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 28, 1997
H.R. 2169 -- DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS BILL, FY 1998
(Sponsors: Stevens (R), Alaska; Shelby (R), Alabama)
This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views on H.R. 2169, the Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, FY 1998, as reported by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Your consideration of the Administration's views would be appreciated.
The Administration is pleased with many aspects of the Committee bill, particularly funding support provided for transportation safety and transportation infrastructure programs. As discussed below, the Administration will seek restoration of certain of the Committee's reductions from the President's request. We recognize that it will not be possible in all cases to attain the Administration's full request and will work with the Senate toward achieving acceptable funding levels.
The Administration is committed to working with the Senate to identify reductions in the bill in order to find offsets for the restoration of funds that the Administration seeks. The Administration suggests that virtually all of its priorities could be funded through limited reductions in infrastructure programs, which the Committee has funded at levels in excess of the Administration's requests. We urge the Senate to reduce funding for lower priority programs, or for programs that would be adequately funded at the requested level, and to redirect funding to programs of higher priority.
The Administration realizes that the Committee has not funded several requested programs because they have not yet been authorized as part of the National Economic Crossroads Transportation Efficiency Act (NEXTEA). The Administration reiterates its support for State Infrastructure Banks, the Transportation Credit Enhancement program, and the Access to Jobs and Training program. These programs will significantly increase the impact of Federal transportation investment and help to make "welfare to work" a reality. They can be accommodated within the overall funding levels agreed to by the Committee.
The Administration is pleased with the Committee's decision to fund Amtrak operations at the President's requested level of $344 million. The Administration supports the request for $222 million in general capital funding and objects to the Committee's decision to provide no funding. The Committee has not provided Amtrak with general capital funding assuming that a proposal for an Intercity Passenger Rail Fund, currently in the Senate version of the Reconciliation bill, would provide Amtrak with over $600 million in general capital funding in FY 1998. The Intercity Passenger Rail Fund may not be enacted.
Federal Aviation Administration
The Committee is encouraged to provide additional funding for the deployment of security enhancement equipment, with offsets from other infrastructure spending. The Administration also urges the Senate to provide the $100 million in advance appropriations requested for this equipment in FY 1999 so that continuity can be assured in the procurement process.
The Administration commends the Committee for not funding highway demonstration projects. However, the Administration objects to the Committee's earmarking of 25 transit projects for which Full Funding Grant Agreements (FFGAs) have neither been signed nor are expected to be signed. Many of these projects have yet to complete required planning and engineering studies to determine their costs and benefits. Any future funding for these projects would be in addition to the $3.7 billion outstanding Federal share of projects with existing FFGAs. Such earmarking risks creating expectations that may be difficult to meet under a balanced budget. The Senate is urged to redirect theses funds to higher priority items.
The Committee has provided substantial funding to conduct several earmarked operational tests within the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) program. The Administration has requested funding in NEXTEA to support operational tests and would prefer that, rather than setting aside funds for specific projects, these projects compete on an equal basis with other potential proposals. Furthermore, the ITS program's focus is shifting from operational testing to integrated deployment. NEXTEA provides $100 million for a new Deployment Incentives program to encourage integrated deployment. The operational tests funded by the Committee could be duplicative of previous tests.
The Committee bill would modify section 29 of Public Law 96-192 (the Wright Amendment) in two respects. The Administration believes that any change to section 29 must be based on thorough analysis. Further, the question of which aircraft should be allowed to operate under section 29 is currently before the court in Astraea Aviation Services v. U.S. Department of Transportation, 5th Cir. No. 96-60802 (filed November 18, 1996). The Administration believes that the Congress should review the court's ultimate conclusion on the proper interpretation of section 29 before acting to change the statute.
Additional Administration concerns with the Committee bill are contained in the attachment.
H.R. 2169 -- DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
APPROPRIATIONS BILL, FY 1998
(AS REPORTED BY THE SENATE FULL COMMITTEE)
The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to address the following additional concerns:
Federal Highway Administration
- NEXTEA. The Committee has not supported the Administration's NEXTEA proposals for fully mandatory funding for the Boating Safety program and for funding the Alteration of Bridges program from the Highway Trust Fund. The Administration reiterates its support for these proposals. Mandatory funding for Boating Safety would put it on equal footing with the Sport Fish Restoration program, which is also funded from the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund and is entitled to funds not appropriated to Boating Safety. Under the Alteration of Bridges proposal, $17 million from the Highway Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program (HBRRP) would be set aside annually for the purpose of repairing bridges deemed hazardous to navigation. The funding would be administered in accordance with the Truman-Hobbs Bridge Act, rather than the HBRRP. The Coast Guard would continue to select the projects and determine their funding levels.
- Governors Island. The Committee has not provided $8.3 million requested in the Operating Expenses account for the FY 1998 protection and maintenance of Governors Island, New York, which the Coast Guard will excess in late FY 1997. Also, the Committee has included bill language that would relieve the Coast Guard of responsibility for maintenance of the property under caretaker status. Pursuant to Section 483(b) of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, the Administrator of GSA has established that disposing agencies will fund protection and maintenance of excessed property for the quarter in which the property is reported as excessed and for not more than 12 months thereafter. During this period, GSA requests funding for follow-on protection and maintenance costs. The Administration has not requested funding in the GSA appropriation for the protection and maintenance of Governors Island in FY 1998. Therefore, this language would force GSA to absorb Governors Island protection and maintenance costs within a budget that is already stretched thin.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- National Motor Carrier Safety Program. The Committee has provided $84.3 million for the National Motor Carrier Safety Program, $15.7 million below the Administration's request. This funding shortfall would delay the progress DOT continues to make in reducing commercial motor vehicle crashes and fatalities and would hobble efforts to move the program towards performance-based criteria.
- Airbag Regulation. The Administration objects to the requirement, as part of report language, to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking on the deactivation of airbags or the installation of an on/off switch for airbags. A notice of proposed rulemaking has already been issued on this subject. Additional proposed rules may be necessary, but the Administration objects to the mandate of the Committee to issue such a notice. While we commit to thoroughly reviewing the difficult issues surrounding airbag deactivation, a direction to submit a notice by a date certain is unrealistic and may be unnecessary.
- Youth, Drugs, and Driving Initiative. The Administration objects to the failure to fund the Youth, Drugs, and Driving Initiative. This demonstration program will develop and implement effective pre-licensure drug testing to deter drug use, reduce drug-impaired driving, and promote public s afety. The Committee's decision is unfortunate, and the Administration would like to work with the Senate to restore this program.