Water Infrastructure Financing: History of EPA Appropriations

Water Infrastructure Financing: History of EPA Appropriations. Congressional Research Service. Jonathan L. Ramseur, Mary Tiemann. Updated April 10, 2019

The principal federal program to aid municipal wastewater treatment plant construction is authorized in the Clean Water Act (CWA). Established as a grant program in 1972, it now capitalizes state loan programs through the clean water state revolving loan fund (CWSRF) program. Since FY1972, appropriations have totaled $98 billion.  In 1996, Congress amended the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA, P.L. 104-182) to authorize a similar state loan program for drinking water to help systems finance projects needed to comply with drinking water regulations and to protect public health. Since FY1997, appropriations for the drinking water state revolving loan fund (DWSRF) program have totaled $23 billion. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administers both SRF programs, which annually distribute funds to the states for implementation. Funding amounts are specified in the State and Tribal Assistance Grants (STAG) account of EPA annual appropriations acts. The combined appropriations for wastewater and drinking water infrastructure assistance have represented 25%-32% of total funds appropriated to EPA in recent years.

[PDF format, 43 pages].

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Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act: Understanding Apportionments for States and Territories

Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act: Understanding Apportionments for States and Territories. Congressional Research Service. R. Eliot Crafton. April 5, 2019

The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (16 U.S.C. §§669 et seq.), enacted in 1937 and now known as the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act, provides funding for states and territories to support wildlife restoration, conservation, and hunter education and safety programs. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), within the Department of the Interior, administers Pittman-Robertson. All 50 states (but not the District of Columbia) as well as the 5 inhabited U.S. territories receive Pittman-Robertson funds. 

Funding for FWS to carry out Pittman-Robertson programs comes from excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment. Receipts from these excise taxes are deposited into the Federal Aid to Wildlife Restoration Fund in the Treasury, and monies from the fund are made available for FWS in the fiscal year following their collection without any further action by Congress. Between FY1939 and FY2019, FWS disbursed $18.8 billion (in 2018 dollars) for wildlife restoration and hunter education and safety activities for Pittman-Robertson programs.

[PDF format, 38 pages].

The Federal Communications Commission: Current Structure and Its Role in the Changing Telecommunications Landscape

The Federal Communications Commission: Current Structure and Its Role in the Changing Telecommunications Landscape. Congressional Research Service. Patricia Moloney Figliola. April 18, 2019.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent federal agency established by the Communications Act of 1934 (1934 Act, or “Communications Act”). The agency is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. The mission of the FCC is to make available for all people of the United States, “without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex, a rapid, efficient, Nationwide, and worldwide wire and radio communication service with adequate facilities at reasonable charges.”

The FCC operates under a public interest mandate first laid out in the 1927 Radio Act (P.L. 632, 69th Congress), but how this mandate is applied depends on how “the public interest” is interpreted. Some regulators seek to protect and benefit the public at large through regulation, while others seek to achieve the same goals through the promotion of market efficiency. Additionally, Congress granted the FCC wide latitude and flexibility to revise its interpretation of the public interest standard to reflect changing circumstances and the agency has not defined it in more concrete terms. These circumstances, paired with changes in FCC leadership, have led to significant changes over time in how the FCC regulates the broadcast and telecommunications industries. 

[PDF format, 19 pages].

Presidential Terms and Tenure: Perspectives and Proposals for Change

Presidential Terms and Tenure: Perspectives and Proposals for Change. Congressional Research Service. Thomas H. Neale. Updated April 15, 2019

The President and Vice President’s terms of office are prescribed by the Constitution and four of its amendments. Additional amendment proposals to change the conditions of presidential terms and tenure were regularly introduced during the second half of the 20th century, but much less frequently to date in the 21st. Two categories of amendment predominated during this period: one variant proposed repeal of the Twenty-Second Amendment, thus permitting Presidents to be elected an unlimited number of times. Another category of proposed amendment would have extended the presidential and vice-presidential terms to six years, often in combination with a requirement limiting Presidents to one term.  No measure to repeal the Twenty-Second Amendment or otherwise change the presidential term of office has been introduced to date in the 116th Congress. This report will be updated if events warrant.

[PDF format, 35 pages].

Virtual Currencies and Money Laundering: Legal Background, Enforcement Actions, and Legislative Proposals

Virtual Currencies and Money Laundering: Legal Background, Enforcement Actions, and Legislative Proposals. Congressional Research Service.  Jay B. Sykes, Nicole Vanatko. April 3, 2019

Law enforcement officials have described money laundering—the process of making illegally obtained proceeds appear legitimate—as the “lifeblood” of organized crime. Recently, money launderers have increasingly turned to a new technology to conceal the origins of illegally obtained proceeds: virtual currency. Virtual currencies like Bitcoin, Ether, and Ripple are digital representations of value that, like ordinary currency, function as media of exchange, units of account, and stores of value. However, unlike ordinary currencies, virtual currencies are not legal tender, meaning they cannot be used to pay taxes and creditors need not accept them as payments for debt. While virtual currency enthusiasts tout their technological promise, a number of commentators have contended that the anonymity offered by these new financial instruments makes them an attractive vehicle for money laundering. Law enforcement officials, regulators, and courts have accordingly grappled with how virtual currencies fit into a federal anti-money laundering (AML) regime designed principally for traditional financial institutions.

[PDF format, 17 pages].

The National Institutes of Health (NIH): Background and Congressional Issues

The National Institutes of Health (NIH): Background and Congressional Issues. Congressional Research Service.  Judith A. Johnson, Kavya Sekar. April 19, 2019

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is the primary federal agency charged with performing and supporting biomedical and behavioral research. In FY2018, NIH used its over $34 billion budget to support more than 300,000 scientists and research personnel working at over 2,500 institutions across the United States and abroad, as well as to conduct biomedical and behavioral research and research training at its own facilities. The agency consists of the Office of the Director, in charge of overall policy and program coordination, and 27 institutes and centers, each of which focuses on particular diseases or research areas in human health. A broad range of research is funded through a highly competitive system of peer-reviewed grants and contracts.

[PDF format, 81 pages].

The Value of Energy Tax Incentives for Different Types of Energy Resources

The Value of Energy Tax Incentives for Different Types of Energy Resources.  Congressional Research Service. Molly F. Sherlock. March 19, 2019

The U.S. tax code supports the energy sector by providing a number of targeted tax incentives, or tax incentives available only for the energy industry. Some policymakers have expressed interest in understanding how energy tax benefits are distributed across different domestic energy resources. For example, what percentage of energy-related tax benefits support fossil fuels (or support renewables)? How much domestic energy is produced using fossil fuels (or produced using renewables)? And how do these figures compare?

[PDF format, 16 pages].