Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views
on the Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations
Bill, FY 2002, as reported by the Senate Committee.
commend the Committee's efforts to accommodate many of the Administration's
priorities in the bill. The Administration is pleased that the Committee
has provided the requested levels for Coast Guard operating expenses.
We also welcome the bill's funding of highway, transit, and aviation
programs. However, the amounts provided exceed the levels specified
in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century and the Aviation
Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century. These acts already
provide robust increases for transportation programs. The Administration
is concerned that the levels included in the Senate Committee version
of the bill will put additional pressure on spending that could
cause Congress to exceed the limit on discretionary spending.
Administration appreciates that the Senate Committee's bill provides
$145 million to fund alternative transportation programs for people
with disabilities under the President's New Freedom Initiative.
The New Freedom Initiative is a comprehensive set of proposals to
fulfill America's promise to the 54 million Americans with disabilities.
the Administration supports passage of this bill, we would like
to take this opportunity to share some concerns with the Senate
Committee version of the bill. We look forward to working with the
Congress to resolve these issues as the bill moves forward.
House bill contains two provisions that are unacceptable to the
Administration. First, the House denied the Administration's request
for $88 million to address critical motor carrier safety issues
along the U.S.-Mexican border. Second, the House prohibits the use
of any funds provided in the FY 2002 appropriations bill to process
applications by Mexico-domiciled motor carriers for conditional
or permanent authority to operate beyond the commercial zone adjacent
to the border. As previously stated, the President's senior advisors
will recommend that the President veto any legislation, like that
passed in the House, that prevents the United States from fulfilling
its NAFTA obligations to open the U.S. borders to Mexican motor
carriers that can satisfy U.S. safety and operating standards.
Administration is pleased that the Senate Committee has provided
the necessary funding and staff to address critical motor carrier
safety issues along the U.S.-Mexico border. The Administration is
committed to strengthening the safety enforcement regime to ensure
that all commercial vehicles operating on U.S. roads and highways
meet the same rigorous safety standards. However, the Senate Committee
has adopted provisions that could cause the United States to violate
our commitments under NAFTA. Unless changes are made to the Senate
bill, the President's senior advisors will recommend that the President
veto the bill. The Administration supports amendments to the Committee
bill that would both strengthen the safety enforcement regime and
allow the United States to meet its international obligations. For
example, the Administration supports a safety enforcement regime
that would emulate the very successful California inspection program
for long-haul Mexican carriers.
in Transportation Programs
Administration is very concerned about the level of earmarking in
the Senate Committee bill. The bill contains approximately $2.2
billion in earmarks for more than 700 projects. While the number
of projects earmarked in this year's bill is approximately equal
to the number of projects in the FY 2001 Senate Committee version
of the bill, the dollar amount is more than double that included
in last year's bill. In some Departmental activities, such as the
bus and bus facilities program, the Senate Committee has earmarked
100 percent of the available funding. This level of earmarking diminishes
the Department's ability to distribute these funds based on merit
or in support of an overall transportation infrastructure funding
strategy. The Administration urges the Senate to allow the Department
to allocate funds as prescribed in authorizing law.
Transit Budget Authority
Administration is concerned that the Senate Committee exempted $1.35
billion in discretionary budgetary authority provided for mass transit
from the overall limit of $661 billion on discretionary spending.
Excluding the discretionary mass transit funding in the scoring
of this bill can be viewed as backdoor financing that avoids the
discipline of the budget authority limits proposed by the President
and adopted in the Congressional Budget Resolution for FY 2002.
The Administration urges the Congress to recognize all discretionary
budget authority when developing its version of this bill by reflecting
the budgetary impact of the $1.35 billion in mass transit funding.
Administration strongly opposes the proposal to amend Section 648
of Title 14 to require that the Coast Guard Yard and other facilities
designated by the Commandant be redesignated components of the Department
of Defense for competition and workload purposes. This designation
could increase the amount of depot work required to be performed
in-house; displace existing private sector facilities; circumvent
concurrence by the Secretary of Defense; and establish minimum onboard
staffing levels for the Yard, which would reduce the flexibility
of the Coast Guard to manage its resources in the most efficient
on Executive Authority
Administration objects to a provision in the bill under the heading
"Transportation Administrative Service Center," that "no assessments
may be levied against any program, budget activity, subactivity
or project funded by this Act unless notice of such assessments
and the basis therefore are presented to the House and Senate Committees
on Appropriations and are approved by such Committees." This provision
violates the requirement that Congress act only within the constitutionally-prescribed
legislative process. If the bill is enacted, the President will
construe this provision only as a notification requirement, since
any other interpretation would contradict the Supreme Court ruling
in INS v. Chadha.
Administration is also concerned about Senate Committee report language
addressing contract negotiations between the Federal Aviation Administration
and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees
because the language may interfere with appropriate use of a legitimate
dispute process. The union has filed a complaint with the Federal
Labor Relations Authority. This language could be interpreted as
direction to the FAA to abandon use of the established dispute process
and set an untenable precedent.