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Congressional Research Service Reports

Sarajean Petite  /  Wednesday, February 27, 2019  /  Categories: Featured Gov Doc  /  Rate this article:
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When a congressional committee or a congressperson needs research and analysis of an issue in order to make informed legislative decisions, they call the Congressional Research Service (“CRS”).  According to CRS, it is a non-partisan “federal legislative branch agency located within the Library of Congress” and it “serves as shared staff exclusively to congressional committees and Members of Congress” (source).

Historically, CRS reports were only available to members of Congress.  Now, thanks to a 2018 law, CRS makes non-confidential reports available on its website.  

Congresspeople request research on a variety of topics.  Some of the topics on which CRS has written reports include:

Foreign Affairs includes reports such as:

Afghanistan: Background and U.S. Policy In Brief (February 26, 2019) is one a series of research documents about the United States’ relations with other countries.

U.S. Agent  Orange/Dioxin Assistance to Vietnam (February 21, 2019) is about the money and other aid the United States is providing to Vietnam to help correct the environmental and health harm caused by Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress (February 7, 2019) includes some of the laws and treaties applying to the arctic region and some issues that Congress will need to address. Some of these issues include climate change, commercial shipping, natural resource exploration, pollution, wildlife, and indigenous people.

Homeland Security and Immigration includes reports such as:

The Trump Administration’s “Zero Tolerance” Immigration Enforcement Policy (February 26, 2019) describes the effects of the policy. It includes statistical information about family separation and presents the positions of both immigrant advocates and those who favor strict enforcement of the laws.

The “Flores Settlement” and Alien Families Apprehended at the U.S. Border: Frequently Asked Questions (September 17, 2018)  addresses “questions about the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) authority to detain alien families together pending the aliens’ removal proceedings, which may include consideration of claims for asylum and other forms of relief from removal.”

Electric Grid Cybersecurity (September 4, 2018) is about how the government can protect the electrical infrastructure against human and natural threats.

Justice and Law Enforcement includes reports such as:

Federal Mandatory Minimum Sentences: The Safety Valve and Substantial Assistance Exceptions (February 22, 2019) discusses what the exceptions are and the applicable laws.

Federal Grand Jury Secrecy: Legal Principles and Implications for Congressional Oversight (January 10, 2019) addresses the issues involved when Congress wants information from a grand jury hearing. A key issue is that Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e) requires secrecy, and legislation that changes that rule would result in separation-of-powers conflicts.

Juvenile Delinquents and Federal Criminal Law: The Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act and Related Matters in Short (November 1, 2018) is about how the law treats juveniles who violate federal criminal laws.

Federal Judiciary & Constitutional Law includes reports such as:

The Emoluments Clauses of the U.S. Constitution (January 30, 2019) is a short explanation of the clause and information about some related cases

Abortion: Judicial History and Legislative Response (December 7, 2018) includes key cases about abortion and information about legislation related to abortion and abortion funding.

Federalism-Based Limitations on Congressional Power: An Overview (September 27, 2018) provides a nice summary of the constitutional clauses that give Congress its power and of some of the limits on that power.


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