This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views on S. 1217, the Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, FY 2000, as reported by the Senate Committee. As the Senate develops its version of the bill, your consideration of the Administration's views would be appreciated.
The Administration appreciates the Committee's efforts to accommodate some of the Administration's priorities within its 302(b) allocation. However, the inadequacy of the 302(b) allocation has forced the Committee to make choices that are simply unacceptable.
The President's FY 2000 Budget proposes levels of discretionary spending that meet important national needs while conforming to the Bipartisan Budget Agreement by making savings proposals in mandatory and other programs available to help finance vital spending needs. Congress has approved and the President has signed into law nearly $29 billion of such offsets in appropriations legislation since 1995. The Administration appreciates the Committee's adoption of one such proposal, language clarifying the relationship of bankruptcy law with regard to spectrum licenses. This provision will also help to ensure the integrity of the spectrum auction process. The Administration urges the Congress to consider more of such proposals as the FY 2000 appropriations process moves forward.
The Committee bill does not include the resources necessary to support high priority programs at an acceptable level. The bill would jeopardize critical activities and initiatives in a number of areas, including: 21st Century Policing; Federal law enforcement; immigration; anti-drug activities; the Brady Handgun National Instant Check System; terrorism/cybercrime; tobacco litigation; the decennial census; economic development through the Economic Development Administration and the Small Business Administration; Lands Legacy; the Pacific Salmon Treaty; ensuring access to the judicial system; and, preventing and addressing discrimination.
The bill underfunds activities to improve the safety of U.S. employees abroad and support the ongoing conduct of effective diplomacy, and does not fully fund payments to international organizations necessary to ensure U.S. leadership in international affairs. The bill would result in further arrears and possible loss of vote in the U.N. and other organizations. In addition, the bill includes several objectionable language provisions regarding international and domestic programs.
If the bill were presented to the President in its current form, the President's senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill.
S. 1217 - DEPARTMENTS OF COMMERCE, JUSTICE,
AND STATE, THE JUDICIARY, AND RELATED
AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS BILL, FY 2000
(AS REPORTED BY THE SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE)
Department of Justice
21st Century Policing Initiative/Community Oriented Policing Services. The Administration strongly opposes the Committee's decision not to fund the 21st Century Policing Initiative, the logical successor to the highly effective Community Oriented Policing Services program. Congress should not terminate this highly effective program. We urge the restoration of funding for the 21st Century Policing Initiative, which will enable local police Departments to hire up to 50,000 additional community police officers, hire new community prosecutors, and expand community-based prevention efforts.
Federal Law Enforcement. The Committee bill reduces the FBI (-$97 million), the U.S. Attorneys (-$77 million), and the Department's legal divisions (-$20 million) below the levels needed to maintain current services. When combined with various requirements and earmarks in the bill, these funding levels would force substantial reductions in the number of FBI agents and Federal prosecutors, significantly reducing the Department's ability to investigate and prosecute violent crime, including the more than 160 Safe Streets Task Forces that target violent gangs, fugitives, and major theft groups. These reductions would threaten the progress that has been made in reducing violent crime in the United States. The Administration also opposes the provision that would limit U.S. Attorneys' new hires to two-year terms.
Immigration. The FY 2000 mark for Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Salaries and Expenses, which is $189 million below the level needed to maintain current services, would decimate current program activities. The bill directs that INS hire an additional 1,000 border patrol agents in FY 2000 but fails to provide the resources to support these additional agents. In fact, the bill includes a position ceiling that would cut overall INS staffing by over 1,400 positions. The bill does not provide sufficient funding to meet the mandatory detention requirements, including those detailed in the recently submitted budget amendment, and diverts examination fee revenues to fund appropriated activities, undermining the INS's ability to meet its naturalization backlog reduction targets.
Anti-Drug Programs. The Administration opposes the Committee's proposal to reduce the requested funding for the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) salaries and expenses by over $60 million. This cut would severely affect DEA's drug law enforcement programs at home and abroad. In addition, the Committee has failed to fund the $100 million Drug Intervention Program, which helps States and localities implement tough new systems to drug test, treat, and punish drug offenders. Finally, the Administration objects to the Committee's proposed $10 million reduction to the request for the highly successful Drug Courts Program. Taken together, the Committee's actions would make it difficult, if not impossible, to achieve the drug reduction targets in the annual drug strategy and in the Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 1998.
Brady Handgun National Instant Check System. The Administration is concerned that the Committee bill does not fund the Brady Handgun National Instant Check System (NICS), either through the fee requested by the Administration or through new appropriations. The Administration urges the Committee to approve the requested fee or appropriate sufficient new funding, including $2.3 million to bring NICS into compliance with the proposed retention period.
Tobacco Litigation. The Administration is disappointed that the Committee has not provided directly the requested funds for tobacco litigation, which the Department plans to bring on behalf of the American people to recover money properly owed to the Treasury. Given that the States settled their claims against the tobacco industry for more than $200 billion and that Federal health care costs substantially exceed those of the States, the $20 million requested by the Administration is a small investment with enormous potential benefits.
Civil Rights Enforcement. The Administration urges the Senate to fully fund the request for the Civil Rights Division. The President's requested level, $82 million, would enable the Department to expand significantly its investigations and prosecutions of criminal civil cases (including hate crimes and police misconduct), fair housing and lending cases, and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
State Criminal Alien Assistance. The Administration is disappointed with the Committee's decision to reduce substantially funding for the State Criminal Alien Assistance program.
Cybercrime. The Committee bill provides additional funds to the FBI for the fight against cybercrime through the reallocation of existing resources. However, given the significant number of instructions for the reallocation of FBI resources, including
absorption of $10 million for the National Infrastructure Protection Center (funded through the Counterterrorism Fund in FY 1999), it is unlikely that the Bureau would be able to implement the cybercrime program increases cited in the Senate Committee Report.
Bureau of Prisons/Abortion. The Administration urges the Senate to strike language that would prohibit the Bureau of Prisons from funding abortions except in cases of rape or where the life of the mother is endangered. The Department of Justice believes that there is a great likelihood that this provision would be held unconstitutional.
Department of Commerce
Decennial Census. On June 8, 1999, the President requested $1.7 billion in additional funding for implementation of the decennial census. The Administration urges the Senate to provide this funding, which will support the increased activities made necessary by the January 25, 1999, U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The requested funds would be used primarily to address the additional workload associated with a non-sampling census for purposes of congressional apportionment, including additional staff, equipment, office space, and information technology needs. Although proceeding with a non-sampling census for purposes of congressional apportionment will increase costs substantially, doing so, unfortunately, will produce less accurate results than the sampling method proposed by the Census Bureau.
In addition, section 204 of the Senate bill should be updated, as proposed in the President's budget, to reference the 2000 census rather than the 1990 census.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Administration is pleased that the Senate has included funding for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery account. However, it is important that funds be allocated in the amounts requested by the President for the affected West Coast tribes to enable them to participate in this initiative. We also urge provision of the full $60 million needed to implement the 1999 Pacific Salmon Agreement, as requested in the Administration's recently submitted budget amendment. In addition, while we appreciate the manager's amendment that provided an additional $10 million for Endangered Species Act (ESA) implementation, it is critical that the Senate fully fund increases to support NOAA's partnership efforts with the States under the ESA consultation process.
The Administration urges full funding of the President's Lands Legacy Initiative, specifically for the Coastal Zone Management Act, the National Marine Sanctuaries Program and coral reef protection. The Administration also urges that the Clean Water Action Plan be fully funded at $22 million. In addition, we urge the Senate to fully fund the request for the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program. Finally, we request that the Senate include $1 million for new education and outreach activities at Historically Black Colleges and Universities to create a pipeline of marine biology students at these institutions.
Economic Development Administration. The Committee mark for the Economic Development Administration (EDA) is $165 million below the request, a reduction over 40 percent from both the request and the FY 1999 enacted level. This funding level would mean a significant reduction in EDA's ability to create jobs and expand economic opportunity in hundreds of distressed communities around the country.
Critical Infrastructure and Associated Programs. The Administration urges the Senate to fully fund the Department's critical infrastructure protection programs in the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and other bureaus. Consistent with the findings of the Cox Report and the "Six IG Study," we also seek full funding for modernization of the Bureau of Export Administration's export licensing system and its chemical weapons and high performance computer control responsibilities.
Additional Concerns, Department of Commerce. The Administration appreciates the increased funding for the Public Telecommunications Facilities, Planning, and Construction Program but is concerned that the ability of public broadcasters to meet the Federally-mandated May 2003 deadline for the transition to digital broadcasting will be jeopardized without full funding in FY 2000 and the requested advance appropriations. We also urge full funding for the Information Infrastructure Grant program, which has a proven track record of extending the reach of innovative technology to underserved communities.
In addition, while the International Trade Administration (ITA) receives $3 million more than the President's request in the Committee bill, the imposition of unrequested projects would actually result in a $13 million reduction in existing ITA activities, including regional U.S. Export Assistance Centers. The Administration urges funding of the $2 million request for the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) to facilitate successful long-term resolution of NTIS's financial problems in FY 2000. In addition, the Administration would oppose amendments that would delay or terminate the ongoing procurement of a long-term lease for the Patent and Trademark Office.
Legal Services Corporation
The Administration urges the Senate to increase the mark for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) from a freeze at the FY 1999 enacted level, $300 million, to the requested level of $340 million. Funding LSC at the requested level will help to ensure equal access to the judicial system.
International Affairs Programs
Embassy Security. The Administration appreciates the Committee's provision of funding for enhanced embassy security operations. This funding is the most effective deterrent to immediate security threats. The Committee's mark for construction of new embassies in FY 2000, however, is inadequate to address the need for an accelerated construction program of new, secure facilities. To address this need, the Administration amended its budget request to seek $300 million for such construction in FY 2000. Moreover, the Committee's mark does not address the President's request for advance appropriations necessary to support a multi-year capital improvement program. This multi-year construction program to protect all Americans serving abroad is a top priority of the President and his senior advisers. There is unanimity among security experts that a robust, multi-year program is a necessary component of a long-term solution to security threats. For this reason, the Administration also opposes the proposed rescission of balances in the Security and Maintenance of U.S. Missions account. Projected FY 2000 carry-forward balances primarily result from the timing of complex construction procurements and are fully subscribed for ongoing maintenance, capital, life-safety, and security projects.
State Department Operations. The Administration is deeply concerned about the Committee's significant reductions to the request and unwarranted earmarks for Department of State accounts that fund diplomatic and consular activities. Reductions of eight percent to the request for ongoing diplomatic and consular operations would impair the ability of the Department to support American interests and provide services to the public by forcing worldwide reductions to personnel, operations including post closings, and investment that would undermine U.S. leadership in world affairs.
Contributions to International Organizations. The Committee bill significantly underfunds the annual assessed contributions to international organizations and peacekeeping and only partially funds our requirement to pay off U.S. arrears. These funding levels would increase U.S. arrears at the same time as we are working to pay them, further inhibit chances for reforms we are all seeking, and seriously constrain the ability of the United States to address foreign policy interests through international organizations, including the mechanism of U.N. peacekeeping. Equally troubling, the Committee mark does not include the $107 million arrears credit that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee specifically directed to be included as part of the bipartisan arrears package. The Administration considers this credit a key element of our U.N. arrears package and instrumental to the pursuit of reforms, especially lower assessment rates.
Foreign Policy Issues. The Administration strongly opposes provisions in the bill concerning Jerusalem on constitutional, foreign policy, and operational grounds. These provisions would impermissibly intrude on the President's constitutional authority to conduct foreign affairs and determine recognition by directing U.S. policy regarding Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The actions called for by these provisions would prejudge the outcome of the Israeli-Palestinian permanent status negotiations and thus would severely undermine U.S. efforts to promote a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Furthermore, other provisions in the bill raise serious constitutional concerns and are opposed by the Administration. Section 609 regarding Vietnam would unconstitutionally constrain the President's authority with respect to the conduct of diplomacy. Section 615 on Haiti could, in some circumstances, limit the President's unfettered constitutional authority to "receive ambassadors and other public ministers."
The Administration strongly opposes section 619, which would prohibit the use of funds to detail or otherwise fund employees assigned to the National Security Council (NSC). This provision would adversely affect the NSC's ability to review foreign policy issues that affect national security. Finally, the Administration cannot support report language that recommends reallocation of U.S. Government communications assets of the Diplomatic Telecommunications Service (DTS). The Administration does not support action by the Congress in regard to the DTS because it would prejudge the Administration's own deliberations on how best to meet the communications needs of the U.S. Government.
International Broadcasting Operations. The Administration is concerned that the levels provided for international broadcasting operations and capital improvements would make it impossible to maintain the current levels of non-military international broadcasting. By not including sufficient funds to cover the costs of establishing the Broadcasting Board of Governors as an independent agency, the Committee's mark would require significant reductions in Voice of America staff, broadcast services, and broadcast hours. The Committee mark specifically excludes funding for Radio Democracy for Africa, denying the Administration the ability to increase broadcasts and provide broadcast journalist training to African nations. In addition, the Administration urges the Senate not to rescind $19 million for broadcasting operations. The Administration has submitted a request to reprogram a portion of these to funds to defray the cost of broadcasting to the Kosovo region and for other high priority needs.
International Exchange Programs. The Administration appreciates the Committee's substantial funding level for international exchange and training programs. However, the Administration is concerned that levels for the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange, as well as the Fulbright students, scholars, and teachers programs are below the President's request. We ask that a reallocation be made within the amount provided by the Committee so that these high-priority programs can be funded at the levels requested by the President.
Other International Affairs Programs. The Administration strongly opposes the Committee's exclusion of funding for the National Endowment for Democracy, which administers important democracy-building programs around the globe. In addition, the Administration objects to the exclusion of funds for the Asia Foundation, which works to advance the mutual interests of the United States and the Asia Pacific region. Finally, the Administration opposes reductions to the President's request for international commissions. Such reductions would place a disproportionate burden on the budgets of these small agencies.
Small Business Administration
The Administration is disappointed that the Committee mark does not include funding for the Small Business Administration's (SBA's) new markets initiatives to invest in rural and urban areas -- $96 million in total for New Markets Technical Assistance, 7(a) small loans, Business Linc, and the New Markets Venture Capital initiative. The Administration is very concerned about the $13 million reduction from the request for SBA administrative expenses. These funds are necessary to provide the appropriate level of oversight for SBA's outstanding $50 billion loan portfolio and its resource partners. We are also concerned that the Committee has not provided the $233 million in contingent emergency funding requested for disaster loans. The requested funding would ensure that SBA can meet the needs of disaster victims in a timely manner.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The Administration strongly objects to the $22 million reduction to the requests for the Inspectors General of the Departments of Justice, State, and Commerce. If adopted, the FY 2000 budgets for the Inspectors General would be $11 million (13 percent) below the enacted level for FY 1999. These reductions would jeopardize careful oversight of Departmental programs, including such critical activities as the decennial census and the State Department's worldwide security upgrade program, and would seriously weaken the Departments' ability to conduct financial audits in compliance with Federal law.
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
Commission on Holocaust Assets
The Administration is concerned about the exclusion of requested funding for the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States. Without FY 2000 funding from the Departments of State and Justice, the Commission will be unable to fulfill its important mandate to research and report on the collection and disposition of holocaust era assets in the United States.