The hourly minimum wage reached its peak value in 1968, when it was worth $10.57 in real terms, the Congressional Research Service calculated in a new report. But although the nominal value of the minimum wage has increased over the years, it has not kept pace with the increase in consumer prices, and so its real value has fallen. See Inflation and the Real Minimum Wage: A Fact Sheet, February 26, 2013.
The recent executive order 13636 on cybersecurity was discussed in another new CRS report, which reviewed the order’s provisions, compared it to pending legislation, and discussed the authority of the President to act unilaterally in this area. See The 2013 Cybersecurity Executive Order: Overview and Considerations for Congress, March 1, 2013.
A 1999 provision to provide public access to scientific data used in federally funded research (known as the Shelby Amendment) has rarely been invoked in Freedom of Information Act requests, and so neither the benefits promised by its advocates nor the concerns of its critics have been realized to any significant extent, a CRS study found. See Public Access to Data from Federally Funded Research: Provisions in OMB Circular A-110, March 1, 2013.
The prospects for current negotiations between the government of Colombia and the insurgent Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were assessed in a new CRS report, which also provided background on the conflict in that country. See Peace Talks in Colombia, March 1, 2013.
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear challenges to two state laws that impose restrictions on same-sex marriage. The two pending cases were discussed by CRS in Same-Sex Marriage and Supreme Court: United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry, February 20, 2013.
The Equal Rights Amendment that was proposed in 1972 to prohibit discrimination “on account of sex” was eventually ratified by 35 states, three short of the 38 states required for adoption. Those ratifications have formally expired, but some supporters contend controversially that it would possible “to restart the clock on ratification at the current level of 35 states.” The issues were discussed by CRS in The Proposed Equal Rights Amendment: Contemporary Ratification Issues, February 28, 2013.
The adequacy of official reporting of government expenditures is a continuing concern among policy advocates. “Two agencies — the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Defense (DOD) — have never received unqualified audit opinions, which signifies the persistence of financial problems at these agencies,” a new CRS report said. See Federal Financial Reporting: An Overview, February 27, 2013.
Other noteworthy new and updated CRS products that Congress has directed CRS not to release to the public include the following.
Issues in Homeland Security Policy for the 113th Congress, February 27, 2013
International Law and Agreements: Their Effect Upon U.S. Law, March 1, 2013
Cybersecurity: Authoritative Reports and Resources, February 28, 2013
U.S. Crude Oil and Natural Gas Production in Federal and Non-Federal Areas, February 28, 2013
Securing America’s Borders: The Role of the Military, February 25, 2013
Sequestration as a Budget Enforcement Process: Frequently Asked Questions, February 27, 2013
Sessions, Adjournments, and Recesses of Congress, February 27, 2013
Kenya: Current Issues and U.S. Policy, February 26, 2013
China’s Economic Conditions, March 4, 2013