From the summary for Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes, and Effects (RL34680, Dec. 10, 2018):

When federal agencies and programs lack funding after the expiration of full-year or interim appropriations, the agencies and programs experience a funding gap. If funding does not resume in time to continue government operations, then, under the Antideficiency Act, an agency must cease operations, except in certain situations when law authorizes continued activity. Funding gaps are distinct from shutdowns, and the criteria that flow from the Antideficiency Act for determining which activities are affected by a shutdown are complex.

From the introduction to US Sanctions on Russia (R45415, Nov. 28, 2018):

Sanctions are considered by many to be a central element of U.S. policy to counter Russian malign behavior. Most Russia-related sanctions have been in response to Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine. In addition, the United States has imposed sanctions on Russia in response to human rights abuses, election interference and cyberattacks, weapons proliferation, illicit trade with North Korea, support to Syria, and use of a chemical weapon. The United States also employs sanctions to deter further objectionable activities. Most Members of Congress support a robust use of sanctions amid concerns about Russia’s international behavior and geostrategic intentions.

From the press release:

The Government Publishing Office (GPO) makes available a subset of enrolled bills, public and private laws, and the Statutes at Large in Beta United States Legislative Markup (USLM) XML, a format that makes documents easier to download and repurpose.

The documents available in the Beta USLM XML format include enrolled bills and public laws beginning with the 113th Congress (2013) and the Statutes at Large beginning with the 108th Congress (2003). They are available on govinfo, GPO’s one-stop site to authentic, published Government information.

H/T Gary Price, InfoDocket

govinfo is a redesign of the FDsys public website, with a focus on implementing feedback from users and improving overall search and access to electronic Federal Government information. The redesigned, mobile-friendly website incorporates innovative technologies and includes several new features for an overall enhanced user experience. GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) website will be retired and replaced with govinfo on Dec. 14, 2018. Here’s answers to frequently ask questions about the transition.

From the summary of Post-Heller Second Amendment Jurisprudence (R44618, Nov. 28, 2018):

Because Heller neither purported to define the full scope of the Second Amendment, nor suggested a standard of review for evaluating Second Amendment claims, the lower federal courts have been tasked with doing so in the Second Amendment challenges brought before them. These challenges include allegations that provisions of the Gun Control Act of 1968, as amended, as well as various state and local firearm laws (e.g., “assault weapon” bans, concealed carry regulations, firearm licensing schemes) are unconstitutional. The analyses in these cases may provide useful guideposts for Congress should it seek to enact further firearm regulations.

Who Can Serve as Acting Attorney General (LSB10217, Nov. 15, 2018) discusses the two primary arguments raised to challenge the President’s decision to name Whitaker as Acting AG: first, that the Vacancies Act does not apply because another statute, 28 U.S.C. §508, provides that the Deputy Attorney General (DAG) serves as Acting AG in the event of a vacancy and second, that the Appointments Clause prohibits Whitaker, a non-Senate-confirmed official, from serving as the head of the DOJ.

Electing the Speaker of the House of Representatives: Frequently Asked Questions (R44243, Nov. 26, 2018) briefly poses and answers several “frequently asked questions” in relation to the floor proceedings used to elect a Speaker of the House. Current practice for electing a Speaker, either at the start of a Congress or in the event of a vacancy (e.g., death or resignation), is by roll-call vote, during which Members state aloud the name of their preferred candidate. Members may vote for any individual. If no candidate receives a majority of votes cast, balloting continues; in subsequent ballots, Members may still vote for any individual. See also Speakers of the House: Elections, 1913-2017 (RL 30857, Nov. 26, 2018).

The Trump Administration released the 4th National Climate Assessment report last Friday. From the About page:

The Global Change Research Act of 1990 mandates that the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) deliver a report to Congress and the President no less than every four years that “1) integrates, evaluates, and interprets the findings of the Program…; 2) analyzes the effects of global change on the natural environment, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, human health and welfare, human social systems, and biological diversity; and 3) analyzes current trends in global change, both human-induced and natural, and projects major trends for the subsequent 25 to 100 years.”1

The Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4) fulfills that mandate in two volumes. This report, Volume II, draws on the foundational science described in Volume I, the Climate Science Special Report (CSSR).2 Volume II focuses on the human welfare, societal, and environmental elements of climate change and variability for 10 regions and 18 national topics, with particular attention paid to observed and projected risks, impacts, consideration of risk reduction, and implications under different mitigation pathways. Where possible, NCA4 Volume II provides examples of actions underway in communities across the United States to reduce the risks associated with climate change, increase resilience, and improve livelihoods.

This assessment was written to help inform decision-makers, utility and natural resource managers, public health officials, emergency planners, and other stakeholders by providing a thorough examination of the effects of climate change on the United States.

For background, see What is the National Climate Assessment and Where Did It Come From, Forbes, Nov. 26, 2018.

From the Summary of Introduction to the Legislative Process in the U.S. Congress (R42843, Nov. 15, 2018):

This report introduces the main steps through which a bill (or other item of business) may travel in the legislative process -— from introduction to committee and floor consideration to possible presidential consideration. However, the process by which a bill can become law is rarely predictable and can vary significantly from bill to bill. In fact, for many bills, the process will not follow the sequence of congressional stages that are often understood to make up the legislative process. This report presents a look at each of the common stages through which a bill may move, but complications and variations abound in practice.

From the introduction to Lame Duck Sessions of Congress Following a Majority-Changing Election: In Brief (R45402, Nov. 13, 2018):

“Lame duck” sessions of Congress take place whenever one Congress meets after its successor is elected but before the term of the current Congress ends. Their primary purpose is to complete action on legislation. They have also been used to prevent recess appointments and pocket vetoes, to consider motions of censure or impeachment, to keep Congress assembled on a standby basis, or to approve nominations (Senate only). In recent years, most lame duck sessions have focused on program authorizations, trade-related measures, appropriations, and the budget.

From the summary of Robbery, Extortion, and Bribery in One Place: A Legal Overview of the Hobbs Act (R45395, Nov. 6, 2018): “The Hobbs Act proscribes obstructing commerce by means of robbery or extortion or attempting or conspiring to do so. The Act applies to individuals and legal entities alike. It permits prosecutions, although the impact on commerce may be minimal. It condemns the robbery -— knowingly taking the property of another by force or threat -— of drug dealers, mom-and-pop markets, and multinational corporations.”

President Donald Trump on Friday invoked extraordinary national security powers to deny asylum to migrants who enter the country illegally, tightening the border as caravans of Central Americans slowly approach the United States. Trump is using the same powers he used to push through a version of the travel ban that was upheld by the Supreme Court. The proclamation puts into place regulations adopted Thursday that circumvent laws stating that anyone is eligible for asylum no matter how he or she enters the country. Here’s the text of Presidential Proclamation Addressing Mass Migration Through the Southern Border of the United States (Nov. 9, 2018).

From the summary of The Posse Comitatus Act and Related Matters: The Use of the Military to Execute Civilian Law (R42659, Nov. 6, 2018):

The Posse Comitatus Act outlaws the willful use of any part of the Army or Air Force to execute the law unless expressly authorized by the Constitution or an act of Congress. History supplies the grist for an argument that the Constitution prohibits military involvement in civilian affairs subject to only limited alterations by Congress or the President, but the courts do not appear to have ever accepted the argument unless violation of more explicit constitutional command could also be shown. The express statutory exceptions include the legislation that allows the President to use military force to suppress insurrection or to enforce federal authority, 10 U.S.C. Sections 251-255, and laws that permit the Department of Defense to provide federal, state and local police with information, equipment, and personnel, 10 U.S.C. §§ 271-284.

From the Summary for Iran Sanctions (RS20891, Oct. 29, 2018:

On May 8, 2018, President Trump announced that the United States would no longer participate in the JCPOA and that all U.S. econdary sanctions suspended to implement the JCPOA would be reimposed after a “wind-down period” of 180 days (ending November
4, 2018). Some of the sanctions, but not on energy or banking transactions, went back into effect after a 90-day wind-down period (August 6). The Administration has indicated it will not support requests by foreign governments or companies for exemptions to
these sanctions.

From the Summary for Deeming Resolutions: Budget Enforcement in the Absence of a Budget Resolution (R44296, Oct. 29, 2018):

In the absence of agreement on a budget resolution, Congress may employ alternative legislative tools to serve as a substitute for a budget resolution. These substitutes are typically referred to as “deeming resolutions,” because they are deemed to serve in place of an annual budget resolution for the purposes of establishing enforceable budget levels for the upcoming fiscal year.

While referred to as deeming resolutions, such mechanisms are not formally defined and have no specifically prescribed content. Instead, they simply represent the House and Senate, often separately, engaging legislative procedures to deal with enforcement issues on an ad hoc basis. As described below, the mechanisms can vary significantly in content and timing. This report covers the use of deeming resolutions pertaining to fiscal years for which the House and Senate did not agree on a budget resolution.

From the summary of US Role in the World: Background and Issues for Congress (R44891, Oct. 26, 2018):

Some observers perceive that after remaining generally stable for a period of about 70 years, the U.S. role in the world — meaning the overall character, purpose, or direction of U.S. participation in international affairs and the country’s overall relationship to the rest of the world — is undergoing a potentially historic change. A change in the U.S. role in the world could have significant and even profound effects on U.S. security, freedom, and prosperity. It could significantly affect U.S. policy in areas such as relations with allies and other countries, defense plans and programs, trade and international finance, foreign assistance, and human rights.

From the introduction to Global Trends in Democracy: Background, U.S. Policy, and Issues for Congress (R35344, Oct. 17, 2018): “Widespread concerns exist among analysts and policymakers over the current trajectory of democracy around the world. Congress has often played an important role in supporting and institutionalizing U.S. democracy promotion, and current developments may have implications for U.S. policy, which for decades has broadly reflected the view that the spread of democracy around the world is favorable to U.S. interests.”

Policy and Legislative Research for Congressional Staff: Finding Documents, Analysis, News, and Training (R43434, Mar. 28, 2018)  “is intended to serve as a finding aid for congressional documents, executive branch documents and information, news articles, policy analysis, contacts, and training, for use in policy and legislative research. … This report is not intended to be a definitive list of all resources, but rather a guide to pertinent subscriptions available in the House and Senate in addition to select resources freely available to the public. This report is intended for use by congressional staff and will be updated as needed.”