Locomotive Idling: CRS Comes Online

The Congressional Research Service launched its new public portal this morning, with an initial installment of 628 reports dating back to January of this year. The back catalog of older reports is supposed to be added over time.

The public versions of the reports are lightly redacted to remove the author’s contact information, and to add some boilerplate language about CRS.

At this point, CRS is only posting its primary “R series” reports, such as these newly updated documents (provided here in their original, unmodified format):

American War and Military Operations Casualties: Lists and Statistics, updated September 14, 2018

Congressional Primer on Responding to Major Disasters and Emergencies, updated September 13, 2018

“In keeping with our desire to engage users with the Library and its materials,” wrote Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, “we are happy to see these reports put to the widest use possible.”

But other CRS product lines — including CRS In Focus, CRS Insight, and CRS Legal Sidebar — are not currently available through the public portal. So CRS reports like these must still be obtained independently:

Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks in U.S. Agriculture, CRS In Focus, September 17, 2018

Hurricane Florence: Brief Overview of FEMA Programs and Resources, CRS Insight, updated September 13, 2018

Locomotive Idling, Air Quality, and Blocked Crossings, CRS In Focus, updated September 13, 2018

The new public collection of CRS reports was created in response to legislation “ending the legal requirement prohibiting CRS from providing its products to the public,” according to CRS.

The Nuclear Weapons Complex, and More from CRS

The Department of Energy has nuclear weapons facilities in seven states including three laboratories, five component fabrication or materials production plants, one assembly and disassembly site, a geologic waste repository, and one testing facility.

A new report from the Congressional Research Service summarizes operations at each of the sites. See The U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex: Overview of Department of Energy Sites, September 6, 2018.

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

FY2019 Appropriations for the Department of EnergyCRS Insight, updated September 12, 2018

Efforts to Preserve Economic Benefits of the Iran Nuclear DealCRS In Focus, updated September 7, 2018

The Nordic Countries and U.S. RelationsCRS In Focus, updated September 13, 2018

Labor Enforcement Issues in U.S. Free Trade AgreementsCRS In Focus, September 7, 2018

U.S.-Taiwan Trade RelationsCRS In Focus, updated September 11, 2018

Georgia: Background and U.S. Policy, September 5, 2018

Costs of Government Interventions in Response to the Financial Crisis: A Retrospective, updated September 12, 2018

Tax Policy and Disaster RecoveryCRS In Focus, updated September 11, 2018

National Flood Insurance Program Borrowing AuthorityCRS Insight, updated September 10, 2018

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), Reinsurance, and Catastrophe BondsCRS Insight, September 11, 2018

Senate Confirmation Votes on U.S. Supreme Court Nominations: OverviewCRS Insight, September 13, 2018

Craft Alcoholic Beverage Industry: Overview and RegulationCRS In Focus, September 7, 2018

3D-Printed Guns: An Overview of Recent Legal DevelopmentsCRS Legal Sidebar, September 11, 2018

Reviving the Role of CRS in Congressional Oversight

The Congressional Research Service once played a prominent role in supporting oversight by congressional committees. Although that support has diminished sharply in recent years, it could conceivably be restored in a new Congress, writes former CRS analyst Kevin R. Kosar in a new paper.

In the past, CRS “closely assisted Congress in a myriad of major oversight efforts, including the Watergate investigation, the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act, and the Iran-Contra affair.”

But over time, Kosar writes, “CRS’ role in oversight declined due to various factors, most of which were out of its control. Congress changed. Congressional committees, particularly in the House of Representatives, lost capacity, and hyper-partisanism turned much oversight into political point-scoring rather than an exercise in governing that required expert assistance.”

See “The Atrophying of the Congressional Research Service’s Role in Supporting Committee Oversight” by Kevin R. Kosar, Wayne Law Review, vol. 64:149, 2018.

“CRS does not have to passively accept this fate,” said Kosar by email. His paper suggested various steps CRS could take to foster greater appreciation among committee leaders for the independent expertise CRS could provide.

CRS’s “raison d’être is to educate Congress, and it can engage its oversight and appropriations committees in a dialogue about the value of analysis and in-depth research. It can raise the issue of more extended oversight engagements and explain why they are valuable to Congress.”

“It is good for Congress, good for CRS staff, and good for the public to have nonpartisan experts more frequently and more deeply engaged in oversight,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, new and updated publications from CRS include the following.

Defense Primer: Lowest Price Technically Acceptable ContractsCRS In Focus, September 4, 2018

Federal Role in U.S. Campaigns and Elections: An Overview, September 4, 2018

Securities Regulation and Initial Coin Offerings: A Legal Primer, updated August 31, 2018

The “Flores Settlement” and Alien Families Apprehended at the U.S. Border: Frequently Asked Questions, updated August 28, 2018

Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations, updated August 31, 2018

Cuba: U.S. Policy in the 115th Congress, updated September 1, 2018

U.N. Report Recommends Burmese Military Leaders Be Investigated and Prosecuted for Possible GenocideCRS In Focus, September 4, 2018

India: Religious Freedom Issues, updated August 30, 2018

The Made in China 2025 Initiative: Economic Implications for the United StatesCRS In Focus, updated August 29, 2018

Questioning Judicial Nominees: Legal Limitations and Practice, updated August 30, 2018

A New “Light Attack” Aircraft, & More from CRS

A US Air Force program to acquire “light attack” aircraft is introduced in a new publication from the Congressional Research Service.

“The OA-X light attack aircraft is a small, two-seat turboprop airplane designed for operation in relatively permissive environments.” It would give the Air Force “an ability to free up more sophisticated and expensive assets for other tasks.” See Air Force OA-X Light Attack Aircraft ProgramCRS In Focus, August 23, 2018.

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

Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh: His Jurisprudence and Potential Impact on the Supreme Court, August 21, 2018

Supreme Court Nomination: CRS ProductsCRS Legal Sidebar, updated August 24, 2018

Calling Balls and Strikes: Ethics and Supreme Court JusticesCRS Legal Sidebar, August 20, 2018

Judicial Fact-Finding and Criminal Sentencing: Current Practice and Potential ChangeCRS Legal Sidebar, August 24, 2018

CFIUS Reform: Foreign Investment National Security ReviewsCRS In Focus, August 22, 2018

Turkey’s Currency CrisisCRS In Focus, August 27, 2018

MS-13 in the United States and Federal Law Enforcement Efforts, August 20, 2018

Al Qaeda and Islamic State Affiliates in AfghanistanCRS In Focus, August 23, 2018

Hong Kong: Recent Developments and U.S. RelationsCRS In Focus, August 23, 2018

Trade Remedies: Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974CRS In Focus, August 22, 2018

U.S. Trade Debates: Select Disputes and ActionsCRS In Focus, August 28, 2018

Records, Papers, Decisions: Kavanaugh Records and the Presidential Records ActCRS Insight, August 27, 2018

Considering a “Space Force,” & More from CRS

The Congressional Research Service says that, as a constitutional matter, it will be up to Congress to determine whether and how to reorganize the management of US national security assets in space, and whether to establish a new “space force,” as the Trump Administration has proposed.

“The constitutional framework appears to contemplate that the role of establishing, organizing, regulating, and providing resources for the Armed Forces belongs to Congress, while the President is in charge of commanding the forces Congress has established using the funds Congress has provided,” CRS said in a new publication. See Toward the Creation of a U.S. “Space Force”, CRS In Focus, August 16, 2018.

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

Hazing in the Armed Forces, CRS In Focus, August 9, 2018

Substance Abuse Prevention, Treatment, and Research Efforts in the Military, CRS In Focus, August 17, 2018

Election Security: Issues in the 2018 Midterm Elections, CRS Insight, August 16, 2018

Supreme Court Appointment Process: Consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee, updated August 14, 2018

IRS Will No Longer Require Disclosure of Certain Nonprofit Donor Information, CRS Legal Sidebar, August 14, 2018

Can the President Pardon Contempt of Court? Probably Yes, CRS Legal Sidebar, August 10, 2018

Overview of U.S.-South Korea Agricultural Trade, August 8, 2018

Proposed U.S.-EU Trade Negotiations: Hitting Pause on a Trade War?, CRS Insight, August 9, 2018

Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) in the United States, updated August 9, 2018

Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), updated August 9, 2018

Strange Occurrences Highlight Insider Threat to Aviation Security, CRS Insight, August 14, 2018

Accountability of Presidential Advisors, & More from CRS

New reports from the Congressional Research Service this week include the following.

Advising the President: Rules Governing Access and Accountability of Presidential AdvisorsCRS Legal Sidebar, August 6, 2018

The European Deterrence Initiative: A Budgetary OverviewCRS In Focus, August 8, 2018

Iran’s Threats, the Strait of Hormuz, and Oil Markets: In Brief, August 6, 2018

Nord Stream 2: A Geopolitical Lightning RodCRS In Focus, August 7, 2018

Proposals to Impose Sanctions on Russian Sovereign DebtCRS Insight, August 6, 2018

Buprenorphine and the Opioid Crisis: A Primer for Congress, August 3, 2018

Regulation of Cell-Cultured MeatCRS In Focus, August 9, 2018

Description of Proposed Changes to Implementation of the Endangered Species ActCRS In Focus, August 8, 2018

Abortion, Justice Kennedy, and Judge KavanaughCRS Legal Sidebar, August 8, 2018

Tariff Escalation: A Timeline, and More from CRS

The Trump Administration has moved aggressively to impose tariffs and other restrictions on foreign imports, “but it is unclear what specific outcomes the Administration is seeking,” according to the Congressional Research Service.

“Increasing U.S. tariffs or imposing other import restrictions through these laws potentially opens the United States to complaints that it is violating its WTO and free trade agreement (FTA) commitments,” CRS said. Meanwhile, retaliation by other countries “may be amplifying the potential negative effects of the U.S. tariff measures.”

A new CRS publication provides “a timeline of key events related to each U.S. trade action, as well as the range of potential trade volumes affected by the U.S. tariffs and U.S. trading partners’ retaliations.” See Escalating Tariffs: Timeline and Potential ImpactCRS Insight, July 31, 2018.

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

The World Trade Organization (WTO): U.S. Participation at Risk?CRS Insight, July 31, 2018

U.S.-China Trade IssuesCRS In Focus, August 2, 2018

Taiwan: Select Political and Security IssuesCRS In Focus, July 31, 2018

Mexico’s Immigration Control EffortsCRS In Focus, August 1, 2018

Family Separation at the Border and the Ms. L. LitigationCRS Legal Sidebar, July 31, 2018

Pipeline Safety: Overdue Statutory MandatesCRS Insight, July 27, 2018

Wildfire StatisticsCRS In Focus, August 2, 2018

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and EducationCRS In Focus, August 1, 2018

Iran’s Ballistic Missile and Space Launch ProgramsCRS In Focus, August 1, 2018

North Korea: U.S. Relations, Nuclear Diplomacy, and Internal Situation, July 27, 2018

North Korea’s Nuclear and Ballistic Missile ProgramsCRS In Focus, August 2, 2018

US Sanctions on Russia, and More from CRS

The United States has imposed sanctions on Russia in recent years “for aggression against Ukraine, election interference, malicious cyber activity, human rights violations, weapons proliferation,” and other causes. The range of sanctions was surveyed in a new Congressional Research Service publication.

The sanctions include “blocking U.S.-based assets; prohibiting U.S. persons from engaging in transactions related to those assets; prohibiting certain, and in some cases all, U.S. transactions; and denying entry into the United States,” as well as various export control restrictions. See Overview of U.S. Sanctions Regimes on RussiaCRS In Focus, July 26, 2018.

The impact of the punitive sanctions on Russia policy is uncertain. There is no indication that US sanctions were discussed at the recent Helsinki meeting between Trump and Putin, CRS said.

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

NAFTA Renegotiation and Modernization, updated July 26, 2018

Momentum Toward Peace Talks in Afghanistan?CRS Insight, July 24, 2018

The European Union and ChinaCRS In Focus, July 26, 2018

Australia and New Zealand React to China’s Growing Influence in the South PacificCRS Insight, July 26, 2018

Zimbabwe: Forthcoming ElectionsCRS In Focus, July 26, 2018

Federal Prize Competitions, July 25, 2018

What Happens If the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Lapses?CRS Insight, July 24, 2018

History of Use of U.S. Military Bases to House Immigrants and RefugeesCRS Insight, July 26, 2018

The Essential Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh Reader: What Cases Should You Read?CRS Legal Sidebar, July 25, 2018

Resurgence of Chemical Weapons Use, and More from CRS

Noteworthy new reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

Resurgence of Chemical Weapons Use: Issues for Congress, CRS Insight, July 24, 2018

Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the Russian Federation: A Sketch, CRS Legal Sidebar, July 24, 2018

FY2019 Defense Appropriations Bill: An Overview of House-passed H.R. 6157, CRS In Focus, July 19, 2018

The Trump Administration’s “Zero Tolerance” Immigration Enforcement Policy, July 20, 2018

Judicial Opinions of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, July 23, 2018

Flying Cars and Drones and More from CRS

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

Flying Cars and Drones Pose Policy Challenges for Managing and Regulating Low-Altitude Airspace, CRS Insight, July 23, 2018

“Duck Boat” Accident Highlights Gap in Regulation, CRS Insight, July 20, 2018

Emergency Department Boarding of Behavioral Health Patients, CRS In Focus, July 19, 2018

Transnational Crime Issues: Human Trafficking, CRS In Focus, July 19, 2018

The U.S. Trade Deficit: An Overview, CRS In Focus, July 18, 2018

U.S.-EU Trade and Economic Issues, CRS In Focus, July 20, 2018

U.S.-EU Trade and Investment Ties: Magnitude and Scope, CRS In Focus, July 20, 2018

Mexico: Evolution of the Mérida Initiative, 2007-2019, CRS In Focus, July 23, 2018

Iran Nuclear Agreement and U.S. Exit, updated July 20, 2018