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].

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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].

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): Categorical Eligibility

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): Categorical Eligibility.  Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Randy Alison Aussenberg, Gene Falk. June 22, 2018

 The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides benefits to low-income, eligible households on an electronic benefit transfer card; benefits can then be exchanged for foods at authorized retailers. SNAP reaches a large share of low-income households. In FY2017, a monthly average of 42.2 million persons in 20.9 million households participated in SNAP. 

 [PDF format, 22 pages].

Oil and Gas Activities within the National Wildlife Refuge System

Oil and Gas Activities within the National Wildlife Refuge System. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. R. Eliot Crafton, Laura B. Comay, Marc Humphries. May 9, 2018

 Oil- and gas-related wells are documented in 110 (approximately 18%) of the 605 units of the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), in the Department of the Interior (DOI), administers the NWRS, which includes primarily national wildlife refuges, along with wetland management districts and waterfowl production areas. The wells in the NWRS most commonly involve nonfederal oil and gas resources but sometimes encompass federal resources. Oil and gas development in the NWRS has the potential to adversely impact wildlife and/or the environment, and some see it as contrary to the mission and purposes for which the NWRS was established. Others think that some levels of oil and gas activity may take place in refuges without harming the system’s central mission of wildlife conservation and that such activity could benefit the U.S. economy and provide greater energy security. FWS, which administers nonfederal mineral activities on refuge lands, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which administers federal mineral activities on refuge lands, have developed regulations that seek to minimize the adverse impacts of oil and gas development in the NWRS, among other purposes.

 [PDF format, 23 pages].

The Retirement Revolution: Regulatory Reform to Enable Behavioral Change

The Retirement Revolution: Regulatory Reform to Enable Behavioral Change. Brookings Institution. Martin Neil Baily and Benjamin H. Harris. June 8, 2018

 The American retirement landscape is constantly in flux. American retirement went from an experience dominated by short retirements and pensions for some to one financed increasingly by 401(k)s with decades-long retirements for many.

While this evolution has advantaged some workers, it has also resulted in serious challenges that have been exacerbated by both inadequate and poorly designed saving incentives, as well as a private insurance market that is insufficient to meet the needs of millions of retirees wanting to achieve a secure retirement. Fixing this system is a complicated endeavor, requiring widespread changes across the landscape. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 18 pages].

U.S. Farm Commodity Support: An Overview of Selected Programs

U.S. Farm Commodity Support: An Overview of Selected Programs.  Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Sahar Angadjivand.  April 17, 2018

 Federal efforts to bolster farm household incomes and the rural economy by providing support to producers of key crops has been a central pillar of U.S. farm policy since such programs were first introduced in the 1930s. Current farm support programs are counter-cyclical in design—that is payments are triggered when the annual market price for an eligible crop drops below a statutory minimum or when revenue is below a guaranteed level.

 [PDF format, 22 pages].

Frequently Asked Questions About Prescription Drug Pricing and Policy

Frequently Asked Questions About Prescription Drug Pricing and Policy. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Suzanne M. Kirchhoff, Judith A. Johnson,  Susan Thaul. April 24, 2018

 Prescription drugs play an important role in the U.S. health care system. Innovative, breakthrough drugs are providing cures for diseases such as hepatitis C and helping individuals with chronic conditions lead fuller lives. Studies show that prescription drug therapy can produce health care savings by reducing the number of hospitalizations and other costly medical procedures. Congress and presidential administrations have attempted to ensure that Americans have access to pharmaceuticals by enacting the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit as part of the Medicare Modernization and Prescription Drug Act of 2003 (MMA; P.L. 108-173) and expanding drug coverage under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148, as amended). Congress also has enacted laws to encourage manufacturing of lower-cost generic drugs, as well as cutting-edge biologics and biosimilars.

 [PDF format, 38 pages].