DEA Will Not Decontrol Marijuana, and More from CRS

After a 5 year review process, the Drug Enforcement Agency decided to reject a petition to reduce or eliminate legal controls on marijuana. However, it agreed to authorize increased legal cultivation of marijuana for research purposes.

The current state of affairs was summarized by the Congressional Research Service in DEA Will Not Reschedule Marijuana, But May Expand Number of Growers of Research Marijuana, CRS Legal Sidebar, September 21, 2016.

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

Child Support Enforcement and the Hague Convention on Recovery of International Child Support, updated September 22, 2016

Clean Air Issues in the 114th Congress, updated September 21, 2016

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), updated September 21, 2016

U.S. Agricultural Trade with Cuba: Current Limitations and Future Prospects, updated September 21, 2016

Iran Sanctions, updated September 21, 2016

Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress, updated September 21, 2016

Syrian Refugee Resettlement, & More from CRS

Last month, the 10,000th Syrian refugee was admitted to the United States in FY2016, the Congressional Research Service noted in a newly updated report. The report “details the U.S. refugee admissions process and the placement and resettlement of arriving refugees in the United States.”

See Syrian Refugee Admissions and Resettlement in the United States: In Brief, updated September 16, 2016.

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

Super PACs in Federal Elections: Overview and Issues for Congress, updated September 16, 2016

FY2017 Defense Spending Under an Interim Continuing Resolution (CR): In Brief, September 16, 2016

Israel: Background and U.S. Relations In Brief, updated September 16, 2016

Behavioral Health Among American Indian and Alaska Natives: An Overview, September 16, 2016

Department of State and Foreign Operations Appropriations: History of Legislation and Funding in Brief, September 15, 2016

Researching Current Federal Legislation and Regulations: A Guide to Resources for Congressional Staff, updated September 19, 2016

Corporate Tax Integration and Tax Reform, September 16, 2016

Nanotechnology: A Policy Primer, updated September 15, 2016

Navy Force Structure: A Bigger Fleet? Background and Issues for Congress, September 16, 2016

Judicial Vacancies Rose Under Obama, & More from CRS

The number of district court vacancies during the Obama presidency grew from 41 vacancies in January 2009 to 75 vacancies in September 2016 — an unusual 83% increase, according to a new assessment from the Congressional Research Service.

By contrast, the number of vacancies decreased over the course of the George W. Bush Administration from 58 to 32 (a 45% decrease) and over the course of the Clinton Administration from 93 to 42 (a 55% decrease).

See U.S. District Court Vacancies: Overview and Comparative Analysis, CRS Insight, September 14, 2016

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

U.S. Circuit Court Vacancies: Overview and Comparative Analysis, CRS Insight, September 14, 2016

How a National Infrastructure Bank Might Work, CRS Insight, September 15, 2016

International Food Aid Programs: Background and Issues, updated September 14, 2016

FDA Regulation of Medical Devices, updated September 14, 2016

Prospects in Colombia: Cease-Fire, Peace Accord Vote, and Potential Disrupters, CRS Insight, September 14, 2016

Nicaragua: In Brief, September 14, 2016

Navy Ship Names: Background for Congress, updated September 14, 2016

Rising Sea Levels and U.S. Coasts, & More from CRS

“With few exceptions, sea levels are rising relative to the coastlines of the contiguous United States, as well as parts of the Alaskan and Hawaiian coastlines,” a new report from the Congressional Research Service observes.

“Although the extent of future sea-level rise remains uncertain, sea-level rise is anticipated to have a range of effects on U.S. coasts. It is anticipated to contribute to flood and erosion hazards, permanent or temporary land inundation, saltwater intrusion into coastal freshwaters, and changes in coastal terrestrial and estuarine ecosystems.”

The new CRS report reviews the policy choices that Congress could make to meet the challenges posed by rising sea levels. See Sea-Level Rise and U.S. Coasts: Science and Policy Considerations, September 12, 2016.

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

Dakota Access Pipeline: Siting Controversy, CRS Insight, September 9, 2016

Paris Agreement: United States, China Move to Become Parties to Climate Change Treaty, CRS Insight, September 12, 2016

The Microsoft Ireland Decision: U.S. Appeals Court Rules that ECPA Does Not Require Internet Service Providers To Produce Electronic Communications Stored Overseas, CRS Legal Sidebar, September 12, 2016

The Financial CHOICE Act: Policy Issues, September 12, 2016

Domestic Content Restrictions: The Buy American Act and Complementary Provisions of Federal Law, updated September 12, 2016

House of Representatives v. Burwell and Congressional Standing to Sue, September 12, 2016

Military Retirement: Background and Recent Developments, updated September 12, 2016

Terrorism and the First Amendment, & More from CRS

Incitement to commit an imminent act of violence is not protected by the First Amendment, and may be restricted by the government. But advocacy of terrorism that stops short of inciting “imminent” violence probably falls within the ambit of freedom of speech. A new report from the Congressional Research Service examines the legal framework for evaluating this issue.

“Many policymakers, including some Members of Congress, have expressed concern about the influence the speech of terrorist groups and the speech of others who advocate terrorism can have on those who view or read it,” CRS notes. Yet, “Significant First Amendment freedom of speech issues are raised by the prospect of government restrictions on the publication and distribution of speech, even speech that advocates terrorism.”

Essentially, in order for punishment of speech advocating violence to be constitutional, “the speaker must both intend to incite a violent or lawless action and that action must be likely to imminently occur as a result.”

At the same time, “government restrictions on advocacy that is provided to foreign terrorist organizations as material support have been upheld as permissible. This report will discuss relevant precedent that may limit the extent to which advocacy of terrorism may be restricted. The report will also discuss the potential application of the federal ban on the provision of material support to foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) to the advocacy of terrorism and the dissemination of such advocacy by online service providers like Twitter or Facebook.”

See The Advocacy of Terrorism on the Internet: Freedom of Speech Issues and the Material Support Statutes, September 8, 2016.

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

Digital Searches and Seizures: Overview of Proposed Amendments to Rule 41 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, updated September 8, 2016

Post-Heller Second Amendment Jurisprudence, September 7, 2016

Immigration Legislation and Issues in the 114th Congress, updated September 9, 2016

Interior Immigration Enforcement: Criminal Alien Programs, September 8, 2016

The Endangered Species Act: A Primer, updated September 8, 2016

Biologics and Biosimilars: Background and Key Issues, September 7, 2016

Corporate Inversions: Frequently Asked Legal Questions, September 7, 2016

FATCA Reporting on U.S. Accounts: Recent Legal Developments, September 7, 2016

National Monuments and the Antiquities Act, updated September 7, 2016

U.S. Farm Income Outlook for 2016, updated September 7, 2016

The 2016 G-20 Summit, CRS Insight, September 8, 2016

Qatar: Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy, September 7, 2016

Argentina: Background and U.S. Relations, updated September 6, 2016

Burma Holds Peace Conference, CRS Insight, September 8, 2016

EU State Aid and Apple’s Taxes, CRS Insight, September 2, 2016

Leadership Succession in Uzbekistan, CRS Insight, September 6, 2016

Marine Corps Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) and Marine Personnel Carrier (MPC): Background and Issues for Congress, updated September 9, 2016

Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV): Background and Issues for Congress, updated September 9, 2016

NASA: FY2017 Budget and Appropriations, September 6, 2016

Information Warfare: Russian Activities, CRS Insight, September 2, 2016

Update on Comprehensive Test Ban, & More from CRS

The Congressional Research Service has prepared an updated account of the status of the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty (CTBT), which would prohibit explosive testing of nuclear weapons.

“As of August 2016, 183 states had signed the CTBT and 164, including Russia, had ratified it. However, entry into force requires ratification by 44 states specified in the treaty, of which 41 had signed the treaty and 36 had ratified.” The U.S. has not ratified it.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on the CTBT tomorrow, September 7.

See Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty: Background and Current Developments, September 1, 2016.

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

Climate Change: Frequently Asked Questions about the 2015 Paris Agreement, September 1, 2016

U.S. Textile Manufacturing and the Proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, September 1, 2016

Comparing DHS Component Funding, FY2017: Fact Sheet, September 2, 2016

OPM Announces Premium Increase in the Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program, CRS Insight, September 1, 2016

The European Union’s Small Business Act: A Different Approach, September 1, 2016

Zika Response Funding: Request and Congressional Action, updated September 1, 2016

Contesting a Presidential Election, & More from CRS

The procedures for challenging the outcome of a presidential election are summarized in a new publication from the Congressional Research Service.

“The initial responsibility for resolving challenges, recounts, and contests to the results of a presidential election” lies with each individual state, CRS noted. But under some circumstances, challenges to a presidential election can work their way up to Congress for resolution. See How Can the Results of a Presidential Election Be Contested?, CRS Legal Sidebar, August 26, 2016.

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

Saudi Military Campaign in Yemen Draws Congressional Attention to U.S. Arms Sales, CRS Insight, August 30, 2016

Bahrain: Reform, Security, and U.S. Policy, updated August 29, 2016

Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations, updated August 26, 2016

Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations in Brief, updated August 26, 2016

Gangs in Central America, updated August 29, 2016

American Agriculture and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, updated August 30, 2016

Small Business: Access to Capital and Job Creation, August 26, 2016

Tolling U.S. Highways, August 26, 2016

Labor Day Speech Resources: Fact Sheet, August 26, 2016

Supreme Court: Length of the Scalia Vacancy in Historical Context, CRS Insight, August 26, 2016

DoD Security Cooperation Programs, & More from CRS

The Department of Defense has assumed a growing role in providing assistance to foreign military and security services over the past decade, often supplanting the Department of State. The evolution of DoD security cooperation activities is traced in a new report from the Congressional Research Service.

“Since military aid became a major component of U.S. foreign assistance to counter the rise of the Soviet Union after World War II, the State Department has historically exercised the lead in security assistance activities,” CRS noted.

Over time, however, “Congress began to expand gradually the scope and character of the statutory framework by authorizing DOD to directly train, equip, and otherwise assist foreign military and other security forces….”

“As DOD’s security cooperation responsibilities and authorities have multiplied, general agreement has emerged that the statutory framework has evolved into a cumbersome system.”

“Congress has provided DOD with, by CRS’s estimate, more than 80 separate authorities to assist and engage with foreign governments, militaries, security forces, and populations, although other organizations have identified a larger number of authorities.”

Those legislative authorities for DoD security cooperation programs are tabulated in the CRS report along with associated funding levels for many of the individual programs. See DOD Security Cooperation: An Overview of Authorities and Issues, August 23, 2016.

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

Coalition Contributions to Countering the Islamic State, updated August 24, 2016

Heroin Trafficking in the United States, August 23, 2016

Latin America and the Caribbean: Fact Sheet on Leaders and Elections, updated August 24, 2016

Cyprus: Reunification Proving Elusive, updated August 25, 2016

Venezuela: Background and U.S. Relations, updated August 22, 2016

Federal Support for Reproductive Health Services: Frequently Asked Questions, updated August 24, 2016

History of House and Senate Restaurants: Context for Current Operations and Issues, August 23, 2016

House and Senate Restaurants: Current Operations and Issues for Congress, August 23, 2016

Reforming the U.S. Postal Service: Background and Issues for Congress, August 25, 2016

Active Protection for Combat Vehicles, & More from CRS

Efforts to develop Active Protection Systems (APS) to defend military combat vehicles against rocket-propelled grenades or anti-tank missiles are reviewed in a new report from the Congressional Research Service.

An Active Protection System is supposed to detect an incoming threat, such as a grenade or a missile, and employ countermeasures to destroy or deflect it, all within a very brief period of time.

“A number of nations have operationally deployed APS on combat vehicles — Russia and Israel most notably — and some experts characterize U.S. efforts as somewhat lagging,” the CRS report said. “U.S. military officials contend there are still a number of developmental and safety challenges that must be overcome before current APS systems are suitable for battlefield deployment.”

See Army and Marine Corps Active Protection System (APS) Efforts, August 23, 2016.

Other new and updated Congressional Research Service reports that have not been publicly released include the following.

Stealing Trade Secrets and Economic Espionage: An Overview of the Economic Espionage Act, updated August 19, 2016

The Zika Outbreak Is Declared a Public Health Emergency in Puerto Rico, CRS Insight, August 17, 2016

Organization of American States: Background and Issues for Congress, updated August 22, 2016

U.S. Trade with Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Partners, updated August 18, 2016

Fact Sheet: Selected Highlights of the FY2017 Military Construction Appropriations Bills, August 18, 2016

Navy John Lewis (TAO-205) Class Oiler Shipbuilding Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated August 18, 2016

Navy Columbia Class (Ohio Replacement) Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN[X]) Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated August 18, 2016

Taxation of U.S. Olympic Medal Winners, CRS Insight, August 18, 2016

How Treasury Issues Debt, updated August 18, 2016

Overview of CEQ Guidance on Greenhouse Gases and Climate Change, CRS Insight, August 18, 2016

Iran: Politics, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy, updated August 19, 2016

Presidential Appointee Positions Requiring Senate Confirmation and Committees Handling Nominations, updated August 23, 2016

No First Use of Nuclear Weapons, & More from CRS

Recent reports from the Congressional Research Service that have not been publicly released include the following.

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy: Considering “No First Use”, CRS Insight, August 16, 2016

Coordinated Party Expenditures in Federal Elections: An Overview, updated August 15, 2016

Introduction to FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), August 16, 2016

The United Arab Emirates (UAE): Issues for U.S. Policy, updated August 16, 2016

Airline Passenger Rights: The Federal Role in Aviation Consumer Protection, August 17, 2016

Legal Status of CEQ’s Final Guidance on Climate Change in Environmental Reviews under NEPA, CRS Legal Sidebar, August 17, 2016

U.S. Trade Deficit and the Impact of Changing Oil Prices, updated August 16, 2016

General Policy Statements: Legal Overview, April 14, 2016

Dude, Where’s My Jurisdiction? Congressional Efforts to Strip Federal Courts of Jurisdiction, CRS Legal Sidebar, August 17, 2016