July 26, 2000
H.R. 4942 - DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA APPROPRIATIONS BILL, FY 2001
This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views
on the District of Columbia Appropriations Bill, FY 2001, as reported by
the Committee. Your consideration of the Administration's views would be
(Sponsors: Young (R), Florida; Istook (R), Oklahoma)
The Administration appreciates the Committee's approval of some of the
requested funding for the Administration's priorities. Nonetheless, the
bill fails to provide adequate funding for programs that promote the
economic health and fiscal strength of the District of Columbia. We urge
the House to fund these programs at the full, requested levels. 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
we urge the House to remove them. Therefore, we strongly oppose the
Committee bill and urge the House to improve it, consistent with the
concerns discussed below, so that it can be signed by the President.
The Committee mark misses an opportunity 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 efforts to support
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 strength.
- New York Avenue Metro Station. The Administration is concerned
that the Committee mark provides only $7 million of the $25 million
requested for the Federal share of the proposed New York Avenue Metro
Station project. The development of this new station is critical to
the economic development of an important section of the Capital City.
When finished, the station will provide a vital link to the Metro
system for the entire region. Although this project has the potential
to benefit the Federal Government, the Federal share of this project
is only one-third of the total cost, far less than what is normally
provided for these types of transportation infrastructure projects.
The proposed financing of the new station reflects an innovative mix
of funding sources, with a third pledged from the private sector, a
third from the District Government, and a third from the Federal
Government. Under the Committee bill, the remaining $18 million would
come from the Washington, D.C. Financial Authority's account. The
Authority is using these funds, almost all of which have already been
obligated to support other priorities, ranging from criminal justice
programs to special education transportation. We urge the House not
to jeopardize this project and to fund the full $25 million from
Federal funds as proposed in the President's budget.
- 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 Mayor
Williams' 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. We appreciate the $250,000
in start-up funding provided for the National Museum of American
Music, but believe that the museum should be funded at the full
request of $3 million. 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.
Resident Tuition Assistance
The Committee mark provides only $14 million for the Resident Tuition
Support program, $3 million below both the request and the FY 2000 enacted
level of $17 million. This program, which equalizes educational
opportunities for young people in the District of Columbia, is a priority
of both the Mayor and the Administration and has strong bipartisan support
in Congress. 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. Expanding the program to include these
students may not be possible if funding is reduced to $14 million. The
Administration urges that an amendment be offered to fully fund the
Resident Tuition Support program and ensure that all students in their
first four years of college be included.
District of Columbia Courts and Defender Services
The Administration objects to the underfunding of the operating and capital
budgets of the Courts by $3.5 million and to the $4 million cut to the
request for Defender Services. This action would eliminate funding for
some 4,000 attorney claims for reimbursement of legal services for the
District's indigent population through the Criminal Justice Act program.
Current funding problems with this program have made it harder for
attorneys to receive just compensation for performing their vital role in
the criminal justice system. The request would provide a one-time infusion
of funds to the program to allow counsel and the Court to move beyond these
funding difficulties. We urge the House to restore funding to the
President's requested level for Defender Services.
The Committee bill includes 69 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. Provisions such as section 114, which would
require Council approval of capital project borrowing, and section 118,
which would require automobiles to be fuel efficient, duplicate existing
Federal and DC law. Provisions such as section 113, which would require
the Mayor to develop a plan by quarter and project for capital outlay
borrowing, and section 120, which would require the Mayor to submit updated
revenue estimates to the Council, would inappropriately interfere with
The following highly objectionable provisions of the Committee bill are
particularly unwarranted intrusions into the affairs of the District.
- Voting Representation. The Administration opposes section 146
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.
- Health Insurance Coverage of Contraceptives. The Administration
objects to section 168 of the Committee bill, which would prohibit the
Health Insurance Coverage for Contraceptives Act of 2000 from taking
effect. While increased access to contraceptives is important to
women's health, the Committee has raised an issue with respect to
religious organizations. The Mayor and the City Council should be
given an opportunity to address this issue within this legislation.
- Controlled Substances. The Administration opposes section 158,
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 strongly opposes Committee bill
language 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
(section 131) of the Committee bill prohibiting the use of Federal and
local funds to implement or enforce the Health Care Benefits Expansion
Act of 1992 (the Domestic Partners Act).
- Infringement on Contract Authority. The Administration objects
to the House Committee bill infringing on the District's
decision-making authority with respect to local contracts. This
infringement also has the potential to result in inappropriate
Medicaid billing for special education services, an issue that
Congress and the Federal Government are working to eliminate.
- Facilities Preference for Charter Schools. The Administration
objects to section 128 of the House bill, which would encroach on the
ability of the Mayor to manage surplus city properties.
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.
The Administration is pleased that the Committee has not included a ban on
local or private funds for the purpose of needle exchange programs. Such
provisions are encroachments on the District's prerogatives and could
seriously disrupt the District's current HIV prevention efforts. For these
reasons, the Administration strongly opposes an amendment made in order
that would prohibit the use of local funds for this purpose, and also
strongly opposes an amendment made in order that would prevent the exchange
of needles in large portions of the city.
Reducing teen smoking is a high priority for the Administration; therefore,
we support the objective of the amendment related to the possession of
tobacco products by minors. However, for the same reasons that Congress
has not legislated specific laws for individual States, it would be
inappropriate to do so for the District.
The Administration is pleased that the Committee bill does not include the
provision included in last year's bill to cap the award of fees for
attorneys of plaintiffs in cases brought against the District of Columbia
Public Schools under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
(IDEA). This provision 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.