Search Penny Hill Press

Loading...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sex Trafficking of Children in the United States: Overview and Issues for Congress


Kristin M. Finklea
Specialist in Domestic Security

Adrienne L. Fernandes-Alcantara
Specialist in Social Policy

Alison Siskin
Specialist in Immigration Policy


The trafficking of individuals within U.S borders is commonly referred to as domestic human trafficking, and it occurs in every state of the nation. One form of domestic human trafficking is sex trafficking. Research indicates that most victims of sex trafficking into and within the United States are women and children, and the victims include U.S. citizens and noncitizens alike. Recently, Congress has focused attention on domestic sex trafficking, including the prostitution of children—which is the focus of this report.

Federal law does not define sex trafficking per se. However, the term “severe forms of trafficking in persons,” as defined in the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA, P.L. 106-386) encompasses sex trafficking. “Severe forms of trafficking in persons” refers, in part, to “[s]ex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age....” Experts generally agree that the trafficking term applies to minors whether the child’s actions were forced or appear to be voluntary.

The exact number of child victims of sex trafficking in the United States is unknown because comprehensive research and scientific data are lacking. Sex trafficking of children appears to be fueled by a variety of environmental and situational variables ranging from poverty or the use of prostitution by runaway and “thrown-away” children to provide for their subsistence needs to the recruitment of children by organized crime units for prostitution.

The TVPA has been the primary vehicle authorizing services to victims of trafficking. Several agencies have programs or administer grants to other entities to provide specific services to trafficking victims. Despite language that authorizes services for citizen, lawful permanent resident, and noncitizen victims, appropriations for trafficking victims’ services have primarily been used to serve noncitizen victims. U.S. citizen victims are also eligible for certain crime victim benefits and public benefit entitlement programs, though these services are not tailored to trafficking victims. Of note, specialized services and support for minor victims of sex trafficking are limited. Nationwide, organizations specializing in support for these victims collectively have fewer than 50 beds. Other facilities, such as runaway and homeless youth shelters and foster care homes, may not be able to adequately meet the needs of victims or keep them from pimps/ traffickers and other abusers.

In addition, it has been suggested that minor victims of sex trafficking—while too young to consent to sexual activity with adults—may at times be labeled as prostitutes or juvenile delinquents and treated as criminals rather than being identified and treated as trafficking victims. These children who are arrested may be placed in juvenile detention facilities instead of environments where they can receive needed social and protective services.

Finally, experts widely agree that any efforts to reduce the prevalence of child sex trafficking—as well as other forms of trafficking—should address not only the supply, but also the demand. Congress may consider demand reduction strategies such as increasing public awareness and prevention as well as bolstering investigations and prosecutions of those who buy illegal commercial sex (“johns”). In addition, policy makers may deliberate enhancing services for victims of trafficking. Congress may address these and other issues if policy makers choose to take up the reauthorization of the TVPA, which expired at the end of FY2011.



Date of Report: August 15, 2012
Number of Pages: 47
Order Number: R41878
Price: $29.95

To Order:


R41878.pdf  to use the SECURE SHOPPING CART

e-mail congress@pennyhill.com

Phone 301-253-0881

For email and phone orders, provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Follow us on TWITTER at http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gun Control Legislation


William J. Krouse
Specialist in Domestic Security and Crime Policy

Congress has debated the efficacy and constitutionality of federal regulation of firearms and ammunition, with strong advocates arguing for and against greater gun control. In the wake of the July 20, 2012, Aurora, CO, theater mass shooting, in which 12 people were shot to death and 58 wounded (7 of them critically) by a lone gunman, it is likely that there will be calls in the 112th Congress to reconsider a 1994 ban on semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices that expired in September 2004. There were similar calls to ban such feeding devices (see S. 436/H.R. 1781) following the January 8, 2011, Tucson, AZ, mass shooting, in which 6 people were killed and 14 wounded, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was grievously wounded. These calls could be amplified by the August 5, 2012, Sikh temple shooting in Milwaukee, WI, in which six worshipers were shot to death and three wounded by a lone gunman.

The 112th Congress continues to consider the implications of Operation Fast and Furious and allegations that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) mishandled that Phoenix, AZ-based gun trafficking investigation. On June 28, 2012, the House passed a resolution (H.Res. 711) citing Attorney General Eric Holder with contempt for his failure to produce additional, subpoenaed documents related to Operation Fast and Furious to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. On May 18, 2012, the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013 (H.R. 4310), which would amend a limitation on the Secretary of Defense’s authority to regulate firearms privately held by members of the Armed Forces off-base. On May 10, 2012, the House passed a Commerce-Justice-State appropriations bill (H.R. 5326) that would fund ATF for FY2013, and on April 19, 2012, the Senate Committee on Appropriations reported a similar bill (S. 2323).

On April 17, 2012, the House passed the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012 (H.R. 4089), a bill that would require agencies that manage federal public lands to facilitate access to and use of those lands for the purposes of recreational fishing, hunting, and shooting with certain exceptions set out in statute. Language to a similar effect was included in the FY2013 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill (H.R. 6091), which the House Committee on Appropriations reported on July 10, 2012. On November 16, 2011, the House passed a bill (H.R. 822) that would establish a greater degree of reciprocity between states that issue concealed carry handgun permits. On October 11, 2011, the House passed a Veterans’ Benefits Act (H.R. 2349) that would prohibit the Department of Veterans Affairs from determining a beneficiary to be mentally incompetent for the purposes of gun control, unless such a determination were made by a judicial authority based upon a finding that the beneficiary posed a danger to himself or others.

This report also includes discussion of other salient and recurring gun control issues that have generated past or current congressional interest. Those issues include (1) screening firearms background check applicants against terrorist watch lists, (2) combating gun trafficking and straw purchases, (3) reforming the regulation of federally licensed gun dealers, (4) requiring background checks for private firearms transfers at gun shows, (5) more-strictly regulating certain firearms previously defined in statute as “semiautomatic assault weapons,” and (6) banning or requiring the registration of certain long-range .50 caliber rifles, which are commonly referred to as “sniper” rifles. To set these and other emerging issues in context, this report provides basic firearms-related statistics, an overview of federal firearms law, and a summary of legislative action in the 111th and 112th Congresses.



Date of Report: August 14, 2012
Number of Pages: 113
Order Number: RL32842
Price: $29.95

To Order:


RL32842.pdf  to use the SECURE SHOPPING CART

e-mail congress@pennyhill.com

Phone 301-253-0881

For email and phone orders, provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Follow us on TWITTER at http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

Friday, August 24, 2012

Department of Defense Energy Initiatives: Background and Issues for Congress


Moshe Schwartz
Specialist in Defense Acquisition

Katherine Blakeley
Analyst in Foreign Affairs

Ronald O'Rourke
Specialist in Naval Affairs


The Department of Defense (DOD) spends billions of dollars per year on fuel, and is pursuing numerous initiatives for reducing its fuel needs and changing the mix of energy sources that it uses. DOD’s energy initiatives pose several potential oversight issues for Congress, and have been topics of discussion and debate at hearings on DOD’s proposed FY2013 budget.

By some accounts, DOD is the largest organizational user of petroleum in the world. Even so, DOD’s share of total U.S. energy consumption is fairly small. DOD is by far the largest U.S. government user of energy. The amount of money that DOD spends on petroleum-based fuels is large in absolute terms, but relatively small as a percentage of DOD’s overall budget. DOD’s fuel costs have increased substantially over the last decade, to about $17 billion in FY2011. Petroleum-based liquid fuels are by far DOD’s largest source of energy, accounting for approximately two-thirds of DOD energy consumption. When DOD’s fuel use is divided by service, the Air Force is the largest user; when divided by platform type, aircraft are the largest user.

According to DOD, currently about 75% of DOD’s energy use is operational energy and about 25% is installation energy. Operational energy is defined in law as “the energy required for training, moving, and sustaining military forces and weapons platforms for military operations.” Installation energy is not defined in law, but in practice refers to energy used at installations, including non-tactical vehicles, that does not fall under the definition of operational energy.

DOD’s reliance on fuel can lead to financial, operational, and strategic challenges and risks. Financial challenges and risks relate to the possibility of a longer-term trend of increasing costs for fuel, and to shorter-term volatility in fuel prices. Operational challenges and risks relate to: (1) the diversion of resources to the task of moving fuel to the battlefield; (2) the negative impact of fuel requirements on the mobility of U.S. forces and the combat effectiveness of U.S. equipment, and (3) the vulnerability of fuel supply lines to disruption. Strategic challenges and risks relate to getting fuel to the overseas operating area, and ensuring the global free flow of oil.

As part of its FY2013 budget submission, DOD has requested more than $1.4 billion for operational energy initiatives in FY2013. DOD’s office of Operational Energy Plans and Programs, headed by the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Operational Energy Plans and Programs (ASD (OEPP)), is responsible for developing DOD policy for operational energy and alternative fuels, and for coordinating operational energy efforts across the services.

Congress has been concerned with energy policy since the 1970s, and has passed legislation relating to federal government energy use, including DOD installation energy use. Congress has set specific energy-reduction targets for DOD installation energy, but not for operational energy.

Potential oversight issues for Congress regarding DOD’s energy initiatives include:

  • DOD’s coordination of operational energy initiatives being pursued by the military services. 
  • DOD’s efforts to gather reliable data and develop metrics for evaluating DOD’s energy initiatives. 
  • DOD’s estimates of future fuel costs. 
  • DOD’s role in federal energy initiatives. 
  • The Navy’s initiative to help jumpstart a domestic advanced biofuels industry. 
  • The potential implications for DOD energy initiatives of shifts in U.S. military strategy.

Date of Report: August 10, 2012
Number of Pages: 70
Order Number: R42558
Price: $29.95

To Order:


R42558.pdf  to use the SECURE SHOPPING CART

e-mail congress@pennyhill.com

Phone 301-253-0881

For email and phone orders, provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Follow us on TWITTER at http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program: Background and Issues for Congress


Ronald O'Rourke
Specialist in Naval Affairs

The Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) program, which is carried out by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Navy, gives Navy Aegis cruisers and destroyers a capability for conducting BMD operations. Under MDA and Navy plans, the number of BMD-capable Navy Aegis ships is scheduled to grow from 24 at the end of FY2011 to 36 at the end of FY2018.

Under the Administration’s European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) for European BMD operations, BMD-capable Aegis ships have begun operating in European waters to defend Europe from potential ballistic missile attacks from countries such as Iran. On October 5, 2011, the United States, Spain, and NATO jointly announced that, as part of the EPAA, four BMD-capable Aegis ships are to be forward-homeported (i.e., based) at Rota, Spain, in FY2014 and FY2015. BMD-capable Aegis ships also operate in the Western Pacific and the Persian Gulf to provide regional defense against potential ballistic missile attacks from countries such as North Korea and Iran.

The Aegis BMD program is funded mostly through MDA’s budget. The Navy’s budget provides additional funding for BMD-related efforts. MDA’s proposed FY2013 budget requests a total of $2,303.0 million in procurement and research and development funding for Aegis BMD efforts, including funding for Aegis Ashore sites that are to be part of the EPAA.

Issues for Congress for FY2013 include:

  • the reduction under the proposed FY2013 budget in the ramp-up rate for numbers of BMD-capable Aegis ships over the next few years; 
  • the cost effectiveness and U.S. economic impact of shifting four Aegis ships to Rota, Spain; 
  • U.S. vs. European naval contributions to European BMD; 
  • the lack of a target for simulating the endo-atmospheric (i.e., final) phase of flight of China’s DF-21 anti-ship ballistic missile; 
  • the capability of the SM-3 Block IIB Aegis BMD interceptor; and 
  • concurrency and technical risk in the Aegis BMD program.

Date of Report: August 10, 2012
Number of Pages: 82
Order Number: RL33745
Price: $29.95

To Order:


RL33745.pdf  to use the SECURE SHOPPING CART

e-mail congress@pennyhill.com

Phone 301-253-0881

For email and phone orders, provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Follow us on TWITTER at http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background and Issues for Congress


Ronald O'Rourke
Specialist in Naval Affairs

The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is a relatively inexpensive Navy surface combatant equipped with modular “plug-and-fight” mission packages. The Navy wants to field a force of 55 LCSs. Twelve LCSs have been funded through FY2012, and the FY2013-FY2017 Future Years Defense Plan (FYDP) calls for procuring 16 more, in annual quantities of 4-4-4-2-2.

The Navy’s proposed FY2013 budget requests $1,785.0 million in procurement funding for the four LCSs requested for FY2013. The Navy’s proposed budget also requests $102.6 million in procurement funding for LCS mission modules.

There are two very different LCS designs—one developed by an industry team led by Lockheed, and another developed by an industry team that was led by General Dynamics. The Lockheed design is built at the Marinette Marine shipyard at Marinette, WI; the General Dynamics design is built at the Austal USA shipyard at Mobile, AL. LCSs 1, 3, 5, and so on are Marinette Marinebuilt ships; LCSs 2, 4, 6, and so on are Austal-built ships.

The 20 LCSs procured or scheduled for procurement in FY2010-FY2015—LCSs 5 through 24— are being acquired under a pair of 10-ship block buy contracts. Congress granted the Navy the authority for the block buy contracts in Section 150 of H.R. 3082/P.L. 111-322 of December 22, 2010, and the Navy awarded the block buy contracts to Lockheed and Austal USA on December 29, 2010. The contracts are both fixed-price incentive (FPI) block-buy contracts.

The LCS program has encountered controversy from time to time over the years over various program-related issues. Some observers, citing these issues, potential future Navy operations, and potential future constraints on defense spending, have proposed truncating the number of LCSs to be procured. In response to criticisms of the LCS program, the Navy over the years has acknowledged certain problems and stated that it was taking action to correct them, disputed other arguments made against the program, and maintained its support for the program and for procuring a total of 55 LCSs.

Current issues for Congress concerning the LCS program include the LCS’s prospective mission performance and cost-effectiveness, the combat survivability of the LCS, hull cracking and engine problems on LCS-1, and corrosion on LCS-2.



Date of Report: August 10, 2012
Number of Pages: 98
Order Number: RL33741
Price: $29.95

To Order:


RL33741.pdf  to use the SECURE SHOPPING CART

e-mail congress@pennyhill.com

Phone 301-253-0881

For email and phone orders, provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Follow us on TWITTER at http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports