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First Gov  

September 5, 1997
(House Rules)

(Sponsors: Livingston (R), Louisiana; Rogers (R), Kentucky)

This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views on H.R. 2267, the Departments of Commerce, Justice, State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, FY 1998, as reported by the House Appropriations Committee. Your consideration of the Administration's views would be appreciated.

The Committee has developed a bill that provides requested funding for many of the Administration's priorities. For example, we appreciate the Committee's funding of law enforcement programs in general and the COPS program in particular. Funding COPS at the requested level of $1.4 billion is consistent with the Bipartisan Budget Agreement and would enable us to achieve the goal of hiring 100,000 additional police officers by the year 2000.

As discussed below, the Administration will seek restoration of certain of the Committee's reductions. We recognize that it will not be possible in all cases to attain the Administration's full request and will work with the House toward achieving acceptable funding levels. The Administration is committed to working with the House to identify reductions in the bill in order to find offsets for the restoration of funds that the Administration seeks. For example, funding could be reduced for the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant and the new Juvenile Justice Block Grant. We urge the House to reduce funding for lower priority programs, or for programs that would be adequately funded at the requested level, and to redirect funding to programs of higher priority.

The Administration is particularly concerned about the objectionable funding level provided for the Legal Services Corporation and language that would prohibit any funds from being used for activities related to the design, planning, testing, or implementation of sampling in the 2000 Census, and would further require the passage of an authorization bill prior to the expenditure of more than $100 million for any 2000 decennial planning operations. As discussed below, if the bill presented to the President were to contain the funding level provided in the Committee bill for the Legal Services Corporation or the aforementioned restrictions on Census activities, his senior advisers would recommend that the President veto the bill.

Department of Commerce

  • Census Sampling. The Administration strongly opposes the Committee's language that would prohibit any funds from being used for activities related to the design, planning, testing, or implementation of sampling in the 2000 Census, and would further require the passage of an authorization bill prior to the expenditure of more than $100 million for any 2000 decennial planning operations. This represents an unprecedented and unacceptable attempt to micromanage the decennial census. Such restrictions would seriously undermine decennial census planning operations, especially with regard to address list development, procurement, and the 1998 Decennial Dress Rehearsal. The President's senior advisers have indicated that they would recommend that the President veto the bill if it were to contain this provision. While the Administration will continue to consult with Congress on this important issue, we also remain committed to the use of sampling to ensure the most accurate decennial census possible. Without the limited use of sampling, the accuracy of the census would decrease significantly, especially with regard to children and minority groups that have been traditionally undercounted. The National Academy of Sciences, the General Accounting Office, the Commerce Department Inspector General, and the vast majority of the professional statistical community support the use of sampling in the decennial census.

  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. We are disappointed that the Committee bill would provide only $8 million of the $22 million requested for the President's Clean Water Initiative, which helps protect coastal communities from pollutants. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is the primary trustee of our Nation's coastal resources and, as such, plays an important role in this initiative. The $22 million initiative builds from NOAA's unique coastal responsibilities and partnerships with States and other Federal Trustee agencies. In addition, we are disappointed that the Committee has not included any funding for the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment Program (GLOBE). This program was developed to increase understanding of the Earth and has already formed partnerships with over 2,500 U.S. schools and 35 other countries, involving thousands of students across the U.S. and worldwide. The Committee is recommending over $30 million in funding for NOAA activities not requested by the Administration. We strongly urge that a portion of these funds should be redirected to continue the Clean Water Initiative, GLOBE, and other priorities such as fisheries conservation and management.

  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The Administration greatly appreciates the overall funding level for NIST and the Committee's support of the Bipartisan Budget Agreement. However, we strongly urge the House to drop language restricting new Advanced Technology Program awards and to adopt language allowing continued Federal funding for Manufacturing Extension Centers beyond six years, as was passed by the House in H.R. 1274.

  • National Information Infrastructure (NII). The Administration urges the House to reallocate resources between the NII grants program and the Public Broadcasting Facilities program. The Committee mark substantially reduces funding for the former and provides a large, unrequested increase for the latter. The NII program is meritorious, providing seed money for innovative projects that deploy, use, and evaluate advanced telecommunications and information technology.
Legal Services Corporation

The Administration finds the Committee bill's funding level for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) unacceptable. The bill would fund the LSC at $141 million, $142 million below the FY 1997 enacted level and $199 million below the President's request of $340 million. The amount that the Committee bill would provide, 65 percent below the FY 1995 level of $400 million, would cripple the program and call into question the Federal Government's commitment to ensuring that all Americans, regardless of income, have access to the judicial system. The Administration strongly urges the House to fully fund the President's request. The President's senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill if it contained the funding level in the Committee bill.

Department of Justice

  • Drug Courts and Drug Testing. The Administration is disappointed by the failure of the Committee to provide any of the $45 million requested increase for drug courts. The drug courts program is a proven, cost-effective means of using the coercive power of the courts to move non-violent offenders into drug treatment programs. Also, the President's budget would provide $30 million to offset the costs associated with drug testing State and local arrestees. The Administration is concerned that the Committee does not identify $30 million from the Byrne Grant program for the State and local portion of the drug testing program, as proposed by the President. The drug courts and drug testing programs could be restored to the requested levels by reducing the Committee's funding for the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant program. Finally, last year the Congress enacted legislation that requires States to implement drug testing and intervention programs as a condition for receiving Violent Offender Incarceration and Truth-In-Sentencing (VOI/TIS) grants. The Administration now urges the Committee to provide funding for the prisoner and parolee drug testing and intervention mandate by allowing States to offset the cost with VOI/TIS funding.

  • Juvenile Justice Block Grant. The Administration appreciates the Committee's desire to provide additional support for juvenile justice programs. However, the Administration is concerned that the $300 million block grant program may authorize a broad and unfocused range of spending and urges the House to target $100 million for the prosecutorial grant program, which is designed to facilitate the cooperation and coordination of prosecutors and police with school officials, probation officers, youth social service professionals, and community members in an effort to reduce the incidence of gang activity and violent juvenile crime. The Administration also urges the House to target $50 million for the violent youth court program, which is designed to develop initiatives for use by the courts and court-related entities, such as probation and parole offices and victim/witness centers, to enhance and expedite the handling of youth violence cases.
The Judiciary: Ninth Circuit

The Administration understands that one or more amendments to divide the Ninth Circuit may be proposed. The Administration strongly objects to using the appropriations process to legislate on this important matter. The division of the Ninth Circuit is an important issue not just for the bench and the bar of the affected region, but also for the citizens of the Ninth Circuit. The Administration believes that a much better approach would be passage of legislation, H.R. 908 -- already passed by the House and currently pending at the desk in the Senate -- that would create a bipartisan commission to study this difficult and complex question and make recommendations to the Congress within a date certain. This would allow for substantive resolution of the iss ue in a deliberative manner, allowing all affected parties to voice their views.

Department of State

The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for the State Department's accounts that fund diplomatic and consular activities, which would help reverse the erosion of the Department's worldwide operations. We are also pleased that the Committee provided the transfers as requested to support the International Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS) program.

While the Administration welcomes the first-year funding of $100 million for arrears payments, we are deeply concerned about reductions in the funding levels for the FY 1998 annual assessments provided in Contributions to International Organizations and Contributions for International Peacekeeping Activities (CIPA). United States leadership in these organizations on a host of issues of importance to the American people will be compromised if we fail to meet our binding obligations to them. It is important that funding for these activities be protected so that the Administration can pay annual costs, avoid new arrears, and be given some flexibility to address unforeseen needs relating to peace and security around the world. While we appreciate report language that underscores the importance of funding for arrears as part of long-term reform efforts, we are disappointed that the bill does not provide a commitment for three years of arrears funding as anticipated by the Bipartisan Budget Agreement, allowed by the Budget Resolution and as consistent with the pending authorization bill. The Administration is committed to working with the Congress to resolve these important issues relating to the future of international organizations.

The Administration urges the House to strike two provisions that raise Constitutional concerns: section 609, which concerns diplomatic relations with Vietnam, and section 610, which relates to command and control of United Nations peacekeeping efforts. In addition to Constitutional concerns, we believe that the issues raised by these provisions are being addressed in the pending authorization bill in more workable and appropriate ways.

Ounce of Prevention Council

The Administration opposes the Committee's termination of the Ounce of Prevention Council. Elimination of this program would hinder the Federal Government's ability to help neighborhoods implement balanced strategies to reduce crime through enforcement, prevention, and intervention. The Council awards discretionary grants for promising community collaborative crime prevention programs, publishes a catalog of crime prevention grants and programs, and provides information and technical assistance. It plays a critical role in helping communities gain access to information on crime prevention best practices. The Administration strongly urges the House to provide funding for the Council and has identified an appropriate offset for that purpose.

Arms Control and Disarmament Agency

The Administration opposes the Committee mark of $41.5 million for the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), which would undercut the Administration's efforts to reduce the threat of nuclear and other weapons to the security of the American people.

Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

In addition to the $2.8 million requested in the FY 1998 Budget, a $13 million budget amendment for Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty requirements was transmitted on July 17th. The Administration urges the House to provide the full revised request for these important national security activities.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The Administration strongly urges the House to fully fund the President's request of $246 million for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) given the importance of its work in addressing unlawful discrimination.

Office of the United States Trade Representative

The Administration appreciates the Committee's increase in funding for, and its past support of, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). USTR has had to manage a seven-fold increase in the number of World Trade Organization dispute settlement cases since the the signing of the Uruguay Round Agreement. Despite its substantially increased workload, USTR has virtually the same number of attorneys working in this area as it did in 1990. USTR's work will be even more important in FY 1998 and in future years as the United States seeks to capitalize on new market-opening opportunities and to improve access to existing markets through enforcement actions. USTR requires full funding in order to accomplish the Administration's trade policy objectives and to vigorously enforce our rights under trade agreements. In fact, the Administration is currently reviewing whether the FY 1998 budget levels need to be increased in order to accomplish this agenda.

Additional Administration concerns with the Committee bill are contained in the attachment.



(House Rules)


The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to address the following additional concerns:

Department of Commerce

  • Geostationary Satellites. The Administration is deeply concerned about the Committee's $22 million reduction to the Geostationary Satellites (GOES) program. GOES provide critical data for warnings and forecasts of severe weather events. In order to maintain satellite continuity, particularly given recent technical malfunctions on existing spacecraft, it is imperative that NOAA have sufficient funding to award the contract for the follow-on series of GOES satellites.
  • Economic and Statistical Analysis. The Committee mark for Economic and Statistical Analysis (ESA) is insufficient to make necessary improvements to important economic indicators. For the past four years, ESA has been denied funding for improvements to GDP and related regional, national, and international accounts data. In the past, ESA has dealt with funding constraints by eliminating important but non-core activities such as the Pollution Abatement Survey and Regional Economic Projections. ESA cannot sustain the quality of the Nation's basic economic indicators under continued funding constraints.
  • Bureau of Export Administration. The Senate has recently passed the Chemical Weapons Convention implementing language, and the House is expected to do so shortly. Therefore, the Administration urges the House to provide the full requested level, $2.3 million, to the Bureau of Export Administration (BXA) for this activity. In addition, we urge the House to include seizure and forfeiture authority language for the BXA. This language would allow the BXA to become part of the Department of Justice's Assets Forfeiture Fund and is proposed in the Commerce Department's General Provisions in the FY 1998 Budget.
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. We are concerned about language in the Committee bill detailing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) appropriation at the line office level. Many of NOAA's programs involve multiple line offices, and this language would inhibit current synergies among line offices. The Administration requests elimination of this bill language. Also, the Committee Report earmarks NOAA funding on a project-by-project basis. We respectfully request the deletion of these excessive earmarks.
Department of Justice
  • Reimbursement of Legal Fees. The Administration is concerned about the amendment adopted by the Committee that would require the reimbursement of legal fees incurred in connection with criminal prosecutions of certain employees of the Legislative Branch, including Members of Congress. If such assistance is provided for one branch of government, it should be available to all branches.
  • Executive Support. The Administration opposes the Committee's action to freeze legislative and public affairs activities at FY 1995 levels for the Department. Freezing these activities would inhibit the Department's ability to clear legislation in a timely and responsive manner and constrain its capacity to serve Congress. The Administration urges the House to increase funding for the Executive Support offices and to delete restrictions on the use of detailees.
  • Telecommunications Carrier Compliance. The Committee bill would provide only $50 million for the Telecommunications Carrier Compliance program. The Administration has requested $100 million to reimburse telecommunications equipment manufacturers and carriers for the cost of modifying equipment to ensure that law enforcement agencies will be able to conduct court-authorized wiretaps. The Administration strongly requests that full funding for this program be provided.
Department of Transportation
  • Maritime Administration (MARAD). The $65 million that the Committee bill would provide for MARAD Operations and Training would be insufficient to continue MARAD's current operations into FY 1998. The House is urged to provide no less than the $69 million contained in the Senate bill. In addition, the $3.45 million that would be provided for Title XI administrative expenses might result in a reduction in personnel that would jeopardize the effective oversight and management of Title XI projects. The House is urged to restore funding for this activity.
Federal Communications Commission
  • Relocation. The Committee bill would provide no funds in support of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC's) scheduled move to the Portals complex. Failure to provide these funds would delay the move, which could result in the Government unnecessarily paying for rent on an unoccupied building. The Administration urges the House to provide the $30 million required for the FCC move in FY 1998.