Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Conference report filed in House (12/01/1995)

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Title I: Department of Justice

Title II: Department of Commerce and Related Agencies

Title III: The Judiciary

Title IV: Department of State and Related Agencies

Title V: Related Agencies

Title VI: General Provisions

Title VII: Rescissions

Title VIII: Prison Litigation Reform

Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1996 - Title I: Department of Justice - Department of Justice Appropriations Act, 1996 - Makes FY 1996 appropriations to the Department of Justice, including funding for the Community Relations Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the Federal Prison System.

(Sec. 103) Prohibits the use of appropriated funds to: (1) pay for an abortion, except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term or in the case of rape; and (2) require any person to perform, or facilitate the performance of, any abortion.

(Sec. 112) Amends the Department of Justice and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1993 to continue the authority for the undercover operations of the FBI and DEA for one year.

(Sec. 114) Revises provisions of subtitle A (Violent Offender Incarceration and Truth in Sentencing Incentive Grants) of title II (Prisons) of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. Directs the Attorney General to provide grants to eligible States to build or expand: (1) correctional facilities to increase the prison bed capacity for the confinement of persons convicted of a "part 1 violent crime" (murder, non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) or adjudicated delinquent for an act which, if committed by an adult, would be a part 1 violent crime; (2) temporary or permanent correctional facilities, including facilities on military bases, prison barges, and boot camps, for the confinement of convicted nonviolent offenders and criminal aliens for the purpose of freeing suitable existing prison space for the confinement of persons convicted of a part 1 violent crime; and (3) jails.

Authorizes States to enter into regional compacts to carry out such provisions, subject to specified limitations. Specifies that an eligible State may receive either a general grant or a truth-in- sentencing incentive grant, with an exception. Sets forth general eligibility requirements.

Requires a State, to be eligible for a general grant, to submit an application to the Attorney General that provides assurances that such State has, since 1993, increased the percentage of persons convicted of a part 1 violent crime sentenced to prison, the average prison time actually to be served in prison by such persons, and the average percentage of time of the sentence to be actually served in prison by persons convicted of a part 1 violent crime and sentenced to prison (with an indeterminant sentencing exception). Requires a State, to be eligible for a truth-in-sentencing incentive grant, to submit such an application providing assurances that: (1) such State has implemented truth-in-sentencing laws that require (or has enacted but has not yet implemented such laws that, within three years, will require) persons convicted of a part 1 violent crime to serve not less than 85 percent of the sentence imposed; or (2) if the State practices indeterminate sentencing, such State demonstrates that the average time served equals at least 85 percent of the sentences established for such crimes under the State's sentencing and release guidelines (with exceptions for geriatric prisoners or those whose medical condition precludes them from posing a threat to the public after a public hearing in which representatives of the public and the prisoner's victims have had an opportunity to be heard regarding a proposed release).

Sets forth special rules regarding State: (1) sharing of funds with counties and other units of local government; (2) policies providing for the recognition of the rights and needs of crime victims; (3) use of funds to build or expand juvenile correctional facilities or pretrial detention facilities for juvenile offenders; and (4) use of funds for the privatization of correctional facilities.

Sets forth: (1) formulas for the Attorney General to apply in determining the amount of funds that may be granted to each eligible State; and (2) accountability requirements.

Authorizes appropriations. Sets forth provisions regarding the distribution, limitations on the use of, and matching requirements with respect to, grant funds.

Sets forth provisions regarding: (1) payments for incarceration on tribal lands; (2) payments to eligible States for incarceration of criminal aliens (and authorizes appropriations); (3) support of Federal prisoners in non-Federal institutions (and authorizes appropriations); and (4) reports by the Attorney General to the Congress.

(Sec. 115) Authorizes the Federal Prison System to enter into agreements with private entities for up to three years and seven additional option years for the confinement of Federal prisoners.

(Sec. 116) Amends the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to exempt from requirements of such Act any State which has had in effect since August 1, 1994, a same-day registration law or a law under which there is no State voter registration requirement for any Federal election.

(Sec. 117) Prohibits a Federal, State, or local agency from using a voter registration card that evidences registration for an election for Federal office as evidence to prove U.S. citizenship.

(Sec. 118) Includes the Administrator of DEA among those officials authorized to use a passenger carrier to provide transport between residence and place of employment.

(Sec. 119) Authorizes the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission to receive and determine the validity and amount of claims by U.S. nationals against the Federal Republic of Germany covered by the Agreement Between the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Government of the United States of America Concerning Final Benefits to Certain United States Nationals Who Were Victims of National Socialist Measures of Persecution.

Directs the Commission to certify to the Secretary of State its determinations and, in the case of claims found to be compensable, to certify the awards entered in the claims to the Secretary of the Treasury. Directs that such awards be paid out of a special fund established following conclusion of the negotiations provided for in the Agreement. Provides for the confidentiality of records.

Title II: Department of Commerce and Related Agencies - Department of Commerce and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1996 - Makes appropriations for FY 1996 for the Department of Commerce (Department) and related agencies and activities, including: (1) the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative; (2) the International Trade Commission and international trade activities; (3) export administration; (4) the Economic Development Administration; (5) minority business development; (6) the U.S. Travel and Tourism Administration; (7) the Bureau of the Census and related activities; (8) the National Telecommunications and Information Administration; (9) public broadcasting facilities, planning, and construction; (10) the Patent and Trademark Office; (11) the National Institute of Standards and Technology and related services and activities; (12) the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (including a transfer of funds); (13) various government trust funds related to ocean and water resources development and activities; and (14) the Office of the Inspector General.

Rescinds $75 million of amounts available to the National Institute of Standards and Technology for the construction of research facilities.

(Sec. 201) Allows advance payments to be made for authorized Department activities only upon certification by Department officials that such payments are in the public interest.

(Sec. 206) Directs the Secretary or other appropriate agency head, if legislation is enacted to dismantle or reorganize the Department, to report to the appropriations committees within 90 days thereafter a plan for transferring funds provided to the Department in this Act to the appropriate successor organizations. Authorizes the Secretary to use any available funds to carry out the legislation, including voluntary separation incentives if duly authorized.

(Sec. 207) Prohibits the use of funds appropriated under this title to implement specified provisions of the Endangered Species Act relating to the determination of endangered or threatened species, except to delist or reclassify species.

(Sec. 208) States that the transfer of title of the Rutland City Industrial Complex to Hilinex, Vermont, shall not require compensation to the Government for its share of such property.

(Sec. 209) Directs the Secretary to: (1) commence and complete a demolition of existing structures and an environmental cleanup of the Central Foundry Property in Holt, Alabama; and (2) transfer such property to the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority.

(Sec. 210) Requires any costs incurred by a department or agency funded under this title resulting from personnel actions taken in response to funding reductions included in this title to be absorbed within the total budgetary resources available to such department or agency.

Title III: The Judiciary - Judiciary Appropriations Act, 1996 - Appropriates FY 1996 funds for activities of the Judiciary, including: (1) the Supreme Court; (2) the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit; (3) the U.S. Court of International Trade; (4) the Courts of Appeals, district courts, and other judicial services; (5) the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (Administrative Office); (6) the Federal Judicial Center; (7) Judicial Retirement Funds; and (8) the United States Sentencing Commission.

(Sec. 305) Revises provisions regarding judicial conferences of the circuits to allow (current law requires) the chief judge to summon judges to and preside at, and every judge to attend and remain throughout, such conferences.

Title IV: Department of State and Related Agencies - Department of State and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1996 - Appropriates funds for FY 1996 for the Department of State and related agencies, activities, and programs, including: (1) diplomatic and consular programs; (2) the Capital Investment Fund; (3) the Office of the Inspector General; (4) payments to the Foreign Service Retirement and Disability Fund; (5) contributions to international organizations, peacekeeping activities, conferences and commissions; (6) a grant to the Asia Foundation; (7) the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA); (8) the United States Information Agency (USIA); (9) the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowship Program Trust Fund; (10) the Israeli Arab Scholarship Program; (11) the American Studies Collections Endowment Fund; (12) international broadcasting operations, including broadcasting to Cuba; and (13) the National Endowment for Democracy.

(Sec. 401) Sets forth authorized and prohibited uses of funds appropriated under this Act.

(Sec. 404) Requires the Secretary of State and the Directors of USIA and ACDA, within 90 days after the enactment of legislation consolidating, reorganizing, or downsizing the functions of such department and agencies, to submit to the appropriations committees a proposal for transferring or rescinding funds appropriated herein for such consolidated functions. Authorizes such officials to use any available funds to cover the consolidation costs required by such legislation, including voluntary separation incentives duly authorized.

(Sec. 407) Amends the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowship Act to extend its Au Pair programs through FY 1999.

(Sec. 408) Repeals Federal provisions limiting the use of endowment trust income under the above Act.

(Sec. 409) Expresses the sense of the Senate that no funds made available under this Act should be used for the deployment of combat- equipped U.S. military personnel for any ground operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, except in specific limited circumstances.

(Sec. 410) Requires costs incurred by a department or agency funded under this title resulting from personnel actions taken in response to funding reductions included in this title to be absorbed within the total budgetary resources available to such department or agency.

Title V: Related Agencies - Appropriates funds for FY 1996 for: (1) the Maritime Administration of the Department of Transportation; (2) the Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad; (3) the Commission on Civil Rights; (4) the Commission on Immigration Reform; (5) the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe; (6) the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; (7) the Federal Communications Commission; (8) the Federal Maritime Commission; (9) the Federal Trade Commission; (10) the Japan-United States Friendship Commission; (11) the Legal Services Corporation; (12) the Marine Mammal Commission; (13) the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday Commission; (14) the Securities and Exchange Commission; (15) the Small Business Administration; (16) certain accounts and revolving funds; and (17) the State Justice Institute.

(Sec. 501) Places limitations on the use of funds by the Legal Services Corporation. Directs the Corporation to: (1) implement a system of competitive awards of grants and contracts that will apply to all contracts for the delivery of legal assistance awarded by the Corporation after March 31, 1996; and (2) promulgate regulations to implement a competitive selection process for the recipients of such grants and contracts. Prohibits the Corporation from: (1) engaging in litigation that is in any way intended to or has the effect of altering or revising any legislative, judicial, or elective district; (2) attempting in any way to influence the issuance of any executive order or regulation or the passage or defeat of any legislation; (3) bringing a class action suit against the Federal Government or any State; (4) providing assistance to any alien unless the alien is lawfully present in this country or meets other specified requirements; (5) supporting or conducting programs to advocate particular public policies or encourage political activities; or (6) participating in any litigation with respect to abortion or any prisoner. Sets forth prohibited uses of funds appropriated to the Corporation. Directs the Corporation to report every 60 days to the appropriations committees setting forth the status of certain legal assistance cases and matters brought through the Corporation. Requires an audit (containing specified information) to be conducted of each person or entity receiving financial assistance from the Corporation. Allows the Corporation access to appropriate legal and financial documents for purposes of such audits, while requiring appropriate confidentiality. Requires such audits for fiscal years beginning on or after January 1, 1996.

(Sec. 510) Provides authorized funds transfers, and transfer limits, for appropriations made to the Small Business Administration.

Title VI: General Provisions - Sets forth authorized and prohibited uses of funds appropriated by this Act.

(Sec. 607) Expresses the sense of the Congress that equipment and products purchased with funds from this Act should be American-made.

(Sec. 609) Prohibits funds from this Act from being used to pay for costs incurred for: (1) opening or operating any U.S. diplomatic or consular post (post) in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam that was not operating on July 11, 1995; (2) expanding any such post that was in operation on such date; or (3) increasing the number of personnel assigned to such post above the level existing on such date, unless the President certifies that the Vietnamese Government is fully cooperating with the United States in activities relating to the investigation and recovery of missing U.S. military personnel from the Vietnam area.

(Sec. 611) Prohibits the use of funds from this Act to provide specified amenities or personal comforts in the Federal prison system.

(Sec. 614) Amends the Federal criminal code to terminate the Advisory Corrections Council.

(Sec. 615) Requires costs incurred by a department or agency funded under this title resulting from personnel actions taken in response to funding reductions included in this title to be absorbed within the total budgetary resources available to such department or agency.

Title VII: Rescissions - Rescinds specified funds from unobligated balances within certain accounts of: (1) the Department of Justice; (2) the State Department; and (3) USIA.

Title VIII: Prison Litigation Reform - Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 - Revises Federal criminal code provisions regarding remedies for prison crowding to substitute provisions regarding remedies for prison conditions.

Prohibits: (1) prospective relief in any civil action regarding prison conditions from extending further than necessary to correct the violation of the Federal right of particular plaintiffs; and (2) the court from granting or approving any such relief unless that relief is narrowly drawn, extends no further than necessary to correct the violation of the Federal right, and is the least intrusive means necessary to correct the violation. Directs the court to give substantial weight to any adverse impact on public safety or the operation of a criminal justice system caused by the relief.

Prohibits the court from ordering prospective relief that requires or permits a government official to exceed his or her authority under, or that otherwise violates, State or local law, unless: (1) Federal law permits such relief to be ordered in violation of State or local law; (2) the relief is necessary to correct the violation of a Federal right; and (3) no other relief will correct the violation of the Federal right.

Authorizes the court to enter a temporary restraining order or an order for preliminary injunctive relief, which shall automatically expire 90 days after its entry, with exceptions. Directs the court to give substantial weight to any adverse impact on public safety or operation of a criminal justice system caused by the preliminary relief, and to respect principles of comity in tailoring any such relief.

Prohibits a prisoner release order from being entered unless: (1) a court has previously entered an order for less intrusive relief that has failed to remedy the deprivation of the Federal right and the defendant has had a reasonable amount of time to comply with the previous court orders; and (2) it is entered by a three-judge court, which finds by clear and convincing evidence that crowding is the primary cause of the violation and no other relief will remedy it.

Sets forth provisions regarding: (1) termination or modification of relief; (2) settlements; (3) State law remedies; (4) procedure for motions affecting prospective relief; and (5) the use of special masters.

(Sec. 803) Amends the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act to require the Attorney General to personally sign any complaint filed, or any certification or motion to intervene made, to initiate a civil action under the Act.

Revises provisions of the Act to prohibit any action from being brought by a prisoner with respect to prison conditions until available administrative remedies are exhausted. Specifies that the failure of a State to adopt or adhere to an administrative grievance procedure shall not constitute the basis for an action. Directs the court to dismiss any such action if satisfied that the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief (and authorizes the court, in such instances, to dismiss the underlying claim without first requiring exhaustion of administrative remedies).

Sets forth provisions regarding: (1) limits on the award of attorney fees; (2) limits on recovery; (3) hearings; and (4) waiver of reply.

(Sec. 804) Amends the Federal judicial code to require a prisoner: (1) of a Federal, State, or local institution seeking to bring a civil action or appeal a judgment in a civil action or proceeding without prepayment of fees or security to submit a certified copy of the prisoner's trust fund account statement for the six-month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint or notice of appeal, obtained from the appropriate official of each institution at which the prisoner is or was confined; and (2) who brings a civil action or files an appeal in forma pauperis to pay the full amount of a filing fee (and directs the court to assess and, when funds exist, to collect, as a partial payment of any court fees required by law, an initial partial filing fee of 20 percent of the greater of the average monthly deposits to the prisoner's account or the average monthly balance in the prisoner's account for such six-month period).

Sets forth similar provisions regarding the payment of costs by the prisoner.

Revises provisions regarding the appointment of counsel in forma pauperis proceedings to require the court to dismiss the case at any time if the allegation of poverty is untrue or if the action or appeal is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.

Makes an exception to the discharge of debt in a bankruptcy proceeding for a fee imposed by a court for the filing of a case, motion, complaint, or appeal, or for other costs and expenses assessed with respect to such filing, regardless of an assertion of poverty by the debtor or the debtor's status as a prisoner. Sets forth provisions regarding: (1) successive claims; (2) judicial screening of complaints in civil actions brought by prisoners against governmental entities; and (3) limits of Federal tort claims by prisoners.

(Sec. 807) Requires any compensatory damages award to a prisoner in connection with a civil action brought against any Federal, State, or local correctional facility or official or agent thereof to be paid directly to satisfy any outstanding restitution orders pending against the prisoner, with the remainder forwarded to the prisoner.

(Sec. 808) Provides for notice to crime victims of pending damage awards.

(Sec. 809) Authorizes the court to revoke earned release credit under specified circumstances.

Amends the Federal criminal code to: (1) direct the Bureau of Prisons, in awarding credit towards service of sentence for satisfactory behavior, to consider whether the prisoner has earned or is making satisfactory progress toward earning a high school diploma or an equivalent degree; and (2) provide that credit awarded after the date of enactment of this Act shall vest on the date the prisoner is released from custody.