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First Gov  

September 18, 1997
(Senate Floor)

(Sponsors: Stevens (R), Alaska; Faircloth (R), North Carolina)

This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views on S. 1156, the District of Columbia Appropriations Bill, FY 1998, as reported by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The Administration commends the Committee for developing a bill that provides sufficient funding to implement the National Capital Revitalization and Self-Government Improvement Act of 1997 successfully. The Senate is urged to approve a bill that is free of extraneous provisions.

The Administration strongly supports charter schools which provide parents and students more choice within the public education system. However, the Administration understands that an amendment may be offered that would provide for the use of school vouchers in the District. The Administration would strongly oppose any legislation allowing the use of Federal taxpayer funds for private school vouchers. Instead of investing additional resources in public schools, vouchers would allow a few selected students to attend private schools, and would draw attention away from the hard work of reforming public schools that serve the overwhelming majority of D.C. students. Establishing a private school voucher system in the Nation's Capital would set a dangerous pr ecedent for using Federal taxpayer funds for schools that are not accountable to the public. If such an amendment were adopted and included in the bill presented to the President, his senior advisers would recommend that the President veto the bill.

The Administration strongly opposes the abortion language of the Committee bill, which would prohibit the use of both Federal and District funds to pay for abortions except in those cases where the life of the mother is endangered or in situations of rape or incest. The Administration continues to view this prohibition on the use of local funds as an unwarranted intrusion into the affairs of the District and would support an amendment, if offered, to strike this prohibition.

The Administration understands that an amendment may be offered that would limit the use of a portion of the D.C. prison construction funds for housing inmates in private contract facilities. The Administration strongly opposes such a restriction on the use of these funds as it would hinder the Bureau of Prisons' ability to house serious violent offenders in a timely and cost effective manner. The amendment is not needed since the Revitalization Act already requires that fifty percent of D.C. inmates be housed in private contract facilities.

The Administration urges the Senate to consider an amendment that would make funds collected by the D.C. Courts available to the Courts for necessary expenses, including the funding of pension costs.