This Statement of Administration policy provides the Administration's views on the Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, FY 2000, as approved by the House Committee. Your consideration of the Administration's views would be appreciated.
The Administration appreciates the Committee's efforts to accommodate some of the Administration's priorities within its 302(b) allocation. However, the inadequacy of the 302(b) allocation has forced the Committee to make choices that are simply unacceptable.
The President's FY 2000 Budget proposes levels of discretionary spending that meet important national needs while conforming to the Bipartisan Budget Agreement by making savings proposals in mandatory and other programs available to help finance vital spending needs. Congress has approved and the President has signed into law nearly $29 billion of such offsets in appropriations legislation since 1995. The Administration urges the Congress to consider more of such proposals as the FY 2000 appropriations process moves forward.
In total, the Committee bill does not include the resources necessary to support high priority programs at an acceptable level. The bill would jeopardize critical activities and initiatives in a number of areas, including:
- 21st Century Policing Initiative/Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). The Committee does not fund the President's 21st Century Policing Initiative, which would enable local police Departments to hire up to 50,000 additional community police officers, hire new community prosecutors, and expand community-based prevention efforts.
- Legal Services Corporation. The Committee funding level for the Legal Services Corporation is unacceptable and would severely cripple the program. Such a low funding level would call into question the Federal Government's commitment to ensuring that all Americans, regardless of income, have access to the judicial system.
- Civil Rights Enforcement. Inadequate funding by the Committee would: undermine the ability of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to reduce the backlog of employment discrimination complaints and not fund the new Equal Pay Intiative; reduce the ability of DOJ's Civil Rights Division to expand investigations and prosecutions of hate crimes, fair housing, Americans with Disabilities Act and other cases; and, reduce resources for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
- International Affairs Programs. The Committee underfunds activities to support the ongoing conduct of effective diplomacy, and does not fully fund payments to international organizations necessary to ensure U.S. leadership in international affairs.
- Anti-Drug Programs. No funding is provided for the Drug Intervention Program, which would help States and localities implement tough new systems to drug test, treat, and punish drug offenders, and funding is reduced from the request for the highly successful Drug Courts program.
- Terrorism/Cybercrime. Inadequate resources are provided to protect against chemical and biological weapons and for other counterterrorism activities.
- Brady Handgun National Instant Check System. The bill would prohibit the establishment of a fee to fund the Brady Handgun National Instant Check System (NICS).
- Tobacco Litigation. The Committee has not provided the direct appropriations requested for tobacco litigation, which the Department plans to bring to recover money on behalf of the American people.
- Environmental Initiatives. Inadequate funding is provided for the President's Lands Legacy initiative, Pacific coastal salmon recovery efforts, the Pacific Salmon Treaty, and other programs.
- Advanced Technology and Small Business Programs. The Advanced Technology Program is terminated. The Small Business Administration's new markets initiative is not funded and deep cuts in other programs will undermine SBA's ability to serve small businesses across the Nation.
In addition, the Committee bill includes a number of objectionable language provisions. We urge the House to strike these provisions.
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 comments on the Committee bill are provided in the attachment. We look forward to working with the House to address our mutual concerns.
DEPARTMENTS OF COMMERCE, JUSTICE,
AND STATE, THE JUDICIARY, AND RELATED
AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS BILL, FY 2000
(AS REPORTED BY THE HOUSE
Legal Services Corporation
- The Committee bill funds the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) at $141 million, $159 million below the FY 1999 enacted level and $199 million below the President's request of $340 million. This funding level is unacceptable and would severely cripple the program. Such a low funding level would call into question the Federal Government's commitment to ensuring that all Americans, regardless of income, have access to the judicial system. The Administration urges the House to fully fund the President's request for the LSC.
Department of Justice
- 21st Century Policing Initiative/Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). The Administration strongly opposes the Committee's decision not to fund the 21st Century Policing Initiative and to fund the COPS program at only $268 million. We urge the House to fully fund the 21st Century Policing Initiative at the requested level of $1,275 million. This initiative would enable local police Departments to hire up to 50,000 additional community police officers, hire new community prosecutors, and expand community-based prevention efforts.
- Law Enforcement Funding Level. The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for many of the Justice Department's law enforcement programs. The Committee's funding levels are substantially higher than the Senate's levels for these critical programs. We request that the House redirect funding for lower priority and unrequested programs to programs of higher priority, such as the 21st Century Policing Initiative, and are concerned about Committee's action in the areas discussed below.
- Civil Rights Enforcement. The Administration urges the House to fully fund the request for the Civil Rights Division. The President's requested level, $82 million, would enable the Department to expand significantly its investigations and prosecutions of criminal civil rights cases (including hate crimes and police misconduct), fair housing and lending cases, and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Anti-Drug Programs. The Administration opposes the Committee's decision not to provide $100 million for the Drug Intervention Program, which would help States and localities implement tough new systems to drug test, treat, and punish drug offenders. In addition, the Administration objects to the Committee's proposed $10 million reduction to the request for the highly successful Drug Courts program. Taken together, the Committee's actions would make it difficult to achieve the drug reduction targets in the annual drug strategy and in the Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 1998.
- Protection Against Chemical and Biological Weapons. The Administration is disappointed with the Committee's decision to reduce funding for the $174-million effort to provide equipment, training, and other assistance to State and local first responders by $100 million. We believe the levels proposed in the President's budget reflect the appropriate balance among antiterrorism activities. In particular, we hope that the House will provide the Administration's request for bomb squad equipment and for research and development.
- Brady Handgun National Instant Check System. The Administration is concerned that the Committee bill would prohibit the establishment of a fee to fund the Brady Handgun National Instant Check System (NICS). We urge the House to approve the requested fee.
- Border Technology. The Administration is disappointed with the Committee's decision not to fund $50 million in force-multiplying Integrated Surveillance Intelligence System (ISIS) technology, which allows day and night real time monitoring of the border. The first phase of ISIS has been deployed in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas and the impact on border control and officer safety is dramatic - agents now respond to actual incursions knowing in advance what awaits them at the border. Border Patrol agents and local ranchers have praised ISIS as an effective means of border management. We hope Congress will support the accelerated deployment of ISIS in FY 2000.
- Youth Prevention Block Grant. The Administration appreciates the Committee's support of juvenile prevention programs. However, in place of the block grant, which could support a wide range of unfocused activities, the Administration urges the House to appropriate the funding through the At-Risk Children's program. This will ensure that continued support is provided for the Safe Schools/Healthy Students initiative and for Indian Country.
- Counterterrorism Fund. The Administration urges the House to fully fund the Administration's $27 million request, which is needed to ensure sufficient resources to cover unanticipated expenses in combating terrorism.
- Tobacco Litigation. The Administration is disappointed that the Committee has not provided the direct appropriations requested for tobacco litigation, which would force the Department to use base funds to develop claims to recover money on behalf of the American people. Given that the States settled their claims against the tobacco industry for more than $200 billion and that Federal health care costs substantially exceed those of the States, the $20 million requested by the Administration is small compared to the potential recoveries.
- Bureau of Prisons. The Administration urges the House to strike section 103 of the Committee bill, which would prohibit the Bureau of Prisons from funding abortions except in cases of rape or where the life of the mother is endangered. The Department of Justice believes that there is a great likelihood that this provision would be held unconstitutional.
- State Criminal Alien Assistance Program. The Administration appreciates the Committee's funding of the State Criminal Alien Assistance (SCAAP) program. However, as requested in a July 19, 1999, budget amendment, we urge the House to allocate $19.4 million in SCAAP funding to reimburse Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Department of Justice for the costs of detaining and repatriating smuggled aliens. The funding will be used to reimburse these Governments and the Department of Justice for their FY 1999 and FY 2000 detention housing costs. It is estimated that the use of SCAAP funds for this purpose will reduce reimbursement by one cent for every dollar claimed.
- Indian Country Law Enforcement. The Administration is concerned that the Committee has not provided any funding for the Indian Country law enforcement initiative. We urge the House to fully fund the Administration's request of $124 million.
Department of Commerce
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Administration is deeply concerned about the Committee's significant reductions to the request for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and urges that full funding be restored for the agency's critical initiatives. Specifically, the Administration urges the House to provide an additional $105 million to fully fund the Lands Legacy Initiative, which is critical to help restore and protect our Nation's oceans and coastal resources; $52 million for a new state-of-the-art research vessel to conduct fisheries stock assessments and meet the increasing demands of the Magnuson-Stevens Act; and, $160 million to implement the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery program, to include Tribal funding, as requested by the Administration, and fulfill our commitments under the recently signed Pacific Salmon Agreement with Canada.
It is crucial that the Endangered Species Act program be funded at the requested level to support implementation and foster Federal partnership efforts with the States. The Administration also urges that funding be restored for the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment program and for NOAA's effort to build capacity at, and promote relationships with, Historically Black Colleges and Universities. In addition, the Administration strongly urges the House to restore funding for the President's Information Technology Initiatives and climate and global change research.
The Administration opposes the reduction to the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS). This reduction, particularly if combined with a reduction in the Department of Defense appropriations bill, would likely significantly delay the program and could result in a gap in satellite coverage. It is also critical that the House provide full funding for the National Weather Service's (NWS's) base activities and radiosonde replacement program. Finally, the Administration requests that the House fully fund the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) to allow the NWS to provide AWIPS coverage at all Weather Forecast Offices. Full funding of the AWIPS will help to continue modernization efforts to improve support of severe weather warnings and general forecasts.
- Technology Administration Programs. The Administration strongly opposes the Committee's elimination of funding for the Advanced Technology Program (ATP). This program is producing significant economic benefits by promoting development of cutting-edge technologies. Independent economic studies forecast that benefits from just three early ATP projects could exceed the total program costs to date.
While the Administration is pleased to see that the Manufacturing Extension Program has been fully funded, we are concerned with the freeze at the FY 1999 enacted level for in-house research and construction accounts of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). These funding levels would impede NIST's standards leadership and delay construction of its Advanced Measurement Laboratory.
The Administration urges the House to provide the $2 million requested for the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) to facilitate the long-term resolution of NTIS's financial problems in FY 2000. We anticipate working closely with the Congress in resolving these problems.
- Patent and Trademark Office. The House has reduced the Patent and Trademark Office's (PTO's) new spending authority by $51 million from the request and by $10 million from current levels. We urge the House to enable PTO to spend the requested amount from its earned fees. Excessive constraints on fee-funded staffing and technology investments when patent and trademark applications are at record levels would make it difficult for PTO to process applications in a timely manner. In addition, the Administration opposes amendments that would delay or terminate the ongoing procurement of a long-term lease for PTO.
- Critical Infrastructure and other Associated Programs. The Administration is disappointed that funding for the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office (CIAO) has been eliminated and urges the Committee to restore funding for this essential activity. The CIAO is crucial to implementing Presidential Decision Directive 63 and coordinating the Nation's critical infrastructure program. Likewise, we urge full funding for critical infrastructure activities in the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, including lead agency, Information Sharing and Assessment Center, and research activities for the telecommunications sector. In addition, the Administration urges that full funding be provided for Chemical Weapons Convention, National Defense Authorization Act, and Export Control Automated Support System redesign activities.
- Decennial Census. The Administration has proposed to fully fund the Decennial Census within the limitations of the budget caps and we urge the Committee to work on a funding approach that is consistent with our proposal. The Administration appreciates that the Committee has recommended funding all but $15 million of the request for the decennial census. We are concerned that funding for decennial census activities is appropriated by "framework." This would impose unnecessary restrictions on the Census Bureau's ability to manage the program and respond to a changing environment.
- Non-decennial Economic and Statistical Analysis. In addition to concerns about the decennial census, the Administration urges that full funding be provided for high-priority initiatives such as the continuous measurement program. Continuous measurement will provide valuable annual demographic information and eliminate the need for the "long form" in the 2010 census. The Administration urges the Committee to increase Census Bureau and Economics and Statistics Administration's (ESA's) Salaries and Expenses accounts from a freeze at the FY 1999 level to the requested level. Funding the Census Bureau at the FY 1999 level could lead to a reduction-in-force, thereby impairing the Bureau's ability to carry out its economic and demographic survey work. The freeze for ESA combined with funding already enacted pay increases could lead to a six-percent reduction of its workforce, impairing the ability of the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) to account properly for GDP and electronic commerce.
The Administration urges the House to strike language that would prohibit base funds from being used on Integrated Economic and Environmental satellite accounts. The National Research Council's recent analysis of this issue, which was requested by the Congress, reported favorably on BEA's initial work in this area.
- National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The Administration urges the House to provide full funding for the Public Telecommunications Facilities, Planning and Construction Program, which would ensure that public broadcasters are able to meet the Federally-mandated May 2003 deadline for the transition to digital broadcasting. We also recommend full funding for Information Infrastructure Grants, a program with a proven track record of extending the reach of innovative technology to underserved communities.
- Economic Development Administration. The Administration recommends that the House restore the President's requested funding level for the Economic Development Administration's (EDA's) Salaries and Expenses account in order to maintain appropriate administrative oversight of EDA grant programs.
Small Business Administration
- New Markets. The Administration is very concerned that the Committee does not included the requested $85 million in funding for the Small Business Administration's (SBA's) new markets initiatives to invest in targeted rural and urban areas. This funding will allow SBA to expand the availability of equity and credit in these underserved areas by providing loan subsidies and technical assistance to New Market Venture Capital companies which will invest $200 million in new businesses; by creating New Market Lending Companies, which will provide 7(a) business loans guarantees to small businesses in these underserved areas; by providing incentives for existing Small Business Investment Companies to invest in these targeted areas; and by creating BusinessLINC, which will link large corporations in mentor/protege relationships with small businesses in the new market areas.
- Administrative Expenses. In addition, we strongly oppose the reductions in funding for SBA operations, including the $37 million reduction to the request for the Business Loan Program's administrative expenses and the elimination of the $45 million requested for indirect Disaster Loan Program administrative expenses. These funding levels could require SBA to eliminate up to 2,400 staff positions, or 75 percent of the agency's current staff level, undermining SBA's ability to serve small businesses across the Nation. Finally, the Administration urges the House to provide funds to support the full $10.5 billion requested for 7(a) business loan volume.
International Affairs Programs
- Embassy Security. The Administration appreciates the Committee's strong support for improved embassy security, including the funds provided for the ongoing costs of immediate improvements in the aftermath of the bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, as well full funding of the FY 2000 request for an accelerated construction program of new, secure facilities. However, the Committee bill does not address the President's request for advance appropriations necessary to support a multi-year capital improvement program. This multi-year construction program to protect all Americans serving abroad is a top priority of the President and his senior advisers. There is unanimity among security experts that a robust, multi-year program is a necessary component of a long-term solution to security threats.
- Department of State Operating Expenses. The Administration is very concerned about the Committee's reduction of $101 million for the Department of State's operating requirements. While recognizing the Committee's legitimate concerns that streamlining of ongoing State activities must continue, the reductions proposed would make it difficult for the Department to maintain operations needed to advance the Nation's foreign policy agenda, integrate the U.S. Information Agency and Arms Control and Disarmament Agency into a reorganized Department of State, and carry out basic mission activities such as passport and visa services. The funding level in the Committee bill could require a hiring freeze, furlough of employees, and potential closure of overseas posts.
- International Organizations. The Administration appreciates the steps that the Committee has taken to fund the request for arrearage payments this year. We want to work with the Congress to ensure that these funds are available in a timely fashion to retain our influence in these organizations. We continue to seek full funding at the request level of $446 million for UN arrears. In addition, we ask that the $107 million UN credit be available under the same terms and conditions as the Senate-passed authorization bill.
The Committee significantly underfunds the annual assessed contributions funded through the Contributions to International Organizations and Contributions for International Peacekeeping Activities accounts. The proposed funding levels would increase arrears and further inhibit chances for the reforms we all are seeking. The Administration is concerned that such funding levels would seriously impair the ability of the United States to address foreign policy interests through the mechanism of U.N. peacekeeping, especially in light of increasing requirements. The Committee continues a $100 million withholding for a UN budget cap certification, which would contribute to the possibility of the U.S. losing its vote in the UN as of January 1, 2000. We urge that this withholding be eliminated.
- Earmarking. The Administration is concerned about the earmarking of funds for public diplomacy and international information programs. Mandating separate accounting within the Diplomatic and Consular Programs account for public diplomacy would be counter-productive to the Department's streamlining efforts and would impede efforts to integrate this function effectively. The Administration's plan would fully integrate public diplomacy across several different bureaus, making such accounting burdensome. The proposed integration would provide a better mechanism to identify and act on priority public diplomacy issues and coordinate Washington resources with the needs of the field.
- Border Security Program. The Administration is pleased with the Committee's continued support of fee collections necessary to execute the President's Border Security Program. However, limits placed on the amount of fees that can be used in FY 2000 could slow critically needed border security improvements. We urge the House to provide this fee authority without an artificial cap that would restrict FY 2000 resources available for this important program.
- Educational and Cultural Exchange Programs. The Administration strongly opposes the Committee's severe reductions to educational and cultural exchange programs. These reductions would reverse the Administration and Congress' joint efforts over the past few years to build the capacity of the Fulbright academic exchange program, cut the number of future leaders who participate in the International Visitors Program, and hurt our ability to engage Americans directly in substantive international activities with their counterparts abroad.
- International Broadcasting. The Administration is concerned that the Committee's levels for international broadcasting operations and capital improvements would make it difficult to maintain the current levels of non-military international broadcasting. In addition, we urge the House not to rescind $14 million for broadcasting operations. The Administration has submitted a request to reprogram a portion of these funds to defray the cost of broadcasting to the Kosovo region and for other high priority needs.
- Other International Accounts. The Administration requests restoration of the Committee's $7 million reduction to the grant to the Asia Foundation. In addition, we are concerned about the reductions below the FY 2000 request for the American Institute in Taiwan and the International Commissions. Such reductions would place a disproportionate burden on the operating budgets of these small agencies. Finally, the Administration opposes the Committee's decision to eliminate funding for the East-West Center and North-South Center.
- Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets. The Administration appreciates the inclusion of the $1.162 million transfer from the Department of State for the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States. However, we are concerned that without adequate funding from the Department of Justice, the Commission will be unable to fulfill its important mandate to research and report on the collection and disposition of Holocaust-era assets in the United States.
- Foreign Policy Issues. A number of provisions regarding the conduct of foreign affairs raise constitutional concerns. Section 609 regarding Vietnam would unconstitutionally constrain the President's authority with respect to the conduct of diplomacy. In addition, two provisions would unconstitutionally constrain the President's authority as Commander-in-Chief and authority with respect to the conduct of diplomacy: section 610, which relates to command and control of United Nations peacekeeping efforts; and, language in the Contributions for International Peacekeeping Activities that would require a report to Congress prior to voting for a UN Peacekeeping mission.
- The Committee bill includes a rider prohibiting implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. The Administration opposes the inclusion of this unnecessary provision because we do not intend to implement the Protocol before Senate ratification. Further, applying these restrictions to international negotiations and activities raises serious Constitutional concerns.
Securities and Exchange Commission
- The Administration is concerned about the $37 million reduction from the requested program level for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The Committee level would make it difficult for the agency to fulfill its core mission of protecting investors and providing oversight of securities markets. Such a reduction could require the SEC to cut staffing by 300 work-years, curtail expenditures for technology to fight internet fraud, and cut back support for litigation efforts. We urge the House to fully fund the request of $361 million.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
- The Administration urges the House to fully fund the request of $312 million for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The Committee bill would freeze funding for the Commission at the FY 1999 enacted level of $279 million. Funding EEOC at the requested level would allow the Commission to significantly reduce the backlog of employment discrimination complaints and strengthen the effective use of alternative dispute resolution techniques and fund the new Equal Pay Initiative to increase compliance with equal pay laws.
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
- The Administration urges the House to increase the funding level for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (the Commission) from the FY 1999 level of $8.9 million. Funding the Commission at the requested level of $11 million would help ensure an informed public debate about critical civil rights issues that deserve national attention.
Federal Communications Commission
- The Administration urges full funding of the requested increases for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The Committee's funding level could require an agency-wide furlough or reduction-in-force, impairing the FCC's ability to carry out its mission. The Administration also strongly urges the House to adopt the proposal to clarify the relationship of bankruptcy law with regard to spectrum licenses, which will provide savings and help ensure the integrity of the spectrum auction process.
Office of the United States Trade Representative
- The Administration urges the House to fully fund the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). The requested level will allow USTR to carry out its extensive and expanding negotiating mandate and will support an expansion of efforts in key and emerging regional areas, including Japan, China, and Africa, as well as on agricultural trade.