This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views on H.R. 2465, the Military Construction Appropriations Bill, FY 2000, as reported by the House Appropriations Committee. Your consideration of the Administration's views would be appreciated.
Overall Funding Level and Unrequested Projects
The Administration commends the Committee for reporting a bill that funds almost all of the construction projects requested in the President's FY 2000 Budget. However, the Administration is concerned that the Committee bill would drain critical resources from other programs. The Administration believes that the President's budget request correctly addresses our most important FY 2000 military construction and housing needs and that additional funding is not required. The Administration questions the Committee's increase of about $750 million to the President's request for approximately 100 unrequested FY 2000 projects.
Though much of the unrequested funding is for projects that are funded in DoD's Future Years Defense Program (FYDP), about $269 million is added for projects that are not in DoD's FYDP. These are of much lower priority than the projects requested in the FY 2000 Budget and contained in DoD's FYDP. DoD has a rigorous process for selecting projects to be included in the FYDP and the budget. This process takes into account safety, health, environmental and military utility issues to determine the highest priority projects. Substituting projects not in the FYDP for those included in the plan undermines the careful prioritization approved by the military services. The Administration urges the House to delete the funding added for unrequested projects, especially those not in the FYDP.
Base Realignment and Closure Funding
In order for the FY 2000 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program to be successfully implemented, advance appropriations are necessary to minimize delays in the program, particularly those related to environmental activities. The Committee incorrectly assumes that BRAC program execution would be unaffected by the absence of advance appropriations. If the full BRAC program were not fully funded (through the requested regular and advance appropriations), then program delays could occur, costs could increase, and the successful and timely transfer of bases to communities could be jeopardized.
General Transfer Authority
The Administration urges the House to provide the requested transfer authority that would enable the Secretary of Defense to transfer funds among Military Construction Appropriations Act accounts. Similar transfer authority in Defense Appropriations Acts has been used with great success to meet unplanned requirements, without reducing the opportunity for congressional oversight, since as a matter of practice no transfers are made without prior congressional approval.
The Administration commends the Committee for not including in its version of the bill the following objectionable elements of the Senate bill:
- Restrictive language that would delay the construction of the Chemical Demilitarization facility at Blue Grass, Kentucky, by at least a year.
- Restrictive language on the use of NATO Security Investment Program (NSIP) funds for Partnership for Peace programs or support to non-NATO countries, which could adversely affect future NATO-led military operations.
- Funding cuts that would limit DoD's ability to proceed with its planned FY 2000 family housing privatization efforts.