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October 21, 1997

H.R. 2610 - National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1997
(Hastert (R) Illinois and eight cosponsors)

The Administration strongly supports reauthorization legislation for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and has proposed legislation (H.R. 2407) for this purpose. Although H.R. 2610 contains several features of the Administration's proposal, the Administration opposes the bill as reported because it:
  • Establishes numerical statutory targets for reducing drug use by the year 2001 that are unrealistic and unattainable in such a short time period . The proposed goals do not take into consideration budget constraints, the two- to three-year lag between noticeable changes in attitudes toward drugs and noticeable changes in behavior, and the time needed to hire and train law enforcement, drug treatment, and drug prevention personnel. The Administration's bill, in contrast, would codify a process for establishing meaningful performance measures without enacting inflexible specific numerical targets into law. That bill, H.R. 2407, would require ONDCP to develop a Performance Measurement System that includes a comprehensive set of objectives, measures, and targets, and that works in conjunction with agency performance plans required by the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993. The specifics of this system will be submitted to the Congress by early 1998.

  • Reauthorizes ONDCP for only two years. The Administration's proposal included a 12-year authorization, which is critical to implementation of the 10-year strategy, supported by five-year budgets, announced in the 1997 National Drug Control Strategy. Reauthorization must be of sufficient du ration to allow ONDCP to compile data and evaluate the effectiveness of the drug control programs through the Performance Measurement System it is developing. A two-year reauthorization is also inconsistent with the four-year goals established in H.R. 2610.

  • Raises Constitutional questions. The bill would authorize the Director of ONDCP to transfer funds among National Drug Control Program (NDCP) agencies with the advance approval of specified congressional committees. The committee approval mechanism is a violation of the Constitution's bicameral and presentment requirements under the Supreme Court's INS v. Chadha decision. Other provisions that raise Constitutional questions include: the requirement that NDCP agency budget requests be provided to the Congress prior to review by the Office of Management and Budget; the statutory designation of the Director of ONDCP as a member of the President's cabinet; and the designation of the Director of ONDCP as the "primary spokesperson of the President on drug issues."
The Administration will seek amendments to address the objections cited above and in the attachment.

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