Category Archives: Gov Docs

Federal public health and safety policy implications for public mass shootings

From the CRS report Public Mass Shootings in the United States: Selected Implications for Federal Public Health and Safety Policy (April 16, 2013, R43004):

This report focuses on mass shootings and selected implications they have for federal policy in the areas of public health and safety. While such crimes most directly impact particular citizens in very specific communities, addressing these violent episodes involves officials at all levels of government and professionals from numerous disciplines.

— Joe

CRS on the federal government’s obligation to include countervailing information in FISA applications

From the CRS Legal Sidebar, HPSCI Memorandum Sparks Debate over FISA Application Requirements (February 14, 2018 LSB10076):

A central factual question that appears to be disputed by the competing memoranda [the declassifed Nunes memo and the still classified Schiff memo] is the degree to which information potentially undermining the FISA application’s reliability was omitted from the application. Although CRS is not in a position to answer that factual question, this Sidebar endeavors to explain the legal requirements regarding the government’s obligation to include countervailing information in FISA applications.

— Joe

Bibliography of CRS reports on mass shootings

CRS produces several reports on issues relevant to mass shootings such as yesterday’s Florida school shooting. These issues include mass murder with firearms, firearms regulation, domestic terrorism, and hate crime. For a list, see Mass Shootings and Terrorism: CRS Products (June 24, 2016 R44520). — Joe

CRS report: U.S. Family-Based Immigration Policy

From the overview of U.S. Family-Based Immigration Policy (Feb. 9, 2018 R43145):

Family reunification has historically been a key principle underlying U.S. immigration policy. It is embodied in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which specifies numerical limits for five family-based immigration categories, as well as a per-country limit on total family-based immigration. The five categories include immediate relatives (spouses, minor unmarried children, and parents) of U.S. citizens and four other family-based categories that vary according to individual characteristics such as the legal status of the petitioning U.S.-based relative, and the age, family relationship, and marital status of the prospective immigrant.

Those who favor expanding family-based immigration by increasing the annual numeric limits point to the visa queue of approved prospective immigrants who must wait years separated from their U.S.-based family members until they receive a visa. Others question whether the United States has an obligation to reconstitute families of immigrants beyond their nuclear families and favor reducing permanent immigration by eliminating certain family-based preference categories. Arguments favoring restricting certain categories of family-based immigration reiterate earlier recommendations made by congressionally mandated immigration reform commissions.

— Joe

CRS report: Resolutions to Censure the President: Procedure and History

From the introduction to Resolutions to Censure the President: Procedure and History (Feb. 1, 2018 R45087):

Censure is a reprimand adopted by one or both chambers of Congress against a Member of Congress, President, federal judge, or other government official. While Member censure is a disciplinary measure that is sanctioned by the Constitution (Article 1, Section 5), non-Member censure is not. Rather, it is a formal expression or “sense of” one or both houses of Congress. As such, censure resolutions targeting non-Members use a variety of statements to highlight conduct deemed by the resolutions’ sponsors to be inappropriate or unauthorized.

Resolutions that attempt to censure the President for abuse of power, ethics violations, or other behavior, are usually simple resolutions. These resolutions are not privileged for consideration in the House or Senate. They are, instead, considered under the regular parliamentary mechanisms used to process “sense of” legislation.

H/T to beSpacific. For links to additional CRS reports on this topic, see the LLB post. — Joe

CRS report: The Federal Grand Jury

From the introduction to The Federal Grand Jury (May 7, 2015 95-1135):

The federal grand jury exists to investigate crimes against the United States and to secure the constitutional right of grand jury indictment. Its responsibilities require broad powers.

As an arm of the U.S. District Court which summons it, upon whose process it relies, and which will receive any indictments it returns, the grand jury’s subject matter and geographical jurisdiction is that of the court to which it is attached.

As a general rule, the law is entitled to everyone’s evidence. Witnesses subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury, therefore, will find little to excuse their appearance. Once before the panel, however, they are entitled to benefit of various constitutional, common law and statutory privileges including the right to withhold self-incriminating testimony and the security of confidentiality of their attorney-client communications. They are not, however, entitled to have an attorney with them in the grand jury room when they testify.

The grand jury conducts its business in secret. Those who attend its sessions other than witnesses may disclose its secrets only when the interests of justice permit.

Unless the independence of the grand jury is overborne, irregularities in the grand jury process ordinarily will not result in dismissal of an indictment, particularly where dismissal is sought after conviction.

The concurrence of the attorney for the government is required for the trial of any indictment voted by the grand jury. In the absence of such an endorsement or when a panel seeks to report, the court enjoys narrowly exercised discretion to dictate expungement or permit distribution of the report.

— Joe

CRS report: Temporary Protected Status: Overview and Current Issues

Here’s the abstract for the CRS report Temporary Protected Status: Overview and Current Issues (Jan. 17, 2018 RS20844):

When civil unrest, violence, or natural disasters erupt in countries around the world, concerns arise over the ability of foreign nationals in the United States from those countries to safely return. Provisions exist in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to offer temporary protected status (TPS) and other forms of relief from removal under specified circumstances. The Secretary of Homeland Security has the discretion to issue TPS for periods of 6 to 18 months and can extend these periods if conditions leading to TPS designation do not change. Congress has also provided TPS legislatively. A foreign national who is granted TPS receives a registration document and employment authorization for the duration of a given TPS designation.

The United States currently provides TPS to approximately 437,000 foreign nationals from 10 countries: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. TPS for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone expired in May 2017, but certain Liberians maintain relief under an administrative mechanism known as Deferred Enforced Departure (DED). Since September 2017, the Secretary of Homeland Security has announced plans to terminate TPS for four countries—El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan—and extend TPS for South Sudan. No decision about Honduras was made by the statutory deadline in November 2017, thus automatically extending that country’s designation for six months.

There is ongoing debate about whether migrants who have been living in the United States for long periods of time with TPS should receive a pathway to legal permanent resident (LPR) status. In addition, Venezuela’s political and economic strife have prompted some U.S. lawmakers to call for its designation for TPS.

— Joe

CRS report: Congressional Budget Resolutions: Historical Information

From the summary of Congressional Budget Resolutions: Historical Information (Nov. 16, 2015 RL30297):

The Congressional Budget Act of 1974 (Titles I-IX of P.L. 93-344, as amended; 2 U.S.C. 601-688) provides for the annual adoption of a concurrent resolution on the budget each year. The congressional budget resolution represents a budget plan for the upcoming fiscal year and at least the following four fiscal years. As a concurrent resolution, it is not presented to the President for his signature and thus does not become law. Instead, when adopted by Congress, the budget resolution serves as an agreement between the House and Senate on a congressional budget plan. As such, it provides the framework for subsequent legislative action on budget matters during each congressional session.

— Joe

Guide to online presidential resources

From the introduction to Lisa DeLuca’s Presidential research resources: A guide to online information, College & Research Libraries News, v. 79, n. 2, p. 93, Feb. 2018:

This article highlights the breadth of freely available digital collections of presidential documents. These repositories are excellent resources for presidential, political science, history, and foreign relations research. From the resources listed in this article, librarians can choose multiple starting points for student and faculty research inquiries for primary and secondary sources that include handwritten documents by the founding fathers, interview transcriptions, digitized documents, and photographs, to name a few. This article does not contain public opinion, election, or media content sources, which are an important component of presidential research.

H/T to beSpacific. — Joe

CRS report on the debt limit

From the introduction of The Debt Limit Since 2011 (Jan. 19, 2018 R43389):

On September 6, 2017, an agreement on the debt limit and a continuing resolution was announced between President Trump and congressional leaders. Two days later a measure (P.L. 115-56) was enacted to implement that agreement, which included a suspension of the debt limit through December 8, 2017. Once that suspension lapsed, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin invoked authorities to employ extraordinary measures. One recent estimate suggests those would last until sometime in early March and another indicated the critical date could fall between late February and late March 2018. Secretary Mnuchin reportedly asked some congressional leaders to act on the debt limit before the end of February 2018.

— Joe

CRS chart book of US immigration trends

U.S. Immigration Policy: Chart Book of Key Trends (R42988 March 14, 2016) is a chart book of selected immigration trends. Key immigration issues that Congress has considered in recent years include increased border security and immigration enforcement, expanded employment eligibility verification, reforms to the system for legal temporary and permanent immigration, and options to address the millions of unauthorized aliens residing in the country. The report offers snapshots of time series data, using the most complete and consistent time series currently available for each statistic. The key findings and elements germane to the data depicted are summarized with the figures. The summary offers the highlights of key immigration trends.

CRS report on the debt limit

From the CRS report, The Debt Limit Since 2011 (Jan. 19, 2018 R43389): “On September 6, 2017, an agreement on the debt limit and a continuing resolution was announced between President Trump and congressional leaders. Two days later a measure (P.L. 115-56) was enacted to implement that agreement, which included a suspension of the debt limit through December 8, 2017. Once that suspension lapsed, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin invoked authorities to employ extraordinary measures. One recent estimate suggests those would last until sometime in early March and another indicated the critical date could fall between late February and late March 2018. Secretary Mnuchin reportedly asked some congressional leaders to act on the debt limit before the end of February 2018.” — Joe

Membership profile of the 115th Congress

Membership of the 115th Congress: A Profile (CRS R44762 Jan. 17, 2018) “presents a profile of the membership of the 115th Congress (2017-2018) as of January 3, 2018. Statistical information is included on selected characteristics of Members, including data on party affiliation, average age, occupation, education, length of congressional service, religious affiliation, gender, ethnicity, foreign births, and military service.” — Joe

CRS FAQ on the State of the Union Address

History, Evolution, and Practices of the President’s State of the Union Address: Frequently Asked Questions (Jan. 12, 2018 R44770): The State of the Union address is a communication from the President to Congress in which the chief executive reports on the current condition of the United States and provides policy proposals for the upcoming legislative year. The address originates in the Constitution (Article II, Section 3, clause 1), which requires that the President “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” — Joe

House Intel Committee releases Glenn Simpson transcript

Simpson is the co-founder of the opposition research firm Fusion GPC, the firm associated with the Steele dossier. Here’s the text. Recommended. — Joe

Censuring the President: Selected CRS reports

Censure of the President by the Congress (December 8, 1998 98-843): “Exploring a possible compromise between an impeachment and taking no congressional action, certain Members of Congress and congressional commentators have suggested a congressional “censure” of the President to express the Congress’ disapproval of the President’s conduct which has been the subject of an ongoing independent counsel investigation. This report provides an overview and discussion of the legal basis and congressional precedents regarding a congressional “censure” of the President.”

Congressional Consideration of Resolutions to “Censure” Executive Branch Officials (September 14, 2017 IN10774): “Over the history of the federal Congress, Members have proposed resolutions to formally express the House or Senate’s censure, disapproval, loss of confidence, or condemnation of the President or other executive branch official or their actions. This Insight summarizes the parliamentary procedures the House and Senate might use to consider a resolution to censure or condemn an executive branch official and provides links to additional reading material on the subject.

Two Types of “Censure” Resolutions

An important distinction should be made between two types of “censure” resolutions: (1) resolutions expressing the sense of the House or Senate that the behavior or actions of an executive branch official should be condemned or censured and (2) resolutions that censure a Member of Congress for “disorderly behavior,” including ethical violations.

Resolutions that censure officials of the executive branch for abuse of power or inappropriate behavior, including ethical violations, are usually simple resolutions of the House or Senate. Such resolutions, however, are distinct in an important way from the simple resolutions by which either chamber may censure one of its own Members, even though the reasons for censure may be similar. Article I, Section 5, of the Constitution grants each chamber the power to discipline its own members, and resolutions censuring a Senator or Representative are based on this power. Resolutions censuring an official of another branch, on the other hand, are merely expressions of the sense of the House or the Senate about the conduct of an individual over whom Congress has no disciplinary authority (except through impeachment). Consequently, both houses treat these two types of “censure” resolutions very differently in a parliamentary sense. Resolutions of either type, however, have been rare.”

Also, Resolutions Censuring the President: History and Context, 1st-114th Congresses (September 14, 2017 IN10775). — Joe

CRS report: Introduction to the Legislative Process in the U.S. Congress

Introduction to the Legislative Process in the U.S. Congress ( Jan. 10, 2018 R42843) “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.” — Joe

AG Sessions renews war on weed

From the press release: “The Department of Justice today issued a memo on federal marijuana enforcement policy announcing a return to the rule of law and the rescission of previous guidance documents.” Here’s the text of AG Sessions’ Jan. 4, 2017 marijuana enforcement memorandum to all U.S. attorneys.

For commentary and analysis of this development, see this Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform post by OSU Law Prof Douglas Berman. — Joe

Trump’s ‘National Security Strategy’ released; based on Trump speeches says White House

The New York Times reports that “the strategy … is the first comprehensive effort by his administration to describe an all-encompassing strategic worldview. Administration officials said it was drawn from speeches Mr. Trump had delivered during the presidential campaign, in Europe and Asia and at the United Nations.”

Here’s the text: National Security Strategy (Dec. 18, 2017). — Joe

How effective are resolutions of inquiry as a parliamentary oversight tool in the House?

From the CRS report, Resolutions of Inquiry: An Analysis of Their Use in the House, 1947-2017 (Nov. 9, 2017 R40879):

A resolution of inquiry is a simple resolution making a direct request or demand of the President or the head of an executive department to furnish the House with specific factual information in the Administration’s possession. Under the rules and precedents of the House of Representatives, such resolutions, if properly drafted, are given a privileged parliamentary status. This means that, under certain circumstances, a resolution of inquiry can be brought to the House floor for consideration even if the committee to which it was referred has not reported it and the majority party leadership has not scheduled it for action.

Although Representatives of both political parties have utilized resolutions of inquiry, in recent Congresses, such resolutions have overwhelmingly become a tool of the minority party in the House. This development has led some to question whether resolutions of inquiry are being used primarily for partisan gain or are unduly increasing the workload of certain House committees. Others have attributed the increase to a frustration among minority party Members over their inability to readily obtain information from the executive branch.

Available data suggest that 28% of the time, a resolution of inquiry has resulted in the production of information to the House. In half of the cases examined here, however, it is simply unknown, unclear, or in dispute whether the resolution of inquiry produced any of the requested information, a fact which might suggest the need for additional investigation of the efficacy of this parliamentary oversight tool by policymakers.

— Joe