Although H.R. 1276, as reported, is improved and reflects the bipartisan
efforts of the House Science Committee, the Administration opposes the bill
because it fails to support investments critical to improving the environment.
The funding levels contained in the President's FY 1998 Budget reflect
priorities developed as part of a risk-based process. H.R. 1276 would
eliminate or significantly reduce the appropriations authorizations for a
number of these priorities. For example, the bill would not authorize
sufficient appropriations and as a result could adversely affect programs such
as the Environmental Monitoring and Tracking Initiative, which would provide
critical information to help communities resolve local environmental problems.
In addition, authorizations are reduced significantly for the Global Change
Research Program and for the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles.
Section 7 also contains an overly broad prohibition that, if applied literally,
would inappropriately and unnecessarily limit EPA's ability to advise Congress
and the public of views on pending legislation. This provision is
constitutionally suspect, insofar as it purports unduly to limit the
President's authority to communicate his views through subordinates to Congress
and the American people, and should therefore be deleted.
Finally, H.R. 1276 contains an unprecedented provision, which should be deleted
from the bill, that could establish "de facto debarment" of certain grants
recipients. (The Administration, however, supports the underlying intent of
this provision, which is to provide for increased competition for research and
development financial assistance.)