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

Can a President Amend Regulations by Executive Order?

Does the President have the authority to unilaterally amend the Code of Federal Regulations by executive order?

The question arises because executive order 13843 issued by President Trump on July 10 to modify the way administrative law judges are appointed also purports to directly amend three provisions of the CFR.

Ordinarily, such regulations can only be amended by a formal rulemaking procedure involving public notice and an opportunity for public comment. That was not done here.

So a new publication from the Congressional Research Service inquires into the scope of presidential authority to amend federal regulations.

The tentative CRS conclusion is that while an executive order may itself be exempt from the regular rulemaking procedures, any agency implementation of the president’s executive order that involves changes to federal regulations would still have to follow those notice and comment procedures. See Can a President Amend Regulations by Executive Order?CRS Legal Sidebar, July 18, 2018.


Federal agencies disburse more than $100 billion each year in “improper payments” — meaning payments that should not have been made, payments for goods or services that were not received, payments in the wrong amount, duplicate payments, and so on. Efforts to reduce such unjustified expenditures have not been successful. A new report from the Congressional Research Service reviews the trends, and finds that “Over the period of FY2004 through FY2017… improper payments have totaled $1.3 trillion.” See Improper Payments in High-Priority Programs: In Brief, July 16, 2018.


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

Public Disclosure of Corporate Tax ReturnsCRS Insight, July 16, 2018 (“Granting access to corporate tax returns could help to educate the public and inform policymakers by showing what corporations pay in taxes and which tax incentives they benefit from.”)

Brett M. Kavanaugh: Selected Primary MaterialCRS Legal Sidebar, July 17, 2018

The Proposed Equal Rights Amendment: Contemporary Ratification Issues, updated July 18, 2018

The Black Lung Program, the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, and the Excise Tax on Coal: Background and Policy Options, July 18, 2018

Military Commission Judges Do Not Have Unilateral Power to Punish for ContemptCRS Legal Sidebar, July 18, 2018

The Budget Control Act and the Defense Budget: Frequently Asked Questions, updated July 13, 2018

Cybersecurity: Data, Statistics, and Glossaries, updated July 16, 2018

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

Mexico’s 2018 Elections: Results and Potential ImplicationsCRS In Focus, July 17, 2018

China’s Actions in South and East China Seas: Implications for U.S. Interests–Background and Issues for Congress, updated July 17, 2018

U.S. Army’s Initial Maneuver, Short-Range Air Defense (IM-SHORAD) SystemCRS Insight, July 18, 2018

Tit-for-Tat Tariff Measures, and More from CRS

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

Tit-for-Tat Tariff Measures and U.S. Trade Policy, CRS Insight, July 11, 2018

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Incentives: A Summary of Federal Programs, updated July 11, 2018

Military Transition Assistance Program (TAP): An Overview, CRS In Focus, updated July 12, 2018

Risk and Needs Assessment in the Federal Prison System, updated July 10, 2018

Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings for a Supreme Court Nominee: Overview, CRS Insight, July 12, 2018

Justice Anthony Kennedy: His Jurisprudence and the Future of the Court, July 11, 2018

Ethics in Intelligence, and More from CRS

What is the role of ethics in intelligence and at the CIA in particular?

“Some former employees and others with experience at the agency have been critical of CIA’s ethics program as focusing too much on legal compliance in a reactive, ad hoc manner that falls short of a comprehensive approach to ethics education at the CIA,” the Congressional Research Service said in a recent discussion of the topic.

But “Others are skeptical of introducing training on morality into what is often viewed as the inherently amoral environment of covert action or clandestine foreign intelligence.” See CIA Ethics Education: Background and Perspectives, CRS In Focus, June 11, 2018.

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

United States Special Operations Command Acquisition Authorities, July 9, 2018

Defense Acquisitions: How and Where DOD Spends Its Contracting Dollars, updated July 2, 2018

Mexico: Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking Organizations, updated July 3, 2018

China-U.S. Trade Issues, updated July 6, 2018

Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress, July 6, 2018

The Army’s Modular Handgun Procurement, CRS In Focus, June 19, 2018

President Trump Nominates Judge Brett Kavanaugh: Initial Observations, CRS Legal Sidebar, July 10, 2018

Who Interprets Foreign Law in U.S. Federal Courts?, CRS Legal Sidebar, July 9, 2018

The Designation of Election Systems as Critical Infrastructure, CRS In Focus, July 6, 2018

Section 232 Investigations: Overview and Issues for Congress, July 5, 2018

The Congressional Review Act: Determining Which “Rules” Must Be Submitted to Congress, July 5, 2018

Federal Quantum Information Science: An Overview, CRS In Focus, July 2, 2018

Justice Kennedy Retires, and More from CRS

With the announcement of Justice Kennedy’s retirement from the US Supreme Court, the Congressional Research Service issued several new and updated reports on the nomination process and related issues.

Justice Kennedy Retires: Initial Considerations for Congress, CRS Legal Sidebar, January 28, 2018

President’s Selection of a Nominee for a Supreme Court Vacancy: Overview, CRS Insight, June 27, 2018

Supreme Court Nomination: CRS Products, CRS Legal Sidebar, June 29, 2018

Other noteworthy CRS products published last week include the following.

Cyber Supply Chain Risk Management: An Introduction, CRS In Focus, June 29, 2018

Global Research and Development Expenditures: Fact Sheet, updated June 27, 2018

U.S. Research and Development Funding and Performance: Fact Sheet, updated June 29, 2018

Trade Deficits and U.S. Trade Policy, June 28, 2018

Organizing Executive Branch Agencies: Who Makes the Call?, CRS Legal Sidebar, June 27, 2018

Efforts to Preserve Economic Benefits of the Iran Nuclear Deal, CRS In Focus, June 27, 2018