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September 25, 2001
Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views
on the District of Columbia Appropriations Bill, FY 2002, as reported
by the House Committee. We appreciate the efforts of the Committee
and look forward to working with Congress to ensure that the Nations's
priorities are met while encouraging the economic growth that is the
essential guarantee of continued fiscal strength.
The Administration appreciates that the Committee has provided funding consistent with the President's request and has taken steps to provide funds to the District of Columbia for preparation of an emergency security plan. It is possible that additional programs funded within this bill may have modified requirements as a consequence of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Administration recently transferred $6 million to the District of Columbia for response activities from funds the Congress provided in the FY 2001 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Recovery from and Response to Terrorist Attacks on the United States and will continue to review funding requirements. The Administration will continue to review new requirements.
In addition, the Administration is pleased that the District received its requested local funding. The Administration is concerned, however, about the number of unrequested projects in the Committee bill and looks forward to working with the House to ensure that the highest priority needs for the District of Columbia are funded.
The Administration appreciates the House's commitment to streamline general provisions, the Administration is disappointed, though, that the Committee failed to include the provision, requested by the Administration and included in the bill for the past three years, that would cap the award of plaintiffs' attorneys' fees in cases brought against the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The Administration strongly supports the principles embodied in the IDEA, and the rights of all children with disabilities to a public education, and believes it is in the best interest of the District's children if DCPS uses its limited resources to improve its special education programs, rather than pay excessive attorneys' fees. The large number of due process hearing requests made in the last few years, nearly all filed by attorneys, suggests that parents have no trouble obtaining representation.
The Administration also notes that under the heading, "Federal Payment to the District of Columbia Courts," use of money for an integrated Justice Information System is purportedly subject to Committee approval of a plan submitted by the Courts to the Committees. The Administration will interpret this provision to require only notification of Congress, since any other interpretation would contradict the Supreme Court ruling in INS v. Chadha.