The “disruptive” character of the Trump transition is already keeping the analysts and lawyers at the Congressional Research Service busy.
One new CRS analysis responds to the question of whether the employment of Trump family members in the transition or the Administration would violate the federal law against nepotism, which generally prohibits the hiring of relatives to government jobs. The answer is not crystal clear, for several reasons explained in the new analysis. It may be that an otherwise prohibited appointment would be permitted, for example, if the appointee forgoes compensation. See The Federal Anti-Nepotism Statute: Limits on Appointing, Hiring, and Promoting Relatives, CRS Legal Sidebar, December 1, 2016.
Could President Trump simply withdraw the United States from the international Paris Agreement on climate change? Again, the answer is murky. “Historical practice would appear to suggest that, because the Paris Agreement is an executive agreement, domestic law would allow the President to unilaterally withdraw from the Agreement without approval from the legislative branch.” On the other hand, maybe not. See Can the President Withdraw from the Paris Agreement?, CRS Legal Sidebar, December 5, 2016.
Another CRS brief examines the waiver that would be needed if General (ret.) James Mattis were to serve as Secretary of Defense, a departure from the normal principle of civilian control of the military. “CRS has been able to identify [only] one instance of Congress acting to waive this provision,” namely in response to President Truman’s 1950 nomination of Gen. George C. Marshall to be Secretary of Defense. See Waiver of Statutory Qualifications Relating to Prior Military Service of the Secretary of Defense, CRS Insight, December 1, 2016.
Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.
European Union Efforts to Counter Disinformation, CRS Insight, December 1, 2016
Fidel Castro’s Death: Implications for Cuba and U.S. Policy, CRS Insight, December 2, 2016
Iran Nuclear Agreement, updated December 5, 2016
Internet Sales and State Taxes: Policy Issues, CRS Insight, December 1, 2016
Social Security Primer, updated December 5, 2016
An Introduction to Judicial Review of Federal Agency Action, December 5, 2016
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) should prioritize funding water projects for local governments that would expand the production of new housing in their service areas if given the water resources to do so.
Congress needs to amend the definition of a manufactured home to remove the phrase “on a permanent chassis.” By doing this, Congress can eliminate wasted construction materials, allow new multifamily design options under the HUD Code, and unleash competition from factory-built manufactured housing.
Satellite images show that the Navy has begun construction of a new nuclear weapons storage and handling facility at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.
The federal government should remove housing tax benefits for all landowners in cities that refuse to build housing at a necessary pace.