March 29, 2000
This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views
on the FY 2000 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill as reported by
the House Appropriations Committee. The Administration is pleased that the
Committee has acted expeditiously on the President's supplemental requests
to keep the peace and build stability in Kosovo, to support the Colombian
government's fight against drug traffickers, to provide needed heating and
cooling assistance for families that have been badly affected by increased
oil prices, and to provide further assistance to the victims of Hurricane
The Administration does, however, have a number of concerns with the Committee bill, and we ask that you consider our views. We urge your prompt action on this bill so that assistance can be provided in a timely way, as this legislation is time-sensitive. For example, if the bill is not enacted soon, the Department of Defense will have to make irreversible decisions to curtail training and maintenance activities essential to readiness; victims of Hurricane Floyd may have to spend a second winter in temporary shelters; Emergency Low Income Home Energy Assistance may not be available for the summer cooling season; and, urgent assistance needed to reduce the incidents of ethnic violence in Kosovo will be delayed.
The Administration strongly opposes amendments made in order in the rule that would unnecessarily grow the size of the supplemental, place objectionable restrictions on funding provided in the bill, or strike critical funding from the bill. We urge the House to reject such amendments so that this time-sensitive legislation can move forward expeditiously.
Support for the U.S. Military
The Administration appreciates the House approving our funding request for military activities in Kosovo. Given the timing of the deployment and the constraints of last fall's appropriations cycle, it was impossible to include this funding in the President's FY 2000 Budget or FY 2000 Defense Appropriations Act. Therefore, the Administration submitted a supplemental request for the funding. We urge the Congress to act expeditiously on the supplemental to ensure that our military readiness is maintained.
We understand the House will consider a Lewis amendment to provide an additional $4 billion to the Department of Defense for a total increase to defense spending of almost $7 billion above the President's supplemental request. We oppose amendments such as this that could seriously risk derailing the passage of the supplemental by the Congress.
We share the Congress' concern that our European allies carry the lion's share of the burden of the civilian effort in Kosovo. We continue to press our allies to meet their commitments and to uphold a fair burdensharing arrangement. We believe these commitments will be met. But we would resist congressional efforts that would result in termination of our mission in Kosovo prematurely, would terminate funding necessary to support our troops, or would undermine our efforts to restore stability and democracy to Kosovo. Such efforts would put at risk the considerable progress we have made in this troubled region. In particular, we oppose the Kasich amendment made in order in the rule.
Support for Eastern European Democracies
The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for programs designed to foster democracy in Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia. Similarly, the Administration appreciates the Committee's support for funding our share of the costs of the international civilian police force for Kosovo. This police force is critical to ensuring the safety of all citizens of Kosovo and equally important as the key to relieving our armed forces from the burden of police work.
The Administration, however, strongly opposes the elimination of the $80 million in funding for critical programs to support civil implementation and revitalize Kosovo's economy and civil society. Short-changing the U.S. contribution to these programs would retard the establishment of effective local authorities, prolong the region's dependence on foreign aid, and delay the achievement of conditions under which we can reduce the international presence, including U.S. forces, in Kosovo. We also urge that funding be provided for establishment of vetted anti-organized-crime units among the local police in Albania, Kosovo, and Bosnia. Hand in hand with these programs is the requirement for adequate staff and facilities to ensure they are run effectively. Therefore, the Administration requests that the Congress reconsider the reduction to USAID administrative funds as well.
Contributions to International Peacekeeping
The Administration is particularly concerned about the lack of funding for expected assessments to support critical United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations in Kosovo and East Timor. These payments are critical if we are to help restore peace to these troubled areas. These are bills we must pay. We expect to receive an assessment for East Timor in the next month and for Kosovo in early July. These bills will become new arrears if they are not paid in thirty days. We have requested $91 million for the UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), which is performing an extraordinarily difficult but essential task of overseeing civilian administration until the people of Kosovo are able to assume that responsibility themselves. Our $16 million request for the UN mission in East Timor (UNTAET) would help the UN perform a similar mission to facilitate the transition of East Timor to full independence. The absence of full and timely U.S. payment of our assessments would severely impede the success of these missions. Having won important progress for democracy and stability in both of these areas, we should invest in their stability by paying our share of the cost.
Security and Maintenance of U.S. Missions/Diplomatic and Consular Programs
The Administration appreciates the action taken by the House Committee to ensure the safety of Americans serving in Sarajevo by providing funding to construct a new, secure facility. However, the Administration is disappointed that no funding has been provided in the Committee bill for other requested security and operational needs in Kosovo and the region. Secure facilities are also needed for Pristina, Kosovo, to support a continuing presence to allow the United States to remain engaged in an area that has a long and turbulent history of ethnic violence and repression, and Tirana, Albania, to accommodate staffing needed to manage a more complex U.S.-Albania relationship on a range of political, humanitarian, development, and military issues. Also left unfunded are the increased costs of diplomatic operations in Southeast Europe. The Administration urges the Congress to provide additional funds to ensure the security of our employees serving U.S. interests in Kosovo and working to achieve lasting peace in the region.
The Administration appreciates the House Committee's support for U.S. assistance to Plan Colombia. Colombia is the source of more than 90 percent of the cocaine and 65 percent of the heroin seized in the United States. Cutting off the drug supply at its source is an important component of America's overall counter-drug strategy. Plan Colombia, President Pastrana's strategy to address Colombia's national security, socioeconomic, and drug-related problems, presents the United States with a window of opportunity to further U.S. interests and increase stability in South America. The Administration also appreciates the Committee's support for the important human rights, alternative development, and governmental reform initiatives in Colombia. Congress' timely support of Plan Colombia will help to stem the flow of drugs into the United States and will further benefit the United States by bringing greater peace and prosperity to an important American ally.
However, the Administration is concerned about the House Committee's funding reduction of $47 million of Counter-narcotic Battalion (CNBN) support and of certain items under interdiction support. The creation, training and equipping of these special CNBNs is critical to Colombian efforts to enter the southern coca-growing areas. U.S. assistance to Plan Colombia was carefully designed as an integrated package, and the Administration looks forward to working with Congress to try to restore this funding to ensure that this program is successfully implemented as an integrated whole.
The Rules Committee has made in order amendments by Representatives Ramstad and Obey which would eliminate or reduce funding for the Colombia counternarcotics program. The Administration strongly opposes these amendments.
Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Trust Fund
The Administration is concerned that the Committee bill includes none of the $210 million requested for a contribution to the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Trust Fund to support the participation of regional development banks and other international financial institutions in the enhanced HIPC initiative. This initiative, a key outcome of the Cologne G-8 Summit, has broad international support as well as bipartisan support in the Congress, and is designed to ease the debt burden of strong economic reformers such as Mozambique, Uganda, and Bolivia. The failure of the United States to provide any funding for the HIPC Trust Fund would significantly restrict the ability of some of the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) to participate fully in this important initiative. This would delay the objectives of easing the debt burden and providing an incentive for the poorest countries to implement the macroeconomic and structural reforms necessary to improve their economic performance and increase their ability to address, with their own resources, critical social issues such as education and health.
In particular, failure to provide these funds would jeopardize multilateral debt reduction for eligible Latin American countries. Without early Congressional action this year on the supplemental appropriation request, debt relief to some of the strongest economic reformers, such as Bolivia, cannot move forward, undermining poverty reduction and economic growth efforts. Each dollar that the U.S. provides will leverage $27 from other creditors.
Agricultural Assistance for Areas Affected by Natural Disasters
The Administration commends the Committee for including requested funds needed to assist farmers and rural residents in recovering from Hurricanes Dennis, Floyd, and Irene. These provisions will allow funds to be used to replace damaged farm structures and equipment that are essential for producers to continue their operations in the coming year, and they will help producer-owned marketing associations recover from severe losses sustained in last year's hurricanes. In addition, the rural housing assistance in the Committee bill will ensure that low-income rural residents who were displaced by the hurricanes have safe, decent, and affordable housing long after the temporary FEMA housing assistance expires.
Princeville, North Carolina
The Administration appreciates the Committee's provision of $1.5 million for the Corps of Engineers to study the feasibility of providing additional flood protection for the city of Princeville, North Carolina. Given the recent devastation this community has experienced, as well as its unique place in American history, we need to move quickly to evaluate flood protection measures needed to protect this community adequately.
Economic Development Administration/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The Administration appreciates the funding provided by the Committee in response to the recent hurricane-related fisheries disasters and the Long Island Sound lobster fishery disaster. We urge that funding likewise be provided to address the West Coast groundfish disaster, as well as contingency funding for other disasters that may be declared.
Assistance to Vieques, Puerto Rico
We commend the Committee for providing the requested funding to implement the President's directives on Vieques, Puerto Rico. The training facility at Vieques is important to sustaining the readiness of our Naval forces. We are working to accommodate our training needs while addressing the concerns of the people of Vieques. The Administration's plan will help balance national security with the health, safety, and environmental concerns of Vieques's residents. We look forward to working with the House to ensure that the funding is spent effectively and efficiently in support of these goals. We strongly oppose the Fowler amendment made in order in the rule that would place objectionable constraints on funding.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
The Administration commends the Committee for funding the President's request for $600 million in contingent emergency funds under the Department of Health and Human Services' Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The emergency fund has been exhausted responding to the winter fuel price increases. Requested funds will ensure sufficient resources in the event of unusual heat this summer.
Federal Aviation Administration
The Administration has requested authority to reallocate $39 million within the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for FAA Operations, as well as language authorizing the Secretary of Transportation to transfer funds to Operations from other Transportation accounts. The requests are necessary to allow FAA to meet better the operational requirements of the air traffic control system, including addressing increased delays and maintaining safety and security. While the pending FAA authorization bill provides $26 million, we are disappointed that the House Committee has not approved this high-priority supplemental requirement.
In addition, the Administration has requested a $77 million, fully offset FAA Operations supplemental. The FY 2000 appropriation for FAA Operations is $184 million below the President's request. Although the FAA has done its best to maintain high levels of safety, security, and system efficiency within the appropriated level, it is unable to do so. Therefore, we urge the House to approve these supplementals, thereby assuring smooth and efficient operations.
Rescission of Mandatory Research and Rural Development Funds
The Administration strongly opposes provisions that would block further spending from the mandatory Fund for Rural America and agricultural research grants authorized by the Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems. These provisions would deny vitally needed funding to support economic development in rural areas, such as water and waste disposal grants and loans, farm labor housing, and outreach to socially-disadvantaged farmers. In addition, the House Committee bill would cut research on human nutrition, methods to improve farm efficiency and profitability, and food safety. These programs serve ends that are supported by the vast majority of both urban and rural Americans, and we urge the House to strike these provisions.
Department of Energy
The Administration urges the House to provide the full $19 million requested for low-income home weatherization in the energy conservation account in FY 2000, as opposed to providing the funds in FY 2001, as specified in the Committee bill. These funds are needed for building rehabilitation of an additional 9,000 - 9,500 low-income homes -- work that is best done before the heating season. In order to be helpful next winter, the funds would need to be disbursed to States this summer. If the funds are not available until October, there is little chance that they will make it to local service agencies and into weatherization improvements for the next heating season.
The Administration appreciates the Committee's provision of funds for: (1) environment, health, and safety activities at the gaseous diffusion plants in Portsmouth, OH, and Paducah, KY; (2) physical and cyber-security activities across the Department of Energy complex; and, (3) personnel and other funding requirements at the Department's weapons production plants.
Restoring Budgetary Conventions
The Administration commends the Committee for approving the President's proposal to restore budgetary conventions by repealing the pay date delay, the Department of Defense prompt payment delay, and the Department of Health and Human Services obligation delays.
The Administration also proposes to replace FY 2001 advance appropriations, where such appropriations departed from budgetary conventions, with full, up-front funding in FY 2000. The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to shift those advance appropriations that are not required for programmatic reasons.
Other Funding Issues
There are a number of unrequested funding items in the House Committee bill that the Administration does not believe are necessary. Growth in the size of the supplemental puts passage of time-sensitive issues at risk. We would like to work with the House as the bill moves forward to address such items. We request that the House not add extraneous riders to the bill -- riders that would adversely affect the environment or public health or generate controversy that could unnecessarily delay the urgently needed emergency assistance contained in this bill.
In addition, we oppose the Sanford amendment made in order in the rule that would strike the emergency designation from the bill, resulting in across-the-board cuts in all discretionary programs including law enforcement, veterans, defense, public health, and other programs.