EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20503
STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY
(THIS STATEMENT HAS BEEN COORDINATED BY OMB WITH THE CONCERNED AGENCIES.)
July 21, 1998
S. 2260 - COMMERCE, JUSTICE, STATE, THE JUDICIARY,
AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS BILL, FY 1999
(Sponsors: Stevens (R), Alaska; Gregg (R), New Hampshire)
This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views on S. 2260, the Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, FY 1999, as reported by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Your consideration of the Administration's views would be appreciated.
The Administration appreciates efforts by the Committee to accommodate certain of the President's priorities within the 302(b) allocation. However, the allocation is simply insufficient to make the necessary investments in programs funded by this bill.
The only way to achieve the appropriate investment level is to offset discretionary spending by using savings in other areas. The President's FY 1999 Budget proposes levels of discretionary spending for FY 1999 that conform to the Bipartisan Budget Agreement by making savings in mandatory and other programs available to help finance this spending. In the recently enacted Transportation Equity Act, Congress -- on a broad, bipartisan basis -- took similar action in approving funding for surface transportation programs paid for with mandatory offsets. We want to work with the Congress on mutually agreeable mandatory and other offsets that would be used to increase high-priority discretionary programs, including those funded by this bill. In addition, we hope that the Committee will reduce funding for lower priority and unrequested discretionary programs, and redirect funding to programs of higher priority.
The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for many of the President's priorities within the bill. For example, we appreciate the Committee's funding of law enforcement programs in general and the COPS program in particular. Funding COPS at the requested level of $1.4 billion is consistent with the Balanced Budget Agreement and would enable us to achieve the goal of hiring 100,000 additional police officers by the year 2000. However, the Administration is deeply concerned about the funding level for certain important programs, and has additional concerns about other aspects of the bill. These concerns are discussed below.
Small Business Administration
The Administration strongly objects to the Committee mark of $94 million to administer the Small Business Administration's (SBA's) Disaster Loan Program, a 43-percent reduction from the President's request. Such a drastic reduction in funding to originate and service disaster loans would severely curtail SBA's ability to respond to the needs of victims of natural disasters. We also urge the Senate to provide for additional disaster loans.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The Administration strongly urges the Senate to fully fund the President's request of $279 million for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), $25 million above the Committee mark. The additional resources are essential, and would allow EEOC to reduce the backlog of pending complaints and implement much-needed reforms in the way all complaints are managed, including an enhanced alternative dispute resolution program. We look forward to working with Congress to provide funding for EEOC and other programs included in the President's civil rights enforcement initiative.
Department of Commerce
The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for the Department of Commerce overall, and in particular its full funding of the President's request for the Decennial Census, the Nation's single largest statistical operation. However, the Administration remains concerned about funding for a number of high priority programs, including:
- Statistics initiatives that are necessary to upgrade the Nation's core statistical infrastructure, particularly efforts to improve our current measurements of the Gross Domestic Product, Poverty Rate, and other fundamental economic indicators crucial to sound private and public sector decision-making. Increased funding is also vitally important to maintain the full development of the Continuous Measurement program, which will provide critical demographic data about the Nation's communities every year.
- The Advanced Technology Program (ATP) and its support of cutting-edge research. A $39 million cap on new award grants is a 58-percent cut below the request. Also within the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the absence of full funding for the new Advanced Measurement Laboratory would result in insufficient funds to complete this facility, and no funds are provided for the Climate Change Technology Initiative.
- The Clean Water and follow-on weather satellite initiatives, for which funding levels are inadequate to fulfill existing contract obligations and would jeopardize NOAA's ability to combat non-point source pollution and ensure satellite continuity. The satellite allowance would necessitate delayed launch vehicle delivery, elimination of technology development currently underway to replace fifteen-year-old instruments, and a restructuring of the converged satellite program -- a complex and carefully negotiated multi-agency system.
- The National Information Infrastructure Grants Program, which provides seed money for innovative projects that deploy, use, and evaluate advanced information technology, would be severely curtailed with the Committee's 50-percent reduction.
- The Economic Development Administration (EDA), which has achieved impressive results in creating jobs, leveraging private sector dollars, and increasing local tax bases. A reduction to EDA's Title IX (emergency relief) and defense conversion programs would adversely affect EDA's ability to help distressed communities deal with the burdens imposed by industry down-sizing and international trade agreements.
Department of Justice
We appreciate the Committee's continued support for law enforcement and other Department of Justice activities. However, the Administration is concerned about non-hiring set- asides in the COPS program and the Committee's action in a number of other areas:
- Winstar. The Administration strongly opposes the Committee's approach to funding for Winstar, which would require substantial reductions to the non-Winstar related activities of the litigating divisions, including Civil Rights. We believe that the large, one-time litigation costs arising out of the savings and loan rescue are appropriately borne by the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation (FSLIC) Resolution Fund (FRF). The Administration is working with the Banking Committees to provide permanent funding for Justice's Winstar costs from the FRF Fund.
- Immigration and Naturalization Service. The Administration strongly opposes provisions in the bill that would use $166 million in receipts from the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) Immigration Examination and User Fee accounts for expenses not directly related to the immigration services for which they are assessed. Unless these receipts were made available only for such services, the INS would be severely hampered in its efforts to reduce the backlog of pending citizenship applications. The Administration strongly urges the Senate to ensure that all immigration fees are used solely to provide immigration services, and to ensure that receipts from the Examination Fee Account, in particular, are used to reduce the citizenship application backlog.
The Committee mark of $2.4 billion for the INS is $350 million below the Administration's request. This level would jeopardize the Administration's bipartisan border management and enforcement strategy. We strongly urge the Senate to fully fund the border infrastructure and technology, detention support, and interior enforcement initiatives requested by the President.
- Protection Against Chemical and Biological Weapons. We appreciate the Committee's support of the Administration's effort to combat terrorism involving the use of chemical and biological weapons. However, we believe that the levels proposed in the President's June 8th budget amendment reflect the appropriate balance among all aspects of antiterrorism activities. In particular, we hope that the Senate will provide the $49 million that the Administration has requested for bomb squad equipment in direct appropriations.
- Juvenile Justice Block Grant. While juvenile justice programs are an important element of effective law enforcement, the new $100 million block grant program recommended by the Committee would authorize a broad and unfocused range of spending. Rather than funding the block grant, we urge funding for targeted activities, such as the community prosecutors program, prosecutorial initiatives, and youth violence courts.
- Drug Testing. The Committee bill does not provide the $85 million requested for the drug testing and intervention program. Systematic drug testing is a proven, cost-effective means of using the coercive power of the criminal justice system to move non-violent offenders into drug treatment programs, and should be funded.
- Counterdrug Strategy. Report language that directs the Attorney General to create a new interagency counterdrug strategy is inappropriate. The Director of National Drug Control Policy is mandated by statute to perform this function; it should not be transferred to the Attorney General. The Administration strongly opposes this report language.
- Controlled Substances Act. The Administration has serious concerns about sections 118 and 119 of the Justice General Provisions, which would weaken the Drug Enforcement Administration's authority to regulate the flow of drugs classified as controlled substances. The proposed provisions would allow relief for recordkeeping and reporting violations. Careless, negligent, or unknowing violations create an opportunity to divert drugs to illicit channels just as do knowing or intentional violations, which are properly subject to misdemeanor penalties under current law.
- Critical Infrastructure Protection. The Committee bill provides only $19 million of the $34 million requested to reimburse agencies for expenses related to protection of the Nation's critical infrastructure. In particular, the Committee's funding level excludes $6.6 million needed to create a national plan for protecting the Nation's infrastructure, including funds for core staff in the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office.
- Narrowband Communications. The Administration is disappointed that the Subcommittee has not provided the $86 million requested to establish a fund for the consolidation and coordination of the Department's conversion to narrowband communications systems.
- Bureau of Prisons/Abortion. The Administration urges the Senate to strike section 102 of the Committee bill, which would prohibit the Bureau of Prisons from funding abortions except in cases of rape or where the life of the mother is endangered. The Department of Justice believes that there is a great likelihood that this provision would be held unconstitutional.
Legal Services Corporation
The Administration commends the Committee for increasing the funding level for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) to $300 million, $13 million above the FY 1998 enacted level. The recent Supreme Court ruling that interest on lawyer trust accounts (ILTAs) cannot be used to support civil legal services eliminates a funding source that provided LSC programs with more than $57 million last year. It is vitally important that the Congress fully fund the President's request of $340 million to ensure equal access to the judicial system.
International Affairs Programs
The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for the Department of State accounts that fund diplomatic and consular activities and, in particular, funding the request for the State Department's information technology modernization effort, including year 2000 (Y2K) activities. However, the Committee's cuts and unrequested earmarks in the Diplomatic and Consular Programs and Salaries and Expenses accounts, totaling over $30 million, would prevent the Department from meeting expected wage and price increases, covering critical overseas staffing gaps, and addressing other infrastructure shortfalls.
While the Administration is encouraged by the Committee's recognition of the Department's overseas facility requirements, we urge the Senate to restore the $90 million reduction to the Security and Maintenance of United States Missions account and to provide full funding of the President's request for urgently needed embassy facilities in Beijing and Berlin. The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for funding the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency's activities, particularly in light of recent events in South Asia.
The Administration appreciates the steps the Subcommittee has taken to fund the request for arrearage payments this year. The Administration wants to work with the Congress to ensure that these funds are available in a timely fashion to retain our influence in these organizations and to identify reform measures that further U.S. interests. However, we oppose the bill's authorization requirement that is intended to subject this important foreign policy measure to the unrelated issue of family planning policy. There is legitimate disagreement over this issue, but none of the U.N. and related international organizations arrears payments is related to this issue. Therefore, it is wholly inappropriate to hold the payment of U.S. arrears hostage to the family planning issue.
Further, the Committee bill significantly underfunds, by about $75 million, the annual assessed contributions to these organizations. This would increase arrears again and further inhibit chances for the reforms that we are all seeking. In addition, the Committee has imposed a number of certification requirements and conditions before payments by the United States to these organizations can be made.
Taken together, the consequence of these provisions would likely be the loss of the vote of the United States in the United Nations and other international organizations. This would seriously diminish the ability of the United States to influence issues before the U.N. General Assembly such as selection of future Secretaries General and resolutions affecting the Middle East.
Finally, the Administration strongly opposes section 403 and urges the Senate to strike it from the bill. This provision would reduce funding for arrears payments by 25 percent of the total expenditure of the United States made to respond to efforts by Iraq to block United Nations weapons inspections. The decision of the United States to incur these critically important expenditures was made on the basis of our own national security interests.
The Administration is very concerned that funding for the United States Information Agency's overseas information and broadcasting programs has been reduced by $80 million below the President's request. The funding level of $427 million for International Information Programs is $34 million below the President's request, $24 million of which results from the omission of funding for overseas administrative costs. For broadcasting programs, the Committee mark is $46 million below the President's request. A reduction of this magnitude would require a personnel reduction-in-force, eliminate broadcast language services, and defer necessary capital and technical radio modernization improvements. We urge the Senate to provide funding for core information and broadcasting programs at the President's requested level. Finally, earmarks placed on the Educational and Cultural Exchanges program should be removed.
This bill also contains provisions that raise serious constitutional concerns. For example, the Administration opposes Section 405 regarding Vietnam that unconstitutionally constrains the President's authority with respect to the conduct of diplomacy, in addition to creating a new unworkable standard for measuring progress on the POW/MIA issue beyond those contained in similar provisions from previous years. In addition, Section 613 on Haiti purports, in some circumstances, to limit the President's unfettered constitutional authority to "receive ambassadors and other public ministers."
Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The Administration urges the Senate to provide funding for the FCC's scheduled move to the Portals complex. Absent this funding, the FCC's ability to implement the mandates of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and to carry out critical mission operations may be severely impaired.
Exxon Valdez Settlement Funds. The Administration strongly objects to a provision of section 619 that would require certain Exxon Valdez settlement funds to be spent only for grants for marine research and community and economic restoration. This language is contrary to the Clean Water Act and a court-ordered consent decree that require that the State and Federal natural resource trustees determine how these funds should best be used.
Teamsters Election. The Administration objects to the continuation of last year's rider that prohibits the use of funds for supervising the Teamster's election, despite a court order requiring the Federal Government to pay for a supervised election.