Federal Election Commission: Membership and Policymaking Quorum, In Brief. Congressional Research Service. R. Sam Garrett. Updated September 5, 2019
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is the nation’s civil
campaign finance regulator. The agency ensures that campaign fundraising and
spending is publicly reported; that those regulated by the Federal Election
Campaign Act (FECA) and by commission regulations comply and have access to
guidance; and that publicly financed presidential campaigns receive
funding. As of August 31, 2019, the
Federal Election Commission is operating without a policymaking quorum. FECA
requires that at least four of six commissioners agree to undertake many of the
agency’s key policymaking duties. As of August 31, 2019, three of six
commissioners remain in office, after the fourth remaining commissioner
resigned. Also as of this writing, one commission nomination is pending in the
Senate. This CRS report briefly explains
the kinds of actions that FECA precludes when a quorum is not possible because
fewer than four FEC members are in office. This episode marks the second quorum
loss in the agency’s history—the first occurred for six months in 2008—leaving
the commission unable to hold hearings, issue rules, and enforce campaign
finance law and regulation. The agency remains open for business with remaining
commissioners and regular staff, but new policy decisions and enforcement
actions cannot be advanced or finalized.
[PDF format, 11 pages].
Employment, Education, and the Time Use of American Youth. Brookings Institution. Lauren Bauer et al. September 5, 2019
The labor force participation rate is a key measure of
economic health. While the decline in prime-age workers’ labor force
participation receives much attention from policymakers, it is far outpaced by
the decline in participation among younger workers. In this analysis we show
how changing employment and school enrollment patterns have contributed to
declining labor force participation among youth, aged 16 to 24. Youth today are
not disengaged; rather, declines in youth labor force participation primarily
reflect a long-term but accelerating shift toward schooling and spending more
time on education-related activities. [Note: contains copyrighted
[PDF format, 26 pages].
Trust and Distrust in America. Pew Research Center. Lee Rainie, Scott Keeter And Andrew Perrin. July 22, 2019.
Many Americans think
declining trust in the government and in each other makes it harder to solve
key problems. They have a wealth of ideas about what’s gone wrong and how to
Trust is an essential elixir for public life and neighborly
relations, and when Americans think about trust these days, they worry.
Two-thirds of adults think other Americans have little or no confidence in the
federal government. Majorities believe the public’s confidence in the U.S.
government and in each other is shrinking, and most believe a shortage of trust
in government and in other citizens makes it harder to solve some of the
nation’s key problems.
As a result, many think it is necessary to clean up the
trust environment: 68% say it is very important to repair the public’s level of
confidence in the federal government, and 58% say the same about improving
confidence in fellow Americans. [Note: contains copyrighted
[PDF format, 84 pages].
Emergency Assistance for Agricultural Land Rehabilitation. Congressional Research Service. Megan Stubbs. Updated June 11, 2019
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers
several permanently authorized programs to help producers recover from natural
disasters. Most of these programs offer financial assistance to producers for a
loss in the production of crops or livestock. In addition to the production
assistance programs, USDA also has several permanent disaster assistance
programs that help producers repair damaged crop and forest land following natural
disasters. These programs offer financial and technical assistance to producers
to repair, restore, and mitigate damage on private land. These emergency
agricultural land assistance programs include the Emergency Conservation
Program (ECP), the Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP), and the
Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program. In addition to these programs,
USDA also has flexibility in administering other programs that allow for
support and repair of damaged cropland in the event of an emergency.
[PDF format, 17 pages].
States of Change: How Demographic Change is Transforming the Republican and Democratic Parties. Brookings Institution. Rob Griffin, William H. Frey, and Ruy Teixeira. July 1, 2019
Demographics are not destiny, but steady and predictable
changes to the electorate play an important role in defining the landscape of
American politics. Most demographic groups have a political lean, so a group
increasing or decreasing in size over time will tend to benefit one party or
type of politics over another. The most well-known example is the growth of the
nonwhite population in the United States, which—since nonwhites tend to lean
heavily Democratic—is typically viewed as tilting the electoral terrain
somewhat toward the Democrats over time as well as increasing the weight of
nonwhite voters within the Democratic Party over time. But other changes are
important, such as the decline of noncollege educated voters, particularly
whites; the aging of the adult population; and the rise of new generations to
replace older ones.
In this report, the authors will explore the effect of these changes on the demographic composition of the electorate and, especially, on the composition of the two major political parties. Reflecting the latter focus, this analysis will not focus on how many individuals from a given demographic group voted or will likely vote for the Democratic or Republican candidate in a particular election. Rather, it focuses on how many people who voted or are likely to vote for the Democratic or Republican candidate in a particular election belong to a given demographic group. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
[PDF format, 53 pages].
Supporting Students with High-Incidence Disabilities in U.S. Schools: National Findings from the American Educator Panels. RAND Corporation. Laura Stelitano, Rachel Perera, William R. Johnston. June 27, 2019.
The extent to which students with high-incidence
disabilities (SWDs) are afforded effective and specialized instruction depends,
in large part, upon the support their teachers receive. Certain teacher
supports are essential for effectively serving SWDs, including a supportive
school culture, collaboration and planning time, resources and training, and
access to data and tools for using data. In this report, we explore the extent
to which these supports are available to general and special educators, based
on the results of the Measurement, Learning, and Improvement Survey to the RAND
American Teacher Panel, a survey administered to a nationally representative
sample of teachers. While research has established the importance of these
supports, little is known about teachers’ access to them on the nationwide
level and about how school-level factors (such as grade levels served,
percentage of minority students, and poverty level) influence the prevalence of
teacher supports. Overall, teachers’ access to support for serving SWDs varied
by type of support, teacher role, and school level. General educators and
teachers at the high school level were significantly less likely to report
having sufficient access to support. Planning and release time were among the supports
least often deemed sufficient by both general and special educators. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
[PDF format, 24 pages].
Understanding the Effects of the US Stress Tests. Brookings Institution. Donald Kohn and Nellie Liang. July 11, 2019
Concurrent stress tests—testing all major banks with the
same macroeconomic and market scenarios at the same time—were a key innovation
growing out of the financial crisis of 2007-09. Their original intent in 2009
was to identify the capital needed by banks to continue functioning in a deep
recession and require them to raise the capital, from private sources or the
government, to support the economy. The stress tests have evolved
considerably since 2009, but the underlying rationale remains to assure that
major banks can continue to supply credit to households and businesses in
circumstances of deep economic and financial distress. The tests allow
policymakers to assess the adequacy of capital buffers and to require
remediation when necessary through modifications to institutions’ capital
plans. They are a strong microprudential tool, with important macroprudential
In this paper, Donald Kohn and Nellie Liang of the Hutchins
Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at Brookings focused on assessing some of
the effects of this new prudential tool as implemented in the United States,
and contributing to the Federal Reserve Board’s review of its supervisory
stress tests. They analyzed the data that are publicly disclosed about the
stress tests for their implications for bank capital requirements and risk
management, and marshaled the evidence from existing studies on the effects of
stress tests on credit rather than undertaking new efforts. In addition, they
interviewed a number of people knowledgeable about the stress tests to get
their views on their effects. These included current and former supervisors and
Federal Reserve economists (some of whom are now at consultancies advising
banks on stress tests or at interest groups), current and former bankers
involved in the stress tests at the banks, and other interested observers. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
[PDF format, 30 pages].