This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's
views on H.R. 2264, the Department of Labor, Health and Human Services,
Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, FY 1998, as reported
by the House Appropriations Committee. Your consideration of the
Administration's views would be appreciated.
The Committee has developed a bill that provides requested funding for
many of the Administration's priorities. We are pleased that the Committee
has fully funded Bilingual and Immigrant Education, School to Work, Head
Start, Technology Literacy Challenge, 21st Century Community Learning
Centers, the targeted portion of the Title I formula, and education
statistics and assessment. The Administration is also pleased that the
Committee has limited the number of appropriations riders, consistent with
the terms of the Bipartisan Budget Agreement. The House is urged to
continue this practice.
As discussed below, the Administration will seek restoration of
certain of the Committee's reductions. The Administration is committed to
working with the House to identify reductions in the bill in order to find
offsets for the restoration of funds that the Administration seeks. For
example, the Committee bill provides nearly $1 billion more than the
President has requested for more than two dozen authorities in the
Department of Education, while cutting the President's request by over $1
billion. We strongly urge the House to reduce funding for lower priority
programs, or for programs that would be adequately funded at the requested
level, and to redirect funding to programs of higher priority,
particularly, as noted below, those contained in the Bipartisan Budget
Unfortunately, the Administration understands that a number of
controversial amendments may be offered, such as an amendment to halt the
President's national testing initiative, an amendment to prohibit the use
of funds in the Act for supervising the Teamster's election, and another
amendment to prohibit the Education Department from enforcing federal laws
against discrimination in public education admissions through affirmative
action or preferences in any State where affirmative action or preferences
are prohibited by State law. In addition, certain provisions of the
Committee bill, such as the lack of funding for the President's America
Reads Challenge, are contrary to the Bipartisan Budget Agreement. If such
policies were adopted, particularly in light of other concerns raised in
this Statement of Administration Policy, the President's senior advisers
would be forced to recommend that the President veto the bill.
Department of Education
The Administration appreciates the Committee's efforts to provide
substantial new funding for education activities. Unfortunately, the
Committee has failed to provide the $260 million necessary for the
President's America Reads Challenge in the Department of Education, and the
bill provides only $10 million of the $42 million requested for America
Reads in the portion of the Corporation for National and Community Service
budget funded by this bill. The Committee has provided advance funding for
America Reads to the Department of Education for FY 1999, pending new
authorization, which would produce a full year's delay in getting needed
reading assistance to millions of children. The Bipartisan Budget
Agreement specifically calls for funding a literacy program, "consistent
with the goals and concepts of the President's America Reads program" at
the levels proposed in the President's FY 1998 Budget. America Reads is
one of the Administration's highest funding priorities. The Administration
believes that full FY 1998 funding for this initiative should be restored
to both the Department of Education and the Corporation for National and
Community Service activities funded in this bill and in the VA/HUD
The Administration is working closely with the authorizing committees
to develop legislation effective for FY 1998. There is ample time to enact
legislation, as needed, by April 1 for a program that would begin on July
1, in time for summer activities and the 1998-1999 school year. The
Administration also strongly urges the Congress to include in this Act a
provision to make the funds available on April 1 under existing
authorities, in the event that final action on the authorization bill is
not completed in a timely manner.
The Administration is strongly opposed to amendments that would bring
a halt to the President's national testing initiative. The national tests
proposed by the President are critical because they will, for the first
time, provide students, parents, and teachers the opportunity to measure
how well students are performing in comparison to other students nationally
and internationally and, as a result, they will help hold schools
accountable to parents and communities for the performance of all students.
The Department of Education has the authority to develop these tests under
the Fund for the Improvement of Education (FIE). We support the bill's
requirement that the Department of Education contract with the National
Academy of Science to conduct a study and report on the testing initiative.
In addition, we support legislation to place overall responsibility for the
testing initiative with the independent, bipartisan National Assessment
The Administration urges the House to provide adequate funding for the
FIE program that finances this testing initiative, so that sufficient
funding will also be available for continuations, new awards, and
The Bipartisan Budget Agreement specifies funding at the levels
proposed in the President's budget for Pell grants, which supports both a
$3,000 maximum award and expanded eligibility for independent students.
The Committee bill cuts the Pell request by over $197 million, and does not
authorize the Administration's proposed independent student policy. This
authorization is no different from the Committee's annual procedure of
authorizing the maximum Pell grant award. We urge the House to fully fund
Pell grants and to authorize both the maximum award and the independent
The Committee bill funds Education Reform at $1.13 billion, $110
million below the level agreed to in the Bipartisan Budget Agreement.
Within the total, Goals 2000 is funded at only $475 million, $145 million
below the request. Goals 2000 funds provide essential support to every
State's education improvement strategy. We strongly urge the House to
restore full funding for Goals 2000.
The Administration strongly opposes a proposed amendment that would
prohibit the investigation of violations by and imposition of penalties
upon States that do not comply with the statutory requirement of the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Amendments of 1997 to
serve eligible individuals with disabilities age 18 or older in adult State
prisons. The Amendments reduced States' burden by reducing the number of
eligible individuals and by limiting the types of services that must be
provided. Since prison education programs have a positive affect on
reducing recidivism and on post release employment success, the requirement
to serve this population should be properly enforced.
The Administration urges the House to fund Safe and Drug-Free Schools
and Communities (SDFSC) at the President's FY98 request of $620 million,
$64 million above the House mark. SDFSC, the largest Federal school-based
drug and violence prevention program, serves more than 40 million students
in over 97 percent of the nation's school districts and is an essential
component of a comprehensive effort to reduce teen drug use.
The Administration is concerned about a proposed amendment that would
cut funding for the Statistics program by $14 million, which would mean
that the Department of Education would not be able to move forward on a
number of studies, including those providing key data on early childhood,
student achievement, teachers, and adult literacy. The Administration
urges the House to oppose this proposed amendment, and to provide the
The Committee has included language amending the definition of an
eligible lender in the Federal Family Education Loan Program. The language
would provide a broad exception to the current limitation on how much of a
bank's portfolio can be guaranteed student loans, including loans that a
bank holds as a trustee for a third party. It would also allow finance
companies, the financial solvency of which is not regulated by a public
entity as are banks, to be eligible lenders. Both of these provisions
would increase the Federal exposure to financial risk and weaken parts of
the statute that have been passed specifically in response to prior abuses.
The provision should be stricken from the bill.
We urge the House to fund at the President's Budget level other high
priority Education programs, including Adult Education, Eisenhower
Professional Development, and Charter Schools.
Department of Health and Human Services
The Administration is deeply concerned that the Committee has failed
to provide $21 million for the Administration's new Adoption Initiative.
The goal of this program is to double the number of children adopted or
permanently placed outside of child welfare systems by FY 2002. The
Administration strongly urges the House to fully fund this urgently-needed
program at the President's requested level.
An amendment has been made in order that would include a prohibition
on the purchase of managed care coverage that includes abortion. The
President believes that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. However,
the amendment would not only maintain, but would further limit the range of
conditions under which a woman's health would permit access to abortion.
Furthermore, it would require a physician to make a legal determination
that these conditions have been met. The Administration opposes this
attempt to constrain further the availability of abortion services and
strongly urges the House not to adopt the amendment. Nonetheless, it is
helpful that the amendment is clear that limitations on the use of Federal
funds to provide abortion services under managed care plans do not affect
in any way the ability of States to provide such coverage using their own
funds, nor the ability of managed care providers to participate in
Federally-funded programs while also offering other coverage paid for by
State or private funds.
The Administration supports efforts to encourage minors to discuss
their health care needs with their families. However, the Administration
is concerned about a potential amendment on the House Floor requiring
parental consent for minors to receive contraceptive health services in
Title X Family Planning clinics. Mandating parental consent for
contraceptive services could discourage sexually active minors from seeking
health care and reproductive counseling services and, thus, lead to even
more unwarranted pregnancies, more abortions, and more sexually transmitted
diseases, including HIV, among our Nation's youth. As an alternative, the
Administration prefers the amendment made in order in the rule that
requires clinics to certify that they encourage family participation in the
decision of minors to seek family planning services and that they provide
counseling to minors on resisting attempts to coerce minors into engaging
in sexual activities. The Administration does not support two likely
amendments that would decrease funding for the Title X Family Planning
program below the request of $203 million.
An amendment may be offered that would prohibit the use of funds in
the Act for needle exchange programs. The Administration opposes such an
amendment. Under current law, the Secretary may authorize such programs
only after scientific study and a formal determination that they would both
prevent the spread of disease and not contribute to drug abuse. The
Department is currently engaged in this research. It is premature to
foreclose the possible public health benefits before the scientific
evidence has even been considered.
The House Committee has not provided funding for the Medicare
Transaction System (MTS), noting criticisms of the MTS design. The
President's $89 million request would fund consolidation of HCFA's current
contractor systems, which needs to occur prior to, and independent of,
final resolution of MTS design issues. The Committee also notes that
funding for the Medicare Integrity Program, established by the
Kassebaum-Kennedy legislation, could be used to fund MTS. We believe that
using Medicare Integrity Program funding for this purpose would be
inappropriate since that program was established specifically to combat
fraud and abuse. To the extent possible, the Administration urges the
House to restore funding for MTS to the requested level.
The Administration is pleased that the Committee has provided the
requested increase of $40 million over FY 1997 for Ryan White AIDS
Treatment Grants, and an additional $132 million to help States purchase
drugs. However, the Committee has not allocated the $40 million increase
among the Titles of the Ryan White CARE Act toward primary care as proposed
in the FY 1998 Budget. The Administration's proposed allocation targets
additional resources to those Titles that emphasize the delivery of primary
care, a particularly important priority now that the prospects for medical
care for people infected with HIV have improved dramatically. The
Administration looks forward to working with Congress to ensure that the
resources provided to the Ryan White AIDS Treatment Grants are distributed
in a way that is consistent with the priorities placed on primary care in
the President's budget.
The Administration is concerned that the Committee bill does not
appropriate a specific amount for AIDS research through a single
appropriation for the National Institutes of Health's (NIH's) Office of
AIDS Research, as requested in the President's budget. The single
appropriation would help NIH plan and target NIH research funds
effectively, minimizing duplication and inefficiencies across the 21
institutes and centers that carry out HIV/AIDS research.
The Administration is concerned that the Committee has not provided
the full increase requested for HIV prevention programs of the Center for
Disease Control and Prevention. The Budget proposes a $17 million increase
for this activity to target HIV prevention for intravenous drug users at
risk of developing the virus. The Administration urges the House to
provide the full requested amount to the extent possible.
The President's Budget includes $39 million for welfare research. The
Committee has provided only $21 million. In order to gauge the effects of
welfare reform, review and monitoring research is needed now more than
ever. The Administration urges the House to fund welfare research at the
President's requested level.
Department of Labor
The Bipartisan Budget Agreement specifies funding at the levels
proposed in the President's budget for Training and Employment Services
(TES), including Job Corps. The Committee mark is $233 million below this
level. The Committee has provided $100 million in FY 1999 for the Youth
Opportunity Area proposal, subject to enactment of authorizing legislation.
This program is an essential component of the Administration's Enterprise
Zones/Empowerment Communities initiative. It may be carried out under
existing legislation, and a separate authorization is not necessary. The
House is urged to provide resources for this initiative in FY 1998, without
the restriction imposed by the Committee.
We understand that an amendment may be offered that would further
reduce funding for the Job Training Partnership Act's low-income adult
training grant program by $21 million, and thus deny training and
employment services to some 7,000 low-income adults and welfare recipients
pursuing economic self-sufficiency. We strongly urge the House to reject
The Committee has failed to provide $89 million for spending on UI
"integrity" initiatives (e.g., increased eligibility reviews, tax audits).
This spending is explicitly assumed in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, and
would, over five years, achieve $763 million in mandatory savings assumed
in the Act. The House is urged to provide this increase.
On July 17, 1997, the President sent to Congress a budget amendment
for $6.2 million for the Labor Department to administer the $3 billion
Welfare-to-Work program. This program is agreed to by Congress in the
Balanced Budget Act of 1997, effective October 1, 1997. We urge the House
to add these funds.
The Committee has provided $981 million, an increase of $32 million
over the FY 1997 enacted level, for the Department of Labor workplace
protection programs, about half of the President's proposed increase.
Without the requested increase, the Department will not be able to carry
out a balanced program of targeted enforcement with expanded partnerships
and compliance assistance in the regulated community, or streamline its
operations to provide assistance to small businesses in complying with
various workplace laws and related executive orders, such as the systems
and technical assistance improvements requested for the Office of Federal
Contract Compliance. In addition, funding for the independent National
Labor Relations Board has been frozen, a cut of $11 million below the
request. The Administration urges the House to enact the Administration's
request for these programs.
Social Security Administration
The Committee has provided $245 million for additional Continuing
Disability Review (CDR) funding and SSI reforms implementation, $45 million
less than the President's request. This amount is not subject to the
discretionary spending caps. Failure to provide the additional funds would
mean that some 15 percent fewer individuals would have their status
reviewed in FY 1998, potentially costing hundreds of millions of dollars in
benefits to individuals who would have been found no longer eligible. We
urge the House to provide the additional $45 million.
Additional Administration concerns with the Committee bill are
contained in the attachment.