Defense Primers, and More from CRS

Incoming members of Congress face a steep learning curve in trying to understand, let alone master, many diverse areas of public policy such as national defense.

To help facilitate that learning process, the Congressional Research Service has issued a series of “defense primers” that provide a brief introduction to a variety of defense policy topics. Several of them have recently been updated, including these:

Defense Primer: Geography, Strategy, and U.S. Force Design, CRS In Focus, updated November 8, 2018

Defense Primer: Department of the Navy, CRS In Focus, updated November 8, 2018

Defense Primer: Naval Forces, CRS In Focus, updated November 8, 2018

Defense Primer: United States Airpower, CRS In Focus, updated November 7, 2018:

Defense Primer: The United States Air Force, CRS In Focus, updated November 7, 2018

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

Energy and Water Development Appropriations: Nuclear Weapons Activities, updated November 9, 2018

The Posse Comitatus Act and Related Matters: The Use of the Military to Execute Civilian Law, updated November 6, 2018

The DOD’s JEDI Cloud Program, CRS Insight, updated November 5, 2018

Iran: Efforts to Preserve Economic Benefits of the Nuclear Deal, CRS In Focus, updated November 8, 2018

Iran Sanctions, updated November 6, 2018

Global Trends in HIV/AIDS, CRS In Focus, November 6, 2018

21st Century U.S. Energy Sources: A Primer, updated November 5, 2018

Presidential Disability and the 25th Amendment

Under the 25th amendment to the Constitution, a U.S. President could be declared “disabled” and removed from office against his will by the Vice President acting together with a majority of the Cabinet.

A new report from the Congressional Research Service details the background and provisions of the amendment.

Proponents of the 25th amendment insisted that it was “not intended to facilitate the removal of an unpopular or failed President,” and that safeguards were in place to prevent abuse.

While Presidents have voluntarily and temporarily declared themselves disabled on three occasions — in 1985, 2002 and 2007 — the provisions for involuntary removal from office have never been implemented. See Presidential Disability Under the Twenty-Fifth Amendment: Constitutional Provisions and Perspectives for CongressNovember 5, 2018.

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

The Citizenship Clause and “Birthright Citizenship”: A Brief Legal OverviewCRS Legal Sidebar, November 1, 2018

Internships, Fellowships, and Other Work Experience Opportunities in the Federal Government, updated November 1, 2018

U.S. Trade Policy Functions: Who Does What?CRS In Focus, November 1, 2018

U.S. Foreign Aid to the Palestinians, updated November 2, 2018

The 2020 Decennial Census: Overview and IssuesCRS In Focus, October 31, 2018

Implementation of Treasury’s New Customer Due Diligence Rule: A Step Toward Beneficial Ownership Transparency?CRS In Focus, October 31, 2018

U.S. Ground Forces Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) and Artificial Intelligence (AI): Considerations for Congress, November 1, 2018

U.S. Curtails Asylum for Refugees Fleeing Gang Violence

In the recent past, refugees who were fleeing gang or domestic violence in their home countries were able to present a claim for asylum in the United States on that basis. Though such claims were not always accepted, they could at least be adjudicated.

But in June of this year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ruled that fear of gang and domestic violence would no longer be considered grounds for asylum in the U.S.

“The asylum statute does not provide redress for all misfortune,” the Attorney General wrote.

He held that violence perpetrated by non-governmental actors would no longer justify consideration of an asylum application. The decision was recounted in detail by the Congressional Research Service in a new publication. See Asylum and Related Protections for Aliens Who Fear Gang and Domestic ViolenceCRS Legal Sidebar, October 25, 2018.

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

Honduras: Background and U.S. Relations, updated October 24, 2018

Protection of Executive Branch OfficialsCRS In Focus, updated October 25, 2018

U.S. Secret Service Protection of Persons and FacilitiesCRS In Focus, October 25, 2018

Defense Primer: Personnel Tempo (PERSTEMPO)CRS In Focus, October 23, 2018

Iran and Israel: Tension Over SyriaCRS In Focus, updated October 24, 2018

U.S.-Japan RelationsCRS In Focus, updated October 23, 2018

U.S.-India Trade RelationsCRS In Focus, updated October 24, 2018

Morocco: Background and U.S. Relations, October 26, 2018

What Legal Obligations do Internet Companies Have to Prevent and Respond to a Data Breach?CRS Legal Sidebar, October 25, 2018

Arms Sales: Congressional Review, and More from CRS

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

Arms Sales: Congressional Review Process, updated October 22, 2018

Congress Considers Possible Responses to the Killing of a Saudi JournalistCRS Insight, updated October 22, 2018

The United States and the “World Court”CRS Legal Sidebar, October 17, 2018

The Global Compact on Migration (GCM) and U.S. PolicyCRS In Focus, October 16, 2018

U.S.-Japan Announce New Limited Trade NegotiationsCRS Insight, updated October 17, 2018

China’s Status as a Nonmarket Economy (NME)CRS In Focus, updated October 22, 2018

China’s Currency PolicyCRS In Focus, updated October 22, 2018

The National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC): An OverviewCRS In Focus, October 18, 2018

Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protections: In Brief, updated October 18, 2018

Democracy in Decline?

Democracy as a political system has not advanced around the world in the past decade and by some measures it has actually declined, a new report from the Congressional Research Service observes.

The obstacles are not all located abroad. Unlike its predecessors, the Trump Administration does not include democracy promotion as part of its national security strategy, CRS noted. And for the first time last year, the Economist Intelligence Unit categorized the United States as a “flawed democracy.”

See Global Trends in Democracy: Background, U.S. Policy, and Issues for Congress, October 17, 2018.

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

FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Issues, October 16, 2018

The Peace Corps: Current Issues, updated October 12, 2018

NIH Funding: FY1994-FY2019, updated October 15, 2018

Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs Funding for FY2019, CRS In Focus, updated October 15, 2018

CRS Views Trump Admin Reorganization Proposals

Last June, the White House issued a set of proposals to reform and reorganize government functions in dozens of executive branch agencies. The proposals range from cosmetic (e.g., renaming the Department of Health and Human Services) to substantial (e.g., combining the Departments of Labor and Education) with significant implications for domestic and foreign policy, as well as for national security.

A memorandum prepared by the Congressional Research Service provides brief summaries and analyses of the most important proposals, assessing their feasibility and describing the uncertainties involved. See Trump Administration Reform and Reorganization Plan: Discussion of 35 “Government-Wide” Proposals, CRS memorandum, July 25, 2018.

New and updated reports issued by the Congressional Research Service last week include the following.

Air Force B-21 Raider Long Range Strike Bomber, updated October 12, 2018

Religious Intolerence [sic] in IndonesiaCRS In Focus, October 10, 2018

Post-election Issues in Bosnia and HerzegovinaCRS Insight, October 11, 2018

Hurricane Michael: Brief Overview of FEMA Programs and ResourcesCRS Insight, updated October 11, 2018

Temporary Protected Status: Overview and Current Issues, updated October 10, 2018

Vehicle Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas StandardsCRS In Focus, updated October 11, 2018

Expiration of the 2014 Farm Bill, October 11, 2018

House Passes Bill to Amend the Federal “Crime of Violence” DefinitionCRS Legal Sidebar, October 11, 2018

Deference and its Discontents: Will the Supreme Court Overrule Chevron?CRS Legal Sidebar, October 11, 2018

DoD 30-Year Aircraft Plan Reveals New Details

The most recent Department of Defense plan for its military aviation programs is unusually “full of details on specific programs, including cancellations, life extensions, and new starts. Some are explicit; others, between the lines,” writes Jeremiah Gertler of the Congressional Research Service.

He identified the some of the novelties in a new CRS publication. See Defense’s 30-Year Aircraft Plan Reveals New Details, CRS In Focus, October 9, 2018.

Other new products from the Congressional Research Service that are not publicly available on the CRS website include the following.

Proposed U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) Trade Agreement, CRS In Focus, October 5, 2018:

Agricultural Provisions of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, CRS In Focus, October 5, 2018

Effects of U.S. Tariff Action on U.S. Aluminum Manufacturing, CRS In Focus, October 9, 2018

Venezuela: Political and Economic Crisis and U.S. Policy, CRS In Focus, updated October 9, 2018

Venezuela: Overview of U.S. Sanctions, CRS In Focus, updated October 4, 2018

Statutory Canon Aimed at International Organization Immunity, CRS Legal Sidebar, October 5, 2018

Do Courts Have Inherent Authority to Release Secret Grand Jury Materials?, CRS Legal Sidebar, October 5, 2018

The Bells of Balangiga, and More from CRS

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

Russian Compliance with the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty: Background and Issues for Congress, updated October 5, 2018

Defense Primer: The NDAA Process, CRS In Focus, updated October 3, 2018

Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards, CRS In Focus, updated October 2, 2018

Lebanon, updated October 5, 2018

Iraq: Issues in the 115th Congress, updated October 4, 2018

Argentina’s Economic Crisis, CRS In Focus, October 2, 2018

Mexico: Background and U.S. Relations, updated October 2, 2018

Spain and Its Relations with the United States: In Brief, updated October 5, 2018

Macedonia: Uncertainty after Referendum on Country’s Name, CRS Insight, October 3, 2018

Afghanistan: Legislation in the 115th Congress, October 3, 2018

U.S.-South Korea (KORUS) FTA, CRS In Focus, updated September 28, 2018:

The Return of the Bells of Balangiga to the Republic of the Philippines, in Context, CRS In Focus, October 1, 2018

Government Contractor Accountability, & More from CRS

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

Selected Legal Tools for Maintaining Government Contractor Accountability, September 26, 2018

Federalism-Based Limitations on Congressional Power: An Overview, September 27, 2018

EPA Proposes the Affordable Clean Energy Rule to Replace the Clean Power PlanCRS Legal Sidebar, September 26, 2018

EPA Proposes New Permitting Test for Power Plant ModificationsCRS Legal Sidebar, September 25, 2018

Government Contract Bid Protests: Analysis of Legal Processes and Recent Developments, updated September 26, 2018

Electronic Filing of Senate Campaign Finance ReportsCRS Insight, September 21, 2018

Global Trade ImbalancesCRS Insight, September 27, 2018

Escalating Tariffs: Potential ImpactsCRS Insight, updated September 24, 2018

Canada’s Dairy Supply Management SystemCRS Insight, updated September 27, 2018

Burma’s Political Prisoners and U.S. Policy: In Brief, updated September 24, 2018

South Sudan’s Civil War: Nearly 400,000 Estimated DeadCRS Insight, updated September 28, 2018

Overruling Constitutional Precedents

A new report from the Congressional Research Service examines how and why the U.S. Supreme Court would overturn one of its own rulings interpreting the Constitution. There are at least 141 cases where such rulings have in fact been overturned, including three in the Court’s latest term, and these are tabulated in an appendix to the report. See The Supreme Court’s Overruling of Constitutional Precedent, September 24, 2018.

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

Supreme Court October Term 2017: A Review of Selected Major Rulings, September 19, 2018

International Law and Agreements: Their Effect Upon U.S. Law, updated September 19, 2018

Intellectual Property Law: A Brief IntroductionCRS In Focus, September 19, 2018

Can a Foreign Employee of a Foreign Company be Federally Prosecuted for Foreign Bribery?CRS Legal Sidebar, September 19, 2018

Expedited Removal of Aliens: Legal Framework, September 19, 2018

WTO Disciplines on U.S. Domestic Support for AgricultureCRS In Focus, September 19, 2018

Conflict in MaliCRS In Focus, updated September 19, 2018

The Palestinians: Overview and Key Issues for U.S. PolicyCRS In Focus, updated September 18, 2018

NAFTA and the Preliminary U.S.-Mexico AgreementCRS Insight, September 19, 2018

China’s Engagement with Latin America and the CaribbeanCRS In Focus, September 18, 2018

U.S.-China RelationsCRS In Focus, updated September 18, 2018

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