June 23, 1998
This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views
on the Department of Defense Appropriations Bill, FY 1999, as reported by
the House Appropriations Committee. Your consideration of the
Administration's views would be appreciated.
The Committee has developed a bill providing requested funding for many of the Administration's priorities. We appreciate the Committee's decision to fully fund the military pay raise and to fund critical readiness programs at sufficient levels. Also, we are pleased that most of the modernization priorities of the Department of Defense (DoD) are funded at or near requested levels. The Administration, however, is disappointed that the Committee bill provides $220 million below the President's request in order to increase funding for lower priority military construction projects. Also, as discussed below, the Administration has serious concerns about certain provisions included in the Committee bill, which must be addressed satisfactorily as the bill moves through the process.
The Administration strongly opposes any provision in the Committee bill that could be read to require prior congressional authorization of actions taken by the President pursuant to his authority under the Constitution. The President must be able to act decisively to protect U.S. national security and foreign policy interests. This provision would send the wrong signal to the world, including U.S. resolve regarding Iraqi compliance with its obligations with respect to weapons of mass destruction, the SFOR operation in Bosnia, and efforts to deter Serbian President Milosevic from attacks on the people of Kosovo. The President's senior national security advisers would recommend veto of a bill with a provision such as this one that could be interpreted to restrict the President's exercise of constitutional authority.
Funding for Bosnia
The Administration regrets that the Committee has not included funding for our ongoing operations in Bosnia. U.S. military presence, albeit at lower force levels, is critical for continued progress in implementing the Dayton Peace Accords. Moreover, a secure funding source for these operations at the start of the fiscal year will allow the Department to manage its readiness accounts effectively throughout the year. Although funding requirements for operations in Bosnia were not known when the FY 1999 Budget was prepared, the Administration created a funding reserve in the budget to cover these costs, and on March 3, 1998, the President requested funding for this purpose. The Administration strongly urges the Congress to provide emergency funding in the Defense appropriations bill to support the U.S. troops in Bosnia.
Year 2000 Reserve Funds
The Administration appreciates the emphasis that the Committee has placed on Year 2000 (Y2K) computer conversion activities. In the FY 1999 Budget, the President requested $364 million for Y2K computer conversion. We recognize, however, that ensuring DoD compliance may require the flexibility to respond to unanticipated requirements. As such, we would intend to employ the contingent reserve set aside by the Committee only to the extent necessary, in order to ensure funds are available to address emerging needs.
The Administration would strongly oppose efforts to strike the emergency contingency fund from this bill. The value of the emergency mechanism approved by the House Appropriations Committee is the flexibility it provides in the event that we determine that additional resources are required. We have only 556 days until January 1, 2000. We want to solve this problem as soon as possible. By delaying approval of emergency funding and reopening the issue of the use of the emergency spending authority, the House will create controversy and delay. We hope the House will reconsider.
Operation & Maintenance (O&M) Adjustments
The Administration appreciates the Committee's emphasis on preserving military readiness by funding critical O&M programs. Force readiness could be threatened, however, by the bill's undistributed reductions to other O&M programs, such as civilian personnel pay, travel, and headquarters activities. The President's request is tightly constructed within the discretionary caps agreed to in the Bipartisan Budget Agreement. Any adjustments must be carefully evaluated to ensure that DoD has sufficient funding available for its operations and support programs. The Administration is extremely concerned about reprogramming restrictions on O&M accounts that would hinder a field level commander's abilities to meet emerging mission requirements. Prior to final action on the bill, the Administration would like to work with the Congress to develop reprogramming guidelines that avoid restrictions that would impede commanders' actions to maintain force readiness yet satisfy Congressional oversight responsibilities.
The Committee bill funds unrequested programs at the expense of DoD FY 1999 requirements. Also, the Committee provides funds for programs that, due to higher priority military requirements, are not in the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP). These increases include $86 million for modifications and upgrades to B-2 bombers, $398 million for seven additional C-130J airlift aircraft, $60 million for two unrequested F-16 fighter aircraft, and $120 million for National Guard and Reserve equipment. Instead of funding these unrequested programs, the Administration urges the Committee to restore disruptive decreases for key DoD modernization programs, including the following:
Theater High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)
The Administration urges the House to support the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization's request for Theater High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). The THAAD program remains the DoD's most mature upper-tier missile defense program. Recent test failures indicate a need to restructure the program, but a complete review will be necessary before this can be accomplished. The Administration intends to work with the Congress on an appropriate funding profile.
Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR)
The Administration urges full funding of the FY 1999 request for the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program (CTR). Furthermore, we oppose restrictions, imposed in the House authorization action (H.R. 3616) and approved by the Appropriations Committee, that prohibit the use of CTR funds for construction of a chemical weapons destruction facility in Russia. These restrictions would institute a minimum one-year delay in the current project schedule, thereby slowing the construction of a safe, secure, and ecologically sound method of destroying these dangerous munitions.
Commercial Operations and Support Savings Initiative (COSSI)
The Committee has provided $62 million for COSSI, instead of the $103 million requested. This program inserts commercial technologies in existing defense systems, thus lowering support costs and increasing performance while enabling already fielded systems to modernize quickly. The Administration urges full support of this program.
High Speed Networks
The Committee makes a reduction of $34 million to networking research in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency based on alleged duplication of effort. However, any overlap was removed in FY 1998 as a result of an interagency review mandated by Congress. Accordingly, the Administration urges restoration of funding to ensure the security and survivability of future military networks and systems.
Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrations (ACTDs)
The Committee has cut the request for core ACTD funding by $35 million, to $81 million. This program supports work on new and innovative defense system concepts, and it could provide the basis for systems yielding a decisive military edge over adversaries in the next century. The Committee's funding level for this program would not provide sufficient funds to support ongoing ACTDs and would preclude initiation of any new ACTDs in FY 1999. The Administration urges the Committee to fund the program at the requested level.