The Gig Economy, and More from CRS

A new report from the Congressional Research Service examines the “gig” economy and its implications for workers.

“The gig economy is the collection of markets that match providers to consumers on a gig (or job) basis in support of on-demand commerce. In the basic model, gig workers enter into formal agreements with on-demand companies (e.g., Uber, TaskRabbit) to provide services to the company’s clients. Prospective clients request services through an Internet-based technological platform or smartphone application that allows them to search for providers or to specify jobs. Providers (i.e., gig workers) engaged by the on-demand company provide the requested service and are compensated for the jobs.”

“Recent trends in on-demand commerce suggest that gig workers may represent a growing segment of the U.S. labor market. In response, some Members of Congress have raised questions, for example, about the size of the gig workforce, how workers are using gig work, and the implications of the gig economy for labor standards and livelihoods more generally.” See What Does the Gig Economy Mean for Workers?, February 5, 2016.

Another new CRS publication considers a scenario in which the next Congress could revoke any final agency rules that are issued by the Obama Administration after May 2016. See Agency Final Rules Submitted After May 16, 2016, May Be Subject to Disapproval in 2017 Under the Congressional Review Act, CRS Insight, February 4, 2016.

Other new or newly updated CRS reports that have been withheld from public release include the following.

Is Biopower Carbon Neutral?, udpated February 4, 2016

State Minimum Wages: An Overview, updated February 3, 2016

Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program: An Overview, updated February 3, 2016

CFTC’s Auditor Finds “Material Error” in FY2015 Financial Statements, CRS Insight, February 3, 2016

Is Broadband Deployment Reasonable and Timely?, CRS Insight, February 3, 2016

Military Maternity and Parental Leave Policies, CRS Insight, February 3, 2016

Zika Virus: Global Health Considerations, CRS Insight, February 2, 2016

Trans-Pacific Partnership: Strategic Implications, and More from CRS

A new report from the Congressional Research Service examines claims that the 12-nation free trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will (or will not) advance the strategic interests of the United States by enabling it to exert influence in economic as well as security domains. See The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Strategic Implications, February 3, 2016.

Other new and newly updated Congressional Research Service products that Congress has withheld from public distribution include the following.

The Obama Administration’s Feed the Future Initiative, January 29, 2016

Immigration Legislation and Issues in the 114th Congress, February 3, 2016

Unaccompanied Alien Children–Legal Issues: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions, updated January 27, 2016

State Challenges to Federal Enforcement of Immigration Law: Historical Precedents and Pending Litigation in Texas v. United States, updated January 27, 2016

Apprenticeship in the United States: Frequently Asked Questions, January 29, 2016

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Economic Analysis, February 1, 2016

Airport Privatization: Issues and Options for Congress, updated February 3, 2016

The Good Cause Exception to Notice and Comment Rulemaking: Judicial Review of Agency Action, January 29, 2016

Oil Sands and the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund: The Definition of “Oil” and Related Issues for Congress, February 3, 2016

Dietary Guidelines for Americans: Frequently Asked Questions, February 2, 2016

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): Size and Characteristics of the Cash Assistance Caseload, updated January 29, 2016

Federal Securities Law: Insider Trading, updated February 2, 2016

Iran’s Foreign Policy, updated January 29, 2016

Jordan: Background and U.S. Relations, updated January 27, 2016

Legislative Branch: FY2016 Appropriations, updated February 1, 2016

Body Armor for Law Enforcement Officers: In Brief, updated January 28, 2016

Drones in Domestic Airspace, and More from CRS

A survey of policy issues raised by the use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in domestic U.S. airspace was presented in a new report yesterday from the Congressional Research Service.

The report described the current and projected market for UAS, applications of UAS in government and industry, safety and security issues, the current regulatory environment, and pending legislation affecting UAS. See Unmanned Aircraft Operations in Domestic Airspace: U.S. Policy Perspectives and the Regulatory Landscape, January 27, 2016.

“As UAS technology develops rapidly, the United States faces significant challenges in balancing safety requirements, privacy concerns, and economic interests,” the CRS report said.

“Hundreds of thousands of small UAS are already being operated as recreational model aircraft and hobby drones that are permitted under a special rule for model aircraft…. In addition, several hundred public agencies and more than 3,000 businesses have been granted approval to operate UAS on a case-by-case basis. Once regulations and guidelines are put in place, large growth in UAS operations is anticipated.”

“As UAS operations have increased, a number of safety concerns have emerged, particularly with regard to use of model aircraft and hobby drones. UAS flights have interfered with airline crews near busy airports and with aircraft fighting wildfires, and have posed safety and security hazards at outdoor events and in restricted areas.”

“To address both safety and security concerns, a number of technology solutions are being examined to detect airborne UAS and pinpoint the location of the operator. Technologies to disable, jam, take control over, or potentially destroy a small UAS are also being developed and tested.”

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In another new report issued yesterday, CRS presented statistics on how the Senate responded to judicial nominations in the eighth year of the Reagan, Clinton and GW Bush presidencies.

“More than half of the circuit court nominations that were pending before the Senate during each President’s final year in office were not confirmed by the Senate,” the report found. See Final Senate Action on U.S. Circuit and District Court Nominations During a President’s Eighth Year in Office, January 27, 2016.

Also newly updated this week is Ozone Air Quality Standards: EPA’s 2015 Revision, January 25, 2016.

Federal Conspiracy Law, and More from CRS

New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that were issued last week include the following.

Federal Conspiracy Law: A Brief Overview, updated January 20, 2016

Methods of Estimating the Total Cost of Federal Regulations, January 21, 2016

Judicial Redress Act 101 — What to Know as Senate Contemplates Passing New Privacy Law, CRS Legal Sidebar, January 21, 2016

TransCanada to Seek $15 Billion in NAFTA Lawsuit over Denial of Keystone XL Permit Request, CRS Legal Sidebar, January 19, 2016

EPA and the Army Corps’ Proposed “Waters of the United States” Rule: Congressional Response and Options, updated January 20, 2016

The Glass-Steagall Act: A Legal and Policy Analysis, January 19, 2016

Congress and the Budget: 2016 Actions and Events, January 19, 2016

GAO Bid Protests: An Overview of Timeframes and Procedures, updated January 19, 2016

“Regulatory Relief” for Banking: Selected Legislation in the 114th Congress, updated January 19, 2016

Money for Something: Music Licensing in the 21st Century, updated January 19, 2016

Comparing DHS Appropriations by Component, FY2016: Fact Sheet, updated January 20, 2016

Iran: U.S. Economic Sanctions and the Authority to Lift Restrictions, updated January 22, 2016

The Fight Against Al Shabaab in Somalia in 2016, CRS Insight, January 19, 2016

Latin America and the Caribbean: Key Issues for the 114th Congress, updated January 20, 2016

The U.S. Military Presence in Okinawa and the Futenma Base Controversy, updated January 20, 2016

The European Union: Questions and Answers, updated January 19, 2016

An AUMF Against the Islamic State, and More from CRS

Ongoing U.S. military action against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria lacks any specific authorization from Congress.  A comparative analysis of various proposals for Congress to enact an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against the Islamic State is provided in an updated report from the Congressional Research Service.

“Although the Obama Administration has claimed 2001 AUMF and 2002 AUMF authority for its recent and future actions against the Islamic State, these claims have been subject to debate,” the report said.

“Some contend that the Administration’s actions against the IS also fall outside the President’s Article II powers. Concerned with Congress’s constitutional role in the exercise of the war power, perceived presidential overreach in that area of constitutional powers, and the President’s expansion of the use of military force in Iraq and Syria, several Members of Congress have expressed the view that continued use of military force against the Islamic State requires congressional authorization. Members have differed on whether such authorization is needed, given existing authorities, or whether such a measure should be enacted.”

“This report focuses on the several proposals for a new AUMF specifically targeting the Islamic State made during the 113th and 114th Congresses. It includes a brief review of existing authorities and AUMFs, as well as a discussion of issues related to various provisions included in existing and proposed AUMFs that both authorize and limit presidential use of military force.”  See A New Authorization for Use of Military Force Against the Islamic State: Issues and Current Proposals, January 15, 2016.

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

North Korea: Legislative Basis for U.S. Economic Sanctions, updated January 14, 2016

North Korea: A Comparison of S. 1747, S. 2144, and H.R. 757, January 15, 2016

North Korea: U.S. Relations, Nuclear Diplomacy, and Internal Situation, updated January 15, 2016

Department of Homeland Security Appropriations: FY2016, updated January 14, 2016

Iran’s Nuclear Program: Tehran’s Compliance with International Obligations, updated January 14, 2016

Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons, updated January 14, 2016

Intelligence-Related Legislation, and More from CRS

Recent legislative provisions on intelligence policy are surveyed and cataloged in a newly updated Congressional Research Service report.

In the past two annual intelligence authorization bills, Congress enacted various directions and requirements concerning intelligence agency financial auditability, insider threats, contractor oversight, and many other topics. These are tabulated and reviewed in Intelligence Authorization Legislation for FY2014 and FY2015: Provisions, Status, Intelligence Community Framework, updated January 12, 2016.

Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that Congress has withheld from online public distribution include the following.

U.S.-Mexico Security Cooperation Following “El Chapo” Guzmán’s January 2016 Recapture, CRS Insight, updated January 13, 2016

Taiwan’s January 2016 Elections: A Preview, CRS Insight, January 12, 2016

Goldwater-Nichols and the Evolution of Officer Joint Professional Military Education (JPME), January 13, 2016

Iran Sanctions, updated January 12, 2016

Temporary Professional, Managerial, and Skilled Foreign Workers: Policy and Trends, January 13, 2016

Hedge Funds and the Securities Exchange Act’s Section 13(d) Reporting Requirements, CRS Legal Sidebar, January 13, 2016

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act: History, Impact, and Issues, updated January 13, 2016

Discretionary Spending Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), updated January 13, 2016

EPA’s Clean Power Plan for Existing Power Plants: Frequently Asked Questions, January 13, 2016

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Speech Resources: Fact Sheet, January 11, 2016

Criminal Justice Reform: One Judge’s View, CRS Legal Sidebar, January 14, 2016

The Federal Cybersecurity Workforce, and More from CRS

New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that Congress has withheld from online public distribution include the following.

The Federal Cybersecurity Workforce: Background and Congressional Oversight Issues for the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, January 8, 2016

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): In Brief, updated January 8, 2016

American Agriculture and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, January 8, 2016

Cuba: Issues for the 114th Congress, updated January 11, 2016

Guatemala: One President Resigns; Another Elected, to Be Inaugurated January 14, CRS Insight, updated January 11, 2016

China’s Recent Stock Market Volatility: What Are the Implications?, CRS Insight, updated January 9, 2016

Navy John Lewis (TAO-205) Class Oiler Shipbuilding Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated January 8, 2016

Navy Ship Names: Background for Congress, updated January 8, 2016 (This report explains that “John Lewis (TAO-205) class oilers, previously known as TAO(X)s, are being named for people who fought for civil rights and human rights.” An oiler is a fuel resupply vessel that is used to transfer fuel to surface ships at sea.)

Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress, updated January 8, 2016

Free Riders or Compelled Riders? Key Takeaways as Court Considers Major Union Dues Case, CRS Legal Sidebar, January 12, 2016

Unauthorized Aliens, Higher Education, In-State Tuition, and Financial Aid: Legal Analysis, updated January 11, 2016

The TRIO Programs: A Primer, updated January 11, 2016

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016: Effects on Budgetary Trends, CRS Insight, January 11, 2016

President Obama Announces Executive Actions to “Reduce Gun Violence”, CRS Legal Sidebar, January 8, 2016

Juvenile Justice Funding Trends, updated January 8, 2016

Community Services Block Grants (CSBG): Background and Funding, updated January 8, 2016

Separation of Powers, and More from CRS

The Congressional Research Service departed from its usual focus on current policy and legislative issues to produce a new disquisition on the separation of powers in the U.S. government.

The separation of powers doctrine “is rooted in a political philosophy that aims to keep power from consolidating in any single person or entity, and a key goal of the framers of the Constitution was to establish a governing system that diffused and divided power.”

However, the branches do not always act in their own structural interests (as is often the case in congressional oversight of intelligence, for example). “Although each branch has strong incentives to protect its prerogatives, in many cases individual political actors have incentives that run counter to their institutional affiliation. In particular, political actors will often, quite reasonably, place the short-term achievement of substantive policy goals ahead of the long-term preservation of institutional power for their branch of government.”

CRS concludes that “the contemporary balance of power between the President, Congress, and the courts is not the same as it was in 1789, and is perhaps not the balance intended or expected by the framers of the Constitution.”

In any case, “the relative power of the President, Congress, and the courts is not on any specific trajectory. At various times since the ratification of the Constitution, the power of each institution has been at times ascendant and at other times on the decline.” See Separation of Powers: An Overview, January 8, 2016

Other Congressional Research Service reports that were issued last week include the following.

History and Conflict at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, CRS Insight, January 7, 2016

Big Data in U.S. Agriculture, January 6, 2016

Federal Health Centers: An Overview, January 6, 2015

U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: Recent Trends and FY2016 Appropriations, January 7, 2016

Escalating Violence in El Salvador, CRS Insight, January 7, 2016

Perspectives on Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, January 8, 2016

Electric Grid Physical Security: Recent Legislation, January 6, 2016

Independent Bids for President, and More from CRS

New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that have been withheld from online public distribution include the following.

Independent Bids for President, CRS Legal Sidebar, January 6, 2016

The Presidential Nominating Process and the National Party Conventions, 2016: Frequently Asked Questions, updated December 30, 2015

H.R. 1927: Congress Proposes Additional Prerequisite for Class-Action Certification, CRS Legal Sidebar, January 5, 2016

The Animal Welfare Act: Background and Selected Animal Welfare Legislation, updated January 5, 2016

Water Quality Issues in the 114th Congress: An Overview, updated January 5, 2016

Congress and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2016, CRS Insight, January 5, 2016

Use of the Annual Appropriations Process to Block Implementation of the Affordable Care Act (FY2011-FY2016), January 5, 2016

EPA and the Army Corps’ Proposed Rule to Define “Waters of the United States”, January 4, 2016

Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)/Frigate Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated January 5, 2016

U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: the Mérida Initiative and Beyond, updated January 5, 2016

Cyprus: Reunification Proving Elusive, updated January 5, 2016

State, Foreign Operations Appropriations: A Guide to Component Accounts, updated January 5, 2016

The Motion to Recommit in the House of Representatives, January 6, 2016

Using Data to Improve Defense Acquisitions: Background, Analysis, and Questions for Congress, January 5, 2016

The Presidential Nominating Process, and More from CRS

New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that have been withheld from online public distribution include the following.

The Presidential Nominating Process and the National Party Conventions, 2016: Frequently Asked Questions, updated December 30, 2015

Need-Tested Benefits: Estimated Eligibility and Benefit Receipt by Families and Individuals, December 30, 2015

Federal Reserve: Oversight and Disclosure Issues, updated January 4, 2016

Analysis of the Tax Exclusion for Canceled Mortgage Debt Income, updated December 30, 2015

Iraq: Politics and Governance, updated December 31, 2015

Israel: Background and U.S. Relations In Brief, updated December 30, 2015

Bahrain: Reform, Security, and U.S. Policy, updated December 30, 2015

The WTO Nairobi Ministerial, CRS Insight, January 4, 2016