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Category Archives: Congress

Diplomatic and Embassy Security Funding Before and After the Benghazi Attacks

CRS - Diplomatic and Embassy Security Funding Before and After the Benghazi AttacksSusan B. Epstein, Specialist in Foreign Policy. September 10, 2014 

“As Congress investigates the issues surrounding the September 11, 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, some Members have questioned whether security funding was adequate or was a factor that may have contributed to inadequate security at that facility.  The State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 authorizes the Department of State to “use appropriated and other funds to provide the maximum security of U.S. government-owned or leased properties and vehicles abroad.” After several attacks occurred on U.S. facilities and other American interests in Beirut, Lebanon and Kuwait in the early 1980s, Congress passed the  Diplomatic Security Act of 1986, further emphasizing the role the Secretary of State plays in providing funding for the security of U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel worldwide (hereafter referred to in this report as diplomatic/embassy security). Following the August 1998 bombings of U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, an independent panel, chaired by Admiral William Crowe reported that it was “most disturbed by two inter-connected issues:  First, the inadequacy of resources to provide protective measures against terrorist attacks; and second, the relative low priority accorded security concerns throughout the US Government by the Congress, Department, other agencies in general, and the part of many employees—both in Washington and in the field.” Responding to that panel, Congress, within the Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act of 1999 (SECCA), established more stringent security requirements and mandated additional training, authorized $900 million to be spent annually for Embassy Security, Construction, and Maintenance (ESCM) for the next five years (FY2000-FY2004), and mandated the Secretary of State to convene an Accountability Review Board (ARB) whenever serious injury, loss of life, or significant destruction of property occurs. It required co-location of virtually all agency personnel in a country and 100-foot perimeters around diplomatic facilities, but also provided waiver authority for those measures.”

Presentations about the Budget Outlook – CBO

Doug Elmendorf, CBO Director, at the Macroeconomic Advisers’ 24th Annual Washington Policy Seminar: “I was very pleased to speak last week at Macroeconomic Advisers’ Washington Policy Seminar and at Cornell University. (See my slides for the first talk and my slides for the second talk.) In both presentations I described CBO’s updated outlook for the federal budget under current lawContinue Reading

Federal Open Payments Database Tracking Pharma Arriving September 30

KFF – Shefali Luthra: “Despite technical glitches, the federal “Open Payments” database – which tracks pharmaceutical company contributions to doctors and teaching hospitals – remains on track for its scheduled Sept. 30 launch, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services confirmed. It was mandated by a sunshine act included in the federal health law seeking to ease concerns that pharmaceuticalContinue Reading

Protection of Trade Secrets: Overview of Current Law and Legislation

Protection of Trade Secrets: Overview of Current Law and Legislation. Brian T. Yeh, Legislative Attorney. September 5, 2014. “A trade secret is confidential, commercially valuable information that provides a company with a competitive advantage, such as customer lists, methods of production, marketing strategies, pricing information, and chemical formulae. (Well-known examples of trade secrets include the formula for Coca-Cola, the recipeContinue Reading

The U.S. Global Health Budget Tracker

“The Kaiser Family Foundation has launched a new, interactive, online tool designed to provide the latest data on the U.S. government’s global health budget in an easy-to-access form. The U.S. Global Health Budget Tracker lets users follow the budget from the President’s budget request through the appropriations process in Congress, as well as see trends over time. DataContinue Reading

CRS – Defense Surplus Equipment Disposal

Defense Surplus Equipment Disposal, Including the Law Enforcement 1033 Program. Valerie Bailey Grasso, Specialist in Defense Acquisition. September 5, 2014. “On September 12, 1972, the Defense Property Disposal Service (the forerunner to DLA Disposition Services) was established under the Defense Supply Agency (now DLA). Defense property disposal offices were established worldwide on or near major military installations. DLAContinue Reading

Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response

CRS - Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response. Christopher M. Blanchard, Coordinator - Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs; Carla E. Humud, Analyst in Middle Eastern and African Affairs; Mary Beth D. Nikitin, Specialist in Nonproliferation. June 27, 2014. “Fighting continues across Syria, pitting government forces and their foreign allies against a range of anti-government insurgents, some of whom also are fightingContinue Reading

Paper- Changes to Equity Markets Require Structural Reforms

“Regulatory policy has not kept pace with the significant changes that have occurred in our stock market within the last few decades, according to a CFA white paper on market structure. The white paper analyzes those market changes and proposes reforms that are designed to foster transparency, ensure high market quality, minimize conflicts of interest, guaranteeContinue Reading

Contribution of Exports to Economic Growth and Important Role of the Export-Import Bank

Joint Economic Committee, Vice Chair - The Contribution of Exports to Economic Growth and the Important Role of the Export-Import Bank, September 9, 2014. “Exports make a critical contribution to U.S. economic growth and job creation. Ninety-five percent of the world’s potential customers live outside of the United States, and exports offer an opportunity for AmericanContinue Reading

Monthly Budget Review for August 2014

“The federal government ran a budget deficit of $589 billion for the first 11 months of fiscal year 2014, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates—$166 billion less than the shortfall recorded over the same period last year. Through the end of August, revenues were about 8 percent higher and outlays were about 1 percent higherContinue Reading

New GAO Reports – Crop Insurance, Defense Infrastructure, DOD Education Benefits, Medicaid, Contractor Controls, DoD Special Operations

CROP INSURANCE: Considerations in Reducing Federal Premium Subsidies, GAO-14-700: Published: Aug 8, 2014. Publicly Released: Sep 8, 2014. DEFENSE INFRASTRUCTURE: DOD Needs to Improve Its Efforts to Identify Unutilized and Underutilized Facilities, GAO-14-538: Published: Sep 8, 2014. Publicly Released: Sep 8, 2014. DOD EDUCATION BENEFITS: Action Is Needed to Ensure Evaluations of Postsecondary Schools Are Useful, GAO-14-855: Published: Sep 8, 2014. Publicly Released:Continue Reading

Minority Staff Dissenting Views: IRS Targeting Tea Party Groups

“The Majority staff on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has issued the foregoing report titled IRS and TIGTA Management Failures Related to 501(c)(4) Applicants Engaged in Campaign Activity. The primary conclusion of the Majority staff report is that, contrary to common understanding and widespread reporting, the IRS actually exhibited no bias in its review ofContinue Reading