Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views
on the Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations
Bill, FY 2002, as approved by the House Committee. Your consideration
of the Administration's views would be appreciated.
Administration appreciates the Committee's efforts to fund agencies
and programs at the President's request, as detailed below. The
Administration is committed to working with the Congress to enact
all 13 appropriations bills in a timely manner and within the framework
of the recently adopted budget resolution. The President believes
that this level of funding will moderate the recent rapid growth
in spending while funding important national priorities. In developing
the FY 2002 Budget, he sought to make reductions in one-time spending,
unjustified or duplicative programs, and programs that have completed
their mission. The Administration urges the Congress to support
the President's overall approach to the FY 2002 Budget.
Administration would like to take this opportunity to share some
concerns with the Committee version of the bill, as noted below.
of the Interior
Administration commends the Committee for addressing most of the
Administration's priorities for the Department of the Interior,
including funding the requests for the National Park Service (NPS)
deferred maintenance backlog, NPS Natural Resource Challenge, Bureau
of Indian Affairs school construction, landowner incentive and stewardship
grants, and Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Federal land
the bill does not fully fund LWCF by providing $450 million for
LWCF State grants. Instead of giving States the flexibility to determine
how best to allocate funding, the bill redirects the request for
LWCF State grants to various specialized conservation accounts.
The Administration requests that the Committee reallocate funds
to fully fund LWCF and allow State governments -- not the Federal
Government -- to determine how best to address the priority conservation
needs in their respective States.
Administration applauds the Committee's efforts to limit the number
of unrequested construction and land acquisition projects. Agencies
can only meet performance goals, such as eliminating the current
NPS backlog of deferred maintenance priorities, if Congress funds
agency priorities. Therefore, the Administration urges the Committee
to refocus funding for projects that do not address deferred maintenance
and other priority needs, and to eliminate a provision that would
delay management reforms of park concessions and partnerships.
of Energy (DOE)
Administration appreciates that the Committee has fully funded the
President's initiatives to create a new and innovative Clean Coal
Power program and support the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve.
These funds will allow better use of an abundant domestic energy
source in an environmentally sound way, and help assure families
in the Northeast that home heating oil will be available next winter.
While the Administration appreciates that the Committee has provided
full funding for energy conservation programs that include weatherization
and State energy grants, the Administration is concerned that the
Committee failed to fully fund the President's request of $273 million
for the low-income Weatherization Assistance Program, a Presidential
initiative. The Administration recognizes the value of increasing
funding for State energy conservation programs, but believe the
funds would be better spent on helping low-income families reduce
their energy bills and improve their quality of life through the
weatherization program. The Administration urges the Committee to
fully fund the President's initiative.
the Administration appreciates the Committee action to terminate
some poor performing programs as recommended in the budget, the
Administration urges the Committee to support additional program
reforms suggested by the Administration. DOE and OMB have recently
embarked on an intense effort to evaluate the performance and value
of DOE's Research and Development (R&D) programs. The Administration
would welcome the Congress' input and assistance in this important
review because the results of the review will inform the FY 2003
Budget development process.
Administration appreciates the Committee's efforts in addressing
Administration funding priorities for the Forest Service. The Committee
fully funds the National Fire Plan, funds increased recreation opportunities
to the public, and supports key restoration land treatments in the
National Forest System. The Committee's action will enable the agency
to provide hazardous fuels reductions in over 500,000 acres of mostly
Federal lands, providing direct assistance to over 2,000 communities
in the wildland urban interface. While the Administration applauds
the Committee for limiting the number of unrequested construction
and land acquisition projects, this approach was not followed in
the Economic Action programs and the Forest Legacy program, in which
earmarks total almost 50 percent of each program. The Administration
urges the Committee to redistribute these funds to programs that
competitively allocate resources.
Administration appreciates the Committee's interest in providing
flexible transfer authority to the Secretary of Agriculture for
the purposes of funding firefighting activities. However, the Administration
strongly opposes new language included in the bill that could be
read to allow the Secretary to use funds from the Commodity Credit
Corporation (CCC) for such purposes. This would be contrary to the
purpose of CCC to provide assistance to farmers and would inappropriately
authorize expansion of mandatory spending. We urge the House to
modify the language to exclude the transfer of funds from the Department
of Agriculture's corporations.
Administration is gratified that the Committee has supported the
President's pay raise proposal of 3.6 percent for Federal civilian
employees. The Administration believes this proposal is both reasonable
and responsible. While recruiting and retaining the skilled and
dedicated Federal civilian work force necessary to provide high-quality
services to the American public is very important, the Administration
believes that civilian employees are already benefiting from several
recent enhancements to their compensation package. The Administration
does not believe that military pay and civilian pay raises should
necessarily be automatically linked. The Administration will continue
to review Federal pay policy annually, and evaluate military and
civilian pay raise policies on the basis of the particular circumstances
applicable to each (for example, recruiting and retention needs),
consistent with prudent use of taxpayers' dollars. The additional
cost of a 4.6 percent civilian pay raise is nearly $900 million
over what is currently included in the President's request, and
would, if funded, divert critical resources from programs such as
those funded in this bill.
on Executive Authority
Administration objects to a number of provisions in the Committee
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.