This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views
on H.R. 4194, the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban
Development, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Bill, FY 1999, as
reported by the House Appropriations Committee. Your consideration of the
Administration's views would be appreciated.
The Administration appreciates efforts by the Committee to accommodate
certain of the President's priorities within the 302(b) allocation.
However, the allocation is simply insufficient to make the necessary
investments in programs funded by this bill. As a result, critical
programs are not funded or are underfunded, in particular, key Presidential
priorities such as funding for National Service, Superfund, and climate
change. Furthermore, the Administration is very concerned that the
Committee has included problematic language regarding the Kyoto Protocol
and other issues. Finally, the Administration understands that an
amendment may be offered to include unacceptable provisions now contained
in H.R. 2, such as income targeting. If the bill were presented to the
President without responding to these concerns, the President's senior
advisers would recommend that he veto the bill.
The only way to achieve the appropriate investment level is to offset
discretionary spending by using savings in other areas. The President's FY
1999 Budget proposes levels of discretionary spending for FY 1999 that
conform to the Bipartisan Budget Agreement by making savings in mandatory
and other programs available to help finance this spending. In the
Transportation Equity Act, Congress -- on a broad, bipartisan basis -- took
similar action in approving funding for surface transportation programs
paid for with mandatory offsets. We want to work with the Congress on
mutually agreeable mandatory and other offsets that could be used to
increase high-priority discretionary programs, including those funded by
Below is a discussion of our specific concerns with the Committee bill. We
look forward to working with the House to resolve these concerns as the
bill moves forward.
Corporation for National and Community Service
The Administration strongly objects to the termination of the Corporation
for National and Community Service, one of the Administration's top
priorities. Eliminating funding for the Corporation would deny more than
49,000 Americans the opportunity to serve as AmeriCorps members in projects
such as America Reads, the Administration's effort to raise student
literacy through the use of tutors to supplement the school day activities.
In addition, over one million students of all ages would forego the chance
to participate in service learning activities in their schools and
neighborhoods. The funding level in the Committee bill for the Corporation
for National and Community Service is unacceptable.
Environmental Protection Agency
The Administration has several major concerns with the Committee's mark for
the Environmental Protection Agency. In particular, the Administration
strongly objects to the $593 million, or 28-percent, reduction to the
President's request for Superfund, which would delay cleanups at sites
nationwide and needlessly jeopardize public health. In addition, the
Administration opposes the $16 million, or 18-percent, reduction to the
request for brownfields funding as well as restrictive bill language that
would hamper achievement of brownfield cleanups by preventing their use for
removals, cleanups, and revolving loan funds. The Administration urges the
House to restore Superfund to the requested level and to delete the
restrictive brownfields language.
The Administration strongly opposes the Committee's $106 million reduction
in EPA funding for the Climate Change Technology Initiative. This
high-priority program should be funded fully to cut energy usage, save
consumers money, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We will work with
the Congress to restore requested funding as the bill moves forward.
The Administration strongly opposes bill and report language relating to
the Kyoto Protocol that applies to the EPA and the Council on Environmental
Quality. While the Administration could not and would not implement the
Protocol until it is ratified, the bill language could be interpreted
broadly to prevent activities that limit greenhouse gases -- for example,
through enhancing energy efficiency -- but that are authorized under
current law. The report language also inappropriately purports to prevent
the Executive Branch from engaging in educational and outreach activities
related to treaty negotiations and other aspects of climate change. The
Administration opposes this and other riders because they inappropriately
use the legislative process by denying the public and Members of Congress
the opportunity to examine and debate these proposals openly.
The Administration appreciates the Committee's providing full funding for
the President's Clean Water Action Plan, which is designed to prevent
pollution run-off and protect public health. The Administration urges the
Committee to provide the full $50 million request to help improve water
quality in Boston Harbor and prevent beach closings.
The Administration is concerned with the large number of unrequested,
earmarked projects in the Committee mark for EPA, particularly when the
Committee has reduced several other high-priority Administration
initiatives, including right-to-know programs, Montreal Protocol, GLOBE,
and Mexican border wastewater treatment funding.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
The Administration is concerned about the funding levels provided for key
programs of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, particularly
for welfare-to-work housing vouchers and other programs, such as the
Community Empowerment Fund, that would expand job opportunities.
The Administration appreciates the Committee's decision to fund 17,700
incremental "Welfare-to-Work" housing vouchers. With millions of families
needing to make the transition from welfare to work, and in light of
recent studies that show historically high unmet housing needs among very
low-income Americans, the Administration believes it is critical for the
Congress to fund the entire 50,000 welfare-to-work housing vouchers
provided for in the President's request. Welfare-to-work housing vouchers
will support implementation of welfare reform by assisting those welfare
recipients who need housing assistance to get or keep a job.
The Administration also encourages the Congress to fund fully the
President's request for $400 million for an Economic Development Initiative
Community Empowerment Fund to generate jobs in distressed communities. The
Committee has cut the request by $350 million, providing only $50 million,
as a set-aside within the existing CDBG program.
The Administration appreciates the Committee's decisions to fund a number
of programs at the levels requested, including the Partnership for
Advancing Technologies in Housing (PATH) initiative, and to renew all
expiring Section 8 contracts. The Administration is encouraged that the
Committee has provided funding for half the President's request for
Regional Opportunity Counseling, a voluntary effort to expand the housing
and employment opportunities available to low-income families. We urge
full funding of the President's request for this program. We are also
pleased by the Committee's decision to provide $80 million for the Office
of Lead Hazard Control, to reduce the risk of childhood lead poisoning and
other health hazards. The Administration encourages the Congress to fund
fully a number of other areas -- Homeless Assistance, Brownfields, and
Regional Connections--and to end the ninety-day delay in reissuing of
Section 8 certificates/vouchers on turnover.
The Administration is very concerned that the Subcommittee has not included
language extending the repeal of one-for-one replacement for public
housing. Without this language, the bipartisan goal of demolishing 100,000
of the worst public housing units by FY 2003 may not be achieved.
The Administration is pleased with the Committee's decision to support an
audit-based enforcement initiative for the Fair Housing Initiatives
program. We urge the Congress to fund fully this critical fair housing
initiative to reduce the level of housing discrimination.
The Administration urges the Congress to adopt the Administration's
proposal to reform HUD's single-family property disposition program, which
would produce substantial savings by improving the efficiency of FHA's
property disposition processes and would permit the Committee to provide
additional resources to critical Committee programs. In addition, we
support providing greater homeownership opportunities by increasing the FHA
loan limit to the GSE "conforming" limit.
Council on Environmental Quality
The Administration appreciates the modest increase over the FY 1998 level
provided for the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). However, we
strongly believe that in order to allow CEQ to carry out its environmental
mission and reinvention efforts, the full requested level should be
provided, and language prohibiting use of detailees should be deleted.
Community Development Financial Institutions Fund
The Administration strongly urges the Committee to fund the Community
Development Financial Institutions Fund at the requested level. The
Committee's decision to reduce the request by $45 million would severely
reduce the Fund's ability to leverage investments, loans, and financial
services in the country's most distressed communities.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
The Administration is concerned with the Committee's reductions to the
requests for the International Space Station, Space Shuttle, and Earth
Science programs. Full funding in FY 1999 for Space Station is critical as
the United States and our International Partners are in a peak period of
development and integration, and proceeding toward First Element Launch
later this year. Further, the Administration is particularly concerned
about bill language prohibiting the use of funds for the Triana project.
Triana offers a unique opportunity to educate and engage students in all
phases of the mission. Its observations could potentially be used in
meteorology and environmental monitoring, as well as for commercial
purposes. The Administration will work with the Congress to enable
restoration of funding for these priority programs as the bill proceeds.
The Administration is also concerned over the large number of unrequested,
site-specific earmarks, which would have the effect of circumventing the
competitive, peer review process and are paid for, in part, with serious
reductions to priority programs.
Federal Emergency Management Agency
The Administration appreciates the level of funding provided by the
Committee for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. However, we believe
that the $20 million reduction to the President's request for pre-disaster
mitigation grants is shortsighted. These grants would help reduce the cost
of future disasters by leveraging local and private-sector support for
enhanced mitigation efforts at the State and community level. We urge the
Committee to fund fully the President's request for this important
initiative. In addition, we urge the Committee to approve our recent
request for funding to help States and communities prepare for potential
terrorist incidents involving chemical and/or biological weapons.
National Science Foundation
Given the budget constraints facing the Committee, the Administration
appreciates the effort to provide a $268 million increase over the FY 1998
level for the National Science Foundation (NSF). Nevertheless, the
Administration is concerned with the reduction to the request for education
and human resources and the elimination of funds for the proposed Polar Cap
Observatory and NSF funds for the GLOBE program. The Administration is
firmly committed to NSF's research and education activities, which not only
promote scientific advancement but also contribute to economic development.
We strongly urge the Congress to provide the full increase requested for
NSF for its research, equipment, and education activities.
Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation
The Administration is pleased by the Committee's decision to provide the
President's full request for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation
(NRC). The NRC has a proven, successful record of leveraging private
sector resources to promote homeownership and helping strengthen America's
communities. This funding would provide an additional $25 million for a
homeownership initiative that seeks to create 10,000 new homeowners through
Consumer Product Safety Commission
The Administration opposes bill language that would block the Consumer
Commission's ability to promulgate rules to reduce the flammability of
upholstered furniture. This language intrudes upon CPSC's ability, as well
the ability of other agencies, to carry out their responsibilities.
Furthermore, these efforts to block the development of a new safety
standard represent a threat to public health.
Potential Amendment Related to Peer Review
The Administration strongly opposes an amendment that may be offered
mandating peer review of "scientific data" supporting final regulations.
The Administration is committed to using the best possible science and peer
review for rule-making. However, this amendment is unnecessary,
inappropriate, and wasteful. Peer review is currently incorporated in the
Government-wide rule-making process, where it is needed, through extensive
outreach, public comment, and scientific advisory boards. As drafted, this
amendment would mandate a one-size-fits-all requirement that would serve
only to delay important government action, in particular, rules designed to
protect health safety and the environment. It would impose a costly
additional step in the regulatory process and could cover a large,
heterogeneous set of rules, as diverse as meat and poultry inspection
rules, airplane and automobile safety standards, FDA drug and device
approvals, and rules to ensure safe drinking water and clean air. This
would impose an undue burden on numerous final rules by requiring
substantial personnel and other resources and could result in significant
delays on important public health and safety rules.