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September 10, 2001
Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views
on the Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies
Appropriations Bill, FY 2002, as reported by the Committee. We 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. While we appreciate the Committee's
efforts, we note that the bill does not support many Presidential
priorities or recommended spending reductions and would like to share
some specific concerns with the allocation of those funds.
Department of Justice (DOJ)
The Administration's initiatives in DOJ are focused on shifting resources toward crime-fighting activities that have been shown to be effective, activities that further protect our children from the ravages of drugs and delinquency, as well as reforming the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to be more effective for, and respectful of, prospective Americans. To this end, the Administration proposed some fee increases to better match the benefits of programs with who pays for those programs, and eliminated a substantial number of earmarks that place parochial interests over those of the general public.
The Administration appreciates the Committee's funding of the Weed and Seed program, the Violence Against Women Act, southwestern border prosecutors, and gun violence reduction prosecution grants. However, the Administration is disappointed that the bill fails to support the President's key initiatives in three areas. The Administration urges the Committee to fully fund the requested $75 million for Project ChildSafe, that would protect children from gun-related accidents and crimes by allowing DOJ to work closely with State and local governments to purchase and distribute child safety gunlocks. We also urge the Committee to fund the requested $29 million for Project Sentry, that would allow the hiring of new assistant U.S. Attorneys to work with communities in prosecuting juvenile gun-related crimes and setting up safe school task forces. We also ask the Congress to fund the $11 million increase requested for the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment program, that is part of the President's drug treatment initiative and would provide financial and technical assistance to State and local governments that implement substance abuse treatment programs for prisoners.
The Administration appreciates the Committee's inclusion of the proposed cruise ship inspection fee and the increase in the current airline inspection fee. However, the Administration has serious concerns regarding the funding for INS. The bill does not include the President's request for $45 million to reduce the backlog of immigration applications. In addition, the bill shifts $275 million from discretionary appropriations to various mandatory fee accounts, which could result in substantial increases in application backlogs.
We applaud the Committee's continued support and interest in efforts to combat terrorism. The bill would establish a second Deputy Attorney General (DAG) position, who, together with the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), would be responsible for developing a national strategy and budget for preventing and responding to domestic terrorist attacks. Given the President's tasking of FEMA to coordinate all consequence-management programs for domestic incidents, as well as the Vice President's on-going review of our domestic preparedness programs, we do not believe the second DAG position is necessary. We would appreciate the opportunity to work with the Congress to address this issue.
The Administration is concerned about the level of earmarking in the bill, especially the Justice Department portion of the bill, that contains nearly $700 million in earmarks for 269 projects. The Committee appears to have earmarked almost all available funding within several grant programs, including Juvenile Justice Discretionary Grants, COPS grants for Safe Schools and Law Enforcement Technology, and Byrne Discretionary Grants. The Administration is very concerned about this practice because it does not efficiently and effectively serve the interests of the general public. Funding for juvenile justice and law enforcement technology should be awarded through merit-based competition, and other funds should be redirected to unfunded Administration initiatives such as Project Sentry and Project ChildSafe.
The Administration urges the Senate to support compassionate payments to claimants under the Radiation Exposure and Compensation Act, as proposed in the budget resolution.
Department of Commerce (DOC)
The Administration appreciates that the funding included in the Committee bill follows the President's recommendations for most DOC programs. In general, the Committee has reduced programs where warranted -- such as properly scaling grant activities -- and provided appropriate increases for areas, such as statistical, export licensing, and technical activities that require additional funds to meet specific needs that fall within DOC's purview.
However, the Administration opposes the significant new funding provided by the Committee for the Advanced Technology Program (ATP). The Administration believes that Federal subsidies are generally not required for many of the activities previously funded by this program because they overlap with traditional private-sector investments. While some of the Nation's largest and most innovative firms have benefitted from ATP projects, many smaller firms have successfully raised private funding for comparable efforts. The Administration has proposed suspending funding for new ATP awards until it can be ensured that unwarranted subsidies are not provided.
The Administration urges the Committee to fully fund the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, that assists Northwestern States, localities, and Tribes. We have concerns that funding for base fisheries science and management and for weather service warnings and forecasts in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would be cut by a total of $60 million from the request, while the bill provides over $240 million in earmarked and unrequested funding for NOAA.
In addition, the Committee mark would eliminate the Expert Review Team in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). We urge the Senate to continue funding this activity that supports development of information-technology security standards and related NIST activities to protect government systems.
The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for the Department of State, including full funding for the Capital Investment Fund and Representation Allowances. While the bill provides funding to support the current services requirements of the Department's operations and the information resource management initiative, the Administration is concerned that it provides funding for only one-third of the human resources initiative to improve diplomatic readiness and hire additional personnel. The President's request is necessary to ensure the Department's ability to recruit, hire, train and deploy the additional people needed to carry out State Department's mission around the world and to retain the current work force by meeting quality-of-life and quality-of-work needs. In addition, the Administration is concerned that the provision limiting spending on machine-readable visa fee revenues would constrain a program important to our border security and we urge the Senate to remove the limitation.
While the Administration understands that the Committee has maintained funding for embassy security in the Diplomatic and Consular Programs and Embassy Security, Construction, and Maintenance accounts at approximately last year's level, the failure to provide requested increases of $233 million for additional security personnel and construction will severely hamper a multi-year effort to improve security for our personnel serving in American embassies overseas. Within the funds that are provided for construction, funding is earmarked for projects not on the list of the most urgent, security-driven projects for FY 2002, making it more difficult to meet the Department's security improvement goals. The Administration is also concerned that funding does not appear to be provided for the protection of U.S. Agency for International Development employees, and we would like to work with the Congress to find a way to make sure that their needs are addressed.
While the Administration is appreciative of the efforts the Committee has made with respect to international organizations and peacekeeping, the Administration places a high priority on the peacekeeping funding request and urges the Committee to restore the nearly $200 million in reductions from the FY 2001 level and the FY 2002 request to allow us to meet our assessments.
International Broadcasting Operations
While the funding level of $415 million recommended by the Committee provides an increase over FY 2001, the additional $13 million requested by the President is important to the Administration's Middle East broadcasting initiative, which is designed to provide objective news and information in this critical region. In addition, the funding is necessary to avoid reductions in force in Voice of America and reductions in broadcasting hours of Radio Free Asia and Radio Liberty.
Trade in Conflict Diamonds
The Administration is concerned that the Committee version of the bill includes S. 787, the Conflict Diamonds Act of 2001. The Administration supports the goal of this legislation to prevent the sale of diamonds from conflict-ridden regions of Africa from being used to finance these conflicts and their attendant atrocities while protecting the ability of sovereign governments in Africa to continue their economically vital, legitimate trade in diamonds. However, we cannot support inclusion of S. 787 within this bill.
Currently, several provisions of S. 787 are likely to hinder the Nation's ability to develop an international certification system through the "Kimberly process." This process was initiated in Kimberly, South Africa, in June 2000 by diamond producing and consuming countries as well as the diamond industry. The participants are designing a certification system that will enable legitimate diamond trade to continue while excluding from trade diamonds from conflict regions. They will report recommendations to the U.N. Secretary General in December 2001. This process is now at a critical juncture and the Administration is concerned that S. 787 could hinder efforts to reach a consensus. The Administration is willing to work with the Congress to assure that the diamond trade is legitimate and that an international certification system can be put into place.
Foreign Policy Concerns and Infringements on Executive Authority
The Administration strongly opposes provisions in the Committee bill concerning Jerusalem on both foreign policy and constitutional grounds. As the President has stated, the status of Jerusalem will be ultimately determined by the interested parties. These provisions are counter-productive to efforts to bring an end to the cycle of violence and to create a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. Other provisions in the Committee bill regarding the conduct of foreign affairs raise constitutional concerns, including the unconstitutional conditions in section 610 on the President's authority to command the armed forces and section 611 regarding Vietnam that would unconstitutionally constrain the President's authority with respect to the conduct of diplomacy.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
The Administration recognizes the important role that the SEC plays in maintaining the fairness and transparency of our securities markets. We believe that the President's request, which is $76 million below the level of funding provided by the Committee, provides adequate funding for the Commission to carry out its mission.
Executive Office of the President (EXOP)
While the Administration appreciates the Committee's consideration of the Administration's proposal to consolidate the current 18 separate appropriations for Offices and Councils in EXOP into one account, it is disappointed that it was not adopted. This proposal would enable the President to manage his office more effectively and align resources consistent with his needs. It would also ensure that the new EXOP Chief Financial officer (CFO) has the ability to fulfill the requirements of the CFO Act. We look forward to continuing to work with the Congress on this proposal.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC)/E-rate and Maritime Administration
The Administration recommends inclusion of the language proposed in the President's budget that would direct FCC to modify the E-rate program to enable local education administrators to utilize E-rate discounts to meet their specific needs more effectively and to support student achievement more fully.
The Administration is concerned that the Committee did not support the President's proposal to transfer funding and management of the Maritime Security Program (MSP) to the Department of Defense. MSP supports U.S. national security, and the program would be more effectively managed through the Department of Defense. The Administration also notes that the Committee provided $100 million, $70 million above the level enacted in FY 2001, for the Maritime Administration's Title XI loan guarantee program. This program, which provides Federal support for ship construction and shipyard modernization, was proposed for termination in the FY 2002 Budget. The Administration is attempting to reduce corporate subsidies and believes that corporations involved in shipbuilding can secure loans from private lenders without this subsidy.
The Administration strongly opposes an amendment that may be offered on the Senate Floor that is identical to a provision included in the House-passed version of the bill, and purports to prevent the Executive Branch from expressing to the courts its view on the Treaty of Peace with Japan in several pending cases brought by former members of the United States armed forces. This amendment could put at risk the highly successful foreign policy decision that has formed the basis of the U.S. presence in Asia for the past fifty years. This amendment would also be unconstitutional because it violates separation of powers' principles. By preventing the courts from hearing the Executive's interpretation of the Peace Treaty, such a provision would force the courts to decide cases that implicate sensitive questions of U.S. relations with a major ally without having the benefit of the Executive's expertise. Further, the outcome impedes the courts from performing their constitutional role of adjudicating cases, and it accords the courts a role in foreign policy decision-making that they should not properly exercise. The amendment also would impair the Executive's ability to carry out core constitutional responsibilities relating to treaties.