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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2011 Appropriations


Nathan James, Coordinator
Analyst in Crime Policy

Oscar R. Gonzales, Coordinator
Analyst in Economic Development Policy

Jennifer D. Williams, Coordinator
Specialist in American National Government


This report provides an overview of actions taken by Congress to provide FY2011 appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS). It also provides an overview of FY2010 appropriations for agencies and bureaus funded under the CJS bill. The sources for the FY2010-enacted amounts are S.Rept. 111-229 and the United States Patent and Trademark Office Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2010 (P.L. 111-224). The source for the Administration’s FY2011 requested amounts is S.Rept. 111-229. The amounts for the House-passed Full-Year CR were taken from the text of the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 (H.R. 1, referred to as the “Full-Year CR”).

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (P.L. 111-117), included a total of $68.834 billion in new budget authority for CJS. For FY2011, the Administration requests a total of $66.109 billion for CJS, a 4.0% decrease in budget authority compared with FY2010 appropriations. On February 11, 2011, the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 (H.R. 1) was introduced in the House. The bill passed the House on February 19, 2011. The House-passed Full-Year CR would provide a total of $60.133 billion for CJS agencies, a proposed decrease of 12.6% compared to FY2010 appropriations and 9.0% less than the Administration’s FY2011 request.

On July 29, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-212), which provides $49.0 million to the Economic Development Administration (EDA) for long-term disaster relief, recovery, and restoration of infrastructure in states that experienced damage due to severe storms and flooding during March 2010 through May 2010. In addition, the law provides $5.0 million in EDA funding to states affected by the incidents related to gulf coast oil spill that began with the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform. The law also provides $10.0 for the Department of Justice for litigation expenses related to the gulf coast oil spill.

On August 10, 2010, President Obama signed into law the United States Patent and Trademark Office Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2010 (P.L. 111-224). The law provides an additional $129.0 million for salaries and expenses at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for FY2010.

On August 13, 2010, the President signed into law H.R. 6080 (P.L. 111-230), which provides a total of $196.0 million for the Department of Justice for increased law enforcement activities related to Southwest border enforcement.

On March 18, 2001, President Obama signed into law the Additional Continuing Appropriations Amendments, 2011 (P.L. 112-6). The act extended the provisions of the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 (P.L. 111-242) until April 8, 2011. The latest act provides appropriations for most agencies and bureaus funded under the annual CJS bill at FY2010 enacted levels until April 8, 2011, with the exception of the Census Bureau, which is funded at an annualized rate of $1.223 billion instead of continuing the $7.325 billion appropriated for FY2010. The most recent act also includes an additional $738.6 million reduction in FY2011 annualized funding for CJS agencies and bureaus and it also rescinded a total of $1.788 billion in unobligated balances.



Date of Report: March 21, 2011
Number of Pages: 53
Order Number: R41161
Price: $29.95

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Authority of the Secretary of HHS to Make Exceptions to Minimum Earnings Requirement for Eligibility Under the CLASS Act


To: Hon. Charles Boustany, Jr.
Attention: Mike Thompson

From:
Edward C. Liu
Legislative Attorney


This memorandum responds to your request for an analysis of the scope of the authority of the Secretary of Health and Human Services to define exceptions to the minimum earnings requirement for purposes of being considered an eligible beneficiary under § 3202(6)(C) of the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) as added by the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act (CLASS Act).


Date of Report: March 15, 2011
Number of Pages: 4
Order Number: M-031311
Price: $19.95

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tax Credit Bonds: Overview and Analysis


Steven Maguire
Specialist in Public Finance

Almost all state and local governments sell bonds to finance public projects and certain qualified private activities. Most of the bonds issued are tax-exempt bonds because the interest payments are not included in the bondholder’s (purchaser’s) federal taxable income. In contrast, Tax Credit Bonds (TCBs) are a type of bond that offers the holder or the issuer a federal tax credit instead of interest. This report explains the tax credit mechanism and describes the market for the bonds.

There are a variety of TCBs. Qualified zone academy bonds (QZABs), which were the first tax credit bonds, were introduced as part of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 (P.L. 105-34) and were introduced in 1998. Clean renewable energy bonds (CREBs) were created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58) and “new” CREBs by the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-343). Gulf tax credit bonds (GTCBs) were created by the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-135). Authority to issue GTCBs has expired. Qualified forestry conservation bonds (QFCBs) were created by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-246). Qualified energy conservation bonds (QECBs) and Midwest Disaster Bonds (MWDBs) were created by the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-343).

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-5, ARRA) included several bond provisions that use a tax credit mechanism. Specifically, ARRA created Qualified School Constructions Bonds (QSCBs) and a new type of bond that for the first time allows issuers the option of receiving a federal payment instead of allowing a federal tax exemption on the interest payments. These new bonds, Build America Bonds (BABs) and Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds (RZEDBs), are also unlike other tax credit bonds in that the interest rate on the bonds is a rate agreed to by the issuer and investor. In contrast, the Secretary of the Treasury sets the credit rate for the other TCBs. The authority to issue BABs and RZEDBs expired after 2010.

Each TCB, with the exception of BABs, is designated for a specific purpose or project. Issuers use the proceeds for public school construction and renovation; clean renewable energy projects; refinancing of outstanding government debt in regions affected by natural disasters; conservation of forest land; investment in energy conservation; and for economic development purposes.

All of the TCBs are temporary tax provisions. The QZAB and QSCB credit rate is set at 100% and the new CREB and QECB credit rate is set at 70% of the interest cost. In contrast, the BAB tax credit rate is 35%. There were several bills introduced in the 111
th Congress that would have extended all of the tax credit bond programs including BABs. Only QZABs were extended for the 2011 tax year with $400 million of capacity (P.L. 111-312).

In the FY2012 budget, the Obama Administration has proposed extending the BAB program at a lower direct payment credit rate of 28%. The reduced credit rate is intended to minimize the cost to the Treasury and better approximate the revenue-neutral credit rate. In the 112
th Congress, several bills have been introduced to extend and expand a modified version of BABs, including H.R. 11, H.R. 736, H.R. 747, and H.R. 992.


Date of Report: March 15, 2011
Number of Pages: 16
Order Number: R40523
Price: $29.95

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Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program

Wendy H. Schacht
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

In 1982, the Small Business Innovation Development Act (P.L. 97-219) established Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programs within the major federal research and development (R&D) agencies designed to increase participation of small innovative companies in federally funded R&D. Government agencies with R&D budgets of $100 million or more are required to set aside a portion of these funds to finance the SBIR activity. Through FY2007, over $22.3 billion in awards have been made for more than 100,016 projects.

Reauthorized several times over the years, the SBIR program was scheduled to terminate on September 30, 2008. To date, the program has not been specifically reauthorized, but instead temporarily extended by several bills, including P.L. 110-235, which extended the activity through March 20, 2009. P.L. 111-10 provided an additional extension through July 31, 2009; P.L. 111-43 through September 30, 2009; and P.L. 111-66 through October 31, 2009. P.L. 111-89 once again extended the program through April 30, 2010; P.L. 111-214 through September 30, 2010; and P.L. 111-251 through January 31, 2011. P.L. 112-1 provides an additional extension through May 31, 2011.

Several bills have been introduced in the 112
th Congress that would reauthorize and make changes to the SBIR program (and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program) including H.R. 447, H.R. 448, H.R. 449, and S. 493, as reported March 9, 2011, from the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. For further information on SBIR reauthorization activity see CRS Report RS22865, The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program: Reauthorization Efforts, by Wendy H. Schacht.

During the 111
th Congress, efforts to reauthorize and amend the SBIR and STTR programs included H.R. 2965 which passed the House and the Senate after the language of S. 1233 (amended) was substituted. In the closing days of the 111th Congress, the Senate also passed S. 4053, a bill to “reauthorize and improve” the SBIR effort. However, the House did not take up this legislation.


Date of Report: March 17, 2011
Number of Pages: 10
Order Number: 96-402
Price: $29.95

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Runaway and Homeless Youth: Demographics and Programs


Adrienne L. Fernandes-Alcantara
Specialist in Social Policy

There is no single definition of the term “runaway youth” or “homeless youth.” However, both groups of youth share the risk of not having adequate shelter and other provisions, and may engage in harmful behaviors while away from a permanent home. These two groups also include “thrownaway” youth who are asked to leave their homes, and may include other vulnerable youth populations, such as current and former foster youth and youth with mental health or other issues.

Youth most often cite family conflict as the major reason for their homelessness or episodes of running away. A youth’s relationship with a step-parent, sexual activity, sexual orientation, pregnancy, school problems, and alcohol and drug use are strong predictors of family discord. The precise number of homeless and runaway youth is unknown due to their residential mobility and overlap among the populations. Determining the number of these youth is further complicated by the lack of a standardized methodology for counting the population and inconsistent definitions of what it means to be homeless or a runaway. Estimates of the homeless youth exceed 1 million. Estimates of runaway youth—including “thrownaway” youth (youth asked to leave their homes)—are between 1 million and 1.7 million.

From the early 20
th century through the 1960s, the needs of runaway and homeless youth were handled locally through the child welfare agency, juvenile justice courts, or both. The 1970s marked a shift toward federal oversight of programs that help youth who had run afoul of the law, including those who committed status offenses (i.e., running away). In 1974, Congress passed the Runaway Youth Act of 1974 as Title III of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (P.L. 93-415) to assist runaways outside of the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. The federal Runaway and Homeless Youth Program (RHYP) has since been expanded through reauthorization laws enacted approximately every five years since the 1970s, most recently by the Reconnecting Homeless Youth Act (P.L. 110-378).

The RHYP currently authorizes federal funding for three programs—the Basic Center Program, Transitional Living Program, and Street Outreach Program. The Basic Center Program provides temporary shelter, counseling, and after care services to runaway and homeless youth under age 18 and their families. The BCP serves approximately 40,000 to 50,000 youth per year. The Transitional Living Program is targeted to older youth ages 16 through 22 (and sometimes an older age), and serves approximately 3,500 to 4,000 youth each year. Youth who use the TLP receive longer-term housing with supportive services. The Street Outreach Program provides education, treatment, counseling, and referrals for runaway, homeless, and street youth who have been subjected to or are at risk of being subjected to sexual abuse and exploitation. Each year, the SOP makes hundreds of thousands of contacts with street youth (some of whom have multiple contacts). Related services authorized by the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act include a national communication system to facilitate communication between service providers, runaway youth, and their families; training and technical support for grantees; and evaluations of the programs; among other activities. The 2008 reauthorizing legislation expands the program, requiring HHS to conduct an incidence and prevalence study of runaway and homeless youth.

In addition to the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program, other federal programs support runaway and homeless youth. Assistance can be provided through the Education for Homeless Children and Youth program, discretionary grants for family violence prevention, and the Chafee Foster Care Independent Living program for foster youth.



Date of Report: March 18, 2011
Number of Pages: 36
Order Number: RL33785
Price: $29.95

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Community Services Block Grants (CSBG): Background and Funding


Karen Spar
Specialist in Domestic Social Policy and Division Research Coordinator

Community Services Block Grants (CSBG) provide federal funds to states, territories, and tribes for distribution to local agencies to support a wide range of community-based activities to reduce poverty. Smaller related programs—Community Economic Development, Rural Community Facilities, Job Opportunities for Low-Income Individuals (JOLI), and Individual Development Accounts (IDAs)—also provide grants for anti-poverty efforts and are administered at the national level. CSBG and some of the related activities trace their history to the War on Poverty of the 1960s. They are currently administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

CSBG and related activities are now operating at FY2010 levels under the latest in a series of continuing resolutions (CRs) for FY2011. The current CR (P.L. 112-6) is the sixth temporary funding measure enacted since the beginning of FY2011; it expires on April 8.

The House passed legislation on February 19 (H.R. 1) that would have extended funding through the end of FY2011, but at sharply reduced levels for many programs, including CSBG. As passed by the House, H.R. 1 contained a total of $405 million for programs authorized under the CSBG Act; this included $395 million for the block grant (compared to the FY2010 level of $700 million) and $10 million for Rural Community Facilities (the same as the FY2010 level). No funding would have gone to Community Economic Development, and JOLI and IDAs would have stayed at FY2010 levels ($2.6 million and $24 million, respectively). On March 9, the Senate failed to pass the House version of H.R. 1 and also failed to pass a Senate amendment (S.Amdt. 149) that would have kept CSBG and related activities at their current (FY2010) levels for the balance of FY2011.

While final action on the FY2011 budget remains uncertain, President Obama released his FY2012 proposals on February 14, seeking $350 million for CSBG (a 50% reduction from FY2010). Coupled with this request is the stated intent to move toward a competitive program; states would award block grant funds among local agencies on a competitive basis, rather than the long-standing mandatory pass-through to designated “eligible entities.” The Administration also requested $20 million for Community Economic Development (down from $36 million in FY2010), $24 million for IDAs (same as FY2010), and no funding for Rural Community Facilities or JOLI.

According to state-reported data for FY2008 (the latest data available), the nationwide network of more than 1,000 local CSBG grantees served nearly 16.4 million individuals in 7.1 million lowincome families. Local entities reported spending CSBG funds for emergency services (19%); activities to promote self-sufficiency (16%); activities to promote linkages among community groups and other organizations (15%); education (12%); employment (10%); housing (8%); nutrition (7%); income management (6%); health (4%); and other services or activities.

Although Congress has continued to fund CSBG and related activities each year through appropriations laws, the legislative authorization of appropriations for most of these programs expired at the end of FY2003. (JOLI is permanently authorized.) No reauthorization proposal has been introduced since the 109
th Congress.


Date of Report: March 21, 2011
Number of Pages: 27
Order Number: RL32872
Price: $29.95

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