Talking About the Defense Budget, and More from CRS

The U.S. defense budget is comprised of several distinct components, including “base” and supplemental spending, nuclear weapons expenses, veterans benefits, and other defense-related costs.

When discussing “the defense budget,” it is therefore important to specify what is being described. Depending on what is included or excluded, “total” U.S. defense spending each year can vary by hundreds of millions of dollars.

This definitional question is neatly illustrated in a new graphic from the Congressional Research Service. See How People Talk About the FY2017 National Defense Budget.

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

Defense Primer: The National Defense Budget Function (050), CRS In Focus, March 17, 2017

Defense Primer: DOD Contractors, CRS In Focus, February 10, 2017

Defense Primer: Procurement, CRS In Focus, February 10, 2017

Military Transition Assistance Program (TAP): An Overview, CRS In Focus, March 15, 2017

Supreme Court Appointment Process: Consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee, updated March 17, 2017

Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations in Brief, updated March 17, 2017

Sanctuary Jurisdictions and Select Federal Grant Funding Issues: In Brief, March 16, 2017

The Decennial Census: Issues for 2020, March 16, 2017

A Survey of House and Senate Committee Rules on Subpoenas, updated March 16, 2017

Medicare Primer, updated March 16, 2017

Pending ACA Legal Challenges Face Uncertain Future, CRS Legal Sidebar, March 16, 2017

Statutory, Average, and Effective Marginal Tax Rates in the Federal Individual Income Tax: Background and Analysis, March 16, 2017

Should the U.S. Trade Deficit be Redefined?, CRS Insight, March 17, 2017

Moving On: TPP Signatories Meet in Chile, CRS Insight, March 16, 2017

Navy Lasers, Railgun, and Hypervelocity Projectile: Background and Issues for Congress, updated March 17, 2017

Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated March 17, 2017

Navy John Lewis (TAO-205) Class Oiler Shipbuilding Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated March 17, 2017

Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class Aircraft Carrier Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated March 16, 2017

Science & Technology Issues Facing Congress, & More from CRS

Science and technology policy issues that may soon come before Congress were surveyed in a new report from the Congressional Research Service.

Overarching issues include the impact of recent reductions in federal spending for research and development.

“Concerns about reductions in federal R&D funding have been exacerbated by increases in the R&D investments of other nations (China, in particular); globalization of R&D and manufacturing activities; and trade deficits in advanced technology products, an area in which the United States previously ran trade surpluses. At the same time, some Members of Congress have expressed concerns about the level of federal funding in light of the current federal fiscal condition. In addition, R&D funding decisions may be affected by differing perspectives on the appropriate role of the federal government in advancing science and technology.”

See Science and Technology Issues in the 115th Congress, March 14, 2017.

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

The American Health Care Act, March 14, 2017

Previewing a 2018 Farm Bill, March 15, 2017

EPA Policies Concerning Integrated Planning and Affordability of Water Infrastructure, updated March 14, 2017

National Park Service: FY2017 Appropriations and Ten-Year Trends, updated March 14, 2017

Qatar: Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy, updated March 15, 2017

Northern Ireland: Current Issues and Ongoing Challenges in the Peace Process, updated March 14, 2017

Navy LX(R) Amphibious Ship Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated March 14, 2017

Judge Gorsuch’s Jurisprudence, and More from CRS

A new report from the Congressional Research Service examines the judicial record of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil M. Gorsuch in advance of his Senate confirmation hearing.

“The report begins by discussing the nominee’s views on two cross-cutting issues — the role of the judiciary and statutory interpretation. It then addresses fourteen separate areas of law, arranged in alphabetical order, from ‘administrative law’ to ‘takings'” and including civil rights, freedom of speech and separation of powers.

See Judge Neil M. Gorsuch: His Jurisprudence and Potential Impact on the Supreme Court, March 8, 2017

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

Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings for Supreme Court Nominations: Historical Overview and Data, CRS Insight, March 13, 2017

Taxpayers with Zero Income Tax Liability: Trends Over Time and Across Income Levels, CRS Insight, March 10, 2017

An Introduction to Poverty Measurement, March 9, 2017

Dark Web, updated March 10, 2017

Major Disaster Declarations for Snow Assistance and Severe Winter Storms: An Overview, updated March 13, 2017

U.S. Senate Vacancies: Contemporary Developments and Perspectives, March 10, 2017

Colombia’s Changing Approach to Drug Policy, March 10, 2017

The Marijuana Policy Gap and the Path Forward, March 10, 2017

Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity, updated March 10, 2017

A Change in Direction for Seoul? The Impeachment of South Korea’s President, CRS Insight, March 10, 2017

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Visits President Trump, CRS Insight, March 13, 2017

U.S. World War I (1917-1918) Centennial, CRS Insight, March 13, 2017

History of Attorney General Recusal, and More from CRS

“The recent announcement by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he would recuse himself from any investigations into President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign has raised questions about how often recusals by the Attorney General have happened in the past.”

“While there is no official compilation of recusals, it appears that Attorneys General of the United States have recused themselves at least 15 times since 1989,” according to the Congressional Research Service, which tabulated those 15 instances. See A Brief History of Attorney General Recusal, CRS Legal Sidebar, March 8, 2017.

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

Six Justice Court to Decide Liability of Officials for Post 9/11 Detention, CRS Legal Sidebar, March 7, 2017

What Is the Effect of Enacting a Congressional Review Act Resolution of Disapproval?, CRS Insight, March 3, 2017

WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, March 3, 2017

Northern Ireland’s Snap Assembly Elections: Outcome and Implications, CRS Insight, March 7, 2017

The Greek Debt Crisis: Continuing Challenges, CRS Insight, March 2, 2017

Marine Corps Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) and Marine Personnel Carrier (MPC): Background and Issues for Congress, updated March 8, 2017

Resolutions of Inquiry in the House, CRS Insight, March 6, 2017

Federal Land Ownership: Overview and Data, updated March 3, 2017

Anti-Money Laundering, and More from CRS

A new report from the Congressional Research Service provides a comprehensive overview of government efforts to combat money-laundering, discussing the scope of the money-laundering problem, the strategies employed to combat it, and the resources that have been made available for that purpose.

The US government has provided anti-money laundering support to more than 100 countries. But “Halting the introduction and circulation of criminally generated proceeds in the financial system, and, ultimately, depriving criminals from using illicit wealth remains a challenge,” the CRS report said. See Anti-Money Laundering: An Overview for Congress, March 1, 2017.

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

The Scalia Vacancy in Historical Context: Frequently Asked Questions, March 1, 2017

Majority, Concurring, and Dissenting Opinions by Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, March 1, 2017

Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA): A Summary of the Act and Its Major Requirements, updated March 1, 2017

Federally Funded Academic Research Requirements: Background and Issues in Brief, February 28, 2017

An Overview of Recent Tax Reform Proposals, February 28, 2017

Independence of Federal Financial Regulators: Structure, Funding, and Other Issues, February 28, 2017

U.S.-Mexico Water Sharing: Background and Recent Developments, updated March 2, 2017

Russia: Background and U.S. Interests, March 1, 2017

Iran Policy and the European Union, & More from CRS

New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

Iran Policy and the European Union, CRS Insight, February 27, 2017

The European Union: Current Challenges and Future Prospects, updated February 27, 2017

The United Arab Emirates (UAE): Issues for U.S. Policy, updated February 28, 2017

Military Retirement: Background and Recent Developments, updated February 27, 2017

History, Evolution, and Practices of the President’s State of the Union Address: Frequently Asked Questions, February 27, 2017

Gun Control: FY2017 Appropriations for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Other Initiatives, updated February 27, 2017

Filling Advice and Consent Positions at the Outset of Recent Administrations, 1981-2009, updated February 24, 2017

Leaks and the Law, & More from CRS

There is no law that categorically prohibits all leaks of classified (or unclassified) information. Instead, there is a patchwork of statutes that outlaw some unauthorized disclosures under some circumstances.

The various statutes that have been used to punish leaks of classified information are surveyed in a new publication from the Congressional Research Service. See The Law and Leaks to the Press, CRS Legal Sidebar, February 22, 2017.

“Not every leak to the press is a federal crime,” CRS notes. Even when a disclosure is a potential crime, the underlying statutes are not self-activating or self-enforcing. Investigators and prosecutors retain considerable discretion about how to proceed.

I discussed some of these issues lately in the Washington Post. See President Trump’s war on leaks, explained” by Aaron Blake, February 16.

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

A New Authorization for Use of Military Force Against the Islamic State: Issues and Current Proposals, updated February 21, 2017

Iran’s Nuclear Program: Tehran’s Compliance with International Obligations, updated February 23, 2017

Federal Building and Facility Security: Frequently Asked Questions, updated February 22, 2017

U.S. Secret Service: Selected Issues and Executive and Congressional Responses, updated February 22, 2017

“Dear Colleague” Letters in the House of Representatives: Past Practices and Issues for Congress, February 22, 2017

Health Care-Related Expiring Provisions of the 115th Congress, First Session, updated February 22, 2017

El Salvador: Background and U.S. Relations, updated February 23, 2017

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), updated February 22, 2017

A Primer on the European Union, and More from CRS

How does the European Union work? Does the EU Have a foreign policy? What is the Schengen Area?

I don’t know, but Kristin Archick of the Congressional Research Service does. See her newly updated report on The European Union: Questions and Answers, updated February 21, 2017.

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

Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons, updated February 21, 2017

U.S. Sanctions and Russia’s Economy, updated February 17, 2017

Iran: Politics, Human Rights, and U.S. Policy, updated February 17, 2017

Bahrain: Reform, Security, and U.S. Policy, updated February 14, 2017

Sanctuary Jurisdictions: Congressional Action and President Trump’s Interior Enforcement Executive Order, CRS Insight, February 15, 2017

The DACA and DAPA Deferred Action Initiatives: Frequently Asked Questions, February 15, 2017

Challenges for U.S. Policymakers in Latin America and the Caribbean, CRS Insight, February 16, 2017

U.S. Restrictions on Relations with Burma, updated February 7, 2017

India’s Natural Gas: A Small Part of the Energy Mix, February 13, 2017

Japan-U.S. Relations: Issues for Congress, updated February 16, 2017

Current Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Issues, CRS Insight, February 21, 2017

The Essential Judge Gorsuch, & More from CRS

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch is the author of more than 800 legal opinions.

“This provides an enormous–and perhaps unwieldy–body of law for those interested in learning about Judge Gorsuch’s approach to judging,” the Congressional Research Service says.

To make it easier to assess that record, CRS has produced a listing of notable rulings by Judge Gorsuch with links to the underlying decisions, broken down by category of law (civil rights, constitutional law, capital punishment, etc.). “These categories represent fields of law where Judge Gorsuch could, if confirmed, influence the High Court’s approach.”

See The Essential Neil Gorsuch Reader: What Judge Gorsuch Cases Should You Read?, CRS Legal Sidebar, February 13, 2017.

Other noteworthy new or updated publications from the Congressional Research Service include the following:

Immigration Officers’ Authority to Apprehend and Remove Aliens: Questions & Answers in Brief, CRS Legal Sidebar, February 13, 2017

Plan to Restrict Federal Grants to “Sanctuary Jurisdictions” Raises Legal Questions, CRS Legal Sidebar, February 14, 2017

Iran Nuclear Agreement, updated February 10, 2017

U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces: Background, Developments, and Issues, updated February 10, 2017

China-U.S. Trade Issues, updated February 9, 2017

“Fiscal Space” and the Federal Budget, CRS Insight, February 14, 2017

The Federal Budget Deficit and the Business Cycle, CRS Insight, February 14, 2017

Congressional Gold Medals, 1776-2016, updated February 13, 2017

More Low-Cost Transatlantic Flights May Shake Airline Industry, CRS Insight, February 10, 2017

The average age of members of the 115th Congress is “among the oldest in U.S. history,” according to a new CRS survey. See Membership of the 115th Congress: A Profile, February 10, 2017.

Withdrawal from International Agreements, & More from CRS

Withdrawing from international agreements, as President Trump has proposed to do in certain cases, can be a complicated as well as a controversial step, a new report from the Congressional Research Service indicates.

Aside from the wisdom of any such move, withdrawal raises distinct legal issues under both national and international law.¬†“The legal regime governing withdrawal under domestic law may differ in meaningful ways from the procedure for withdrawal under international law.”

As for treaties, which are adopted with the advice and consent of the Senate, the Constitution “is silent as to how treaties may be terminated.”

The new CRS report examines the legal questions raised by potential U.S. withdrawal from international agreements, with specific application to the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Iran nuclear agreement.

See Withdrawal from International Agreements: Legal Framework, the Paris Agreement, and the Iran Nuclear Agreement, February 9, 2017.

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

Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), CRS Insight, February 8, 2017

Overseas Contingency Operations Funding: Background and Status, updated February 7, 2017

Qualified Immunity for a Police Shooting, CRS Legal Sidebar, February 9, 2017

Monetary Policy and the Federal Reserve: Current Policy and Conditions, February 7, 2017

Import Taxes on Mexican Crude Oil, CRS Insight, February 9, 2017

U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: Trends and FY2017 Appropriations, February 8, 2017

What is the Proposed U.S.-EU Insurance Covered Agreement?, CRS Insight, February 7, 2017

Israel: Background and U.S. Relations In Brief, updated February 9, 2017

Lebanon, February 7, 2017