May 6, 1999
This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views
on H.R. 1664, the bill making emergency supplemental appropriations for
military operations, refugee relief, and humanitarian assistance relating
to the conflict in Kosovo, and for military operations in Southwest Asia.
The Administration appreciates the Committee's prompt action on the
President's supplemental request and looks forward to working with the
Congress on a bi-partisan basis on this important legislation.
On April 19th, the President submitted to Congress a request for $6.05 billion for the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and other international programs to provide the funds necessary to cover the costs of the military and humanitarian operations related to the crisis in Kosovo. Also included were funding requests to cover costs associated with on-going, enhanced operations in Southwest Asia.
The Administration's package:
The fact that we are asking the Congress for funding to respond to emergency needs in Kosovo does not in any way diminish the importance of an emergency that is very close to home. The Central American emergency relief package remains urgent and should be approved without offsets. Every day we delay means another day the people of Central America lose hope in their ability to rebuild their homes, earn their livelihood, and achieve a prosperous future in their homeland. In addition, the FY 1999 supplemental request for $100 million in assistance for Jordan is critical to stabilizing the Jordanian economy, ensuring a smooth transition of leadership and promoting the goal of peace in the Middle East that we all share. Also of critical importance is our request for emergency agricultural relief to our farmers, which should be approved without offsets. The Administration urges the Congress to avoid confrontation by acting quickly to enact these requests without extraneous riders and spending.
Regrettably, the Committee-reported bill, which totals nearly $13 billion, goes well beyond the funding requirements of the mission in Kosovo and the need to maintain current readiness. It includes funding of over $1 billion for military construction projects, most of which may not begin construction for several years and many of which are not even included in the Department's long range plan. It includes significant increases for operation and maintenance programs that have been budgeted for in the FY 2000 Budget and should be considered during the FY 2000 appropriations process, not in an emergency supplemental bill.
We continue to believe that the Administration request is the appropriate level of funding and we continue to urge the Congress to provide funding at that level. We support the Obey amendment made in order in the rule to reduce the amount of unrequested, non-emergency defense funding in the bill and to provide the urgent Central America, Jordan and agricultural relief funding discussed above.
The Administration would strongly oppose a Coburn amendment made in order in the rule that would impose a 10 percent across the board cut on most non-defense programs in FY 2000. This irresponsible and unworkable amendment would result in cuts of at least $1,543 million for NIH; $357 million for VA medical care (the Department of Veterans Affairs could not expand out-of-network emergency care benefits to disabled veterans enrolled in the medical care system, and 13,188 veterans would not receive treatment); $273 million for FBI (resulting in an estimated reduction of 2,200 FBI agents); $171 million for INS (resulting in a reduction of approximately 1,100 border patrol agents); $527 million for special education; $466 million for Headstart (resulting in 50,000 fewer children served); $761 million less for Pell Grants (resulting in a reduction of $250 in the maximum grant award); and $50 million from Safe and Drug-free Schools.
Such a sequester would also reduce the funding available to FEMA and the Small Business Administration to respond to natural disasters such as the recent tornados in Oklahoma and Kansas, as well as resources for embassy security, rural development, the Coast Guard, air traffic controllers, low-income housing, operating our national parks, refugee assistance, clean water programs and the cleanup of Superfund sites. Relative to the President's budget, the impact of these cuts would be significantly deeper.
With regard to the Latham amendment, inadequate funding for agricultural relief programs is provided. Moreover, the amendment inappropriately separates agricultural relief, Central America, and Jordan funding that was linked in the House-passed bill and contains offsets that we strongly opposed in that bill. We strongly urge the Congress to maintain the linkage between agricultural relief, Central America, and Jordan; provide adequate funding; and not to use offsets inappropriately to fund true emergencies.
The Administration would strongly oppose controversial limitation amendments that may be offered that would inappropriately complicate and delay enactment of this emergency spending bill.
Despite months of allied diplomatic efforts to achieve a balanced peace plan, the government of Slobodan Milosevic defied the international community and pursued a course of repression and terror against the people of Kosovo. We determined that we could not allow these actions to go unchallenged. Now, we have a responsibility to our country and to the men and women serving our country in the Balkans and to address the humanitarian crisis provoked by the Milosevic government. The Administration has provided you with our best estimate of the resources required to achieve our goals in Kosovo. Now is not the time to slow progress on our emergency supplemental request by adding funding unrelated to the mission or to maintaining current readiness or by adding extraneous provisions.
As the President stated on April 28th, "My request fully funds our military and humanitarian needs in Kosovo. Congress should resist the temptation to add unrelated expenditures, even important ones, which could delay the process, because that would undermine the very goals that this funding is intended to meet." We ask the Congress to act quickly upon this request and send a clear message to Milosevic - his actions will not be tolerated and we are prepared to back our words with action.