove it from the terrorism support list. On October 11, 2008, the Bush Administration removed North Korea from the terrorism list.

This move was one of the measures the Bush Administration took to implement a nuclear agreement that it negotiated with North Korea in September 2007 and...

Costs of Major U.S. Wars

This CRS report provides estimates of the costs of major U.S. wars from the American Revolution through current conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. It presents figures both in “current year dollars,” that is, in prices in effect at the time of each war, and in inflation-adjusted “constant dollars” updated to the most recently available estimates of FY2011 prices. All estimates are of the costs of military operations only and do not include costs of veterans benefits, interest paid for borrowing money to finance wars, or assistance to allies. The report also provides estimates of...

U.S. Foreign Assistance to the Middle East: Historical Background, Recent Trends, and the FY2011 Request

This report is an overview of U.S. foreign assistance to the Middle East from FY2006 to FY2010, and of the FY2011 budget request. It includes a brief history of aid to the region, a review of foreign aid levels, a description of selected country programs, and an analysis of current foreign aid issues. It will be updated periodically to reflect recent developments. For foreign aid terminology and acronyms, please see the glossary appended to this report. For details on U.S. reconstruction aid for Iraq, please see CRS Report RL31339, Iraq: Post-Saddam Governance and Security, by Kenneth...

Congressionally Designated Special Management Areas in the National Forest System

In 1891, Congress authorized the President to reserve public forests to protect the lands and resources. The many presidential proclamations and subsequent land purchases have led to the current National Forest System. These lands are managed to balance the many purposes and values through an interdisciplinary planning process, with public involvement, under the Multiple Use-Sustained Yield Act of 1960 and the National Forest Management Act of 1976.

Congress has also designated many specific national forest areas to emphasize particular values or resources, and continues to consider...

Detection of Nuclear Weapons and Materials: Science, Technologies, Observations

Detection of nuclear weapons and special nuclear material (SNM, plutonium, and certain types of uranium) is crucial to thwarting nuclear proliferation and terrorism and to securing weapons and materials worldwide. Congress has funded a portfolio of detection R&D and acquisition programs, and has mandated inspection at foreign ports of all U.S.-bound cargo containers using two types of detection equipment.

Nuclear weapons contain SNM, which produces suspect signatures that can be detected. It emits radiation, notably gamma rays (high-energy photons) and neutrons. SNM is dense, so it...

A Federal Chief Technology Officer in the Obama Administration: Options and Issues for Consideration

In November 2007, Senator Barack Obama announced his intention, if elected President, to appoint a federal chief technology officer (CTO). He also identified several specific areas of responsibility of the CTO including transparency of government operations, computer and network security (sometimes referred to as cybersecurity), identification and adoption of best technologies and practices by federal agencies, and interoperability of emergency communications technologies for first responders.

On April 18, 2009, President Obama appointed Virginia Secretary of Technology Aneesh P. Chopra...

The Defense Base Act (DBA): The Federally Mandated Workers’ Compensation System for Overseas Government Contractors

Many overseas federal contractors are covered by the Defense Base Act (DBA), which mandates that they provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. As the U.S. military has increased operations in Iraq, the size of the DBA program has grown. Since September 2001, there have been 49,472 DBA cases, including 1,584 cases involving the deaths of contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nearly $200 million in cash and medical benefits were paid to DBA claimants in 2008.

Congress has become increasingly concerned with the costs involved in the DBA program because the federal...

Democratic Reforms in Taiwan: Issues for Congress

Taiwan, which its government formally calls the Republic of China (ROC), is a success story for U.S. interests in the promotion of universal freedoms and democracy. Taiwan’s people and their leaders transformed politics from rule imposed from the outside with authoritarian abuses to the relatively peaceful achievement of self-government, human rights, and democracy. The purpose of this CRS report is to succinctly discuss Taiwan’s transformation and current concerns, paying particular attention to the role of Congress and implications and options for U.S. policy.

Taiwan’s people did not...

Ballistic Missile Defense and Offensive Arms Reductions: A Review of the Historical Record

The United States and Russia signed the New START Treaty on April 8, 2010, and it awaits Senate consideration. The preamble to the Treaty contains a “provision on the interrelationship of strategic offensive arms and strategic defensive arms.” This statement does not contain any limits on current or planned U.S. missile defense programs. However, some analysts have questioned whether Russia’s threat to withdraw from New START if the United States expands its missile defense capabilities might have a “chilling effect” on U.S. missile defense plans and programs.

Ballistic missile defenses...

Liberia’s Post-War Development: Key Issues and U.S. Assistance

This report covers developments in Liberia, a small, poor West African country. Liberia held elections in October 2005, with a presidential runoff in November, a key step in a peace-building process following its second civil war in a decade. That war began in 1999, escalated in 2000, and ended in 2003. It pitted the forces of Charles Taylor, elected president in 1997 after Liberia’s first civil war (1989-1997), against two armed anti-Taylor rebel groups. The war also destabilized neighboring states, which accepted Liberian refugees and, in some cases, hosted anti-Taylor forces and became...

Quadrennial Defense Review 2010: Overview and Implications for National Security Planning

On February 1, 2010, the Defense Department released a report on the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), a legislatively mandated assessment of defense strategy and priorities. The review is the sixth full scale assessment of U.S. defense policy since the end of the Cold War, beginning with the 1990 Base Force analysis and the 1993 Bottom-Up Review and continuing with QDRs completed in 1997, 2001, 2006, and 2010. These official reviews have been supplemented by assessments of independently chartered panels.

The four QDRs reflect an ongoing evolution of strategic thinking away from...

Post-Employment, "Revolving Door," Laws for Federal Personnel

This report provides a brief discussion of the post-employment restrictions, often called "revolving door" laws, that are applicable to members, officers, and employees of Congress after they leave congressional service or employment.

Strategic Arms Control After START: Issues and Options

The United States and Russia signed a new strategic arms reduction treaty (New START) on April 8, 2010. This Treaty replaces the original START Treaty, which the United States and Soviet Union signed in July 1991. START entered into force in December 1994 and expired on December 5, 2009.

The original START Treaty counted each deployed ICBM, SLBM, and bomber as a single delivery vehicle under the Treaty limit of 1,600 delivery vehicles and attributes an agreed number of warheads to each deployed delivery vehicle. This attribution rule provides the total number of warheads that count under...

2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference: Key Issues and Implications

The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which entered into force in 1970 and was extended indefinitely in 1995, is the centerpiece of international nuclear nonproliferation efforts. The NPT recognizes five nations (the United States, Russia, France, Britain, and China) as nuclear-weapon states; 189 countries are parties to the NPT. India, Israel, and Pakistan have never signed the treaty and possess nuclear weapons. North Korea acceded to the NPT but announced its withdrawal in 2003. Several countries, including Argentina, Brazil, and South Africa, ended their nuclear weapons programs...

Department of Homeland Security Assistance to States and Localities: A Summary and Issues for the 111th Congress

In light of lessons learned from the September 2001 terrorist attacks and other catastrophes such as Hurricanes Katrina and Gustav, the second session of the 111th Congress is expected to consider questions and issues associated with federal homeland security assistance. Federal homeland security assistance, for the purpose of this report, is defined as U.S. Department of Homeland Security programs that provide funding, training, or technical assistance to states, localities, tribes, and other entities to prepare for, respond to, and recover from man-made and natural disasters. Since the...

The Export Administration Act: Evolution, Provisions, and Debate

The 111th Congress may consider legislation to renew, modify, or reauthorize the Export Administration Act (EAA). On July 31, 2009, Representative Sherman introduced the Export Control Improvements Act (H.R. 3515), co-sponsored by Representative Manzullo and Representative A. Smith, that contains provisions on export controls enforcement, integration of export control data in the AES, and diversion control. The House Foreign Affairs Committee is also reportedly working to produce as comprehensive rewrite of the EAA. As part of the Administration’s export control review, Defense Secretary...

Long-Range Ballistic Missile Defense in Europe

In early 2007, after several years of internal discussions and consultations with Poland and the Czech Republic, the Bush Administration formally proposed to defend against an Iranian missile threat by deploying a ground-based mid-course defense (GMD) element in Europe as part of the global U.S. BMDS (Ballistic Missile Defense System). The system would have included 10 interceptors in Poland, a radar in the Czech Republic, and another radar that would have been deployed in a country closer to Iran, to be completed by 2013 at a reported cost of at least $4 billion. The proposed European BMD...

Guinea’s New Transitional Government: Emerging Issues for U.S. Policy

A “government of national unity” was formed in Guinea on January 15, 2010, a year after a military junta, the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD), took power in a coup d’état. While the CNDD has not been dissolved, it has agreed to share power with civilian opposition groups in the lead-up to presidential elections, scheduled for June 27, 2010. Defense Minister Sekouba Konate has assumed executive power as interim president, while opposition spokesman Jean-Marie Dore was named prime minister.

The formation of a unity government followed six weeks of political uncertainty...

The War Powers Resolution: After Thirty-Six Years

This report discusses and assesses the War Powers Resolution and its application since enactment in 1973, providing detailed background on various cases in which it was used, as well as cases in which issues of its applicability were raised.

Iran’s Economic Conditions: U.S. Policy Issues

The Islamic Republic of Iran, a resource-rich and labor-rich country in the Middle East, is a central focus of U.S. national security policy. The United States asserts that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism and that Iran’s uranium enrichment activities are for the development of nuclear weapons. To the extent that U.S. sanctions and other efforts to change Iranian state policy target aspects of Iran’s economy as a means of influence, it is important to evaluate Iran’s economic structure, strengths, and vulnerabilities.

Since 2000, Iran has enjoyed broad-based economic growth. However,...

Mérida Initiative for Mexico and Central America: Funding and Policy Issues

Increasing violence perpetrated by drug trafficking organizations and other criminal groups is threatening citizen security in Mexico and Central America. Drug trafficking-related violence claimed more than 6,500 lives in Mexico in 2009, and several Central American countries have among the world’s highest homicide rates. Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) dominate the illicit drug market in the United States and are expanding their operations by forming partnerships with U.S. gangs.

On October 22, 2007, the United States and Mexico announced the Mérida Initiative, a package of...

North Korea’s Second Nuclear Test: Implications of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1874

The United Nations Security Council unanimously passed Res. 1874 on June 12, 2009, in response to North Korea’s second nuclear test. The resolution puts in place a series of sanctions on North Korea’s arms sales, luxury goods, and financial transactions related to its weapons programs, and calls upon states to inspect North Korean vessels suspected of carrying such shipments. The resolution does allow for shipments of food and nonmilitary goods. As was the case with an earlier U.N. resolution, 1718, that was passed in October 2006 after North Korea’s first nuclear test, Resolution 1874...

East Asian Regional Architecture: New Economic and Security Arrangements and U.S. Policy

The global financial crisis, the end of the Cold War, the rise of China, globalization, free trade agreements, the war on terror, and an institutional approach to keeping the peace are causing dramatic shifts in relationships among countries in East Asia. A new regional architecture in the form of trade, financial, and political arrangements among countries of East Asia is developing that has significant implications for U.S. interests and policy. This report examines this regional architecture with a focus on China, South Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia. The types of arrangements include...

U.S. Military Stop Loss Program: Key Questions and Answers

Stop Loss is a frequently misunderstood DOD force management program that retains servicemembers beyond their contractually agreed-to separation date. Because of the involuntary nature of this extension, some critics have referred to the program as a “backdoor draft” or “involuntary servitude”.

Stop Loss was initially used in the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War and later in Bosnia and the Kosovo Air Campaign. All of the Services used Stop Loss at the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) but only the Army has consistently employed some form of Stop Loss...

Air Force C-17 Aircraft Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress

A total of 223 C-17s have been procured through FY2010. The Administration’s proposed FY2011 defense budget proposed to end C-17 procurement and did not request any funding for the procurement of additional C-17s. The Administration argues that enough C-17s have now been procured to meet future operational needs. Supporters of procuring additional C-17s in FY2011 believe additional C-17s will be needed to meet future operational needs. The issue of how much airlift capability will be needed in the future is currently being examined in a congressionally mandated study being done by the...

Enemy Combatant Detainees: Habeas Corpus Challenges in Federal Court

After the Supreme Court held that federal courts have jurisdiction under the federal habeas corpus statute to hear legal challenges on behalf of persons detained at the U.S. Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in connection with the conflict against Al Qaeda and associated groups (Rasul v. Bush), the Pentagon established administrative hearings, called “Combatant Status Review Tribunals” (CSRTs), to allow the detainees to contest their status as enemy combatants, and informed them of their right to pursue habeas relief in federal court. Lawyers subsequently filed dozens of petitions on...

Inherently Governmental Functions and Department of Defense Operations: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress

An “inherently governmental function” is one that, as a matter of law and policy, must be performed by federal government employees and cannot be contracted out because it is “intimately related to the public interest.” Two main definitions of “inherently governmental functions” currently exist within federal law and policy. One is a statutory definition, enacted as part of the Federal Activities Inventory Reform (FAIR) Act of 1998. This definition states that an inherently governmental function is “a function so intimately related to the public interest as to require performance by...

Minority Contracting and Affirmative Action for Disadvantaged Small Businesses: Legal Issues

Since the early 1960s, minority participation “goals” have been an integral part of federal policies to promote racial and gender equality in contracting on federally financed construction projects and in connection with other large federal contracts. Federal contract “set-asides” and minority subcontracting goals evolved from Small Business Administration (SBA) programs to foster participation in the federal procurement process by small disadvantaged businesses (SDBs), or small businesses owned and controlled by “socially and economically disadvantaged” individuals. Minority group members...

Limits on Discharge in Bankruptcy Not Codified in the Bankruptcy Code, Title 11, United States Code

Article I, Section 8, clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to enact “uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States.” Bankruptcy is a method through which financially troubled debtors can receive relief from financial pressures by discharging some or all of their debts under procedures designed to provide some protection to both debtors and creditors. Bankruptcy is often said to provide debtors with a “fresh start,” eliminating their debts and allowing them to move forward. However, some debts cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. To the extent...

Medicare Program Changes in Senate-Passed H.R. 3590

Medicare is a federal program that pays for covered health services for most persons 65 years and older and for most permanently disabled individuals under the age of 65 years. The rising cost of health care, the impact of the aging baby boomer generation, and declining revenues in a weakened economy continue to challenge the program’s ability to provide quality and effective health services to its 45 million beneficiaries in a financially sustainable manner.

On December 24, 2009, the Senate passed its version of health insurance reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, in...

Federal Complaint-Handling, Ombudsman, and Advocacy Offices

Federal complaint-handling, ombudsman, and advocacy offices have different forms, capacities, and designations. This report, which reviews the state of research in this field and the heritage of such offices, examines and compares them, along with recent legislative developments and past proposals to establish a government-wide ombudsman. In so doing, the report identifies the basic characteristics of these offices, recognizing differences among them with regard to their powers, duties, jurisdictions, locations, and resources, as well as control over them. This study covers only...

Immigration: Policy Considerations Related to Guest Worker Programs

The United States has two main programs for temporarily importing low-skilled workers, or guest workers. Agricultural guest workers enter through the H-2A visa program, and other guest workers enter through the H-2B visa program. Before an employer can file a petition with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to import workers under either program, the employer must apply to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for a certification that U.S. workers capable of performing the work are not available and that the employment of alien workers will not adversely affect the wages and...

Misuse of Government Purchase Cards

Since the mid-1990s, the use of government purchase cards has expanded at a rapid rate. Spurred by legislative and regulatory reforms designed to increase the use of purchase cards for small acquisitions, the dollar volume of government purchase card transactions grew from $527 million in FY1993, to $19.3 billion in FY2009. While the use of purchase cards has been credited with reducing administrative costs, audits of agency purchase card programs have found varying degrees of waste, fraud, and abuse. One of the most common risk factors cited by auditors is a weak internal control...

German Foreign and Security Policy: Trends and Transatlantic Implications

German Chancellor Angela Merkel began her first term in office in November 2005 and was elected to a second term in September 2009. Most observers agree that under her leadership, relations between the United States and Germany have improved markedly since reaching a low point in the lead-up to the Iraq war in 2003. U.S. officials and many Members of Congress view Germany as a key U.S. ally, have welcomed German leadership in Europe, and voiced expectations for increased U.S.-German cooperation on the international stage.

German unification in 1990 and the end of the Cold War represented...

The International Criminal Court (ICC): Jurisdiction, Extradition, and U.S. Policy

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is the first permanent international court with jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for “the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.” Currently, 110 countries are States Parties to the ICC. Since its inception in 2002, the ICC has received three referrals for investigations by States Parties and one referral from the United Nations Security Council.

While the U.S. executive branch initially supported the idea of creating an international criminal court, the United States ultimately voted against the Statute of the ICC (the...

Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Security Issues and Implications for U.S. Interests

The South Caucasus region has been the most unstable in the former Soviet Union in terms of the number, intensity, and length of ethnic and civil conflicts. Other emerging or full-blown security problems include crime, corruption, terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and narcotics trafficking. The regional governments have worked to bolster their security by combating terrorism, limiting political dissent they view as threatening, revamping their armed forces, and seeking outside assistance and allies.

The roles of neighbors Iran, Russia, and Turkey have been of...

Central Asia’s Security: Issues and Implications for U.S. Interests

The Central Asian states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) face common security challenges from crime, corruption, terrorism, and faltering commitments to economic and democratic reforms. However, cooperation among them remains halting, so security in the region is likely in the near term to vary by country. Kyrgyzstan’s and Tajikistan’s futures are most clouded by ethnic and territorial tensions, and corruption in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan could spoil benefits from the development of their ample energy resources. Authoritarianism and poverty in...

Chile Earthquake: U.S. and International Response

On February 27, 2010, an earthquake of magnitude 8.8 struck off the coast of central Chile. Centered 70 miles northeast of Chile’s second-largest city, Concepción, at a depth of 22 miles, the earthquake was the second largest ever recorded in Chile and the fifth largest recorded worldwide since 1900. Over 100 aftershocks of magnitude 5.0 or greater were recorded following the initial earthquake. The earthquake and subsequent tsunami, which struck Chile’s coast roughly 20 minutes after the earthquake and moved 2,000 feet onto shore in some places, devastated parts of the country. Although...

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...

Iraq: Oil and Gas Sector, Revenue Sharing, and U.S. Policy

Development in Iraq’s oil and natural gas sector is proceeding, amid ongoing debates. Iraqis differ strongly on a number of key issues, including the proper role and powers of federal and regional authorities in regulating oil and gas development; the terms and extent of potential foreign participation in the oil and gas sectors; and proposed formulas and mechanisms for equitably sharing oil and gas revenue. Concurrent, related discussions about the administrative status of the city of Kirkuk and proposed amendments to articles of Iraq’s constitution that outline federal and regional oil...

Illegal Drug Trade in Africa: Trends and U.S. Policy

Africa has historically held a peripheral role in the transnational illicit drug trade, but in recent years has increasingly become a locus for drug trafficking, particularly of cocaine. Recent estimates suggest that in recent years, apart from late 2008 and 2009, between 46 and 300 metric tons of South American cocaine may have transited West Africa en route to Europe. Recent cocaine seizure levels are sharply higher than those in the late 1990s and early 2000s, which in all of Africa rarely exceeded 1 metric ton a year. Africa’s emergence as a trafficking nexus appears to have resulted...

House Committee Markups: Manual of Procedures and Procedural Strategies

A principal responsibility of House committees is to conduct markups—to select legislation to consider, debate and vote on amendments to it (to mark up), and report their recommendations to the House. This manual examines procedures and strategy related to committee markups and provides sample procedural scripts. It will next be updated in the 112th Congress.

Once a committee decides to consider a policy matter in a markup, it faces many decisions. It must select what legislation to mark up; decide whether to mark up only in committee or in subcommittee and committee; consider the effect...

Costa Rica: Background and U.S. Relations

Costa Rica is a politically stable Central American nation with a relatively well-developed economy. Former president (1986-1990) and Nobel-laureate Oscar Arias of the historically center-left National Liberation Party was elected President in 2006. Throughout his term, Arias has advanced so-called “third-way” policies, embracing his party’s traditional support for social welfare programs while rejecting state-led development in favor of market-oriented economic policies. Considerable economic growth and social protection programs have provided Costa Rica’s citizens with a relatively high...

Foreign Direct Investment: Current Issues

This report presents an overview of current issues related to foreign direct investment in the economy and the development of U.S. policy toward inward and outward direct investment. This report also assesses the role of foreign direct investment in the economy and the costs and benefits of direct investment.

The 2009 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Meetings and U.S. Trade Policy in Asia

Congress and the Executive Branch have historically identified the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) as potentially important in the promotion of liberalized international trade and investment in Asia, and possibly the rest of the world. APEC’s commitment to the goal of trade and investment liberalization is embodied in its Bogor Goals, in which APEC members pledged to free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific by 2010 for industrialized economies and 2020 for developing economies.

The 2009 APEC Leaders’ and Ministerial Meetings focused on balanced growth,...

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...

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2010 Budget and Appropriations

The annual State, Foreign Operations and Related Agencies appropriations bill is the primary legislative vehicle through which Congress reviews the U.S. international affairs budget and influences executive branch foreign policy making in general, as these activities have not been considered regularly by Congress through the authorization process since 2003. Funding for Foreign Operations and State Department/Broadcasting programs has been steadily rising since FY2002, after a period of decline in the 1980s and 1990s. Amounts approved for FY2004 in regular and supplemental bills reached an...

Paraguay: Political and Economic Conditions and U.S. Relations

Paraguay, a landlocked nation in the center of South America, has friendly relations with the United States and has been a traditional ally. Paraguay’s turbulent political history and tradition of political authoritarianism have resulted in international isolation that the country is seeking to overcome. The population of 6.9 million people is one the most homogenous mestizo populations in the hemisphere. Paraguay’s largely agrarian economy has grown well in recent years on the strength of global commodity prices. However, in 2009, a severe drought and the impact of the global economic...

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...

Renditions: Constraints Imposed by Laws on Torture

Persons suspected of criminal or terrorist activity may be transferred from one State (i.e., country) to another for arrest, detention, and/or interrogation. Commonly, this is done through extradition, by which one State surrenders a person within its jurisdiction to a requesting State via a formal legal process, typically established by treaty. Far less often, such transfers are effectuated through a process known as “extraordinary rendition” or “irregular rendition.” These terms have often been used to refer to the extrajudicial transfer of a person from one State to another. In this...

North Korea: Economic Leverage and Policy Analysis

In early and mid-2009, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) embarked on a course that included a series of extremely provocative military actions, a shift in power toward the military, emphasis on ideological purity, rising criticism of the United States, and going forward with its nuclear and missile program in spite of sanctions and objections from much of the rest of the world. As 2009 ended, the DPRK was in the midst of a “charm offensive” in which it took specific actions to ease tensions with the United States and South Korea and appears to have...

Nuclear Weapons in U.S. National Security Policy: Past, Present, and Prospects

The Bush Administration outlined a strategy of “tailored deterrence” to define the role that nuclear weapons play in U.S. national security policy. There has been little discussion of this concept, either in Congress or in the public at large. This leaves unanswered questions about how this strategy differs from U.S. nuclear strategy during the Cold War and how it might advise decisions about the size and structure of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Throughout the Cold War, the United States relied on nuclear weapons to deter an attack by the Soviet Union and its allies and to forestall the...

Veterans Medical Care: FY2010 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 the VHA. The VHA is primarily a direct service provider of primary care, specialized care, and related medical and social support services to veterans through the...

U.N. Convention Against Torture (CAT): Overview and Application to Interrogation Techniques

The United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) requires signatory parties to take measures to end torture within their territorial jurisdiction and to criminalize all acts of torture. Unlike many other international agreements and declarations prohibiting torture, CAT provides a general definition of the term. CAT generally defines torture as the infliction of severe physical and/or mental suffering committed under the color of law. CAT allows for no circumstances or emergencies where torture could be permitted.

The United...

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.

Legislative Branch: FY2010 Appropriations

Approximately $5.0 billion was requested for legislative branch operations in FY2010, an increase of 14.5% over the FY2009 enacted level. The Subcommittees on the Legislative Branch of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees held hearings during which Members considered the legislative branch requests.

On September 23, 2009, the House ordered the previous question (Roll No. 733, 240-171) and agreed by voice vote to a conference with the Senate on H.R. 2918, the FY2010 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill. A motion to instruct conferees failed (Roll No. 734, 191-213), and the House...

Iran: Regional Perspectives and U.S. Policy

As the Administration and Congress move forward to pursue engagement, harsher sanctions, or both, regional actors are evaluating their policies and priorities with respect to Iran. Iran’s neighbors share many U.S. concerns, but often evaluate them differently than the United States when calculating their own relationship with or policy toward Iran. Because Iran and other regional concerns—the Arab-Israeli peace process, stability in Lebanon and Iraq, terrorism, and the ongoing war in Afghanistan—have become increasingly intertwined, understanding the policies and perspectives of Iran’s...

Korea-U.S. Relations: Issues for Congress

The United States has had a military alliance with South Korea (R.O.K.) and important interests in the Korean peninsula since the Korean War of 1950-1953. Many U.S. interests relate to communist North Korea. Since the early 1990s, the issue of North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons has been the dominant U.S. policy concern. Experts in and out of the U.S. government believe that North Korea has produced plutonium for at least six atomic bombs. North Korea tested nuclear devices in October 2006 and May 2009. In 2007, a six party negotiation (among the United States, North Korea, China,...

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...

Cybersecurity: Current Legislation, Executive Branch Initiatives, and Options for Congress

Increasing focus on current cyber threats to federal information technology systems, nonfederal critical information infrastructure, and other nonfederal systems has led to numerous legislative cybersecurity proposals and executive branch initiatives. The proposed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (NDAA FY2010) and the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (IIA FY2010) both contain provisions that would affect programs and funding for current and future cybersecurity-related programs. In May 2009, the Obama Administration issued its 60-day review of...

CRS Issue Statement on Animal Welfare

This report discusses the questions whether additional measures are needed to protect the health and well-being of animals.

U.S. Security Assistance to the Palestinian Authority

Since shortly after the establishment of limited Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the mid-1990s, the United States has periodically provided assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) for civil security and counterterrorism purposes. Following the death of Yasser Arafat in late 2004 and the election of Mahmoud Abbas as his successor as PA President in early 2005, then-U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice created the office of U.S. Security Coordinator (USSC) for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to help reform, train, and equip PA security forces which had...

Private Security Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan: Legal Issues

U.S. departments and agencies contributing to combat or stability operations overseas are relying on private firms to perform a wider scope of security services than was previously the case. The use of private security contractors (PSCs) to protect personnel and property in Iraq and Afghanistan has been a subject of debate in the press, in Congress, and in the international community. While PSCs are widely viewed as being vital to U.S. efforts in the region, many Members are concerned about transparency, accountability, and legal and symbolic issues raised by the use of armed civilians to...

North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Development and Diplomacy

Since August 2003, negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs have involved six governments: the United States, North Korea, China, South Korea, Japan, and Russia. Since the talks began, North Korea has operated nuclear facilities at Yongbyon and apparently has produced weapons-grade plutonium estimated as sufficient for five to eight atomic weapons. North Korea tested a plutonium nuclear device in October 2006 and apparently a second device in May 2009. North Korea admitted in June 2009 that it has a program to enrich uranium; the United States had cited evidence of such a...

Energy and Water Development: FY2010 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of Energy (DOE), and a number of independent agencies.

Key budgetary issues for FY2010 involving these programs may include:

the distribution of Corps appropriations across the agency’s authorized planning, construction, and maintenance activities (Title I);

support of major ecosystem restoration initiatives, such as Florida Everglades (Title I) and California “Bay-Delta” (CALFED) and...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2010 Appropriations

The FY2010 Agriculture appropriations bill provides funding for all of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) except the Forest Service, plus the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Appropriations jurisdiction for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is split between two subcommittees—the House Agriculture appropriations subcommittee and the Senate Financial Services appropriations subcommittee.

The FY2010 Agriculture appropriations bill (P.L. 111-80) was enacted on October 21, 2009. This is the first time that the bill was...

The Statutory PAYGO Process for Budget Enforcement: 1991-2002

“Pay-as-you-go” (PAYGO) procedures play an important role in enforcing budget policies with respect to the consideration of revenue and direct spending legislation. Generally, the purpose of PAYGO procedures is to discourage or prevent the enactment of legislation that would cause, or increase, a deficit or reduce a surplus in the federal budget. PAYGO procedures are not a comprehensive means of budget enforcement because they do not apply to discretionary spending, which is provided in annual appropriations acts; such spending is subject to other enforcement procedures. Further, PAYGO...

Defense: FY2010 Authorization and Appropriations

For the Department of Defense (DOD) in FY2010, the Administration requested a total of $663.8 billion in discretionary budget authority. This includes $533.8 billion for the so-called “base budget”—all DOD activities other than combat operations—and $130.0 billion for “overseas contingency operations,” including operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Administration also requested $75.9 billion in supplemental DOD appropriations for FY2009 to cover war costs. The Administration’s DOD request, made public May 7, 2009, incorporated Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s April 6 recommendations to...

VH-71/VXX Presidential Helicopter Program: Background and Issues for Congress

The VH-71 program is intended to provide 23 new presidential helicopters to replace the current fleet of 19 aging presidential helicopters. As part of its proposed FY2010 Department of Defense (DOD) budget, the Administration proposed terminating the VH-71 program in response to substantial cost growth and schedule delays in the program. As a successor to the VH-71 program, the Administration proposed beginning a new presidential helicopter program in FY2010 called the VXX Presidential Helicopter Program.

The Administration’s proposed FY2010 budget requested $85.2 million in Navy research...

Air Force Next-Generation Bomber: Background and Issues for Congress

As part of its proposed FY2010 defense budget, the Administration proposed deferring the start of a program to develop a next-generation bomber (NGB) for the Air Force, pending the completion of the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) and associated Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), and in light of strategic arms control negotiations with Russia. The Administration’s proposed FY2010 budget requested no funding specifically identified in public budget documents as being for an NGB program. Prior to the submission of the FY2010 budget, the Air Force was conducting research and development work...

U.S. Public Diplomacy: Background and Current Issues

This report provides background on U.S. public diplomacy, and discusses the United States information agency, current structure of public diplomacy within the Department of State, and the public diplomacy budget.

Pay-for-Performance: Lessons from the National Security Personnel System

Most federal employees (59.8%) are paid on the General Schedule, a pay scale that consists of 15 pay grades in which an employee’s pay increases are to be based on performance and length of service. Some Members of Congress, citizens, and public administration scholars have argued that federal employee pay advancement should be more closely linked to job performance. With explicit congressional authorization enacted in 2003, the Department of Defense (DOD) created the National Security Personnel System (NSPS) as a unique pay scale attempting to more closely link employee pay to job...

U.S. Public Diplomacy: Background and Current Issues

Public diplomacy is defined in different ways, but broadly it is a term used to describe a government’s efforts to conduct foreign policy and promote national interests through direct outreach and communication with the population of a foreign country. Public diplomacy activities include providing information to foreign publics through broadcast and Internet media and at libraries and other outreach facilities in foreign countries; conducting cultural diplomacy, such as art exhibits and music performances; and administering international educational and professional exchange programs. The...

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...

NATO in Afghanistan: A Test of the Transatlantic Alliance

The mission of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Afghanistan is seen by many as a test of the alliance’s political will and military capabilities. Since the Washington Summit in 1999, the allies have sought to create a “new” NATO, capable of operating beyond the European theater to combat emerging threats such as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Afghanistan is NATO’s first “out-of-area” mission beyond Europe. The purpose of the mission is the stabilization and reconstruction of Afghanistan. The mission has proven difficult, an...

Army Future Combat System (FCS) “Spin-Outs” and Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV): Background and Issues for Congress

The Future Combat System (FCS) was a multiyear, multibillion dollar program at the heart of the Army’s transformation efforts. It was to be the Army’s major research, development, and acquisition program, consisting of 14 manned and unmanned systems tied together by an extensive communications and information network. FCS was intended to replace current systems such as the M-1 Abrams tank and the M-2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle. The FCS program has been characterized by the Army and others as a high-risk venture because of the advanced technologies involved and the challenge of...

Pakistan—Internal Stability and U.S. Response: CRS Experts

China’s Assistance and Government-Sponsored Investment Activities in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia

In recent years, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has bolstered its diplomatic presence and garnered international goodwill in the developing world through financing infrastructure and natural resource development projects, assisting in the execution of such projects, and backing PRC state enterprises in many developing countries. This report examines China’s foreign assistance and government-supported, often-preferential investment ventures in three regions: Africa, Latin America (Western Hemisphere), and Southeast Asia. These activities often are collectively referred to as “economic...

Tactical Aircraft Modernization: Issues for Congress

Tactical aircraft are a major component of U.S. military capability, and account for a significant portion of U.S. defense spending. In early 2009, the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps collectively had an inventory of about 3,500 tactical aircraft. Current efforts for modernizing U.S. tactical aircraft center on three aircraft acquisition programs—the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program, the Air Force F-22 fighter program, and the Navy F/A-18E/F strike fighter program. For discussions of issues relating specifically to these three programs, see CRS Reports RL30563, RL31673, and...

China-U.S. Relations: Current Issues and Implications for U.S. Policy

The bilateral relationship between the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is vitally important, touching on a wide range of areas including, among others, economic policy, security, foreign relations, and human rights. U.S. interests with China are bound together much more closely now than even a few years ago. These extensive inter-linkages have made it increasingly difficult for either government to take unilateral actions without inviting far-reaching, unintended consequences. The Administration of President Barack Obama has inherited from the George W. Bush Administration...

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".

FY2010 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Policy Issues

Military personnel issues typically generate significant interest from many Members of Congress and their staffs. Ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with the emerging operational role of the Reserve Components, further heighten interest in a wide range of military personnel policies and issues.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) selected a number of the military personnel issues considered in deliberations on the House-passed and Senate passed-versions of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2010 (P.L. 111-84). This report provides a brief synopsis of...

Taiwan’s Political Status: Historical Background and Its Implications for U.S. Policy

In 1979, official U.S. relations with Taiwan (the Republic of China) became a casualty of the American decision to recognize the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as China’s sole legitimate government. Since then, U.S. unofficial relations with Taiwan have been built on the framework of the Taiwan Relations Act (P.L. 96-8) and shaped by three U.S.-China communiqués. Under these agreements, the United States maintains its official relations with the PRC while selling Taiwan military weapons and having extensive economic, political, and security interests there. But...

Taiwan-U.S. Relations: Developments and Policy Implications

U.S. policy toward Taiwan is unique. Since both the Chinese governments on Taiwan and on mainland China held that they alone were China’s legitimate ruling government, U.S. diplomatic relations with Taiwan had to be severed in 1979 when the United States recognized the People’s Republic of China (PRC) government as China’s sole legitimate government. While maintaining diplomatic relations with the PRC, the United States maintains extensive but unofficial relations with Taiwan based on the framework of the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act (TRA—P.L. 96-8) and shaped by three U.S.-PRC communiqués....

2009 H1N1 "Swine Flu": CRS Experts

This report includes a table which provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to swine influenza A virus (H1N1). Policy areas identified include: Identification, diagnosis, and surveillance of the virus; Treatment and prevention: antiviral drugs (Tamiflu, Relenza) and vaccines; Declarations of emergencies; Official plans and organizational responsibilities; and Restrictions on travel and trade.

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...

Terrorism in Southeast Asia

Since September 2001, the United States has increased focus on radical Islamist and terrorist groups in Southeast Asia, particularly those in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore. Southeast Asia has been a base for terrorist operations. Al Qaeda penetrated the region by establishing local cells, training Southeast Asians in its camps in Afghanistan, and by financing and cooperating with indigenous radical Islamist groups. Indonesia and the southern Philippines have been particularly vulnerable to penetration by Islamic terrorist groups.

Members of one indigenous...

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA): Does It Provide for a Private Cause of Action?

Congress has long recognized the need for protective legislation for servicemembers whose service to the nation may compromise their ability to meet obligations and protect their legal interests. The purpose of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is to provide for, strengthen, and expedite the national defense by protecting servicemembers, enabling them to “devote their entire energy to the defense needs of the Nation.” The SCRA protects servicemembers by temporarily suspending certain judicial and administrative proceedings and transactions that may adversely affect their legal...

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Legislation in the 110th Congress

This report reviews the status of energy efficiency and renewable energy legislation introduced during the 110th Congress. Most action in the second session is focused on the FY2009 budget request and legislation that would extend or modify selected renewable energy and energy efficiency tax incentives.

Intelligence Reform at the Department of Energy: Policy Issues and Organizational Alternatives

After the repeated urging of the Department of Energy (DOE), Congress in 2006 agreed to temporarily consolidate separate counterintelligence (CI) offices at the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) into a single CI office under DOE control. The Senate version of the FY2010 National Defense Authorization Bill contains language that would make the consolidation permanent. DOE had complained that the dual office structure was ineffective. In permitting DOE to consolidate the two offices, Congress reversed its 1999 authorization to establish a separate...

Department of Defense Fuel Spending, Supply, Acquisition, and Policy

Department of Defense (DOD) fuel consumption varies from year to year in response to changes in mission and the tempo of operations. DOD may consume upwards of 1% of the petroleum products refined in the United States annually. Petroleum products purchased and consumed overseas may double DOD’s consumption. The majority of DOD’s bulk fuel purchases are for jet fuel, which has ranged as high as 101 million barrels annually in the past decade. The U.S. refining industry has been supplying 50% of the jet fuel demand. DOD has consumed as much as 145 million barrels in overall petroleum...

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA): Background and Proposed Amendments

On November 13, 2001, President Bush issued a Military Order (M.O.) authorizing trial by military commission of certain non-citizens suspected of participating in the war against terrorism. The Supreme Court struck down military commissions established pursuant to the M.O. as inconsistent with the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). To permit military commissions to go forward, Congress approved the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA), conferring authority to promulgate rules that depart from the strictures of the UCMJ and possibly U.S. international obligations. The Department of...

Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2001-2008

This report is provides data on conventional arms transfers to developing nations by the United States and foreign countries for the preceding eight calendar years for use in its policy oversight functions. All agreement and delivery data in this report for the United States are government-to-government Foreign Military Sales (FMS) transactions.

Interrogation of Detainees: Requirements of the Detainee Treatment Act

U.S. treatment of enemy combatants and terrorist suspects captured in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other locations has been a subject of long-standing debate, including whether such treatment complies with U.S. statutes and treaties such as the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the U.N. Convention Against Torture (CAT). In response to this controversy, Congress approved additional guidelines concerning the treatment of detainees via the Detainee Treatment Act (DTA), which was enacted pursuant to both the Department of Defense, Emergency Supplemental Appropriations to Address Hurricanes in the Gulf of...

The Global Economic Downturn and Protectionism

In today’s severe global economic downturn, concerns are being raised that countries may try to improve their own trade positions in order to help domestic industries at the expense of others by imposing measures that artificially increase their exports or restrict imports. Such efforts are considered by some to be a form of “protectionism” and are often referred to as beggar-thy-neighbor policies.

This report develops three scenarios to approximate different dimensions of the relationship between the global economic downturn and protectionism. The scenarios are not predictions, but...

Foreign Aid Reform: Agency Coordination

In the decades since the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 became law, Congress, various Administrations, and a number of Commissions, have reviewed U.S. foreign aid programs and proposed ways to improve the coordination and effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance by consolidating or otherwise restructuring various agencies. Two recent trends in foreign assistance have renewed interest in this issue. First, foreign assistance funding has expanded considerably since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, from just over $15 billion in FY2001 to more than $45 billion in FY2007, including...

Iraq: Reconstruction Assistance

A large-scale assistance program has been undertaken by the United States in Iraq since mid-2003. To date, over $49 billion has been appropriated for Iraq reconstruction.

Most recently, in June 2009, Congress provided $439 million in ESF and $20 million in INCLE funds for Iraq in the FY2009 supplemental appropriations (P.L. 111-32, H.R. 2346). The $1 billion in ISFF funding appropriated previously in P.L. 110-252 was rescinded and reappropriated in this bill. The CERP appropriation of $453 million is to be shared with Afghanistan.

A significant number of reconstruction activities,...

Foreign Aid Reform: Studies and Recommendations

Both the 111th Congress and the Obama Administration have expressed interest in foreign aid reform and are looking at ways to improve and strengthen the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), coordination among implementing agencies, and monitoring effectiveness of aid activities. Legislation containing elements of reform includes H.R. 2410, the Foreign Relations Act for Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011; H.R. 2139, the Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act of 2009; and S. 1524, the Foreign Assistance Revitalization Accountability Act of 2009.

Since the terrorist attacks of...

Venezuela: Political Conditions and U.S. Policy, 2003-2009

Under the populist rule of President Hugo Chávez, first elected in 1998 and reelected to a six-year term in December 2006, Venezuela has undergone enormous political changes, with a new constitution and unicameral legislature, and a new name for the country, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. U.S. officials and human rights organizations have expressed concerns about the deterioration of democratic institutions and threats to freedom of expression under President Chávez, who has survived several attempts to remove him from power. The government benefitted from the rise in world oil...

The Reliable Replacement Warhead Program: Background and Current Developments

Most current U.S. nuclear warheads were built in the 1970s and 1980s and are being retained longer than was planned. Yet they deteriorate and must be maintained. To correct problems, a Life Extension Program (LEP), part of a larger Stockpile Stewardship Program (SSP), replaces components. Modifying some components would require a nuclear test, but the United States has observed a test moratorium since 1992. Congress and the Administration prefer to avoid a return to testing, so LEP rebuilds these components as closely as possible to original specifications. With this approach, the...

Homosexuals and the U.S. Military: Current Issues

This report examines the "don't ask, don't tell," policy in the U.S. military. "Don't ask, don't tell," holds that the presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion which are the essence of military capability. Service members are not to be asked about nor allowed to discuss their homosexuality.

The Unified Agenda: Implications for Rulemaking Transparency and Participation

The Obama Administration has launched an initiative to make the policymaking process more open and transparent, and has asked for comments from the public on how the rulemaking process in particular can be improved in these respects. Some observers have concluded that the most critical part of that process occurs before a proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, and (for significant rules) possibly even earlier—before the rule is approved by the issuing agency and submitted to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) within the Office of Management and Budget for...

FY2009 Spring Supplemental Appropriations for Overseas Contingency Operations

On June 11, 2009, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees announced a conference agreement on H.R. 2346, a bill providing supplemental appropriations for the remainder of FY2009. The House passed the conference report (226 to 202) on June 16; the Senate passed it (91 to 5) on June 18. President Obama signed it into law (P.L. 111-32) on June 24.

On key issues, the agreement includes: $5 billion, as in the Senate bill, to support U.S. loans to the International Monetary Fund, does not include a Senate provision allowing the Secretary of Defense to exempt photos of military detainees...

Troop Levels in the Afghan and Iraq Wars, FY2001-FY2012: Cost and Other Potential Issues

In February and March 2009, the Obama Administration announced its plans to increase troop levels in Afghanistan and decrease troop levels in Iraq. In Afghanistan, 30,000 more troops are deploying this year while in Iraq, troops will gradually decline to 35,000 to 50,000 by August 31, 2011 with all troops to be out of Iraq by December 31, 2011. The most commonly cited measure of troop strength is “Boots on the Ground” or the number of troops located in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Based on average monthly Boots on the Ground figures, the number of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq increased from...

Pakistan-U.S. Relations

Kyrgyzstan and the Status of the U.S. Manas Airbase: Context and Implications

In February 2009, Kyrgyzstan announced that it was terminating an agreement permitting U.S. forces to upgrade and use portions of the Manas international airport near the capital of Bishkek to support coalition military operations in Afghanistan. U.S. forces faced leaving the airbase by late August 2009. Major U.S. concerns included working out alternative logistics routes and support functions for a surge in U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan and possibly cooler security ties with Kyrgyzstan that could set back U.S. counter-terrorism efforts and other U.S. interests in Central Asia....

Federally Funded Innovation Inducement Prizes

Since at least the 18th century, philanthropic organizations, industry, governments, and nongovernmental organizations throughout the world have offered many different kinds of prizes with a variety of objectives to reward accomplishments in science and technology. In the United States, Congress authorized most of today’s federally-funded innovation inducement prizes beginning with the 108th Congress (2003). This analysis focuses on federally-funded “innovation inducement prizes,” which are sponsored by federal organizations and designed to encourage scientists and engineers to pursue...

The DHS Directorate of Science and Technology: Key Issues for Congress

The Directorate of Science and Technology is the primary organization for research and development (R&D) in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). With an appropriated budget of $932.6 million in FY2009, it conducts R&D in several laboratories of its own and funds R&D conducted by other government agencies, the Department of Energy national laboratories, industry, and universities. The directorate consists primarily of six divisions: Chemical and Biological; Explosives; Command, Control, and Interoperability; Borders and Maritime Security; Infrastructure and Geophysical; and Human...

Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses

Much of the debate over U.S. policy toward Iran has centered on the nature of the current regime; some believe that Iran, a country of about 70 million people, is a threat to U.S. interests because hardliners in Iran's regime dominate and set a policy direction

intended to challenge U.S. influence and allies in the region. President George W. Bush, in his January 29, 2002, State of the Union message, labeled Iran part of an "axis of evil" along with

Iraq and North Korea. This report discusses the political history of Iran, U.S. strategy in Iran, and the Obama Administration's policies...

Haiti: Current Conditions and Congressional Concerns

Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. Since the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986, Haiti has struggled to overcome its centuries-long legacy of authoritarianism, extreme poverty, and underdevelopment. While some progress has been made in developing democratic institutions, they remain weak. Economic and social stability have improved considerably. But poverty remains massive and deep, and economic disparity is wide.

In May 2006, René Préval began his second five-year term as President of Haiti. During his first two years in office, Préval began to...

North Korean Counterfeiting of U.S. Currency

The United States has accused the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) of counterfeiting U.S. $100 Federal Reserve notes (Supernotes) and passing them off in various countries, although there is some doubt by observers and other governments that the DPRK is capable of creating Supernotes of the qua