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 Senate Committee. The Administration appreciates the manner in
which the Congress has worked to consider the FY 2002 appropriations
bills. The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress
to ensure that the policy and program content of each of the thirteen
appropriations bills is acceptable to the President and that the bill
totals are within the recently agreed upon aggregate funding level
of $686 billion.
number of the agencies and programs funded within this bill may
have modified requirements as a consequence of the terrorist attacks
of September 11, 2001. The Administration is continuing to review
these new requirements and will continue to work with the Congress
to ensure the highest priority needs are funded through the FY 2001
Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Recovery From and
Response to Terrorist Attacks on the United States.
Administration appreciates the Senate's efforts to fund agencies
and programs contained in this bill at the President's request.
For example, the Administration is pleased that the Senate 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, water and wastewater
programs, which will increase the number of rural Americans that
have access to safe, affordable housing, clean water, and economic
would like to take this opportunity to share some specific concerns
with the Committee-passed version of the bill, as noted below.
Senate Committee bill provides increases far exceeding the President's
budget in a number of areas, while reducing funding for the Food
Stamp reserve and the pest eradication program. For example, the
Committee bill includes approximately $270 million in unrequested
projects, including $80 million in funding for unrequested research
construction projects at 16 sites. In addition, funding was provided
for two rural utility programs, the High Energy Grants program and
a new Local Television Loan Program, that are not critical to the
support and improvement of rural citizens' quality of life. The
Committee bill also provides $79 million for the boll weevil eradication
program, $45 million above the Administration's request. Last year,
Congress provided this level of funding as a one-time program to
help affected farmers reduce debt. The Administration believes that
it is unnecessary to increase funding for these programs and urges
the Senate to restore needed funding to the Food Stamp and pest
Stamp Program Reserve
Administration is concerned that the Committee fails to provide
the requested level for a $1.0 billion reserve in the Food Stamp
Program. A reserve of this size is an important and prudent way
to plan for unanticipated program needs and ensures that food stamps
are available under all circumstances for those who need them. For
example, between 1991 and 1995 the reserve appropriation was $1.5
to $2.5 billion, and in 1991 and 1992, the program used $1.5 billion
and $900 million of the reserve, respectively. We urge the Senate
to fund the reserve at the President's requested level.
Projects in Agricultural Research and Education Programs
Administration has serious concerns with the level of funding provided
by the Senate for specific agricultural research and education activities.
The Senate included approximately $190 million in unrequested research
project funding, $50 million higher than the level provided last
year. 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 Senate to reduce
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 accept this approach
and instead recommended that the majority of the funding be provided
through transfer from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). Authority
to transfer funding from CCC is intended for use in emergency situations.
Using this emergency authority for eradication efforts, which can
be predicted, 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 truly unforeseen crises can be viewed as backdoor financing
that avoids the discipline of the discretionary budget caps. We
urge the Senate to adopt the proposals contained in the President's
request and look forward to working with the Senate 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 Senate 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 Senate to adopt the
loan levels contained in the President's request.
Administration opposes the Committee action that provides funds
and creates a new program for the rehabilitation of aging locally-owned
dams constructed with USDA assistance. Requiring USDA to finance
rehabilitation work on these dams would set a costly and objectionable
government-wide precedent. These dams are a local responsibility,
and the Federal Government should not rehabilitate these or other
locally-owned dams built with assistance from Federal agencies,
including the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation.
Amendments: Prescription Drug Reimportation; Cuba Sanctions; and,
the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
understand that an amendment regarding the importation of prescription
drugs may be offered during Senate floor debate. There are a variety
of legal and safety issues surrounding such proposals. 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. The Administration is concerned about the
cost of prescription drugs and is working to address that issue.
Provisions such as the one included by the House during floor debate
are not the appropriate solution to the drug affordability problem,
and could have a negative effect on drug safety.
Administration is aware of several amendments that could be offered
on the Senate floor that would weaken existing sanctions against
the Cuban government. The Administration believes it is important
to uphold and enforce the law to the fullest extent with a view
toward preventing unlicenced and excessive travel, enforcing limits
on remittances, and ensuring that humanitarian and cultural exchanges
actually reach pro-democracy activists in Cuba. Therefore, the Administration
would strongly oppose any amendment that weakens sanctions against
the Castro regime.
also understand that an amendment regarding the Federal Communication
Commission (FCC) may be offered during Senate floor debate. The
Administration would strongly oppose any amendment that would restrict
the FCC's ability to assign, via competitive bidding, spectrum licenses
that could be used by terrestrial (i.e., non-satellite) services.
Such a provision would interfere with the efficient allocation of
Federal spectrum licenses, provide a windfall to certain users,
and reduce Federal revenues.
on Executive Authority/Constitutional Responsibilities
Administration objects to sections 718 and 726 of the Committee
bill that infringe upon the President's ability to exercise his
constitutional responsibilities. Section 718 could impede communications
within the Executive Branch to a degree that undercuts the President's
ability to exercise his constitutional authorities while section
726 would purport to restrict his authority to make legislative
or policy recommendations to Congress.
Administration also objects to a number of provisions in the Senate
Committee-passed bill that would require Committee 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. We also note that the word "minority," under the
heading, "Rural Cooperative Development Grants," should be deleted.
The equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment requires that
such provisions be narrowly tailored to further a compelling Government