S. 3041 - DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA APPROPRIATIONS BILL, FY 2001
(Sponsors: Stevens (R), Alaska; Hutchison (R), Texas)
This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views
on S. 3041, the District of Columbia Appropriations Bill, FY 2001, as
reported by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Your consideration of the
Administration's views would be appreciated.
The Administration commends the Committee for fully funding many of the
Administration's priorities, including the D.C. Courts and Defender
Services, the New York Avenue Metro station, Resident Tuition Assistance,
and D.C. Corrections. Nonetheless, the bill reported by the Senate
Committee does not provide adequate funding for several programs that
promote the economic health and fiscal strength of the District of
Columbia. In addition, the Committee bill contains many objectionable
provisions that continue a pattern of undermining Home Rule, the principle
of local control over local matters. The Administration views these
objectionable provisions as unwarranted intrusions into the affairs of the
District and believes that the District should be allowed to manage its
local affairs in a manner that all states are free to do. For these
reasons, we urge the Senate to improve the bill, consistent with the
concerns discussed below, so that it can be signed by the President.
While the Administration is pleased that the Committee has provided the
full request for the New York Avenue Metro station -- a critical project
for the economic development of an important section of the Capital City --
the Committee mark misses several opportunities to fund critical
investments in economic growth in the District of Columbia. These
investments would help to revitalize our Nation's Capital and continue
Federal support of the District's efforts to build a sound economic base
that generates sufficient tax revenue for the city to ensure its fiscal
health. Failing to fund these investments would undermine the Committee's
own efforts to put the District on a path to economic growth and fiscal
Brownfields Remediation at Poplar Point. The Committee bill
fails to fund the Administration's request for $10 million for
brownfields remediation and site preparation at Poplar Point. Failure
to fund this initiative would undermine a central element of the
Mayor's plan to rejuvenate historic Anacostia and the riverfront. The
city's brownfields remediation and site preparation strategy for
Poplar Point is a critical component of a three-phase effort to clean
up and revitalize the city-owned and Federal-owned parcels at Poplar
Point. The history of Federal ownership of and involvement with
various parcels of land at Poplar Point makes participation in the
cleanup a Federal responsibility. Adequate funding for the
remediation and preparation plan is crucial to the completion of this
initiative, which will help link Poplar Point and historic Anacostia
with development across the river at the Southeast Federal Center.
National Museum of American Music. The Committee has not
included the Administration's request for $3 million for the National
Museum of American Music. Failure to fully fund the request could
delay the project another year. The museum will significantly
contribute to the revitalization of the Nation's Capital and to the
preservation and celebration of the rich heritage of American music.
Launching a National Museum of American Music at this time will bring
critical momentum to the District's efforts to bring renewed vitality
and growth to downtown Washington. The Committee bill misses an
historic opportunity to take advantage of a critical time in the
economic growth of the city by funding the museum.
Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency
The Committee mark provides $109 million for the Court Services and
Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA). The Administration's request for
CSOSA totals $121 million -- $104 million in direct authority and $17
million as an earmark in the COPS program. The House has provided $116
million in direct authority for the Agency. Fully funding the President's
request, both direct authority and the COPS earmark, would enable the
Agency to provide substance abuse, mental health, and sex offender
treatment to the supervised populations, and to build on its recent success
in reducing the recidivism rate and preventing criminal activity among the
30,000 individuals under supervision in the District.
The Administration is pleased that the Committee has chosen to eliminate 37
of last year's General Provisions. However, the Committee bill still
includes 46 General Provisions. This is unfortunate. The Administration
believes that Congress need not re-enact any of the General Provisions
included last year, since all the legitimate policy purposes addressed by
the General Provisions are now addressed elsewhere in existing or proposed
local or Federal law. Other General Provisions proposed by the Committee
are unnecessary or would inappropriately interfere with local matters.
The following highly objectionable provisions of the Committee bill are
particularly unwarranted intrusions into the affairs of the District, and
we urge the Senate to strike them from the bill.
Voting Representation. The Administration opposes section 131
of the bill, which would prohibit the use of District funds to provide
assistance for petition drives or civil actions that seek to require
voting representation in Congress for the District of Columbia.
Needle Exchange Programs. The Administration strongly opposes
section 133, which would prohibit the use of Federal and local funds
for needle exchange programs. A ban on the use of local funds is an
encroachment on the District's prerogatives and could seriously
disrupt current HIV prevention efforts. However, the Administration
appreciates that the Committee has not included language preventing
entities that receive Federal funding from using their own separate
funds for the purpose of needle exchange, or language that would
prevent the exchange of needles in large portions of the city. The
Administration would strongly oppose any amendments that would
establish any such restrictions.
Controlled Substances. The Administration opposes section 139,
which would prohibit the District from legislating with respect to
controlled substances and from crafting effective diversion programs
for non-violent, drug-dependent offenders in a manner that all states
are free to do.
Abortion. The Administration opposes Committee bill language
(section 121) that would prohibit the use of both Federal and District
funds to pay for abortions except in those cases where the life of the
mother is endangered or in situations involving rape or incest.
Domestic Partners. The Administration objects to a provision of
the Committee bill (section 122) that would prohibit the use of
Federal and local funds to implement or enforce the Health Care
Benefits Expansion Act of 1992 (the Domestic Partners Act).
District CFO After Control Years. The Administration objects to
sections 142 and 143 of the bill, which would interfere with the
rights of the Mayor and Council to appoint and dismiss the Chief
Financial Officer, a local official, by requiring congressional review
of this basic local personnel decision, and which sets forth duties of
the CFO without consultation with either the Mayor or the Financial
Authority. These provisions would interfere with local decisions
after the District has achieved four straight years of balanced
budgets and the control period has ended. The end of the control
period should not be an occasion to introduce new means of Federal
interference with local decisions.
Infringement on Contract Authority. The Administration objects
to the Senate Committee bill infringing on the District's
decision-making authority with respect to local contracts. In
addition to being an intrusion into local matters, this infringement
has the potential to result in inappropriate Medicaid billing for
special education services, a problem that Congress and the Federal
Government are working to eliminate.
Limit on Attorneys' Fees in Special Education Cases. The
Administration strongly objects to a provision in the Committee bill
(section 120) that would cap the award of plaintiff attorney fees in
cases brought against the District of Columbia Public Schools under
the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This
provision, also included in last year's act, has had the effect of
limiting the access of the District's poor families to quality legal
representation, thus impairing their due process protections provided
by the IDEA.
Resident Tuition Assistance
The Administration appreciates the Committee's provision of the full $17
million request for the Resident Tuition Support program. However, the
current law restricts eligibility to students who graduated on or after
January 1, 1998, which excludes students who will be entering their fourth
year of college this fall. The Administration supports expanding the
program to include students who graduated from high school on or after
January 1, 1997. The Administration urges that an amendment be offered to
ensure that all students in their first four years of college are included.
Flexibility in the Use of Local Funds
In addition, the Administration would support additional flexibility in the
use of local funds requested by the Mayor, with respect to
inter-appropriation transfers of local funds, use of local funds for
one-time public health care system restructuring costs, and changes to the
District public school system's fiscal year with respect to local funds.
These are matters appropriately at the discretion of local officials under
Infringement on Executive Authority
The Administration objects to a number of provisions in the bill that would
require congressional approval before Executive Branch execution. The
Administration will interpret these provisions to require only notification
of Congress, since any other interpretation would contradict the Supreme
Court ruling in INS v. Chadha.