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Policy Areas — Field Values

One of 32 broad policy area terms is assigned to every bill and resolution by legislative analysts in the Congressional Research Service upon the release of official text by the Government Publishing Office. The term chosen is the one that best describes the focus or predominant subject matter of each measure. Such factors as the congressional committee of referral and the statutory schemes involved may also play a role in the assignment decision. In some cases, the character of a measure may change drastically in the course of the legislative process (as when a bill is substantially amended and expanded after introduction). Where this occurs, the policy area term may be adjusted to accurately reflect the new version’s focus or content.

Use the policy area browse page to find bills and resolutions by policy area.

The scope notes below are subject to modification and periodic updating.

Back to Field Value Lists

Policy Area Description
Agriculture and FoodPrimary focus of measure is agricultural practices; agricultural prices and marketing; agricultural education; food assistance or nutrition programs; food industry, supply, and safety; aquaculture; horticulture and plants. Measures concerning international trade in agricultural products may fall under Foreign Trade and International Finance policy area.
AnimalsPrimary focus of measure is animal protection; human-animal relationships; wildlife conservation and habitat protection; veterinary medicine. Measures concerning endangered or threatened species may fall under Environmental Protection policy area. Measures concerning wildlife refuge matters may fall under Public Lands and Natural Resources policy area.
Armed Forces and National SecurityPrimary focus of measure is military operations and spending, facilities, procurement and weapons, personnel, intelligence; strategic materials; war and emergency powers; veterans’ issues. Measures concerning alliances and collective security, arms sales and military assistance, or arms control may fall under International Affairs policy area.
Arts, Culture, ReligionPrimary focus of measure is art, literature, performing arts in all formats; arts and humanities funding; libraries, exhibitions, cultural centers; sound recording, motion pictures, television and film; cultural property and resources; cultural relations; and religion. Measures concerning intellectual property aspects of the arts may fall under Commerce policy area. Measures concerning religious freedom may fall under Civil Rights and Liberties, Minority Issues policy area.
Civil Rights and Liberties, Minority IssuesPrimary focus of measure is discrimination on basis of race, ethnicity, age, sex, gender, health or disability; First Amendment rights; due process and equal protection; abortion rights; privacy. Measures concerning abortion rights and procedures may fall under Health policy area.
CommercePrimary focus of measure is business investment, development, regulation; small business; consumer affairs; competition and restrictive trade practices; manufacturing, distribution, retail; marketing; intellectual property. Measures concerning international competitiveness and restrictions on imports and exports may fall under Foreign Trade and International Finance policy area.
CongressPrimary focus of measure is Members of Congress; general congressional oversight; congressional agencies, committees, operations; legislative procedures; U.S. Capitol. Measures concerning oversight and investigation of specific matters may fall under the issue-specific relevant policy area.
Crime and Law EnforcementPrimary focus of measure is criminal offenses, investigation and prosecution, procedure and sentencing; corrections and imprisonment; juvenile crime; law enforcement administration. Measures concerning terrorism may fall under Emergency Management or International Affairs policy areas.
Economics and Public FinancePrimary focus of measure is budgetary matters such as appropriations, public debt, the budget process, government lending, government accounts and trust funds; monetary policy and inflation; economic development, performance, and economic theory.
EducationPrimary focus of measure is elementary, secondary, or higher education including special education and matters of academic performance, school administration, teaching, educational costs, and student aid.
Emergency ManagementPrimary focus of measure is emergency planning; response to civil disturbances, natural and other disasters, including fires; emergency communications; security preparedness.
EnergyPrimary focus of measure is all sources and supplies of energy, including alternative energy sources, oil and gas, coal, nuclear power; efficiency and conservation; costs, prices, and revenues; electric power transmission; public utility matters.
Environmental ProtectionPrimary focus of measure is regulation of pollution including from hazardous substances and radioactive releases; climate change and greenhouse gases; environmental assessment and research; solid waste and recycling; ecology. Measures concerning energy exploration, efficiency, and conservation may fall under Energy policy area.
FamiliesPrimary focus of measure is child and family welfare, services, and relationships; marriage and family status; domestic violence and child abuse. Measures concerning public assistance programs or aging may fall under Social Welfare policy area.
Finance and Financial SectorPrimary focus of measure is U.S. banking and financial institutions regulation; consumer credit; bankruptcy and debt collection; financial services and investments; insurance; securities; real estate transactions; currency. Measures concerning financial crimes may fall under Crime and Law Enforcement. Measures concerning business and corporate finance may fall under Commerce policy area. Measures concerning international banking may fall under Foreign Trade and International Finance policy area.
Foreign Trade and International FinancePrimary focus of measure is competitiveness, trade barriers and adjustment assistance; foreign loans and international monetary system; international banking; trade agreements and negotiations; customs enforcement, tariffs, and trade restrictions; foreign investment. Measures concerning border enforcement may fall under Immigration policy area.
Government Operations and PoliticsPrimary focus of measure is government administration, including agency organization, contracting, facilities and property, information management and services; rulemaking and administrative law; elections and political activities; government employees and officials; Presidents; ethics and public participation; postal service. Measures concerning agency appropriations and the budget process may fall under Economics and Public Finance policy area.
HealthPrimary focus of measure is science or practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease; health services administration and funding, including such programs as Medicare and Medicaid; health personnel and medical education; drug use and safety; health care coverage and insurance; health facilities. Measures concerning controlled substances and drug trafficking may fall under Crime and Law Enforcement policy area.
Housing and Community DevelopmentPrimary focus of measure is home ownership; housing programs administration and funding; residential rehabilitation; regional planning, rural and urban development; affordable housing; homelessness; housing industry and construction; fair housing. Measures concerning mortgages and mortgage finance may fall under Finance and Financial Sector policy area.
ImmigrationPrimary focus of measure is administration of immigration and naturalization matters; immigration enforcement procedures; refugees and asylum policies; travel and residence documentation; foreign labor; benefits for immigrants. Measures concerning smuggling and trafficking of persons may fall under Crime and Law Enforcement policy area. Measures concerning refugees may fall under International Affairs policy area.
International AffairsPrimary focus of measure is matters affecting foreign aid, human rights, international law and organizations; national governance; arms control; diplomacy and foreign officials; alliances and collective security. Measures concerning trade agreements, tariffs, foreign investments, and foreign loans may fall under Foreign Trade and International Finance policy area.
Labor and EmploymentPrimary focus of measure is matters affecting hiring and composition of the workforce, wages and benefits, labor-management relations; occupational safety, personnel management, unemployment compensation. Measures concerning public-sector employment may fall under Government Operations and Politics policy area.
LawPrimary focus of measure is matters affecting civil actions and administrative remedies, courts and judicial administration, general constitutional issues, dispute resolution, including mediation and arbitration. Measures concerning specific constitutional amendments may fall under the policy area relevant to the subject matter of the amendment (e.g., Education). Measures concerning criminal procedure and law enforcement may fall under Crime and Law Enforcement policy area.
Native AmericansPrimary focus of measure is matters affecting Native Americans, including Alaska Natives and Hawaiians, in a variety of domestic policy settings. This includes claims, intergovernmental relations, and Indian lands and resources.
Public Lands and Natural ResourcesPrimary focus of measure is natural areas (including wilderness); lands under government jurisdiction; land use practices and policies; parks, monuments, and historic sites; fisheries and marine resources; mining and minerals. Measures concerning energy supplies and production may fall under Energy policy area.
Science, Technology, CommunicationsPrimary focus of measure is natural sciences, space exploration, research policy and funding, research and development, STEM education, scientific cooperation and communication; technology policies, telecommunication, information technology; digital media, journalism. Measures concerning scientific education may fall under Education policy area.
Social Sciences and HistoryPrimary focus of measure is policy sciences, history, matters related to the study of society. Measures concerning particular aspects of government functions may fall under Government Operations and Politics policy area.
Social WelfarePrimary focus of measure is public assistance and Social Security programs; social services matters, including community service, volunteer, and charitable activities. Measures concerning such health programs as Medicare and Medicaid may fall under Health policy area.
Sports and RecreationPrimary focus of measure is youth, amateur, and professional athletics; outdoor recreation; sports and recreation facilities. Measures concerning recreation areas may fall under Public Lands and Natural Resources policy area.
TaxationPrimary focus of measure is all aspects of income, excise, property, inheritance, and employment taxes; tax administration and collection. Measures concerning state and local finance may fall under Economics and Public Finance policy area.
Transportation and Public WorksPrimary focus of measure is all aspects of transportation modes and conveyances, including funding and safety matters; Coast Guard; infrastructure development; travel and tourism. Measures concerning water resources and navigation projects may fall under Water Resources Development policy area.
Water Resources DevelopmentPrimary focus of measure is the supply and use of water and control of water flows; watersheds; floods and storm protection; wetlands. Measures concerning water quality may fall under Environmental Protection policy area.