October 30, 2001
Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views
on the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
Appropriations Bill, FY 2002, as approved by the Senate Appropriations
Committee. The Administration appreciates the manner in which the
Congress has worked to consider the FY 2002 appropriations bills.
The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to ensure
that the policy and program content of each of the thirteen appropriations
bills is acceptable to the President and that the bill totals are
within the recently agreed upon aggregate funding level of $686 billion.
A number of the agencies and programs funded within this bill may have modified requirements as a consequence of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Administration is continuing to review these new requirements and will continue to work with the Congress to ensure the highest priority needs are funded through the FY 2001 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Recovery From and Response to Terrorist Attacks on the United States.
The Administration appreciates the Committee's efforts to fund agencies and programs contained in this bill consistent with this agreed upon funding level. Further, the Administration applauds the Committee's restraint in providing funding for earmarked projects.
The Administration's views on specific issues are discussed below.
Stem Cell Research
The President strongly believes that the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, which for years has ensured that the federal government observes important ethical boundaries at the same time that it provides support for scientific research, should not be altered. The Administration therefore strongly opposes the Senate version of the bill, which modifies the existing language and would signal a weakening of the Federal Government's commitment to protecting human embryos. The Administration strongly supports the House version of the bill, which retains the current language, and includes clarifying report language that is consistent with the President's August 9, 2001 announcement. The President's senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill if it contains the Senate's language.
Department of Education
The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for the President's elementary and secondary education reform initiatives. The Committee bill fully funds or exceeds the President's request for Reading First, Assessments, Teacher Quality, Transition to Teaching, and Special Education. This funding, which we believe is contingent upon the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reforms that we are working with Congress to enact in the near future, will enhance accountability and foster improved student achievement. We appreciate the Committee's inclusion of report language supporting the President's request for Character Education and Reach Out and Read programs.
The Federal government has a special responsibility to support school renovation needs for military dependents and children residing on Indian lands, and to help promote school choice by helping charter schools overcome infrastructure barriers that prevent their start-up. Thus, we urge the Senate to support the full President's request for both Impact Aid Construction and the Charter School Homestead Fund.
However, the Administration strongly objects to the $925 million for School Renovation Grants in the Senate bill. While we recognize the importance of ensuring the nation's schoolchildren have safe and modern facilities for learning, in general, responsibility for school facilities that are not affected by Federal activities should continue to be a State and local responsibility. The Administration believes this Federal program will do little to address the overall need to bring school facilities into good condition, and will divert resources away from other Federal priorities -- such as Title I -- that hold greater promise for reforming and improving our nation's education system.
The Administration is also concerned that the bill does not direct a sufficient share of Education Department funding toward disadvantaged students through the Title I program. Instead the bill funds over two dozen small, narrow-purpose programs that have not been shown to be effective. The Administration strongly prefers the House-passed bill, which reallocates a greater share of funds from low-priority programs to the Title I program. This will help low-performing schools meet the new accountability requirements outlined in the pending ESEA reauthorization, and the President's goal of ensuring that no child is left behind. As mentioned above, the Administration would prefer that funds from low-priority programs be redirected to the Title I program, and that any increase to Title I be directed through the Title I Targeted Grants formula.
The ESEA conferees are now considering provisions for Bilingual education and State Assessments that would require funding to reach a specified level before the President's proposed reforms could go into effect. While we strongly oppose these triggers, the appropriations bill must provide sufficient resources to ensure the necessary reforms go into effect.
Outside of the elementary and secondary area, the Administration is pleased that the Committee has increased funding for several Presidential priorities including the New Freedom Initiative. The Administration also appreciates the Committee's strong support for Pell Grants. However, recent data indicates that maintaining the maximum award level at the 2001 level of $3,750 will require $1.7 billion more than the enacted 2001 level. This $1.7 billion increase is the same amount provided in the House bill, which would be a record increase in funding and would allow the largest number of students ever to get funding. We urge the Senate to adopt the funding level provided for Pell Grants by the House.
Department of Health and Human Services
The Administration is pleased that the Committee has funded the President's health initiatives, including, Consolidated Health Centers and Global HIV/AIDS activities. The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to fully fund the President's request for Drug Abuse Treatment services.
The Administration commends the Committee for taking the first steps in funding the President's initiatives for children and families, most notably the Compassion Capital Fund, to expand or emulate model charitable programs, and the Maternity Group Homes initiative, which will provide safe, stable and nurturing environments for teenage mothers and their children. We look forward to working with the Congress in identifying funds for the President's Mentoring Children of Prisoners initiative, to support family rebuilding programs, Promoting Safe and Stable Families, to promote child safety, permanency and well-being, and Education and Vocational Training Vouchers, to help youths who age out of foster care develop skills to lead independent and productive lives.
Department of Labor
The Administration is also pleased that the Committee has supported the President's request for the Department of Labor. In particular, the Administration appreciates the Committee's funding for dislocated worker assistance, and that the Senate has included funding for the Trade Adjustment Assistance and NAFTA Transitional Adjustment Assistance programs, whose authorizations expired on September 30, 2001. However, the Administration is disappointed that the Committee has not provided the President's request for the Information Technology Crosscut. This initiative will ensure a cost-effective, integrated approach to financing the Department's technology investments. The Administration also is concerned that the Committee increased funding for the International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) by 107 percent above the President's request. Between 1996 and 2001, funding for ILAB has risen by 1500 percent, expanding the Bureau's priorities and jeopardizing the Department's ability to effectively absorb these resources. Overly prescriptive direction on the use of ILAB resources further complicates the Department's ability to manage these unrequested funds.
Other Language Provisions: Needle Exchange, Abortions, and Grant Funding
The Administration appreciates that the Committee has retained the Hyde language regarding Federal funding of abortions. On needle exchange programs, the Committee's language would weaken existing protections that prohibit the use of federal funds for needle-exchange programs. The Administration strongly opposes the Senate provision, and believes it is important to continue existing law as included in the House version of the bill.
The Administration strongly objects to section 514 of the General Provisions, which would unduly burden Executive Branch operations by requiring Committee notification before the announcement of any discretionary grant award or cooperative agreement totaling $500,000 or more.
Potential Amendment - Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
We understand that an amendment regarding the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) may be offered during Senate floor debate. The Administration would oppose any amendment that would restrict the FCC's ability to assign, via competitive bidding, spectrum licenses that could be used by terrestrial (i.e., non-satellite) services. Such a provision would interfere with the efficient allocation of Federal spectrum licenses, provide a windfall to certain users, and reduce Federal revenues.
Infringements on Executive Branch Authority
The Administration will construe Section 623 of the Senate version of the bill, which addresses the Director's position in the Office of Multi-Family Housing Assistance Restructuring, in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional powers to nominate and appoint.