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July 21, 1998
This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views
on S. 2260, the Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related
Agencies Appropriations Bill, FY 1999, as reported by the Senate
Appropriations Committee. Your consideration of the Administration's views
would be appreciated.
The Administration appreciates efforts by the Committee to accommodate certain of the President's priorities within the 302(b) allocation. However, the allocation is simply insufficient to make the necessary investments in programs funded by this bill.
The only way to achieve the appropriate investment level is to offset discretionary spending by using savings in other areas. The President's FY 1999 Budget proposes levels of discretionary spending for FY 1999 that conform to the Bipartisan Budget Agreement by making savings in mandatory and other programs available to help finance this spending. In the recently enacted Transportation Equity Act, Congress -- on a broad, bipartisan basis -- took similar action in approving funding for surface transportation programs paid for with mandatory offsets. We want to work with the Congress on mutually agreeable mandatory and other offsets that would be used to increase high-priority discretionary programs, including those funded by this bill. In addition, we hope that the Committee will reduce funding for lower priority and unrequested discretionary programs, and redirect funding to programs of higher priority.
The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for many of the President's priorities within the bill. 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 Balanced Budget Agreement and would enable us to achieve the goal of hiring 100,000 additional police officers by the year 2000. However, the Administration is deeply concerned about the funding level for certain important programs, and has additional concerns about other aspects of the bill. These concerns are discussed below.
Small Business Administration
The Administration strongly objects to the Committee mark of $94 million to administer the Small Business Administration's (SBA's) Disaster Loan Program, a 43-percent reduction from the President's request. Such a drastic reduction in funding to originate and service disaster loans would severely curtail SBA's ability to respond to the needs of victims of natural disasters. We also urge the Senate to provide for additional disaster loans.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The Administration strongly urges the Senate to fully fund the President's request of $279 million for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), $25 million above the Committee mark. The additional resources are essential, and would allow EEOC to reduce the backlog of pending complaints and implement much-needed reforms in the way all complaints are managed, including an enhanced alternative dispute resolution program. We look forward to working with Congress to provide funding for EEOC and other programs included in the President's civil rights enforcement initiative.
Department of Commerce
The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for the Department of Commerce overall, and in particular its full funding of the President's request for the Decennial Census, the Nation's single largest statistical operation. However, the Administration remains concerned about funding for a number of high priority programs, including:
Department of Justice
We appreciate the Committee's continued support for law enforcement and other Department of Justice activities. However, the Administration is concerned about non-hiring set- asides in the COPS program and the Committee's action in a number of other areas:
Legal Services Corporation
The Administration commends the Committee for increasing the funding level for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) to $300 million, $13 million above the FY 1998 enacted level. The recent Supreme Court ruling that interest on lawyer trust accounts (ILTAs) cannot be used to support civil legal services eliminates a funding source that provided LSC programs with more than $57 million last year. It is vitally important that the Congress fully fund the President's request of $340 million to ensure equal access to the judicial system.
International Affairs Programs
The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for the Department of State accounts that fund diplomatic and consular activities and, in particular, funding the request for the State Department's information technology modernization effort, including year 2000 (Y2K) activities. However, the Committee's cuts and unrequested earmarks in the Diplomatic and Consular Programs and Salaries and Expenses accounts, totaling over $30 million, would prevent the Department from meeting expected wage and price increases, covering critical overseas staffing gaps, and addressing other infrastructure shortfalls.
While the Administration is encouraged by the Committee's recognition of the Department's overseas facility requirements, we urge the Senate to restore the $90 million reduction to the Security and Maintenance of United States Missions account and to provide full funding of the President's request for urgently needed embassy facilities in Beijing and Berlin. The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for funding the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency's activities, particularly in light of recent events in South Asia.
The Administration appreciates the steps the Subcommittee has taken to fund the request for arrearage payments this year. The Administration wants to work with the Congress to ensure that these funds are available in a timely fashion to retain our influence in these organizations and to identify reform measures that further U.S. interests. However, we oppose the bill's authorization requirement that is intended to subject this important foreign policy measure to the unrelated issue of family planning policy. There is legitimate disagreement over this issue, but none of the U.N. and related international organizations arrears payments is related to this issue. Therefore, it is wholly inappropriate to hold the payment of U.S. arrears hostage to the family planning issue.
Further, the Committee bill significantly underfunds, by about $75 million, the annual assessed contributions to these organizations. This would increase arrears again and further inhibit chances for the reforms that we are all seeking. In addition, the Committee has imposed a number of certification requirements and conditions before payments by the United States to these organizations can be made.
Taken together, the consequence of these provisions would likely be the loss of the vote of the United States in the United Nations and other international organizations. This would seriously diminish the ability of the United States to influence issues before the U.N. General Assembly such as selection of future Secretaries General and resolutions affecting the Middle East.
Finally, the Administration strongly opposes section 403 and urges the Senate to strike it from the bill. This provision would reduce funding for arrears payments by 25 percent of the total expenditure of the United States made to respond to efforts by Iraq to block United Nations weapons inspections. The decision of the United States to incur these critically important expenditures was made on the basis of our own national security interests.
The Administration is very concerned that funding for the United States Information Agency's overseas information and broadcasting programs has been reduced by $80 million below the President's request. The funding level of $427 million for International Information Programs is $34 million below the President's request, $24 million of which results from the omission of funding for overseas administrative costs. For broadcasting programs, the Committee mark is $46 million below the President's request. A reduction of this magnitude would require a personnel reduction-in-force, eliminate broadcast language services, and defer necessary capital and technical radio modernization improvements. We urge the Senate to provide funding for core information and broadcasting programs at the President's requested level. Finally, earmarks placed on the Educational and Cultural Exchanges program should be removed.
This bill also contains provisions that raise serious constitutional concerns. For example, the Administration opposes Section 405 regarding Vietnam that unconstitutionally constrains the President's authority with respect to the conduct of diplomacy, in addition to creating a new unworkable standard for measuring progress on the POW/MIA issue beyond those contained in similar provisions from previous years. In addition, Section 613 on Haiti purports, in some circumstances, to limit the President's unfettered constitutional authority to "receive ambassadors and other public ministers."
Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The Administration urges the Senate to provide funding for the FCC's scheduled move to the Portals complex. Absent this funding, the FCC's ability to implement the mandates of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and to carry out critical mission operations may be severely impaired.
Exxon Valdez Settlement Funds. The Administration strongly objects to a provision of section 619 that would require certain Exxon Valdez settlement funds to be spent only for grants for marine research and community and economic restoration. This language is contrary to the Clean Water Act and a court-ordered consent decree that require that the State and Federal natural resource trustees determine how these funds should best be used.
Teamsters Election. The Administration objects to the continuation of last year's rider that prohibits the use of funds for supervising the Teamster's election, despite a court order requiring the Federal Government to pay for a supervised election.