Science & Tech Issues in Congress, & More from CRS

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

Science and Technology Issues in the 115th Congress, updated May 23, 2017

U.S.-South Korea Relations, updated May 23, 2017

Australia, CRS In Focus, May 12, 2017

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), updated May 24, 2017

Paid Family Leave in the United States, May 24, 2017

Selected Federal Water Activities: Agencies, Authorities, and Congressional Committees, updated May 24, 2017

The United States Withdraws from the TPP, CRS Insight, updated May 23, 2017

Saudi Arabia: Background and U.S. Relations, updated May 24, 2017

More Troops for Afghanistan?, and More from CRS

The possibility that more U.S. troops will be deployed to Afghanistan, a move that is reportedly under consideration by the Trump Administration, was critically examined by the Congressional Research Service in a new report.

One source of uncertainty concerns the shifting U.S. strategy in the region.

“Since the post-9/11 invasion of Afghanistan, the United States and its allies have pursued a variety of different strategic objectives,” including counterterrorism and nation-building. But “Within the military campaign alone, those objectives are, at times, in tension with each other,” CRS said. “At present, it is difficult to discern an overall, coherent strategy for Afghanistan, although this may be resolved by the Trump Administration’s review of U.S. activities in that region.”

“Given the complexity of the campaign, along with the imprecise nature of U.S. goals for the region and absent a definitive statement from the Trump Administration regarding its priorities, it is currently difficult to evaluate the likely impact that additional forces may have.” See Additional Troops for Afghanistan? Considerations for Congress, May 19, 2017.

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

Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy, updated May 19, 2017

A Shift in the International Security Environment: Potential Implications for Defense–Issues for Congress, updated May 19, 2017

Maritime Territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Disputes Involving China: Issues for Congress, updated May 19, 2017

21st Century U.S. Energy Sources: A Primer, May 19, 2017

The Value of Energy Tax Incentives for Different Types of Energy Resources: In Brief, May 18, 2017

OPEC and Non-OPEC Crude Oil Production Agreement: Compliance Status, CRS Insight, May 17, 2017

North American Free Trade Agreement: Notification for Renegotiation, CRS Insight, May 19, 2017

The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA): Compensation Related to Exposure to Radiation from Atomic Weapons Testing and Uranium Mining, updated May 18, 2017

Obstruction of Justice Statutes: Legal Issues Concerning FBI Investigations, Specific Intent, and Executive Branch Personnel, CRS Legal Sidebar, May 19, 2017

As an institution, the Congressional Research Service is facing significant upheaval in the near term as many of its most senior analysts are expected to retire, with attendant loss of expertise. “Roughly about 25% of our staff will be eligible to retire in the next fiscal year,” CRS director Dr. Mary Mazanec told the House Legislative Appropriations subcommittee last week.

Obstruction of Justice, & More from CRS

A 2014 report on obstruction of justice prepared by the Congressional Research Service was highlighted on the CRS congressional intranet this week, apparently in response to news stories and congressional interest in the topic. See Obstruction of Justice: an Overview of Some of the Federal Statutes that Prohibit Interference with Judicial, Executive, or Legislative Activities, April 17, 2014.

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

Israel: Background and U.S. Relations In Brief, updated May 17, 2017

Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response, updated May 16, 2017

Kuwait: Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy, updated May 15, 2017

Softwood Lumber Imports From Canada: Current Issues, May 17, 2017

Air Traffic Inc.: Considerations Regarding the Corporatization of Air Traffic Control, updated May 16, 2017

The Electoral College: How It Works in Contemporary Presidential Elections, updated May 15, 2017

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: Lessons Learned and Issues for Congress, updated May 16, 2017

Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)/Frigate Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated May 12, 2017

Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated May 12, 2017

Navy Lasers, Railgun, and Hypervelocity Projectile: Background and Issues for Congress, updated May 12, 2017

Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress, updated May 15, 2017

Special Counsels, FBI Director Removal, & More from CRS

In order to appoint a special counsel to investigate potential criminal activity in the executive branch, the Congressional Research Service explained last week, the Attorney General (or his deputy) “must determine that a criminal investigation is warranted; that the normal process of investigation or prosecution would present a conflict of interest for DOJ or other extraordinary circumstances exist; and that public interest requires a special counsel to assume those responsibilities.”

See Special Counsels, Independent Counsels, and Special Prosecutors: Investigations of the Executive Branch by the Executive Branch, CRS Legal Sidebar, May 11, 2017.

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

The Removal of FBI Director James Comey: Presidential Authority and the Senate’s Role in the Appointment of the FBI Director, CRS Legal Sidebar, May 10, 2017

FBI Director: Appointment and Tenure, May 10, 2017

Congress’s Contempt Power and the Enforcement of Congressional Subpoenas: Law, History, Practice, and Procedure, updated May 12, 2017

Cybersecurity: Legislation, Hearings, and Executive Branch Documents, updated May 12, 2017

The Growing Gap in Life Expectancy by Income: Recent Evidence and Implications for the Social Security Retirement Age, May 12, 2017

Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class Aircraft Carrier Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated May 12, 2017

Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class Attack Submarine Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress, updated May 12, 2017

Navy DDG-51 and DDG-1000 Destroyer Programs: Background and Issues for Congress, updated May 12, 2017

Energy and Water Development: FY2017 Appropriations for Nuclear Weapons Activities, updated May 10, 2017

Government Shutdowns, & More from CRS

When Congress and the President fail to agree on government appropriations and previous funding expires, the result can be a massively disruptive shutdown of the federal government. This occurred most recently in October 2013, and lasted for 16 days.

“Government shutdowns have necessitated furloughs of several hundred thousand federal employees, required cessation or reduction of many government activities, and affected numerous sectors of the economy,” according to a newly updated report from the Congressional Research Service. See Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes, and Effects, updated May 5, 2017.

“Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix mess!” tweeted President Trump last week.

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

Job Creation in the Manufacturing Revival, updated May 5, 2017

The Meaning of “Made in U.S.A.”, updated May 5, 2017

Review of Offshore Energy Leasing: President Trump’s Executive Order, CRS Insight, May 5, 2017

Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress, updated May 5, 2017

Iran’s Presidential Elections, CRS Insight, May 5, 2017

The American Health Care Act, & More from CRS

Given its length, complexity and limited availability, it is unlikely that most members of Congress actually read the full text of the American Health Care Act that passed the House of Representatives today.

But the Congressional Research Service prepared a report, updated today, that includes an overview of all of the provisions of the Act. See H.R. 1628: The American Health Care Act (AHCA), May 4, 2017.

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

Frequently Asked Questions About Prescription Drug Pricing and Policy, May 2, 2017

Revitalizing Coastal Shipping for Domestic Commerce, May 2, 2017

Trade Implications of the President’s Buy American Executive Order, CRS Insight, May 2, 2017

Presidential Appointee Positions Requiring Senate Confirmation and Committees Handling Nominations, updated May 3, 2017

The United States Withdraws from the TPP, CRS Insight, updated May 4, 2017

Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF): Program Overview and Issues, updated May 3, 2017

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting: Federal Funding and Issues, updated May 3, 2017

How to Develop and Write a Grant Proposal, updated May 2, 2017

The Net Neutrality Debate, and More from CRS

Net neutrality, or unfettered and non-discriminatory access to the Internet, is the subject of current litigation, regulation and legislation. Background to the issue is presented in a newly updated report from the Congressional Research Service. See The Net Neutrality Debate: Access to Broadband Networks, May 1, 2017.

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

The Office of the Parliamentarian in the House and Senate, updated May 2, 2017

Patent Boxes: A Primer, May 1, 2017

The Financial CHOICE Act (H.R. 10) and the Dodd-Frank Act, CRS Insight, May 1, 2017

Executive Order for Review of National Monuments, CRS Insight, May 1, 2017

Advanced Gene Editing, & More from CRS

A new report from the Congressional Research Service describes the gene editing technology known as CRISPR-Cas9 and its dramatic implications for genetic engineering. The report also introduces the ethical, regulatory and policy questions that this technology is raising. See Advanced Gene Editing: CRISPR-Cas9, April 28, 2017.

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

Law Enforcement Using and Disclosing Technology Vulnerabilities, April 26, 2017

Renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA): What Actions Do Not Require Congressional Approval?, CRS Legal Sidebar, April 27, 2017

Softwood Lumber Dispute Lumbers On: Preliminary Countervailing Duties on Canadian Softwood Lumber Announced, CRS Legal Sidebar, April 28, 2017

Department of Defense Contractor and Troop Levels in Iraq and Afghanistan: 2007-2017, updated April 28, 2017

American War and Military Operations Casualties: Lists and Statistics, updated April 26, 2017

Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response, updated April 26, 2017

U.S.-Mexico Economic Relations: Trends, Issues, and Implications, updated April 27, 2017

The Greek Debt Crisis: Overview and Implications for the United States, updated April 24, 2017

Iran’s Nuclear Program: Status, updated April 27, 2017

Mexico’s Free Trade Agreements, & More from CRS

A newly updated report from the Congressional Research Service “provides an overview of Mexico’s free trade agreements, its motivations for trade liberalization and entering into free trade agreements, and trade trends with the United States and other countries in the world.” See Mexico’s Free Trade Agreements, updated April 25, 2017.

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

Mexico: Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking Organizations, updated April 25, 2017

Argentina: Background and U.S. Relations, updated April 25, 2017

China’s February 2017 Suspension of North Korean Coal Imports, CRS Insight, April 25, 2017

Deferred Maintenance of Federal Land Management Agencies: FY2007-FY2016 Estimates and Issues, April 25, 2017

The “Better Way” House Tax Plan: An Economic Analysis, April 25, 2017

The Riddle of Steel, & More from CRS

Could imported steel pose a threat to U.S. national security? The Trump Administration thinks so. Last week, President Trump directed the Secretary of Commerce to conduct an investigation under the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 “to determine the effects on national security of steel imports.”

Yesterday the Congressional Research Service reviewed the issue skeptically, noting that such investigations almost never produce a meaningful outcome. “Perhaps one reason these investigations are infrequently conducted may be that such investigations rarely result in a finding that certain imports threaten to impair national security,” CRS wrote. See A Steely Look at Steel: Commerce Directed to Prioritize Investigation of the Effects of Steel Imports on National Security, CRS Legal Sidebar, April 24, 2017.

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

New Executive Order Directs Agencies to Revise or Rescind Climate Change Rules and Policies, CRS Legal Sidebar, April 20, 2017

U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America: Policy Issues for Congress, April 12, 2017

Cuba: U.S. Policy in the 115th Congress, April 21, 2017

China-U.S. Trade Issues, updated April 24, 2017

Turkey: Erdogan’s Referendum Victory Delivers “Presidential System”, CRS Insight, April 20, 2017

U.S. Circuit and District Court Nominations: Comparative Statistics of Two-Term Presidencies Since 1945, CRS Insight, April 24, 2017

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: Background and Summary, updated April 21, 2017

Cost-Benefit Analysis and Financial Regulator Rulemaking, April 12, 2017

Cybersecurity: Critical Infrastructure Authoritative Reports and Resources, updated April 21, 2017

FDA Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS): Description and Effect on Generic Drug Development, April 11, 2017

New Canadian Dairy Pricing Regime Proves Disruptive for U.S. Milk Producers, CRS Insight, April 20, 2017

Iran Nuclear Agreement, updated April 21, 2017

The Budget Control Act and the Defense Budget: Frequently Asked Questions, updated April 21, 2017