The Congressional Research Service (CRS), known as Congress's think tank, is a public policy research arm of the United States Congress. As a legislative branch agency within the Library of Congress, CRS works primarily and directly for Members of Congress, their Committees and staff on a confidential, nonpartisan basis.
Its staff of approximately 600 employees includes lawyers, economists, reference librarians, and social, natural, and physical scientists. In fiscal year 2016, CRS was appropriated a budget of roughly $106.9 million by Congress.
CRS is joined by two major congressional support agencies. The Congressional Budget Office provides Congress with budget-related information, reports on fiscal, budgetary, and programmatic issues, and analyses of budget policy options, costs, and effects. The Government Accountability Office assists Congress in reviewing and monitoring the activities of government by conducting independent audits, investigations, and evaluations of federal programs. Collectively, the three agencies employ more than 4,000 people.
|Congressional Research Service|
|Formed||July 16, 1914|
|Headquarters||Washington, D.C., U.S.|
|Annual budget||$106.8 million (2012)|
In 1914, Senator Robert La Follette Sr. and Representative John M. Nelson, both of Wisconsin, promoted the inclusion in the legislative, executive, and judicial appropriations act of a provision directing the establishment of a special reference unit within the Library of Congress. Building upon a concept developed by the New York State Library in 1890, and the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Library in 1901, they were motivated by Progressive era ideas about the importance of the acquisition of knowledge for an informed and independent legislature. The move also reflected the expanding role of the librarian and the professionalization of the profession. The new department was charged with responding to congressional requests for information. The legislation authorized the Librarian of Congress, Herbert Putnam, to “employ competent persons to prepare such indexes, digests, and compilations of laws as may be required for Congress and other official use...” (The intent behind the creation of the agency can be derived from U.S. Senate, Committee on the Library, Legislative Drafting Bureau and Reference Division, 62d Cong., 3d sess., 1913, S. Rept.1271.)
Renamed the Legislative Reference Service and given a permanent authorization with the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946, it assisted Congress primarily by providing facts and publications and by transmitting research and analysis done largely by other government agencies, private organizations, and individual scholars.
The Library of Congress, the home of CRS, had experimented during the 1940s with unrestricted publication Public Affairs Bulletins, which were produced by staff of the Legislative Reference Service, and devoted to various public policy issues. They were promoted by Archibald MacLeish, the Librarian of Congress, and, among other topics, addressed timely policy issues, such as American national defense. About 100 Public Affairs Bulletins were generated before congressional appropriators ended their production in 1951.
The renaming under the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 reflected the service's changing mission: This legislation directed CRS to devote more of its efforts and increased resources to doing research and analysis that assists Congress in direct support of the legislative process.
When the Congressional Research Service Review was launched in 1980, it continued for a little more than a decade before congressional appropriators, once again, invoked fiscal closure. The Review, which was published ten times a year and available to the public by subscription, offered original analytical articles, summaries highlighting CRS research products, and other kinds of assistance to the congressional community.
As inquiries increased from 400,000 questions per year in 1980 to 598,000 in 2000, CRS sought to prepare itself for future challenges, initiating an organizational realignment in 1999. The realignment, which has required extensive relocation of staff and the design of more efficient workstations, was intended to promote improved communication within CRS and increase the service's ability to focus on legislative deliberations of Congress by applying its multidisciplinary expertise to public policy issues in user-friendly, accessible formats when Congress needs assistance.
CRS offers Congress research and analysis on all current and emerging issues of national policy. CRS offers timely and confidential assistance to all Members and committees that request it, limited only by CRS’s resources and the requirements for balance, nonpartisanship and accuracy.
CRS makes no legislative or other policy recommendations to Congress; its responsibility is to ensure that Members of the House and Senate have available the best possible information and analysis on which to base the policy decisions the American people have elected them to make. In all its work, CRS analysts are governed by requirements for confidentiality, timeliness, accuracy, objectivity, balance, and nonpartisanship.
CRS services are not limited to those that relate directly to enacting new laws. For example, CRS attempts to assess emerging issues and developing problems so that it will be prepared to assist the Congress if and when it becomes necessary. Although it rarely conducts field research, CRS assists committees in other aspects of their study and oversight responsibilities. In addition, it offers numerous courses, including legal research seminars and institutes on the legislative process, the budget processes, and the work of district and state staff. At the beginning of each Congress, CRS also provides an orientation seminar for new Members.
CRS does not conduct research on sitting Members or living former Members of Congress, unless granted specific permission by that Member or if that Member is nominated by the President for another office.
CRS is now divided into six interdisciplinary research divisions, each of which is further divided into subject specialist sections. The six divisions are: American Law; Domestic Social Policy; Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade; Government and Finance; Knowledge Services; and Resources, Science and Industry.
The six research divisions are supported in their work by five “infrastructure” offices: Finance and Administration, Information Management and Technology, Counselor to the Director, Congressional Information and Publishing, and Workforce Management and Development.
Responses to Congressional requests take the form of reports, memoranda, customized briefings, seminars, videotaped presentations, information obtained from automated databases, and consultations in person and by telephone.
CRS "supports the Members, committees, and leaders of the House and Senate at all stages of the legislative process":
At the preliminary stage, members may ask CRS to provide background information and analysis on issues and events so they can better understand the existing situation and then assess whether there is a problem requiring a legislative remedy. This assistance may be a summary and explanation of the scientific evidence on a technically complex matter, for example, or it may be a collection of newspaper and journal articles discussing an issue from different perspectives, or a comparative analysis of several explanations that have been offered to account for a generally recognized problem. CRS also identifies national and international experts with whom Members and staff may consult about whatever issues concern them and sponsors programs at which Members meet with experts to discuss issues of broad interest to Congress.
If a Member decides to introduce a bill, CRS analysts can assist the legislator in clarifying the purposes of the bill, identifying issues it may address, defining alternative ways for dealing with them, evaluating the possible advantages and disadvantages of each alternative, developing information and arguments to support the bill, and anticipating possible criticisms of the bill and responses to them. Although CRS does not draft bills, resolutions, and amendments, its analysts may join staff consulting with the professional draftsman within each chamber’s Office of the Legislative Counsel as they translate the Member’s policy decisions into formal legislative language. Members and committees also can request CRS to help them assess and compare legislative proposals, including competing bills introduced by Members and proposals presented by executive branch officials, private citizens and organizations. CRS can assess the intent, scope, and limits, of the various proposals.
The report goes on:
During committee and floor consideration, CRS can assist Representatives and Senators in several different ways, in addition to providing background information to assist Members in understanding the issues a bill addresses. CRS attorneys can help clarify legal effects the bill may have. CRS policy analysts can work with Members in deciding whether to propose amendments and then in making certain that their amendments are designed and phrased to achieve the desired results. CRS also can help Members prepare for the debate by providing data and other information that they can use to support the positions they have decided to take.
CRS also performs several functions that support Congressional and public understanding of the legislative process and other issues.
Current Members of Congress and their offices may access the CRS website (www.crs.gov) and CRS's Legislative Information Service (LIS) website (www.congress.gov). The two sites are the most comprehensive and integrated sources of information regarding workings of the federal government, and are arguably the best sources of information regarding the legislative process of the United States.
These sites provide all information necessary to become informed about any aspect of government. They also have the information needed to keep up-to-the-minute on most legislation including information from past bills similar to the current legislation; historical information about the legislation; biographical data about the Members who introduced it; the ability to track the legislation as it moves through committee hearings to the Floor; and links to information about the legislation in the Congressional Record, Floor and committee schedule information, and the Federal Register.
Neither of these websites is available to the public. In order to prevent public access to the websites, CRS has erected an elaborate firewall to keep the public out. Taxpayers are only allowed access to THOMAS (thomas.loc.gov). In fact, when the public tries to access the LIS, they are automatically forwarded to THOMAS without warning.
www.crs.gov. The CRS website provides CRS publications on current legislative issues, electronic briefing books, information on the legislative and budget processes, a searchable database of all CRS products, and other information about Congressional procedures and activities.
www.congress.gov. The LIS website is specifically designed to track legislation and legislative activity. According to the CRS, "The LIS ... provides bill summary and status, full text of legislation and public laws, full text of committee reports, hearings, and other documents, and the Congressional Record for the current and earlier Congresses. The system also gives (and is searchable by) committee, sponsorship, and cosponsorship; identification of identical bills; and other information." The LIS varies substantially from the system which is available to the public at the Library of Congress' THOMAS website (thomas.loc.gov). In fact, CRS has a special page detailing the enhanced capabilities of the restricted LIS website over the public THOMAS website.
The following is CRS's comparison of the LIS (www.congress.gov) with THOMAS (thomas.loc.gov):
|Service||Legislative Information System||Thomas|
|Who Can Use It||Available to the public. (Previously only available to Congress, including state and district offices, and legislative support agencies. Some features listed below may no longer be available.)||Available to the public.|
|Best Used For||Finding the most complete legislative information for congressional staff or for a Member; obtaining information, using databases, and linking to pages that are not available to the public on THOMAS. Should not be used for making links from Member or committee home page (since the public cannot access LIS).||Working with constituents; making links from Member or committee home pages; making printouts that are to be sent to constituents.|
|Commercial Databases||Links to databases that have been licensed for use by House and Senate staff, such as National Journal and the AP Newswire. Links from the status of a bill to National Journal markups.||No links to commercial databases.|
|CRS Reports||Links from Bill Summary & Status display to CRS reports related to a bill. Ability to search all CRS reports via the CRS Home Page; these products can be searched, displayed, and printed.||No CRS reports are available to the public.|
|Restricted links||Links to restricted Capitol Hill Web sites such as the House Intranet, Senate Webster, and Senate amendment tracking system.||No links to restricted Capitol Hill Web sites.|
|Floor & Committee Schedule Information||Links to Capitol Hill and outside sources of floor and committee schedule information, selected to be of most use to congressional staff.||Minimal links to floor and committee schedule information.|
|Advanced search capabilities||Special advanced search capabilities, providing Boolean searching (and, or, not), word proximity searching (quotes to indicate phrases, adj/l, near/l), and other features.||Only basic search capabilities.|
|Saved searches and email alerts||The ability to save searches and to request daily email alerts of new items added to databases that meet the search criteria.||No ability to save searches or request email alerts.|
Document types include CRS Reports, appropriations Reports (usually released as a Long Report), and Congressional distribution memoranda.
The most commonly requested CRS product is the general congressional distribution reports, known as "CRS Reports". The purpose of a report is to clearly define the issue in the legislative context. The types of CRS reports include Issue Briefs (IB), Research Memos (RM), and Reports, which appear in both Short (RS) and Long (RL) formats.
Over 700 new CRS reports are produced each year and made available to Congressionals at www.crs.gov. 566 new products were prepared in Fiscal Year 2011. Nearly 7,800 are in existence as of the end of 2011.
Other than a passing generic reference to "reports" in its statutory charter, CRS has no mandate for these products. They are created in the context of the overall mission of CRS to provide research support to Congress.
The reports may take many forms, including policy analysis, economic studies, statistical reviews, and legal analyses.
The CRS has written: "CRS may incorporate preexisting material in its written responses to congressional requests. Although such material is often from public domain sources, in certain instances the material, appropriately credited, may be from copyrighted sources. To the extent that the material is copyrighted, CRS either: obtains permission for the use; [Footnote: Although CRS obtains permission to reproduce certain copyrighted works, the permissions are generally based on legislative use and the expectation that dissemination is limited to Members of Congress.] considers its information-gathering function protected by the speech or debate clause; or believes that the use falls under the 'fair use' doctrine of the Copyright Act as applied in the context of the legislative process."
Prior to September 2018 CRS products were only made directly available to members of Congress, Congressional committees, and CRS's sister agencies (CBO and GAO) through the internal CRS Web system. As of September 18th 2018 the official US government website crsreports.congress.gov.
In United States federal agriculture legislation, the Agricultural Credit Act of 1987 (Pub.L. 100–233, 101 Stat. 1568, enacted January 6, 1988) was enacted in response to the severe financial crisis of the early- to mid-1980s, which affected both farmers and their lending institutions.
The Act authorized a $4 billion financial assistance package for financially vulnerable institutions of the Farm Credit System (FCS), protected the full value of FCS borrower stock when retired, established a permanent insurance mechanism to ensure the repayment of funds borrowed by the FCS for lending purposes, required the FCS and USDA’s Farmers Home Administration (now, the Farm Service Agency) to restructure severely delinquent farm loans that met certain criteria, mandated FCS consolidation, and established a secondary market for farm real estate loans, including creation of the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation (Farmer Mac).Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937
The Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 provides authority for federal marketing orders, and also reaffirmed the marketing agreements provisions of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933.
Under the authority of this permanent law and subsequent amendments, marketing orders have been established for milk as well as numerous fruits, vegetables, and specialty crops.
The Agricultural Marketing Agreement of 1937 created the Raisin Administrative Committee, which was the subject of the 2013 and 2015 Supreme Court case Horne v. Department of Agriculture.Agriculture Risk Protection Act of 2000
The Agriculture Risk Protection Act of 2000 (Pub.L. 106–224) made major revisions to the United States' federal crop insurance program and provided emergency agricultural assistance. The crop insurance provisions significantly increased the program's government subsidy; improved coverage for farmers affected by multiple years of natural disasters; and authorized pilot insurance programs for livestock farmers and growers of other farm commodities that were not served by crop insurance, among many other provisions. The emergency provisions made available a total of $7.14 billion in emergency farm assistance, mostly in direct payments (called market loss payments) to growers of various commodities to compensate for low farm commodity prices.Amendments to the National Wool Act
The Amendments to the National Wool Act Pub. L. 103-130 (selected provisions), 107 Stat. 1368-1369 (1993), signed into law November 1, 1993, phased out wool and mohair price supports at the end of 1995.Congressional Research Service reports
Reports by the Congressional Research Service, usually referred to as CRS Reports, are the encyclopedic research reports written to clearly define issues in a legislative context. Over 700 new CRS reports are produced each year; almost 4,000 exist. The types of CRS reports include Issue Briefs (IB), Research Memos (RM), and Reports, which appear in both Short (RS) and Long (RL) formats.Farm Service Agency
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) is the United States Department of Agriculture agency into which were merged several predecessor agencies, including the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS). The ASCS was, as the FSA is now, primarily tasked with the implementation of farm conservation and regulation laws around the country. The Administrator of FSA reports to the Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services. The current Acting Administrator is Chris Beyerhelm. The FSA (ASCS) of each state is led by a politically appointed State Executive Director (SED).Feeder cattle
Feeder cattle are steers (castrated males) or heifers (females who have not dropped a calf) mature enough to be placed in a feedlot where they will be fattened prior to slaughter. Feeder calves are less than 1 year old; feeder yearlings are between 1 and 2 years old. Both types are often produced in a cow-calf operation.Flow to market
In United States agriculture, flow to market is a quantity provision in a fruit or vegetable marketing order that does not change the total quantity that can be marketed during a season, but rather controls the rate or time period that quantities can be shipped to markets by means of shipping holidays and prorates.Non-voting members of the United States House of Representatives
Non-voting members of the United States House of Representatives (called either delegates or resident commissioner, in the case of Puerto Rico) are representatives of their territory in the House of Representatives, who do not have a right to vote on proposed legislation in the full House but nevertheless have floor privileges and are able to participate in certain other House functions. Non-voting members may vote in a House committee of which they are a member and introduce legislation. There are currently six non-voting members: a delegate representing the federal district of Washington D.C., a resident commissioner representing Puerto Rico, and one delegate for each of the other four permanently inhabited US Territories: American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands. As with voting members, non-voting delegates are elected every two years, and the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico is elected every four years.Organoleptic
Organoleptic properties are the aspects of food, water or other substances that an individual experiences via the senses—including taste, sight, smell, and touch.Protein premium
The wheat protein premium refers to the price differential (expressed as cents or dollars per bushel) that a high-protein wheat normally commands over wheat of the same grade specification with lower protein content. Typically, northern dark spring wheat has higher protein and brings a premium price over hard red winter wheat.Return flow
Return flow is surface and subsurface water that leaves the field following application of irrigation water. While irrigation return flows are point sources, in the United States they are expressly exempted from discharge permit requirements under the Clean Water Act.Return flows generally return to the irrigation centre after a period of about three to four weeks; due to this, the farmers usually need to pour bleach into the water to clean it of any organisms that have entered the stream. If this is not taken care of, diseases such as typhoid or cholera could enter the irrigation and pose a risk of epidemic disease to surrounding towns and cities.Tanzim
Tanzim (Arabic: تنظيم Tanẓīm, "Organization") is a militant faction of the Palestinian Fatah movement.Third country dumping
Third country dumping is a situation in which exports of a product from one country are being injured or threatened with injury because of exports of the same product from a second country into a third country at less than fair value. Section 1318 of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 (P.L. 100-418) establishes procedures for U.S. industries to petition the U.S. Trade Representative to request a foreign government that is a signatory to the GATT Anti-Dumping Code to initiate an antidumping investigation on behalf of a U.S. industry that claims it is being injured by dumping in that country’s market.Trade and Tariff Act of 1984
The Trade and Tariff Act of 1984 (P.L. 98-573) clarified the conditions under which unfair trade cases under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-618) can be pursued. It also provided bilateral trade negotiating authority for the U.S.-Israel Free Trade Agreement and the U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement, and set out procedures to be followed for congressional approval of future bilateral trade agreements.
The bill was sponsored by Democrat Sam Gibbons (FL-7) and was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on October 30, 1984.U.S. Sugar Program
The U.S. Sugar program is the federal commodity support program that maintains a minimum price for sugar, authorized by the 2002 farm bill (P.L. 107-171, Sec. 1401-1403) to cover the 2002-2007 crops of sugar beets and sugarcane.
Designed to protect the incomes of the sugar industry-growers of sugarcane and sugar beets, and firms that process each crop into sugar - the program supports domestic sugar prices by:
(1) making available nonrecourse loans to processors (not less than 18¢/lb. for raw cane sugar, or 22.9¢/lb. for refined beet sugar);
(2) restricting sugar imports using a tariff rate quota, and
(3) limiting the amount of sugar that processors can sell domestically (under marketing allotments) when imports are below 1.532 million short tons.Import restrictions are intended to meet U.S. commitments under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture. Processor and refiner marketing allotments are set by USDA according to statutory requirements. Marketing allotments and new payment-in-kind authority are designed to help the USDA meet the no-cost-requirements to the federal government by avoiding the forfeiture of sugar put under loan. Other parts of the new program can include a storage loan program for sugar processors, and reduced (by 1%) the USDA interest rate charged on sugar loans.United States House of Representatives Office of Emergency Planning, Preparedness, and Operations
The Office of Emergency Planning, Preparedness and Operations (OEPPO) provides emergency planning and operational support to the United States House of Representatives. The Office was established by legislation in 2002, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks to ensure continuity of operations.The office is responsible for House mitigation and preparedness operations, crisis management
and response, and resource services and recovery operations. The director of OEPPO
is jointly appointed by the Speaker and Minority Leader. The Speaker, in consultation with the minority leader, provides the policy direction and oversight of the office and may request a detail of personnel from any federal agency on a reimbursable basis. A director carries out the daily operations of the office under the supervision of the House of Representatives Continuity of Operations Board. Due to the sensitive nature of its mission, some of the agency's operational details are not publicly available.The Office has conducted training on the use of personal protective equipment and emergency evacuation procedures and developed training plans to the House Staff on evacuation procedures for employees and visitors with disabilities. Following a TOPOFF 3 exercise in 2005, its provisions for evacuating persons with disabilities were questioned during a Congressional hearing.United States National Security Council
The White House National Security Council (NSC) is the principal forum used by the President of the United States for consideration of national security, military matters, and foreign policy matters with senior national security advisors and Cabinet officials and is part of the Executive Office of the President of the United States. Since its inception under Harry S. Truman, the function of the Council has been to advise and assist the President on national security and foreign policies. The Council also serves as the President's principal arm for coordinating these policies among various government agencies. The Council has counterparts in the national security councils of many other nations.United States federal judge
In the United States, the title of federal judge means a judge (pursuant to Article Three of the United States Constitution) appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the United States Senate pursuant to the Appointments Clause in Article II of the United States Constitution.
In addition to the Supreme Court of the United States, whose existence and some aspects of whose jurisdiction are beyond the constitutional power of Congress to alter, Congress has established 13 courts of appeals (also called "circuit courts") with appellate jurisdiction over different regions of the United States, and 94 United States district courts.
Every judge appointed to such a court may be categorized as a federal judge; such positions include the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, Circuit Judges of the courts of appeals, and district judges of the United States district courts. All of these judges described thus far are referred to sometimes as "Article III judges" because they exercise the judicial power vested in the judicial branch of the federal government by Article III of the U.S. Constitution. In addition, judges of the Court of International Trade exercise judicial power pursuant to Article III.
Other judges serving in the federal courts, including magistrate judges and bankruptcy judges, are also sometimes referred to as "federal judges"; however, they are neither appointed by the President nor confirmed by the Senate, and their power