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Congressional or Federal Charters: Overview and Current Issues

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Publication Date: January 2007

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: RS22230

Topic: Business (Business and government)

Abstract:

A congressional or federal charter is a federal statute that establishes a corporation. Congress has issued charters since 1791, although most charters were issued after the start of the 20th century. Congress has used charters to create a variety of corporate entities, such as banks, government-sponsored enterprises, commercial corporations, venture capital funds, and more. Recently, Congress has faced two issues involving its use of charters -- confusion over who is responsible for the activities of chartered corporations and the challenges of managing them. This report will be updated if relevant legislative action occurs.