Secrecy News

Former Presidents with Benefits, and More from CRS

The government’s proposed FY2017 budget would increase spending on benefits for former Presidents by 17.9% (to $3,865,000) over the previous year’s level. “The increase in requested appropriations for FY2017 anticipates President Barack Obama’s transition from incumbent to former President,” according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service.

“This report provides a legislative and cultural history of the Former Presidents Act. It details the benefits provided to former Presidents and their costs.” See Former Presidents: Pensions, Office Allowances, and Other Federal Benefits, updated March 16, 2016.

President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court “is unique, at least among nominations to the Supreme Court since 1946, in that it is the only nomination made by a Democratic President with a Republican majority in the Senate,” another CRS report noted. “The last time this particular political configuration (a Democratic President and Republican Senate) existed at the time a nomination was made to the Court was in 1895.” See Nominations to the Supreme Court During Years of Divided and Unified Party Government, CRS Insight, March 16, 2016.

See also Nominations to the Supreme Court During Presidential Election Years (1900-Present), CRS Insight, updated March 16, 2016.

“Not long ago, Justice Scalia, who regularly expressed the view that capital punishment is constitutional, speculated that a majority of the Court might soon decide otherwise. Should that occur, it would be ironic if it happened that Justice Scalia had written the last opinion upholding the death penalty before its demise.” See Justice Antonin Scalia’s Last Opinion, CRS Legal Sidebar, March 15, 2016.

“The House may soon consider H. Res. 639, which would authorize the Speaker to appear as amicus curiae on behalf of the House and file a brief in United States v. Texas, supporting the position that the federal government acted in a manner inconsistent with federal law.” See The House May Vote to File an Amicus Brief: Is this Unprecedented?, CRS Legal Sidebar, March 16, 2016.

There are a number of recent law enforcement actions that indicate increased Department of Justice interest in prosecuting violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits corporate bribery of foreign officials. See Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA): Congressional Interest and Executive Enforcement, In Brief, updated March 15, 2016.

Other new or updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

Wartime Detention Provisions in Recent Defense Authorization Legislation, updated March 14, 2016

Cuba: Issues for the 114th Congress, updated March 15, 2016

Five Years of the Budget Control Act’s Disaster Relief Adjustment, March 15, 2016

U.S. Immigration Policy: Chart Book of Key Trends, updated March 14, 2016

The March 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, CRS Insight, March 14, 2016