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June 19, 2000
(House)

H.R. 4635 - DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS AND HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, AND INDEPENDENT AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS BILL, FY 2001
(Sponsors: Young (R), Florida; Walsh (R), New York)

This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views on the Veterans, Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Bill, FY 2001, as approved by the House Committee. Your consideration of the Administration's views would be appreciated.

The President's FY 2001 Budget is based on a balanced approach that maintains fiscal discipline, eliminates the national debt, extends the solvency of Social Security and Medicare, provides for an appropriately sized tax cut, establishes a new voluntary Medicare prescription drug benefit in the context of broader reforms, expands health care coverage to more families, and funds critical investments for our future. An essential element of this approach is ensuring adequate funding for discretionary programs. To this end, the President has proposed discretionary spending limits at levels that we believe are necessary to serve the American people.

Unfortunately, the FY 2001 congressional budget resolution provides inadequate resources for discretionary investments. We need realistic levels of funding for critical government functions that the American people expect their government to perform well, including education, national security, law enforcement, environmental protection, preservation of our global leadership, air safety, food safety, economic assistance for the less fortunate, research and technology, and the administration of Social Security and Medicare. Based on the inadequate budget resolution, this bill fails to address critical needs of the American people.

The Committee allocation is $6 billion below the President's program level request. In order to approve a bill at the level of this allocation, the Committee has eliminated the Corporation for National and Community Service, and has severely reduced funding from the requests for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency's basic environmental and public health programs, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other Administration priorities.

The Administration strongly opposes the Committee's action to terminate the Corporation for National and Community Service, including the AmeriCorps program. Eliminating funding for the Corporation would deny over one million young Americans the opportunity to provide vital community services and become better citizens as participants in the Corporation's AmeriCorps (62,000 participants) and Learn and Serve (1 million participants) programs. If the final bill presented to the President were to provide inadequate funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service, his senior advisers would recommend that the President veto the bill.

The Committee bill would also limit our ability to address poverty and the shortage of affordable housing, undermine investments in our future through space research and science and technology, reduce our ability to pursue critical opportunities in basic research through the National Science Foundation, adversely affect the environment and public health, and adversely affect our ability to respond quickly and fully to unforeseen disasters. Further, the Committee bill includes objectionable language provisions, such as anti-environmental riders, efforts to hamper the Department of Veterans Affairs ability to support the tobacco litigation using current statutory authority, and language limiting HUD's efforts to deliver vital services to the American people. For these reasons, if the bill were presented to the President in its current form, the President's senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill.

Detailed discussions of certain of these issues, as well as additional Administration concerns with the Committee bill, are provided in the attachment. We look forward to working with the House to address our mutual concerns.

Attachment



Attachment

DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS AND
HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, AND
INDEPENDENT AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS BILL, FY 2001

(AS APPROVED BY THE HOUSE COMMITTEE)

Corporation for National and Community Service
The Administration is deeply concerned that the House Committee bill terminates the Corporation for National and Community Service, including the AmeriCorps program. In FY 2001, the Committee bill would deny 62,000 Americans the opportunity to meet pressing education, public safety, and human and environmental needs in exchange for help with college costs through participation in AmeriCorps. This action would eliminate the President's goal of reaching 100,000 AmeriCorps participants a year by FY 2004. In addition, in FY 2001, the bill would prevent more than one million students from participating in service-learning programs that provide substantial academic and social benefits, including the opportunity to learn responsible citizenship. The Administration strongly urges the House to fully fund the Corporation at the requested level of $534 million.

Department of Housing and Urban Development

The Committee bill provides $29.9 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), an overall programmatic reduction of $2.5 billion from the President's request, excluding proposed offsets. This reduction would eliminate most of the increases that the President has requested to help HUD address poverty and the shortage of affordable housing.

Housing Assistance. The bill provides no net new housing assistance. The Committee bill also fails to address the shortage of affordable housing to help homeless and low-income families, low-income elderly, the disabled, and people with HIV/AIDS.

Community and Economic Development. The Committee bill fails to provide requisite funding to help those places in America our booming economy has left behind.

Community Builders. The Committee bill terminates the Community Builder program, cuts $90 million from HUD's operating budget request, and delays expenditures for training, technical assistance, and management improvement funds (Section 421). These actions would hamstring the Department's efforts to deliver vital services to the American people. HUD's streamlining efforts over the past few years have already achieved significant staff reductions. The Committee bill's Community Builder provision is inconsistent with an agreement reached with the Committee during the FY 2000 appropriations process and could eliminate up to 800 existing positions. Instead of focusing on improving services and responsiveness, HUD would now be forced to manage a large personnel reduction and redefine roles throughout the Department.

Other Concerns

National Science Foundation

The Administration strongly opposes the Committee's funding recommendations for the National Science Foundation (NSF). The Committee's bill would jeopardize our investment in the future by cutting NSF investments in science, engineering, and education by $508 million, 11 percent below the requested level. This reduction would seriously undermine priority investments in cutting-edge research and eliminate funding for almost 18,000 researchers and science and mathematics educators -- slowing innovation and reducing the number of well-trained students needed by the Nation's high tech industries. This reduction would also skew the balance among the different sciences within our R&D portfolio, eliminating physical science, mathematics, and engineering research that are needed, for example, to make our biomedical research investments much more productive.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

The Administration appreciates the Committee's effort to fund the International Space Station program, Space Shuttle safety upgrades, and Space and Earth Science research. Likewise, we appreciate that the Committee has included no earmarks for projects that have not been subject to competitive selection and encourage the House to maintain this standard as it develops its bill.

However, the Administration strongly opposes the Committee bill's elimination of the $290 million requested for NASA's Space Launch Initiative, a program that is critical to the long-term future of NASA. The initiative promises to dramatically lower the cost of future space launch vehicles while significantly increasing safety and reliability. This program will enable new opportunities in space exploration as well as enhance the international competitiveness of the U.S. commercial launch industry. The Committee's action would also terminate two experimental launch vehicles, the X-34 and X-37, in which NASA has already invested more than $200 million in preparation for launches over the next three years. The Administration urges full restoration of funding for this critical initiative.

The Administration has several other concerns regarding NASA. First, the Administration opposes the elimination of the $20 million funding request for the "Living with a Star" initiative. This initiative would enhance our understanding of the sun and its impact on Earth and the environment, and would also help provide early warning against solar flares and mass ejections that can damage critical infrastructure such as civil, national security, and commercial satellites. Second, the Administration objects to the $55 million reduction to NASA's aeronautical research efforts that promise new technologies to reduce air traffic congestion. Third, the Administration requests removal of bill and report language preventing NASA from funding joint research projects with the U.S. Air Force. This limitation would greatly impair NASA and U.S. Air Force research efforts in aeronautics and space technology, forcing unnecessary duplication of efforts between both agencies.

The Administration strongly opposes three amendments that may be offered on the floor. The first amendment would terminate the International Space Station, an important new capability that promises major advances in science and technology. The second amendment would remove the Russian Government as a partner in the Station program. The Russians, who are preparing a critical element for launch to the Station next month, are valued partners on the program and removal would result in very costly delays and significant harm to our important relationship with them. The third amendment would place a statutory cost limitation on development and assembly of the Station. The Administration shares the interest of Congress in maintaining cost controls over the program and NASA has begun to institute such measures. However, this statutory cost cap would reduce planned spending to assemble the Station and could limit NASA's ability to deal with safety and unforeseen technical problems as they may arise.

Environmental Protection Agency

The Administration appreciates the Committee's decision not to include earmarked, special interest projects within the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) budget. In previous years, the funding of this type of unauthorized, unrequested projects has severely squeezed funding for core environmental and statutorily required programs. The Administration hopes to work with the Congress to maintain restraint throughout the appropriations process. Despite the Committee's restraint on special interest projects, we have several major concerns with the funding provided for EPA in the Committee bill.

In particular, the Administration strongly opposes the $199 million or nearly ten-percent reduction to the Administration's request for EPA's basic environmental and public health programs, which are the backbone of the Agency's work. Unless reversed, a cut of this magnitude would seriously affect EPA's ability to provide American communities with cleaner water, cleaner air, and an improved quality of life. Major cuts are targeted at:

While the Administration appreciates the increases provided for the Clean Water Action Plan, we strongly urge restoration of funding for the Great Lakes Initiative. This funding is critically needed to address contaminated "areas of concern" in the Great Lakes. The Administration likewise urges restoration of funding for section 319 non-point source pollution control grants, to provide needed assistance in combating polluted runoff -- the largest remaining source of water pollution today -- and for State grant funding for the specific purpose of protecting water quality through Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) allocations. In addition, the Administration urges that all of the increased State grant funding in the bill be accompanied by increases in State matching funds, a requirement that the current Committee language does not ensure.

The Administration opposes the $67 million reduction to the request for Superfund funding available to the EPA, which under this Administration has operated at a record pace to clean up hazardous waste sites. This reduction would needlessly jeopardize the public health for citizens living near affected sites by eliminating virtually all new cleanup starts and making it difficult to meet the President's 900-site construction completion goal by FY 2002. Further, the Administration objects to the Committee's proposal to finance half of the appropriation from general revenue. Such financing is contrary to the "polluter pays" principle and would be unfair to the general public, who would be forced to pay for the irresponsible actions of polluters.

The Administration also objects to the elimination of funding for the Clean Air Partnership Fund. This Fund would provide grants to State and local governments for innovative projects that reduce multiple air pollutants, such as toxics, soot, and smog, as well as reducing greenhouse gases. This Fund would support a wide range of projects that would mean cleaner air and savings for consumers.

The Administration strongly objects to several anti-environmental riders:

Council on Environmental Quality

The Administration appreciates the additional $95,000 for FY 2001 provided in the Committee bill, but believes full funding of the requested increase of $204,000 is needed for the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to fulfill its statutory responsibilities. The Administration opposes the limit included in Committee report language of 22 FTEs for CEQ, instead of the 26 estimated FTEs that were requested. This limitation would hamper CEQ's ability to provide for the optimal level of staff to run the agency efficiently.

Federal Emergency Management Agency

The Administration appreciates the efforts of the Committee to provide funds needed for the operation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). However, the Administration strongly urges the Committee to provide the $300 million requested in regular appropriations for disaster relief, as well as the full $2.6 billion in contingent emergency funding requested. These funds are needed to ensure FEMA's ability to respond quickly and fully to disasters in FY 2001.

With 600,000 Americans homeless, the Administration strongly urges the Committee to provide the full request of $140 million for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program. Failure to provide the full request would lead to 25 million fewer meals served and more than one million nights of temporary lodging that would not be provided. The Administration

appreciates the Committee's support for FEMA's mitigation programs. However, rather than providing the full request for pre-disaster mitigation (Project Impact) and repetitive loss buyouts, the Committee has elected to pursue an "either-or" strategy that will lead to reductions in pre-disaster mitigation, or fewer buyouts of repetitively flooded homes, or both. This strategy would only lead to increased long-term disaster costs. In addition, the Administration urges the Committee to fund the $23.6 million requested for FEMA's headquarters building requirements.

Community Development Financial Institutions Fund

The Administration is concerned with the House Committee's decision to fund the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund at $105 million, $20 million below the request. This reduction would result in approximately 30 fewer organizations receiving awards than assumed in the request. We urge the House to fully fund CDFI at the President's request of $125 million. The requested level will enable CDFI to meet the increasing demand by financial institutions to leverage investments, make loans, and provide technical assistance and other financial services in some of the country's most distressed communities.

Department of Veterans Affairs

Consumer Product Safety Commission

The Administration is concerned with the Committee's $1.5 million reduction to the President's request of $52.5 million for the Consumer Product Safety Commission. This reduction could impede the Commission's efforts to protect children and families against unreasonable risks of injury and death from consumer products.

Critical Infrastructure Protection/Cyber Crime

The Administration urges the House to fully fund the President's request for critical infrastructure protection/cyber crime for the National Science Foundation and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). These funds are a crucial component of the national, interagency effort to protect infrastructure -- particularly information systems -- in both Government and the private sector that is essential to the functioning of our economy, national defense, and the safety of the population. Specifically, the Administration urges the House to fund the President's request of $43 million, including $11.2 million for Scholarships for Service, for the National Science Foundation's critical infrastructure protection activities. The Scholarships for Service effort is intended to develop the next generation of Federal information technology managers by awarding scholarships for the study of information assurance and computer security in exchange for Federal service. Additionally, we urge the House to provide the President's request of $673,000 for FEMA to assess current internal vulnerabilities and several cyber protection issues.

 

 


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