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Category Archives: Congress

US Role in the World: Background and Issues for Congress

CRS report via FAS – U.S. Role in the World: Background and Issues for Congress. Ronald O’Rourke, Specialist in Naval Affairs; Michael Moodie, Assistant Director and Senior Specialist in Foreign, Affairs, Defense and Trade. August 17, 2017.

“The overall U.S. role in the world since the end of World War II in 1945 (i.e., over the past 70 years) is generally described as one of global leadership and significant engagement in international affairs. A key aim of that role has been to promote and defend the open international order that the United States, with the support of its allies, created in the years after World War II.In addition to promoting and defending the open international order, the overall U.S. role is generally described as having been one of promoting freedom, democracy, and human rights, while criticizing and resisting authoritarianism where possible, and opposing the emergence of regional hegemons in Eurasia or a spheres-of-influence world. Certain statements and actions from the Trump Administration have led to uncertainty about the Administration’s intentions regarding the future U.S. role in the world. Based on those statements and actions, some observers have speculated that the Trump Administration may want to change the U.S. role in one or more ways. A change in the overall U.S. role could have profound implications for U.S. foreign policy, national security, and international economic policy, for Congress as an institution, and for many federal policies and programs. A major dimension of the debate over the U.S. role is whether the United States should attempt to continue playing the active internationalist role that it has played for the past 70 years, or instead adopt a more restrained role that reduces U.S. involvement in world affairs. A second dimension concerns how to balance or combine the pursuit of narrowly defined U.S. interests with the goal of defending and promoting U.S. values such as democracy, freedom, and human rights. A third dimension relates to the balance between the use of so-called hard power(primarily but not exclusively military combat power) and soft power (including diplomacy, development assistance, support for international organizations, education and cultural exchanges, and the international popularity of elements of U.S. culture such as music, movies, television shows, and literature) in U.S. foreign policy. An initial potential issue for Congress is to determine whether the Trump Administration wants to change the U.S. role, and if so, in what ways. A follow-on potential issue for Congress—arguably the central policy issue for this CRS report—is whether there should be a change in the U.S. role, and if so, what that change should be, including whether a given proposed change would be feasible or practical, and what consequences may result. An initial aspect of this issue concerns Congress: what should be Congress’s role, relative to that of the executive branch, in considering whether the U.S. role in the world should change, and if so, what that change should be? The Constitution vests Congress with several powers that can bear on the U.S. role in the world. Another potential issue for Congress is whether a change in the U.S. role would have any implications for the preservation and use of congressional powers and prerogatives relating to foreign policy, national security, and international economic policy. A related issue is whether a change in the U.S. role would have any implications for congressional organization, capacity, and operations relating to foreign policy, national security, and international economic policy. Policy and program areas that could be affected, perhaps substantially or even profoundly, by a changed U.S. role include the role of allies and alliances in U.S. foreign policy; the organization of, and funding levels and foreign policy priorities for, the Department of State and U.S. foreign assistance; U.S. trade and international economic policy; defense strategy and budgets; and policies and programs related to homeland security, border security, immigration, and refugees.”

GPO and LC partner on release of digitized Congressional Record 1931-1940

“The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) partners with the Library of Congress to release the digital version of the bound Congressional Record from 1931-1940 on GPO’s govinfo. This release covers debates and proceedings of the 72nd thru the 76th Congresses. This era of Congress covers historical topics such as: The Great Depression The last two… Continue Reading

Highly ideological members of Congress have more Facebook followers than moderates do

Pew – “The most liberal and conservative members of the 115th Congress have attracted more Facebook followers than moderates, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis. In both legislative chambers, members’ ideology is a strong predictor of the number of people who follow them on Facebook. The most liberal and most conservative House members… Continue Reading

Report to Congress: DATA Act Pilot Program

Report to Congress: DATA Act Pilot Program, Office of Management and Budget, August 10, 2017. “In May 2017, the Administration enabled a new view of Federal spending that for the first time, linked Federal account information to awards. This represents the successful implementation of the centerpiece of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014… Continue Reading

EFF – Congress is At Home, So Pay Your Members a Visit

EFF: “It’s August. In the United States, that means members of Congress will be swinging back home to their home districts to check in with their state-side staffers, hit some fundraisers, and maybe host a few public events. You can meet them. Constituents can request meetings with members of Congress while they are home this… Continue Reading

Heritage Foundation reports plan replacement of fed experts with AI

Derek B. Johnson: “The Heritage Foundation, an influential conservative think tank, is calling for increased reliance on automation and the potential creation of a “contractor cloud” offering streamlined access to private sector labor as part of its broader strategy for reorganizing the federal government. Seeking to take advantage of a united Republican government and a… Continue Reading

Just because – Lexis posted George Harrison’s Immigration File Online

Documents (90 pages) via the DOJ, created by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) documenting activities of “British musician” George Harrison (yes, and his colleague Richard Starkey – known as Ringo Starr]) dating from the early 1970s. Continue Reading

New Tool for Looking at Federal Cybersecurity Spending

“With malicious hacking and other cyber threats on the rise, Taxpayers for Common Sense recently turned our attention to how much the federal government spends to keep us safe from cyber threats and where it spends that money.  Our analysts spent two years reviewing hundreds of thousands of pages of federal budget documents in an attempt to answer those questions. When… Continue Reading

Latest Congressionally mandated report again supports current and future impacts of climate change

Scientists Fear Trump Will Dismiss Blunt Climate Report – “The Times has reviewed an alarming draft report by government scientists who say climate change is happening now and severely affecting the United States, but the Trump administration must sign off on it before it can be released – The New York Times reports: “The draft… Continue Reading

United States Congressional District Shapefiles

Jeffrey B. Lewis: “This site provides digital boundary definitions for every U.S. Congressional District in use between 1789 and 2012. These were produced as part of NSF grant SBE-SES-0241647 between 2009 and 2013. The current release of these data is experimental. We have had done a good deal of work to validate all of the… Continue Reading

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2018

CRS report via FAS: Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2018, John F. Sargent Jr., Coordinator, Specialist in Science and Technology Policy. July 31, 2017. “President Trump’s budget request for FY2018 includes $117.697 billion for research and development (R&D). This represents a $30.605 billion (20.6%) decrease from the FY2016 actual level of $148.302 billion (FY2017 enacted… Continue Reading

Bail: An Overview of Federal Criminal Law

CRS report via FAS – Bail: An Overview of Federal Criminal Law, Charles Doyle, Senior Specialist in American Public Law, July 31, 2017. “This is an overview of the federal law of bail. Bail is the release of an individual following his arrest upon his promise—secured or unsecured; conditioned or unconditioned—to appear at subsequent judicial… Continue Reading