Cybersecurity Resources, and More from CRS

A compilation of online documents and databases related to cybersecurity is presented by the Congressional Research Service in Cybersecurity: Cybercrime and National Security Authoritative Reports and Resources, November 14, 2017.

Other new and updated publications from CRS include the following.

A Primer on U.S. Immigration Policy, November 14, 2017

Defense Primer: Department of Defense Maintenance Depots, CRS In Focus, November 7, 2017

Potential Effects of a U.S. NAFTA Withdrawal: Agricultural Markets, November 13, 2017

State Exports to NAFTA Countries for 2016, CRS memorandum, n.d., October 24, 2017

Membership of the 115th Congress: A Profile, updated November 13, 2017

Drought in the United States: Causes and Current Understanding, updated November 9, 2017

Impact of the Budget Control Act Discretionary Spending Caps on a Continuing Resolution, CRS Insight, November 14, 2017

Saudi Arabia: Background and U.S. Relations, updated November 14, 2017

Jordan: Background and U.S. Relations, updated November 14, 2017

The Latest Chapter in Insider Trading Law: Major Circuit Decision Expands Scope of Liability for Trading on a “Tip”, CRS Legal Sidebar, November 14, 2017

In Any Way, Shape, or Form? What Qualifies As “Any Court” under the Gun Control Act?, CRS Legal Sidebar, November 14, 2017

Generalized System of Preferences: Overview and Issues for Congress, updated November 14, 2017

Trade Promotion Authority (TPA): Frequently Asked Questions, updated November 14, 2017

The Article V Convention to Propose Constitutional Amendments: Current Developments, November 15, 2017

President’s Power to Use Nuclear Weapons, & More from CRS

The President’s authority to use nuclear weapons — which is the subject of a congressional hearing today before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — was addressed in several recent publications of the Congressional Research Service.

A new CRS Legal Sidebar addresses the unresolved question: Can Congress Limit the President’s Power to Launch Nuclear Weapons?

A detailed new CRS memorandum examines “Legislation Limiting the President’s Power to Use Nuclear Weapons: Separation of Powers Implications.”

See also Defense Primer: President’s Constitutional Authority with Regard to the Armed Forces, CRS In Focus.

The uncertain scope of presidential authority to order the use of nuclear weapons was identified as a serious policy problem in 1984 by the late Jeremy J. Stone, then-president of the Federation of American Scientists. In an article published in Foreign Policy at the time, he concluded that “presidential first use [of nuclear weapons] is unlawful.”

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

FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act, November 8, 2017

The Rohingya Crises in Bangladesh and Burma, November 8, 2017

Lebanon, updated November 9, 2017

Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations in Brief, updated November 9, 2017

El Salvador: Background and U.S. Relations, updated November 3, 2017

Guatemala: Political and Socioeconomic Conditions and U.S. Relations, updated October 17, 2017

Why is Violence Rebounding in Mexico?, CRS Insight, November 8, 2017

Comprehensive Energy Planning for Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands, CRS Insight, November 6, 2017

Resolutions of Inquiry: An Analysis of Their Use in the House, 1947-2017, updated November 9, 2017

Government Printing, Publications, and Digital Information Management: Issues and Challenges, November 8, 2017

Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, CRS Insight, November 9, 2017

Natural Disasters of 2017: Congressional Considerations Related to FEMA Assistance, CRS Insight, November 2, 2017

Refugee Admissions and Resettlement Policy, updated November 7, 2017

U.S. Circuit and District Court Nominees Who Received a Rating of “Not Qualified” from the American Bar Association: Background and Historical Analysis, CRS Insight, November 9, 2017

Consumer and Credit Reporting, Scoring, and Related Policy Issues, updated November 3, 2017

The U.S. Science and Engineering Workforce: Recent, Current, and Projected Employment, Wages, and Unemployment, updated November 2, 2017

Some “Acting” Officials Will Soon Lose Authority

Some government officials who are serving on an “acting” basis because a permanent replacement has not yet been named will lose their ability to function this month when their legal authority is nullified under the terms of the Vacancies Act.

In the Trump Administration there are hundreds of government agency positions requiring Senate confirmation that have gone unfilled. In many cases, their responsibilities have been assumed by “acting” officials.

But by law, that arrangement can only be temporary. The Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 specifies that “acting” officers can fill positions requiring confirmation for no more than 210 days. If the position is vacant at the start of a new Administration, an extension of 90 days is allowed, for a total of 300 days.

The 300 day period from Inauguration Day last January 20 will end on November 16, 2017. After that, certain acting officials will no longer be able to carry out their duties.

“If the acting officer remains in office and attempts to perform a nondelegable function or duty — one that a statute or regulation expressly assigns to that office — that action will ‘have no force or effect’,” according to a new brief from the Congressional Research Service.

See Out of Office: Vacancies, Acting Officers, and Day 301, CRS Legal Sidebar, November 1, 2017. See also The Vacancies Act: A Legal Overview, October 30, 2017.

President Trump does not appear to be concerned about the matter. Asked about high level vacancies in the State Department last week, he told Laura Ingraham of Fox that most of the government positions awaiting confirmed nominees were superfluous. “I’m the only one that matters,” he said.

Protected Status for Many Refugees Set to Expire

Updated below

US law provides temporary protected status (TPS) for certain foreign nationals in the United States who are fleeing armed conflict, natural disaster or other extreme circumstances in their native country.

But many refugees who have been granted such temporary status may soon have it revoked.

“The United States currently provides TPS to approximately 437,000 foreign nationals from 10 countries,” according to a newly updated report from the Congressional Research Service. Those countries are: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. See Temporary Protected Status: Overview and Current Issues, updated November 2, 2017.

Unless renewed, TPS for persons from Haiti, Honduras and Nicaragua will expire in January 2018. The Washington Post reported that the Department of Homeland Security is expected to announce today that the expiring protections will not be renewed.

Update: The Department of Homeland Security announced on November 6 that Temporary Protected Status for Nicaraguan refugees will be revoked effective January 5, 2019. The TPS designation for Honduras has been extended for further review until July 5, 2018.

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

El Salvador: Background and U.S. Relations, updated November 3, 2017

Clearing the Air on the Debt Limit, November 2, 2017

Public Private Partnerships (P3s) in Transportation, November 2, 2017

A Second Amendment Right to Sell Firearms? The Ninth Circuit, Sitting En Banc, Weighs In., CRS Legal Sidebar, November 2, 2017

Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress, updated November 2, 2017

The National Science Foundation: FY2018 Appropriations and Funding History, November 2, 2017

The North Korean Nuclear Challenge, & More from CRS

North Korea’s rapidly maturing nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missile programs have prompted urgent reconsideration of what to do about them.

A new report from the Congressional Research Service identifies and examines seven possible directions for US policy, none of them risk-free or altogether satisfactory:

*    maintaining the military status quo
*    enhanced containment and deterrence
*    denying DPRK acquisition of delivery systems capable of threatening the US
*    eliminating ICBM facilities and launch pads
*    eliminating DPRK nuclear facilities
*    DPRK regime change
*    withdrawing U.S. military forces

For a copy of the 67-page report (which was first reported by Bloomberg News), see The North Korean Nuclear Challenge: Military Options and Issues for Congress, October 27, 2017.

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

Niger: Frequently Asked Questions About the October 2017 Attack on U.S. Soldiers, October 27, 2017

Taiwan: Issues for Congress, October 30, 2017

Doing Business with Iran: EU-Iran Trade and Investment Relations, CRS Insight, October 25, 2017

Renegotiating NAFTA and U.S. Textile Manufacturing, October 30, 2017

The Vacancies Act: A Legal Overview, October 30, 2017

Department of Health and Human Services Halts Cost-Sharing Reduction (CSR) Payments, CRS Legal Sidebar, October 26, 2017

GAO Issues Opinions on Applicability of Congressional Review Act to Two Guidance Documents, CRS Insight, October 25, 2017

Treasury Proposes Rule That Could Deliver a “Death Sentence” to Chinese Bank, CRS Legal Sidebar, October 30, 2017

The Opioid Epidemic, & More from CRS

President Trump will declare the escalating number of drug deaths from opioids as a “public health emergency” — but not a “national emergency” — in an announcement scheduled for today.

The Congressional Research Service has issued a new report on aspects of the problem, including an overview of opioid abuse, a review of opioid supply, and a survey of federal programs that deal with the issue. See The Opioid Epidemic and Federal Efforts to Address It: Frequently Asked Questions, October 18, 2017.

On the origins of the crisis, see “The Family That Built an Empire of Pain” by Patrick Radden Keefe, The New Yorker, October 30, 2017.

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

Poverty in the United States in 2016: In Brief, October 25, 2017

EPA Proposes to Repeal the Clean Power Plan, CRS Legal Sidebar, October 25, 2017

Civilian Nuclear Waste Disposal, updated October 23, 2017

Gun Control: Silencers under the Hearing Protection Act (H.R. 3668), CRS Insight, October 16, 2017

Tracking Federal Funds: USAspending.gov and Other Data Sources, updated October 24, 2017

Human Trafficking: New Global Estimates of Forced Labor and Modern Slavery, CRS Insight, October 18, 2017

U.S. Withdrawal from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), CRS Insight, October 17, 2017

Overview of “Travel Ban” Litigation and Recent Developments, CRS Legal Sidebar, October 23, 2017

Iran Policy and the European Union, CRS Insight, updated October 18, 2017

States’ Obligations Under Additional Protocols to IAEA Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements, CRS memorandum, October 23, 2017

A Look at U.S. Arms Sales to Middle East, & More from CRS

Some restrictions on U.S. arms sales to human rights violators in the Middle East have recently been relaxed by the Trump Administration, a new report from the Congressional Research Service noted.

“In early 2016, Bahrain submitted a request to purchase a number of F-16s [from the U.S.] and to upgrade its existing aircraft in a deal worth as much as $4 billion. However, when the Obama Administration informally pre-notified the sale to Congress, it explained that the sale would not move forward unless Bahrain took steps toward improving its record on human rights. The Trump Administration dropped those conditions in March 2017, even though U.N. investigators have asserted a ‘sharp deterioration’ of human rights over the past year in Bahrain. Congress was formally notified of the sale in September 2017.”

The use of self-imposed U.S. restriction on arms sales “as a mechanism to achieve changes in [foreign] behavior has questionable effectiveness and can have unintended consequences,” said CENTCOM Commander Gen. Joseph L. Votel in Senate testimony quoted by CRS. “We should avoid using the programs as a lever of influence or denial to our own detriment.”

The new CRS report describes and analyzes arms sales to seven Middle Eastern countries.

“The United States is the single largest arms supplier to the Middle East and has been for decades. However, other major producers like Russia, France, and China are also key players in the region. Their respective strategies and goals for arms sales appear to differ in some ways,” the report said.

See Arms Sales in the Middle East: Trends and Analytical Perspectives for U.S. Policy, October 11, 2017.

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

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), updated October 11, 2017

NAFTA Renegotiation and Modernization, October 12, 2017

Defense Primer: Military Pay Raise, CRS In Focus, updated October 10, 2017

The Army’s Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Program, CRS Insight, October 10, 2017

U.S. Periods of War and Dates of Recent Conflicts, updated October 11, 2017

Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2017, updated October 12, 2017

US Global Health Spending in Dispute, & More from CRS

The Trump Administration budget request proposes a substantial cut to US spending on global health programs, as described in a new report from the Congressional Research Service. But Congress appears poised to provide at least some of the funds that the executive branch had sought to eliminate.

“The FY2018 budget request includes almost $7 billion for global health assistance, roughly 30% less than the FY2017-enacted level,” CRS noted.

“The budget request proposes halving the USAID global health budget through the elimination of funding for global health security, vulnerable children, and family planning and reproductive health. Budget reductions are also recommended for all other health programs,” including various programs to combat infectious diseases around the world.

The US is the largest contributor to international health programs. But according to the Trump budget request, “other stakeholders must do more to contribute their fair share to global health initiatives.” See U.S. Global Health Assistance: FY2001-FY2018 Request, updated October 6, 2017.

Other noteworthy new products from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

U.S. Response to Injuries of U.S. Embassy Personnel in Havana, Cuba, CRS Insight, October 6, 2017

Attack on U.S. Soldiers in Niger: Context and Issues for Congress, CRS Insight, October 5, 2017

Wildfire Suppression Spending: Background, Issues, and Legislation in the 115th Congress, October 5, 2017

Electoral College Reform: Contemporary Issues for Congress, updated October 6, 2017

Overview of Continuing Appropriations for FY2018 (P.L. 115-56), October 6, 2017

Kosovo: Background and U.S. Relations, October 6, 2017

Options to Cease Implementing the Iran Nuclear Agreement, updated October 5, 2017

Enhanced Vetting of Foreign Nationals, & More from CRS

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

President Trump’s Proclamation on Enhanced Vetting of Foreign Nationals from Designated Countries, CRS Insight, September 29, 2017

Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity in the Armed Services: Background and Issues for Congress, updated October 4, 2017

Navy Irregular Warfare and Counterterrorism Operations: Background and Issues for Congress, updated October 2, 2017

Iran: Politics, Human Rights, and U.S. Policy, updated October 3, 2017

Bahrain: Reform, Security, and U.S. Policy, updated September 29, 2017

Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2018 Budget and Appropriations, updated October 3, 2017

U.S. Role in the World: Background and Issues for Congress, updated October 3, 2017

The United Nations Human Rights Council: Issues for Congress, updated September 27, 2017

Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy, updated October 2, 2017

Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class Attack Submarine Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress, updated October 4, 2017

Navy Columbia (SSBN-826) Class Ballistic Missile Submarine Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated October 4, 2017

Navy DDG-51 and DDG-1000 Destroyer Programs: Background and Issues for Congress, updated October 3, 2017

Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated October 3, 2017

The Blue Slip Process for U.S. Circuit and District Court Nominations: Frequently Asked Questions, October 2, 2017

U.S. Farm Income Outlook for 2017, October 4, 2017

Department of the Interior Secretarial Order 3356, CRS Insight, October 4, 2017

Abortion: Judicial History and Legislative Response, updated September 29, 2017

Economic Impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, CRS Insight, October 2, 2017

Ethics Pledges and Other Executive Branch Appointee Restrictions Since 1993: Historical Perspective, Current Practices, and Options for Change, September 29, 2017

The Power to Exclude Aliens, & More from CRS

The U.S. Constitution does not mention immigration. But the Supreme Court has held that Congress has essentially complete (“plenary”) power to regulate immigration and that the executive branch has broad authority to enforce laws concerning alien entry to the US. In fact, as a new report from the Congressional Research Service explains, Congress can make laws concerning aliens that would be unconstitutional if applied to citizens.

Against this background, the Court’s temporary restriction of the Trump Administration’s power to exclude nonresident aliens abroad is “remarkable when compared with the Court’s earlier [consistently permissive] immigration jurisprudence,” CRS said.

The legal landscape upon which current immigration controversies are unfolding was described last week in Overview of the Federal Government’s Power to Exclude Aliens, September 27, 2017.

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

Privatization and the Constitution: Selected Legal Issues, September 25, 2017

Congress’s Power Over Courts: Jurisdiction Stripping and the Rule of Klein, September 26, 2017

Corporate Tax Reform: Issues for Congress, updated September 22, 2017

Potential Impacts of Uncertainty Regarding Affordable Care Act (ACA) Cost-Sharing Reduction Payments, CRS Insight, September 25, 2017

Federal Financing for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), updated September 29, 2017

Hurricanes Irma and Maria: Impact on Caribbean Countries and Foreign Territories, CRS Insight, September 28, 2017

National Flood Insurance Program Borrowing Authority, CRS Insight, September 22, 2017

The National Health Service Corps, September 27, 2017

Amtrak: Overview, September 28, 2017

Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) Mobility, Reconnaissance, and Firepower Programs, September 26, 2017

Navy Frigate (FFG[X]) Program: Background and Issues for Congress, September 28, 2017

Recent Developments in U.S. Aid to Egypt, CRS Insight, September 29, 2017