July 26, 1999
This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views on the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriation Bill, FY 2000, as reported by the Senate Committee.
The allocation of discretionary resources available to the Senate under the Congressional Budget Resolution is simply inadequate to make the necessary investments that our citizens need and expect. The President's FY 2000 Budget proposes levels of discretionary spending that meet such needs while conforming to the Bipartisan Budget Agreement by making savings proposals in mandatory and other programs available to help finance this spending. Congress has approved, and the President has signed into law, nearly $29 billion of such offsets in appropriations legislation since 1995. The Administration urges the Senate to consider such proposals as the FY 2000 appropriations process moves forward. In addition, we urge the Senate to reduce unrequested funding for programs and projects in this bill.
The Committee bill makes major reductions to critical requests for the President's Lands Legacy Initiative and for key tribal, energy, and cultural programs. The bill also includes many environmental provisions that would be highly objectionable to the Administration. Consequently, if the bill were to be presented to the President in its present form, the President's senior advisors would recommend a veto.
Objectionable Legislative Riders
The Administration strongly opposes the many environmental and other authorizations in the bill, which are inappropriate for inclusion in an appropriations act. The inclusion of such riders in this bill is unacceptable. (See attachment.) Such riders rarely receive the level of congressional and public review required of authorization language, and they often override existing environmental and natural resource protections, limit tribal sovereignty, or impose unjustified micro management restrictions on agency activities. We strongly urge the Senate to oppose such provisions.
Lands Legacy Initiative/Land and Water Conservation Fund
The Administration strongly opposes the Committee's decision not to fund major portions of the President's Lands Legacy Initiative. Overall, only $263 million, or 33 percent, of the $797 million requested in this bill for the Initiative would be funded. The bill would provide no funding for State conservation grants and planning assistance, and only a portion (11 percent) of the requested increase for the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund. The Committee bill would also make significant cuts in State and Private Forestry grants. Federal land acquisition funding would be cut by more than half from the Lands Legacy request, from $413 million to $198 million, and would include none of the $45.6 million requested for a grant to the State of Florida for Everglades restoration, and force a premature and inappropriate termination of funding that Congress previously approved to initiate acquisition of the majestic Baca Ranch in New Mexico. It would be short-sighted to gut the important Lands Legacy Initiative, given the growing bipartisan recognition of the need for the Federal Government, the States, and the private sector to protect open spaces and preserve America's great places.
Land Management Operations
The Administration commends the action of the Committee in addressing the operational and maintenance needs of land management agencies in Interior and the Department of Agriculture. The Administration is concerned, however, with cuts in key conservation programs from the request. For example, the bill makes major reductions in the Administration's Clean Water Action Plan (CWAP), providing less than ten percent of the $102 million requested increase. Forested watersheds managed by the land management agencies supply drinking water to millions of Americans. The Administration is also concerned with the lack of additional funding for abandoned mine lands reclamation under the CWAP. Full funding of the $25 million request would allow significant progress in addressing acid mine drainage and watershed problems in the Appalachian region.
In addition, the bill would reduce requests for the Fish and Wildlife Service's endangered species program by $13 million, or 12 percent, and the Forest Service forest research program by $48 million, or 20 percent, and funding to meet the science needs of Interior's land management programs. Increased funding for key programs within the Forest Service operating program, such as wildlife and fisheries habitat and rangeland management, could be offset with reductions in unrequested and excessive funding for timber sale preparation and management. An additional $29 million could be provided for high-priority programs by adopting the Administration's proposal to charge timber companies for the costs of preparing timber sales on National Forests. By adopting the Administrations's proposed Forest Service concession reforms, $11 million in additional fees could be directed to improve recreational opportunities.
Millennium Initiative to Save America's Treasures
The Administration objects to the lack of funding for the $30 million Presidential initiative to commemorate the Millennium by preserving the Nation's historic sites and cultural artifacts that are America's treasures, and urges the Committee to address the needs of this important program as the bill moves forward. Funds provided by Congress in FY 1999 have already been used with matching State, local, and private funds to preserve such important national symbols as the Star Spangled Banner, the 1905 Wright III (the world's first practical airplane), and the Louis Armstrong House and Archives.
Priority Construction and Maintenance Needs
The Department of the Interior has developed a five-year plan that prioritizes Maintenance and Construction projects based on uniform criteria, with greatest emphasis given to deferred maintenance needs related to critical health and safety and resource protection needs. This action would be undermined, however, by the Committee's earmarking of approximately $50 million for nearly three dozen unrequested and unscheduled NPS projects. The Administration urges Congress to support construction management reforms by funding those projects that have been selected in the five-year construction priority lists of the NPS and other land management agencies in the Department of the Interior, as well as funds requested for maintenance management improvement and special projects, such as the addition to the FDR Memorial (DC).
National Endowment for the Arts/National Endowment for the Humanities/Institute for Museum and Library Services
The Administration strongly objects to the proposed funding levels for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Office of Museum Services. The Committee's proposed $51 million, or 34-percent, reduction from the request would preclude NEA from moving forward with its Challenge America initiative which emphasizes arts education and access to under-served communities across America. The $38 million, or 25-percent, reduction from the request would preclude NEH from expanding its summer seminar series to provide professional development opportunities to our nation's teachers as well as broadening the outreach of its humanities programs. The $10 million, or 29-percent, reduction from the request would preclude IMLS from moving forward on the digital library for education, expansion of after-school programs in museums, and Museums On-line to improve museum access to communities and schools. The Administration urges the Senate to approve funding for the Endowments and IMLS' Office of Museum Services at the requested levels.
Bureau of Indian Affairs and Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians
The Administration is very concerned that the Committee has not provided the requested funds to address long-standing concerns of Native Americans. Although the bill increases Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians funding over the FY 1999 enacted level, it is still $21 million, or 21-percent, below the Administration's request, which is critical for implementing Trust management reforms and consolidating highly fractionated ownership of Indian lands. In addition, the Committee bill does not fund the $30 million Bureau of Indian Affairs School Construction Bonding Initiative for much-needed improvements in elementary and secondary schools, nor does it provide adequate funding to operate these schools.
The Administration opposes the Committee's decision not to provide additional funding to reimburse Guam for economic and social costs due to migration from the freely associated states of Micronesia authorized by the Federal compacts with those nations.
Other Funding Issues
Maintaining the FY 1999 enacted funding level for the Office of the Solicitor, as proposed by the Committee bill, would seriously undermine this vital office, requiring personnel reductions and impairing Indian trust reform and other important activities.
The Administration supports full funding for digitizing collections in the Smithsonian Institution and the National Park Service as part of the Digital Library for Education, providing school children around the nation the opportunity to explore the unique materials available in the collections of these two agencies.
Indian Health Service (Department of Health and Human Services)
While the Administration is pleased that the Committee has provided an increase over the FY 1999 enacted level for the Indian Health Service (IHS), we are disappointed that the increase is less than half of the $170 million increase the Administration has requested for IHS. In particular, the Senate did not provide any of the $35 million increase requested for Contract Support Costs. The FY 2000 Budget seeks to increase the health provider staffing and infrastructure necessary to improve access to health care services, including an additional 25,000 dental services, a Women's Health Initiative to provide 34,000 additional breast cancer mammography screenings, and 100 more community-based Public Health Nurses to provide preventive outreach activities, including well-child examinations, immunizations, and prenatal care. These increases are necessary if we are to help reduce disparities and improve the health status of Native Americans and Alaska Natives. We strongly urge the Senate to fully fund the requested levels in Hospitals and Clinics, Dental, Mental Health, Contract Health Care, Public Health Nursing, Contract Support Costs, Sanitation, and maintenance -- all critical areas of need for Native American communities.
Department of Energy
The Committee mark severely reduces high priority Energy Conservation programs $155 million below the President's request. The Administration strongly opposes this reduction. The cut seriously hampers the progress being made in the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) to promote the development of high mileage vehicles. The reduction also prevents the Partnership for Advancing Technologies in Housing (PATH) from demonstrating technologies which achieve dramatic savings in the energy costs for new housing.
The effect of Section 341 of the General Provisions is not clear, but appears to be intended to impede efforts to save taxpayers money by reducing the energy costs of operating Federal buildings. This type of interference in the efficient running of government is highly objectionable and counterproductive. The Committee mark does not include the President's request for $36 million for the second Elk Hills installment payment to the State of California for its use in the California Retired Teachers System. This payment should be provided consistent with P.L. 104-106. The Committee also provides $27 million more than the President's request for Fossil Energy Research and Development activities and reduces the requested Clean Coal deferral by a net of $90 million. The Administration prefers that the research priorities contained in the President's budget be funded instead of these lower priority Fossil Energy Research and Development activities.
Smithsonian Institution and Other Cultural Agencies
Although the Administration appreciates the funding levels the Committee has provided for the Kennedy Center, National Gallery of Art, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, we would hope that the Senate could provide additional funds for the Smithsonian Institution.
Infringement on Executive Authority
There are several provisions in the Committee bill that purport to require congressional approval before Executive Branch execution of aspects of the bill. The Administration will interpret such provisions to require notification only, since any other interpretation would contradict the Supreme Court ruling in INS vs. Chadha.
The following are examples of some objectionable legislative riders in the FY 2000 Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, as reported by the Senate Appropriations Committee (in bill order).