Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views
on the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration,
and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, FY 2002, as reported by
the House Committee.
Administration appreciates the Committee's efforts to fund agencies
and programs contained in this bill at the President's request.
For example, the Administration is pleased that the Committee provided
the full budget request for the Food Safety and Inspection Service's
meat and poultry inspection activities and for the Department of
Agriculture's (USDA's) rural housing, business and water and wastewater
programs, which will increase the number of rural Americans that
have access to safe, affordable housing, clean water, and economic
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.
would like to take this opportunity to share some concerns with
the Committee version of the bill, as noted below.
Administration strongly opposes the provision added in Committee
that would designate $150 million for specific agricultural commodities
as an "emergency." The Administration remains opposed to the use
of emergency designations for items unless they meet the criteria
laid out in the budget. Low agricultural commodity prices were foreseen
and $5.5 billion was specifically set-aside for such purposes in
the budget resolution for FY 2001. The House has passed legislation
that would address potential needs that may be created by a combination
of low farm prices and high input costs during the 2001 crop season.
Any assistance for apple producers or any other agricultural commodities
should be addressed in that bill as it moves through the legislative
process. Therefore, this emergency spending and the emergency designation
should be removed from the bill.
should the House only remove the emergency designation while retaining
the $150 million in commodity assistance, that spending should be
offset by other spending reductions.
Projects in Agricultural Research and Education Programs
Administration has serious concerns with the level of funding provided
by the Committee for specific agricultural research and education
activities. While some amount of funding for unrequested projects
is understandable, the Committee included approximately $150 million
in unrequested research project funding, $30 million higher than
the level provided last year. Unrequested projects target resources
to local needs, thereby draining valuable taxpayer resources from
the accomplishment of national research goals and objectives. The
Administration believes that peer-reviewed competitive grant programs
offer the best opportunity to perform high quality research targeted
at national needs. We urge the Committee to eliminate funding for
unrequested research projects.
Pest and Diseases
FY 2002 Budget proposed that ongoing projects to combat plant pest
and disease infestations be funded through the normal discretionary
appropriations process. The Committee chose not to fund these activities
through discretionary funding, and instead recommended that funding
be provided through transfer from the Commodity Credit Corporation
(CCC). However, authority to transfer funding from CCC is intended
for use in emergency situations, when there is no time to use normal
budget channels. Using this emergency authority for eradication
efforts, which can be predicted and planned for, and will continue
for several years, is inconsistent with the clear intent of the
provision authorizing these transfers. Therefore, using emergency
funding for anything other than the truly unforeseen can be viewed
as backdoor financing that avoids the discipline of the budget caps.
We urge the Committee to adopt the proposals contained in the President's
request and look forward to working with the Committee on this issue.
Administration is concerned that the loan levels provided for USDA's
rural electric programs have been increasing at an unprecedented
rate, and the Committee's proposed $1.5 billion increase continues
this trend. The loan levels in the bill would increase the Government's
direct competition with private financial institutions. In addition,
it is unclear whether the Rural Utilities Service's staff can adequately
administer this level of loans, which could increase the risk to
the Government for future losses. We urge the Committee to adopt
the loan levels contained in the President's request.
understand that an amendment regarding the reimportation of prescription
drugs may be offered during House Floor debate. There are a variety
of legal and safety issues surrounding such proposals. The President
believes it is essential that seniors have affordable access to
prescription drugs. However, the Administration would oppose any
amendments to this appropriations bill that could result in unsafe,
unapproved, or counterfeit drugs being imported into the United
States. This is an issue that should be reviewed by the relevant
Committees of jurisdiction, in consultation with the Administration,
and in the context of broader trade, health, and safety legislation.
President's budget proposes a pay raise of 3.6 percent for Federal
civilian employees. We believe 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, we believe that
civilian employees are already benefiting from several recent enhancements
to their compensation package. We do not believe that military pay
and civilian pay raises should necessarily be automatically linked.
We 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 Government-wide 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 sections 719 and 725 of the Committee
bill that infringe upon the President's ability to exercise his
constitutional responsibilities. Section 719 could impede communications
within the Executive Branch to a degree that undercuts the President's
ability to exercise his constitutional authorities; while section
725 would purport to restrict his authority to make legislative
or policy recommendations to Congress.
Administration also 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.