March 26, 1998
The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 2515, as amended by the Rules
Committee to include the text of H.R. 3530, because the bill would expand
the existing forest restoration program to allow commercial timber
harvesting. If H.R. 2515 is presented to the President in its current
form, the Secretary of Agriculture would recommend that he veto the bill.
Specifically, the bill would transfer to the States 100 percent of the receipts from such expanded commercial activities. Currently, States receive 25 percent of comparable Forest Service receipts. H.R. 2515 would foster a local expectation that more timber receipts would be available under this program and, in turn, could create an incentive for States to place pressure on the Forest Service to fund commercial timber sales rather than invest in non-commercial restoration projects.
Finally, the bill would impose costly and burdensome administrative and reporting requirements that would make it difficult to respond expeditiously to threats to forest health and would limit environmental review.
H.R. 2515 would affect direct spending and, therefore, is subject to the pay-as-you-go requirements of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990. The bill does not contain provisions to offset this increase in outlays. Therefore, if the bill were enacted, its deficit effects could contribute to a sequester of mandatory programs. OMB's preliminary scoring of this bill is that it would increase outlays by $3 million during FY 1999 and by $27 million during FYs 2000-2003. Final scoring of this legislation may differ from these estimates.