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EPA Regulation of Greenhouse Gases: Congressional Responses and Options – R41212

Both the Administration and Congress expect that regulation of greenhouse gases (GHGs) by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be an important issue in 2015. EPA has proposed standards to limit GHG emissions from both new and existing fossil-fueled electric power plants. The agency expects to issue final standards for these units by mid-summer of this […]

The Unemployment Trust Fund (UTF): State Insolvency and Federal Loans to States – RS22954

Although states have a great deal of autonomy in how they establish and run their unemployment insurance programs, federal law requires states to pay Unemployment Compensation (UC) benefits promptly as provided under state law. During some recessions, current taxes and reserve balances may be insufficient to cover state obligations for UC benefits. States may borrow funds from the […]

Veterans’ Benefits: Pension Benefit Programs – RS22804

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers several pension benefit programs for veterans as well as their surviving spouses and dependent children. The most current pension programs available (for those meeting the eligibility criteria on or after January 1, 1979) are the Improved Disability Pension for certain low-income veterans and the Improved Death Pension for certain low-income surviving […]

Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF): Program Overview and Issues – RS22037

In the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Amendments of 1996, Congress authorized a drinking water state revolving loan fund (DWSRF) program to help public water systems finance infrastructure projects needed to comply with federal drinking water regulations and to meet the act’s health objectives. Under this program, states receive annual capitalization grants to provide financial assistance (primarily subsidized […]

Political Transition in Tunisia – RS21666

Tunisia has taken key steps toward democracy since the “Jasmine Revolution” in 2011, and has so far avoided the violent chaos and/or authoritarian resurrection seen in other “Arab Spring” countries. Tunisians adopted a new constitution in January 2014 and held national elections between October and December 2014, marking the completion of a four-year transitional period. A secularist party, […]

Missing Adults: Background, Federal Programs, and Issues for Congress – RL34616

Adults may go missing due to personal choice, an abduction, foul play, a mental or physical disability, or a natural catastrophe, among other reasons. Although no accurate estimates exist of the number of missing adults, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that as of December 31, 2014, slightly more than 50,000 cases of missing adults (age […]

Traditional and Roth Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs): A Primer – RL34397

In response to concerns over the adequacy of retirement savings, Congress has created incentives to encourage individuals to save more for retirement through a variety of retirement plans. Some retirement plans are employer-sponsored, such as 401(k) plans, and others are established by individual employees, such as Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). 

This report describes the primary features […]

Yemen: Background and U.S. Relations – RL34170

This report provides an overview and analysis of U.S.-Yemeni relations amidst evolving political change in Yemeni leadership, ongoing U.S. counterterrorism operations against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operatives in Yemen’s hinterlands, and international efforts to bolster the country’s stability despite an array of daunting socio-economic problems. Along with determining how best to counter terrorist threats emanating […]

The Palestinians: Background and U.S. Relations – RL34074

This report covers current issues in U.S.-Palestinian relations. It also contains an overview of Palestinian society and politics and descriptions of key Palestinian individuals and groups— chiefly the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the Palestinian Authority (PA), Fatah, Hamas (a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization), and the Palestinian refugee population. The “Palestinian question” is important not only to Palestinians, Israelis, […]

Legal Services Corporation: Background and Funding – RL34016

The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is a private, nonprofit, federally funded corporation that helps provide legal assistance to low-income people in civil (i.e., noncriminal) matters. The primary responsibility of the LSC is to manage and oversee the congressionally appropriated federal funds that it distributes in the form of grants to local legal services providers, which in turn give […]

The Corporation for National and Community Service: Overview of Programs and Funding – RL33931

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is an independent federal agency that administers the programs authorized by two statutes: the National and Community Service Act of 1990 (NCSA; P.L. 101-610), as amended, and the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973 (DVSA; P.L. 93-113), as amended. NCSA and DVSA programs were substantially amended and reauthorized by the […]

Trafficking in Persons in Latin America and the Caribbean – RL33200

Trafficking in persons (TIP) for the purpose of exploitation is a lucrative criminal activity that is of major concern to the United States and the international community. According to the U.S. State Department, there may be as many as 20 million trafficking victims around the world at any given time. In recent years, the largest numbers of […]

U.S.-Mexico Economic Relations: Trends, Issues, and Implications – RL32934

During the 114th Congress, policy makers will likely maintain an interest in Mexico on issues related to cross-border trade and investment; Mexico’s economic reform measures, especially in the energy sector; the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement negotiations; NAFTA and WTO trade issues; and U.S.-Mexico border management. Congress may also take an active interest in ongoing bilateral efforts to promote […]

Community Services Block Grants (CSBG): Background and Funding – RL32872

Community Services Block Grants (CSBG) provide federal funds to states, territories, and tribes for distribution to local agencies to support a wide range of community-based activities to reduce poverty. Smaller related programs—Community Economic Development (CED), Rural Community Facilities (RCF), and Individual Development Accounts (IDAs)—also support antipoverty efforts. CSBG and some of these related activities trace their roots to […]

The Section 179 and Bonus Depreciation Expensing Allowances: Current Law and Issues for the 114th Congress – RL31852

Expensing is the most accelerated form of depreciation for tax purposes. Section 179 of the Internal Revenue Code allows a taxpayer to expense (or deduct as a current expense rather than as a capital expense) up to $25,000 of the total cost of new and used qualified depreciable assets it buys and places in service in 2015, […]

Monetary Policy and the Federal Reserve: Current Policy and Conditions – RL30354

The Federal Reserve (the Fed) defines monetary policy as its actions to influence the availability and cost of money and credit. Because the expectations of market participants play an important role in determining prices and economic growth, monetary policy can also be defined to include the directives, policies, statements, and actions of the Fed that influence future […]

How Legislation Is Brought to the House Floor: A Snapshot of Parliamentary Practice in the 113th Congress (2013-2014) – R43912

The House of Representatives has several different parliamentary procedures through which it can bring legislation to the chamber floor. Which of these will be used in a given situation depends on many factors, including the type of measure being considered, its cost, the amount of political or policy controversy surrounding it, and the degree to which Members […]

The Community Health Center Fund: In Brief – R43911

The Health Center Program, which is administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services, awards grants to outpatient health care facilities that provide care to medically underserved populations. The program’s annual funding has more than doubled between FY2002 and FY2015, increasing from $1.3 billion to $4.9 billion. This funding increase—a […]

Water Resource Issues in the 114th Congress – R43910

The 114th Congress faces many water resource development, management, and protection issues. Congressional actions shape reinvestment in aging federal infrastructure (e.g., dams, locks, and levees) and federal and nonfederal investment in new infrastructure, such as water supply augmentation, hydropower projects, navigation improvements, and efforts to restore aquatic ecosystems. These issues often arise at the regional or local levels […]

CHIP and the ACA Maintenance of Effort (MOE) Requirement: In Brief – R43909

State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a means-tested program that provides health coverage to targeted low-income children and pregnant women in families that have annual income above Medicaid eligibility levels but do not have health insurance. CHIP is jointly financed by the federal government and the states and administered by the states. The federal government sets basic […]