Congress’s Power over Courts: Jurisdiction Stripping and the Rule of Klein

Congress’s Power over Courts: Jurisdiction Stripping and the Rule of Klein.  Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Sarah Herman Peck. August 9, 2018

  Article III of the Constitution establishes the judicial branch of the federal government. Notably, it empowers federal courts to hear “cases” and “controversies.” The Constitution further creates a federal judiciary with significant independence, providing federal judges with life tenure and prohibiting diminutions of judges’ salaries. But the Framers also granted Congress the power to regulate the federal courts in numerous ways. For instance, Article III authorizes Congress to determine what classes of “cases” and “controversies” inferior courts have jurisdiction to review. Additionally, Article III’s Exceptions Clause grants Congress the power to make “exceptions” and “regulations” to the Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction. Congress sometimes exercises this power by “stripping” federal courts of jurisdiction to hear a class of cases. Congress has gone so far as to eliminate a court’s jurisdiction to review a particular case in the midst of litigation. More generally, Congress may influence judicial resolutions by amending the substantive law underlying particular litigation of interest to the legislature.

 [PDF format, 26 pages].

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Flood Resilience and Risk Reduction: Federal Assistance and Programs

Flood Resilience and Risk Reduction: Federal Assistance and Programs.  Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Nicole T. Carter et al. July 25, 2018

 Recent flood disasters have raised congressional and public interest in not only reducing flood risks, but also improving flood resilience, which is the ability to adapt to, withstand, and rapidly recover from floods. In the United States, flood-related responsibilities are shared. States and local governments have significant discretion in land use and development decisions, which can be major factors in determining the vulnerability to and consequence of hurricanes, storms, extreme rainfall, and other flood events. Congress has established various federal programs that may be available to assist U.S. state, local, and territorial entities and tribes in reducing flood risks. Among the most significant federal activities to reduce communities’ flood risks and improve flood resilience are assistance with infrastructure projects (e.g., levees, shore protection) and other flood mitigation activities that save lives and reduce property damage; and mitigation incentives for communities that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program.

 [PDF format, 49 pages].

Agricultural Disaster Assistance

Agricultural Disaster Assistance. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Megan Stubbs. July 26, 2018

 The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers several programs to help farmers recover financially from natural disasters, including drought and floods. All the programs have permanent authorization, and only one requires a federal disaster designation (the emergency loan program). Most programs receive mandatory funding amounts that are “such sums as necessary” and are not subject to annual discretionary appropriations. 

 [PDF format, 16 pages].

Federal Role in U.S. Campaigns and Elections: An Overview

Federal Role in U.S. Campaigns and Elections: An Overview.  Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. R. Sam Garrett. September 4, 2018

 Conventional wisdom holds that the federal government plays relatively little role in U.S. campaigns and elections. Although states retain authority for most aspects of election administration, a closer look reveals that the federal government also has steadily increased its presence in campaigns and elections in the past 50 years. Altogether, dozens of congressional committees and federal agencies could be involved in federal elections under current law. 

 [PDF format, 43 pages].

Housing for Young Adults in Extended Federally Funded Foster Care: Best Practices for States

Housing for Young Adults in Extended Federally Funded Foster Care: Best Practices for States. Urban Institute. Amy Dworsky, Denali Dasgupta. August 8, 2018

 In 2008, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act gave states the option to extend the age of eligibility for federally funded foster care to 21. Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have extended or are in the process of extending federally funded foster care with a safe, stable, and developmentally appropriate place to live. There are gaps in our knowledge of best practices for housing young adults in extended care, the housing options currently available to those young adults, and how those options vary across and within states. This brief begins to address these knowledge gaps by gathering information form a purposive sample of officials from public child welfare agencies in states that have extended federally funded foster care to age 21 and a group of stakeholders who attended a convening on the topic. The brief also highlights suggestions for future research. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 17 pages].

Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF): Overview, Issues, and Legislation

Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF): Overview, Issues, and Legislation. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Mary Tiemann. September 5, 2018

 The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) is the federal authority for regulating contaminants in public water supplies. The act includes the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) program, established in 1996 to help public water systems finance infrastructure projects needed to comply with federal drinking water regulations and to meet the act’s health protection objectives. Under this program, states receive annual capitalization grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide financial assistance (primarily subsidized loans) to public water systems for drinking water projects and other specified activities. Through FY2018, Congress has appropriated a total of $20.41 billion for the program. From FY1997 through FY2017, states provided $35.38 billion in DWSRF assistance to water systems for 14,090 projects.

 [PDF format, 24 pages].

Kids’ Share 2018: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2017 and Future Projections

Kids’ Share 2018: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2017 and Future Projections. Urban Institute. Julia B. Isaacs et al. July 18, 2018

 Public spending on children aims to support their healthy development, helping them fulfill their human potential. As such, federal spending on children is an investment in the nation’s future. To inform policymakers, children’s advocates, and the general public about how public funds are spent on children, this 12th edition of the annual Kids’ Share report provides an updated analysis of federal expenditures on children from 1960 to 2017. It also projects federal expenditures on children through 2028 to give a sense of how budget priorities may unfold absent changes to current law.  [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 68 pages].