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Health Benefits for Members of Congress and Designated Congressional Staff – R43194

The federal government, as an employer, offers health benefits to its employees, including Members of Congress and congressional staff. Prior to 2014, Members and staff had access to many of the same health benefits as other federal em

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African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA): Background and Reauthorization – R43173

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is a nonreciprocal trade preference program that provides duty-free treatment to U.S. imports of certain products from eligible sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. There are 49 candidate S

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Hydraulic Fracturing: Selected Legal Issues – R43152

Hydraulic fracturing is a technique used to recover oil and natural gas from underground low permeability rock formations, such as shales and other unconventional formations. Its use along with horizontal drilling has been responsible

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Funding and Financing Highways and Public Transportation – R42877

Federal surface transportation programs are currently funded primarily through taxes on motor fuels that are deposited in the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). Although there has been some modification to the tax system, the tax rates, which a

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Small Business: Access to Capital and Job Creation – R40985

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) administers several programs to support small businesses, including loan guaranty and venture capital programs to enhance small business access to capital; contracting programs to increase s

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Unfunded Mandates Reform Act: History, Impact, and Issues – R40957

The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) culminated years of effort by state and local government officials and business interests to control, if not eliminate, the imposition of unfunded intergovernmental and private-sector fed

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Access to Broadband Networks: The Net Neutrality Debate – R40616

As congressional policymakers continue to debate telecommunications reform, a major discussion point revolves around what approach should be taken to ensure unfettered access to the Internet. The move to place restrictions on the owner

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Federal Crop Insurance: Background – R40532

The federal crop insurance program began in 1938 when Congress authorized the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation. The current program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency (RMA), pr

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Country-of-Origin Labeling for Foods and the WTO Trade Dispute on Meat Labeling – RS22955

Most retail food stores are now required to inform consumers about the country of origin of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, shellfish, peanuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, ginseng, and ground and muscle cuts of beef, pork, lamb, chicken

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Navy Irregular Warfare and Counterterrorism Operations: Background and Issues for Congress – RS22373

The Navy for several years has carried out a variety of irregular warfare (IW) and counterterrorism (CT) activities. Among the most readily visible of the Navy’s recent IW operations have been those carried out by Navy sailors se

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Regular Vetoes and Pocket Vetoes: In Brief – RS22188

The veto power vested in the President by Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution has proven to be an effective tool in the executive branch’s dealings with Congress. In order for a bill to become law, the President either signs

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Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class Aircraft Carrier Program: Background and Issues for Congress – RS20643

CVN-78, CVN-79, and CVN-80 are the first three ships in the Navy’s new Gerald R. Ford (CVN- 78) class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (CVNs). The Navy’s proposed FY2016 budget requests procurement or advance procuremen

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The U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement: Background and Issues – RL34470

The U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement entered into force on May 15, 2012. It is a comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) between the United States and Colombia, which will eventually eliminate tariffs and other barriers in bila

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Arab League Boycott of Israel – RL33961

The Arab League, an umbrella organization comprising 22 Middle Eastern and African countries and entities, has maintained an official boycott of Israeli companies and Israeli-made goods since the founding of Israel in 1948. The boycott

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Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program: Background and Issues for Congress – RL33745

The Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) program, which is carried out by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Navy, gives Navy Aegis cruisers and destroyers a capability for conducting BMD operations. Under MDA and Navy plans, th

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Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)/Frigate Program: Background and Issues for Congress – RL33741

The Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)/Frigate program is a program to procure 52 LCSs and frigates. The first LCS was funded in FY2005, and a total of 23 have been funded through FY2015. The Navy’s proposed FY2016 budget re

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Financing the U.S. Trade Deficit – RL33274

The U.S. merchandise trade deficit is a part of the overall U.S. balance of payments, a summary statement of all economic transactions between the residents of the United States and the rest of the world, during a given period of time.

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U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel – RL33222

This report provides an overview of U.S. foreign assistance to Israel. It includes a review of past aid programs, data on annual assistance, and an analysis of current issues. For general information on Israel, see CRS Report RL33476,

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Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress – RL32665

The Navy’s proposed FY2016 budget requests funding for the procurement of nine new battle force ships (i.e., ships that count against the Navy’s goal for achieving and maintaining a fleet of 308 ships). The nine ships inclu

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The Federal Communications Commission: Current Structure and Its Role in the Changing Telecommunications Landscape – RL32589

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent federal agency with its five members appointed by the President, subject to confirmation by the Senate. It was established by the Communications Act of 1934 (1934 Act) and i

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Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class Attack Submarine Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress – RL32418

The Navy has been procuring Virginia (SSN-774) class nuclear-powered attack submarines since FY1998. The two Virginia-class boats requested for procurement in FY2016 are to be the 23rd and 24th boats in the class. The 10 Virginia-class

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Navy DDG-51 and DDG-1000 Destroyer Programs: Background and Issues for Congress – RL32109

The Navy has been procuring Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) class Aegis destroyers since FY1985. The two DDG-51 class ships requested for procurement in FY2016 are to be the 73rd and 74th ships in the class. The 10 DDG-51s programmed for procur

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Homelessness: Targeted Federal Programs and Recent Legislation – RL30442

The causes of homelessness and determining how best to assist those who find themselves homeless became particularly prominent, visible issues in the 1980s. The concept of homelessness may seem like a straightforward one, with individu

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The Federal Excise Tax on Motor Fuels and the Highway Trust Fund: Current Law and Legislative History – RL30304

The federal government levies an excise tax on various motor fuels. Under current law, the tax rate is 18.3 cents per gallon on gasoline and 24.3 cents per gallon on diesel fuel. A 0.1 cents per gallon tax is also levied on top of thes

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Critical Infrastructures: Background, Policy, and Implementation – RL30153

The nation’s health, wealth, and security rely on the production and distribution of certain goods and services. The array of physical assets, functions, and systems across which these goods and services move are called critical

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H.R. 6: The 21st Century Cures Act – R44071

On May 21, 2015, the House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously ordered to be reported H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act. This bill would reauthorize the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through FY2018 and provide other fundin

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Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD): FY2016 Appropriations – R44070

The House and Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) appropriations subcommittees are charged with providing annual appropriations for the Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Hou

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War Funding and the Budget Control Act: In Brief – R44067

In the FY2016 debate on the level of defense spending, Congress is considering how to stay within the spending limits, or caps, set by the Budget Control Act (BCA). Under the BCA, all defense spending for the defense base budget—

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Overview of Health Insurance Exchanges – R44065

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148, as amended) requires health insurance exchanges to be established in every state. Exchanges are marketplaces where individuals and small businesses can shop for and pur

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Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act: A Legal Analysis of the Criminal Provisions of P.L. 114-22 – R44064

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, P.L. 114-22 (S. 178), establishes and enhances a host of federal programs designed to prevent human trafficking and assist its victims. It also adjusts federal criminal law in the areas of su

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Department of Housing and Urban Development: FY2016 Appropriations – R44059

Most of the funding for the activities of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) comes from discretionary appropriations provided each year in the annual appropriations acts, typically as a part of the Transportation, HU

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Prospects for Democracy in Hong Kong: The 2017 Election Reforms – R44031

The United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 (P.L. 102-383) states, “Support for democratization is a fundamental principle of U.S. foreign policy. As such, it naturally applies to United States policy toward Hong Kong.”

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Legislative Branch: FY2016 Appropriations – R44029

The legislative branch appropriations bill provides funding for the Senate; House of Representatives; Joint Items; Capitol Police; Office of Compliance; Congressional Budget Office (CBO); Architect of the Capitol (AOC); Library

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Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers: Reauthorization Proposals in the 114th Congress, In Brief Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers: Reauthorization Proposals in the 114th Congress, In Brief – R44009

This report is designed to provide assistance in considering Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for Workers reauthorization efforts in the 114th Congress.1 It begins with background information on TAA and a summary of recent legislation

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Sex Trafficking: Proposals in the 114th Congress to Amend Federal Criminal Law – R44007

Existing federal law outlaws sex trafficking and provides a variety of mechanisms to prevent it and to assist its victims. Members have offered a number of proposals during the 114th Congress to bolster those efforts. Several clarify,

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Cybersecurity Issues for the Bulk Power System – R43989

In the United States, it is generally taken for granted that the electricity needed to power the U.S. economy is available on demand and will always be available to power our machines and devices. However, in recent years, new threats

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Net Neutrality: Selected Legal Issues Raised by the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order – R43971

In February 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted an order that will impose rules governing the management of Internet traffic as it passes over broadband Internet access services (BIAS), whether those services are

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EPA and the Army Corps’ “Waters of the United States” Rule: Congressional Response and Options – R43943

In May 27, the Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule revising regulations that define the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Discharges to waters unde

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Cuba: Issues for the 114th Congress – R43926

Cuba remains a one-party communist state with a poor record on human rights. The country’s political succession in 2006 from the long-ruling Fidel Castro to his brother Raúl was characterized by a remarkable degree of stab

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The National Institute of Standards and Technology: An Appropriations Overview – R43908

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a laboratory of the Department of Commerce, is mandated to provide technical services to facilitate the competitiveness of U.S. industry. NIST is directed to offer support to t

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Membership of the 114th Congress: A Profile – R43869

This report presents a profile of the membership of the 114th Congress (2015-2016). Statistical information is included on selected characteristics of Members, including data on party affiliation, average age, occupation, education, le

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A Shift in the International Security Environment: Potential Implications for Defense-Issues for Congress – R43838

World events since late 2013 have led some observers to conclude that the international security environment is undergoing a shift from the familiar post-Cold War era of the last 20-25 years, also sometimes known as the unipolar moment

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U.S. Grain Standards Act: Potential Reauthorization in the 114th Congress – R43803

Under the United States Grain Standards Act (USGSA) of 1916, the federal government is authorized to establish official marketing standards (not health and safety standards) for grains and oilseeds, and to provide procedures for grain

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Department of Homeland Security: FY2015 Appropriations – R43796

This report analyzes the FY2015 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). While this report makes note of many budgetary resources provided to DHS, its primary focus is on funding approved by Congress through the ap

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The Internet Tax Freedom Act: In Brief – R43772

The Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA; P.L. 105-277), enacted in 1998, implemented a three-year moratorium preventing state and local governments from taxing Internet access, or imposing multiple or discriminatory taxes on electronic comm

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Train and Equip Program for Syria: Authorities, Funding, and Issues for Congress – R43727

In 2014, Congress for the first time provided the President with authority and funds to overtly train and lethally equip vetted members of the Syrian opposition for select purposes. These purposes include supporting U.S. efforts to com

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Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (H.R. 3230; P.L. 113-146) – R43704

On August 7, 2014, the President signed the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (H.R. 3230; H.Rept. 113-564; P.L. 113-146). The Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2014 (H.R. 5404; P.L. 113-17

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The “Islamic State” Crisis and U.S. Policy – R43612

The Islamic State (IS, aka the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL/ISIS or the Arabic acronym Daesh) is a transnational Sunni Islamist insurgent and terrorist group that has seized areas of Iraq and Syria since 2013, th

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Navy TAO(X) Oiler Shipbuilding Program: Background and Issues for Congress – R43546

The TAO(X) oiler shipbuilding program is a program to build a new class of 17 fleet oilers for the Navy. The primary role of Navy fleet oilers is to transfer fuel to Navy surface ships that are operating at sea, so as to extend the ope

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Navy LX(R) Amphibious Ship Program: Background and Issues for Congress – R43543

The LX(R) program is a program to build a new class of 11 amphibious ships for the Navy. The Navy wants to procure the first LX(R) in FY2020. LX(R)s are to replace 12 aging Whidbey Island/Harpers Ferry (LSD-41/49) class amphibious ship

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