This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views
on H.R. 4274, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related
Agencies Appropriations Bill, FY 1999, as reported by the House
Appropriations Committee. Your consideration of the Administration's views
would be appreciated.
Due to the very serious funding and language issues present in the
Committee bill, discussed below, the President would veto the bill in its
current form. The manager's amendment made in order in the rule is wholly
inadequate in addressing these concerns.
The only way to achieve the appropriate investment level for programs
funded by this bill is to offset discretionary spending by using savings in
other areas. The President's FY 1999 Budget proposes levels of
discretionary spending for FY 1999 that conform to the Bipartisan Budget
Agreement by making savings through user fees and certain mandatory
programs to help finance this spending. In the Transportation Equity Act,
Congress -- on a broad, bipartisan basis -- took similar action in
approving funding for surface transportation programs paid for with
mandatory offsets. In addition, this year, as in the past, such mandatory
offsets have been approved by the House and the Senate in other
appropriations bills. We want to work with the Congress on
mutually-agreeable mandatory and other offsets that could be used to
increase funding for high-priority discretionary programs, including those
funded by this bill. In addition, we hope that the House will reduce
funding for lower priority discretionary programs and redirect funding to
programs of higher priority.
Department of Education
The Committee bill cuts $2 billion from the President's overall request for
education program funding. As a result, the bill does not adequately
support the Nation's efforts to raise student achievement, make schools
safe, and improve the capabilities of teachers. High priority programs
inadequately funded include (listed in bill order):
In addition to inadequate funding for priority education programs, the
Administration is concerned with several language provisions of the
Committee bill that would severely restrict the Administration's ability to
continue the development of programs designed to raise academic standards.
- Goals 2000. Funding for Goals 2000 is cut $255 million
below the President's request, which would reverse momentum in all 50
States to raise academic standards and deny 6,000 schools serving over
three million students the funds needed to implement innovative
- School-to-Work. School-to-Work is cut by a total of $100
million (between the Departments of Education and Labor) below the
President's $250 million request, which would seriously hamper all
States' efforts to help young people of all backgrounds move from high
school to careers or postsecondary training and education.
- Technology in Education. The Committee's $137 million
reduction from the request would make it increasingly difficult for
States to meet school children's education technology needs,
especially in training teachers to integrate educational technology
into their curriculum effectively.
- Title I (Education for the Disadvantaged) Grants to Local
Educational Agencies. The Committee bill cuts $392 million from
the request, which would leave nearly 520,000 students in high-poverty
communities without the extra help they need to master the basics and
develop the capability to reach high academic standards.
- Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities. The
Committee's $50 million reduction would deny funding for School
Coordinators in nearly one-half of the Nation's middle schools needed
to implement effective drug and violence prevention programs.
- Education Opportunity Zones. The Committee bill does not
provide the requested $200 million, which would deny high-poverty
urban and rural districts the extra assistance they need to implement
effective reforms with tough accountability for performance.
- America Reads. America Reads is denied the $210 million
provided in last year's Bipartisan Budget Agreement for children's
literacy and denied the additional $50 million the President
requested. These funds would prevent thousands of young children from
receiving the extra help they need to learn to read well and
independently by the end of the third grade.
- Bilingual Education. The Committee has cut by $25 million
the President's plan for training teachers to help limited-English
- Work-Study. Roughly 57,000 needy students would be denied
the opportunity to work to finance their college education because of
the Committee's $50 million reduction.
- Higher Education Initiatives. No funds are provided for
three Presidential initiatives for which the President has requested
- GEAR UP to help prepare students at high poverty
middle schools for college.
- Learning Anytime Anywhere Partnership grants for
pilot projects using distance learning technology.
- New teacher recruitment and preparation programs.
- Eisenhower Professional Development. The Committee's $50
million reduction would leave over 100,000 teachers without the
training they need to help them teach to rigorous academic standards.
- After School programs (21st Century Community Learning
Centers). A $140 million cut from the President's request to this
program, part of the President's child care initiative, would result
in 3,000 fewer centers and no services to nearly 400,000 children.
- Hispanic Initiative. The Administration has proposed
funding increases of more than $600 million for a series of programs,
including Title I (Education for the Disadvantaged), to enhance the
educational achievement of Hispanic Americans. The bill reduces the
request by nearly $500 million, including some of the cuts described
above as well as significant decreases from the request in Adult
Education, Bilingual Education, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and
Comprehensive School Reform Demonstrations. Funding for these
programs should be restored to the level of the President's request.
- Civil Rights Enforcement. Ensuring that civil rights laws
and regulations are adequately enforced is a fundamental
responsibility of government. The Committee fails to provide the
increase of $6.5 million (for a total of $68 million) requested by the
Office for Civil Rights in the Education Department and reduced by
$2.4 million the request for $67.8 million for the Labor Department's
Office of Federal Contract Compliance. Both activities should be
restored to the full requests.
Department of Labor
- National Tests. The Administration strongly objects to
the language limitation and $15 million funding cut that would bring a
halt to the President's efforts to help States and parents raise
academic standards through a voluntary national test. The Committee
bill's language would prohibit the development, implementation, and
administration of the tests unless explicitly authorized. The
language prohibition should be deleted and the funding restored.
- Unfocused Block Grants. The Administration strongly
objects to language that would, in effect, turn the Goals 2000 and the
Eisenhower Professional Development programs into block grants by
allowing those funds to be used under the broad Title VI block grant
authority. Title VI has no performance or accountability standards.
The language should be deleted so that these Federal funds can address
national needs and continue to be guided by strong accountability
- Special Education (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
-- IDEA). The bill contains two objectionable IDEA riders. One
would undermine the due process protections and parental rights for
disabled students who are regarded as violent. The other would, in
effect, allow States to discontinue special education services for
youth ages 18 to 21 in adult prisons, violating the principle that all
disabled youth ages three to 21 have a right to a free, appropriate
public education and undermining the Department of Education's ability
to enforce the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Both
provisions would unnecessarily re-open IDEA before last year's
bipartisan reauthorization has had a chance to be implemented and
fairly assessed. Both provisions should be stricken.
- Bilingual Education. While we agree with the Committee on
the need for some reforms to Bilingual Education, we are opposed to
any provision that would set an absolute limit on student
participation in bilingual education or alternative programs. Such a
step would deny help to students who need it and violate the civil
rights of Limited English Proficient students to an equal education.
Because of individual differences, students will vary in how long it
takes to develop English proficiency. We are also opposed to
provisions that would establish a two-year goal for becoming
proficient in English, since research has shown that this timetable is
- Internet Access in Schools and Libraries. The bill
contains objectionable language that would deny Federal funds to
schools and libraries that have not installed software on their
computers to block Internet access to indecent materials to minors.
While the Administration strongly supports efforts to ensure that
schools and libraries protect minors from indecent materials, it
objects to such overly prescriptive language. Many local education
agencies have already developed their own acceptable-use policies that
are not based on software. Instead, the Administration favors less
burdensome and restrictive language that would require that schools
and libraries develop their own acceptable-use plans at the local
level and certify their implementation.
The Administration has strong concerns with the inadequate funding levels
provided for the following Labor programs (listed in bill order):
The Committee bill contains several objectionable language riders
addressing regulatory issues in the Department of Labor. These include
language imposing new, unnecessary, and burdensome review procedures before
the Department can issue Black Lung regulations and a continuation of the
rider that prohibits MSHA from enforcing training requirements at certain
mines, which have a growing numbers of deaths. These riders would make it
more difficult for the Department of Labor to carry out its programs and
should be dropped.
- Adult Job Training. The Committee has provided none of
the requested increases for the Dislocated Worker ($100 million) and
low-income adult ($45 million) job training programs. Freezing these
programs would mean that some 67,000 fewer workers in need of
assistance would be helped. Without the requested increases, early
implementation of the Workforce Investment Act could be jeopardized.
- Summer Jobs Program. The Administration strongly opposes
the Committee's elimination of the Summer Jobs program. The
President's request of $871 million for this program could finance up
to 530,000 summer jobs for economically disadvantaged youth. The
unemployment rate for teens continues to far exceed the overall
unemployment rate. The Summer Jobs program plays a vital role in
supporting employment among these teens, especially among
African-American youths -- approximately 25 percent of summer jobs
held by African-American 14-15 year olds come through this program --
and serves as a valuable introduction to the world of work. We urge
the House to restore the full request for this program.
- President's Youth Opportunity Areas Initiative. The
Committee provides no funding for the President's Youth Opportunity
Areas initiative and rescinds the $250 million appropriated last year
for this program. This program would address the problem of pervasive
joblessness in high-poverty neighborhoods by making large investments
in these areas to effect community-wide change and help 50,000
out-of-school youth. We oppose elimination of this program, which is
an essential component of the Administration's Empowerment
Zones/Enterprise Communities initiative. We strongly urge the House
to fully fund this initiative that was recently enacted with strong
bipartisan support as past of the Workforce Investment Act.
- Unemployment Insurance. The House Committee mark does not
fund the $91 million requested for the Unemployment Insurance (UI)
integrity initiative. This initiative was authorized in the Balanced
Budget Act of 1997 and would, over the next five years, achieve $758
million in mandatory savings. Failure to fund this initiative would
mean a continuation of errors in benefit payments and UI taxes. A
similar initiative in the Social Security Administration's Disability
Insurance program has proven to be a cost effective approach to
achieving program savings.
- Worker Protection. The Committee has cut nearly in half
the requested increase for programs that protect our workers on the
job. For example, the Committee mark for the Occupational Safety and
Health Administration (OSHA) redirects resources to State consultation
and is nine-percent below the requested level for Federal enforcement,
while funding for the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is
frozen at the 1998 level and virtually no funding is provided to the
Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration (PWBA) for implementing
the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. We
urge the House to restore financing for such critical workplace
- Child Labor. The Committee has cut by 85 percent the
requested increase for programs that combat child labor abuses
domestically and internationally. For example, the Committee mark
provides only $3 million of the $30 million requested increase for the
Bureau of International Labor Affairs to increase its contributions to
the International Labor Organization's International Programme for the
Elimination of Child Labor. The Committee also provides no funds for
the request for demonstration programs that would provide alternatives
to field work for migrant youth. We urge the House to restore
financing for programs that strive to eliminate child labor abuses.
- OSHA Peer Review. The Committee bill includes language
that requires a peer review panel for all proposed OSHA regulations.
This provision is unnecessary, overly broad, and would further delay
OSHA's process for issuing regulations. OSHA already has an extensive
public hearing process where any interested party may testify. OSHA
must address all significant issues raised. The agency conducts peer
reviews when appropriate. The Administration strongly urges the House
to drop this provision.
Department of Health and Human Services
The Administration appreciates the Committee's efforts to provide much
needed funding for important programs crucial to the healthy lives of all
Americans. Unfortunately, the Committee has not provided adequate funding
for several important programs of the Department of Health and Human
Services (HHS). The Administration has strong concerns with the inadequate
funding levels provided for the following HHS programs (listed in bill
In addition, the Committee bill contains several language provisions that
are troubling to the Administration.
- Prevention Research. The Committee has provided only $10
million of the $25 million requested for the Centers for Disease
Control to expand research in ways to prevent disease and reduce the
need for medical care.
- Bio-Terrorism. The Administration urges the House to
provide the full $111 million requested to improve HHS' ability to
respond to attacks of biological and chemical terrorism.
- National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. The Committee
mark eliminates funding for data collection activities of the
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, including
the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, which is our single best
source of information on youth drug use and youth smoking and is
important for evaluating the impact of substance abuse prevention,
treatment, and enforcement efforts.
- Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA). Although the
Committee has fully funded the President's program level request for
HCFA Program Management (with the exception of the Medicare+Choice
information campaign), no action has been taken on the $265 million in
new discretionary HCFA user fees. We urge the House to enact the
President's requested user fees to finance HCFA activities and to
ensure that sufficient resources remain available for education and
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The
Committee would eliminate funding for LIHEAP. Over 36 percent of
LIHEAP households have elderly residents, 32 percent have disabled
residents, 27 percent have children under the age of six, and 27
percent are the working poor who do not receive any other public
assistance. The Administration urges the House to restore funds to
the President's requested level.
- Child Care. The Administration urges the House to provide
the additional $174 million requested for a child care initiative that
will improve the availability of affordable, quality child care for
working parents. This initiative would provide States with resources
to enhance child care health and safety standards enforcement, give
child care workers scholarships to improve their skills, and increase
our commitment to understand better and evaluate how our Nation's
child care system is working. Likewise, we ask the House to restore
funds to the President's requested level for a $5 million program
designed to assist States in developing support systems for families
of children with disabilities.
- Head Start. The Committee funds Head Start at $4.5
billion, $160 million below the President's request -- denying slots
to up to 25,000 low-income children in FY 1999 and undermining efforts
to serve one million children by the year 2002. Head Start has a
track record of success in readying disadvantaged children for school,
supporting working families by helping parents to get involved in
their children's lives and providing services to the entire family.
We urge the House to restore Head Start funding to the President's
- Foster Care and Adoption Assistance. The Committee bill
fails to provide the Administration's request for a $200 million
contingency reserve. This language is critical to ensure grant awards
should the definite appropriations be insufficient for authorized
eligible expenditures in either Foster Care or Adoption Assistance.
The House should restore funding to the requested level of $200
million, or approximately four percent of total program costs.
- Health Disparities. The Committee has failed to include
$30 million requested for demonstration projects to address racial and
ethnic health disparities in infant mortality, cancer, diabetes, heart
disease and stroke, HIV/AIDS, and immunizations.
Social Security Administration
- Abortion. The Administration urges the House to strike
sections 508 and 509 of the Committee bill, which would prohibit the
use of funds for abortion. The President believes that abortion
should be safe, legal, and rare. These provisions would continue to
limit the range of conditions under which a woman's health would
permit access to abortion services. Furthermore, section 509 requires
a physician to make a legal determination that these conditions have
been met. The Administration proposes to work with the Congress to
address the issue of abortion funding.
- Organ Donation. The Administration strongly opposes two
provisions of the Committee bill that would suspend two HHS rules
pertaining to organ donation: a HCFA rule that seeks to expand the
number of organs available for donation through more vigorous
procurement efforts; and, a Health Resources and Services
Administration rule that would require the national organ transplant
network to develop policies that would allocate organs based on
patients' medical need, not their geographic location.
- Family Planning/Other Potential Health Riders. We
understand that several amendments affecting Medicare, Medicaid, and
public health programs may be introduced on the House floor that could
have a detrimental effect on the Administration's ability to
administer its responsibilities efficiently and equitably. We urge
restraint in the consideration of these issues.
The Administration strongly objects to language in the House
Committee bill, and to any related potential amendments, that would
have the effect of requiring family planning or other health care
grantees to obtain parental consent or provide advance notification to
parents before giving contraceptives to minors. Mandating parental
consent discourages minors from seeking health care and reproductive
services and thus leads to more unintended pregnancies, abortions, and
sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. The Administration
urges the House to adopt the proposed Castle/Greenwood amendment,
which will ensure that grantees will encourage minors to seek their
family's participation in family planning decisions.
- Needle Exchange. The Committee includes a total ban on
the use of funds appropriated in this Act for needle exchange programs
rather than making the use of funds for such programs conditional upon
the certification of the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
- Office of AIDS Research. 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. The single appropriation would help NIH plan and
target research funds effectively, minimizing duplication and
inefficiencies across the 21 institutes and centers that carry out
- Medicaid Drug Coverage. The Committee bill would prohibit
HCFA from paying for a specific pharmaceutical agent under Medicaid
except for post-surgical treatment. We oppose the use of the
appropriations process to make selective coverage determinations and
judgments regarding how best to treat specific medical problems.
Further, the provision is unnecessary because the Secretary already
has authority to limit coverage for pharmaceutical agents if
prescribed inappropriately, and States already have broad latitude to
limit the use of drugs under Federal law through drug utilization
review and prior authorization programs.
- Social Services Block Grant. The Administration opposes a
provision that would restrict State authority to transfer Temporary
Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funds to SSBG in FY 1999 to no
more than the amounts transferred by individual States in FY 1998.
Enacting such a provision so late in FY 1998 would inequitably limit
State flexibility for the future.
The Committee bill does not provide $19 million for administrative
expenses, contingent on the authorization of a user fee for services
provided by the Social Security Administration to attorneys who represent
claimants for benefits. These services include withholding money from
certain past due benefits and issuing payments to certain claimant
representatives. The Administration continues to support enactment of this
user fee and appropriation of the anticipated collections for
In addition, the Committee bill does not provide $50 million for
administrative expenses for the conduct of additional non-disability
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) redeterminations of eligibility. These
resources and the resulting redeterminations are essential to ensuring the
integrity of the SSI program and reducing unnecessary benefit payments.
Failure to provide this funding would result in serious staffing
- National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The Committee
provides funding for the NLRB at the FY 1997 level. This would
result in a loss of over 100 staff, an increase in case backlogs, and
could result in furloughs and office closings. This reduction would
cripple an agency key to protecting workers' rights on the job, and we
urge the House to restore the NLRB to the requested level.
Section 516 amends the National Labor Relations Act to require the
NLRB to adjust its dollar jurisdictional standards for inflation on
October 1, 1998, and every five years thereafter. This change would
deny workers in some small businesses the protection
afforded to others to organize and bargain collectively. This change
to substantive law raising the jurisdictional thresholds more than
five-fold should not be done through the appropriations process, but
only after hearings and debate. The Administration urges the House to
drop this provision.
- Corporation for National and Community Service. The
Administration is deeply concerned about the Committee's $27 million
reduction to the request for the Corporation for National and
Community Service. This reduction freezes the Corporation's Senior
Service program at the FY 1998 level and cuts VISTA $5 million below
FY 1998. These reductions would deny more than 500 VISTA members the
opportunity to serve in low-income communities Nation-wide and would
reduce the number of seniors serving their communities by 15,000. The
Administration urges the House to fully fund the Corporation at the
$279 million level proposed in the FY 1999 Budget.
- Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The Administration
strongly objects to the lack of funding provided for the President's
initiative to assist public broadcasters in converting to digital
technology. The transition to digital technology promises to create
tremendous opportunities for expanded and enhanced educational and
public service programming while promoting innovative technology
applications. Providing the Corporation with funding in FY 1999 will
allow public broadcasting to convert to digital technology on a
schedule similar to that of commercial stations. This will facilitate
fundraising efforts and allow public broadcasters to participate in
the establishment of digital standards.
- Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). The Committee bill does
not include language to provide the RRB with authority to offer
voluntary separation incentive payments (or "buyouts") through the end
of calendar year 1998. RRB's experience has shown that reducing
employment through buyouts is much less disruptive to agency
operations than conducting a reduction-in-force. The Administration
urges the House to provide this buyout authority.
The Committee bill includes language prohibiting the RRB Inspector
General from using funds for any audit, investigation, or review of
the Medicare program. The Administration believes that this language
should be dropped. RRB has statutory authority to administer a
separate contract for RRB, Part B Medicare claims. As long as RRB has
authority to negotiate and administer a separate Medicare contract,
the RRB Inspector General ought not to be prohibited from using funds
to review, audit, or investigate activity related to that contract.