This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views on
H.R. 2169, the Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, FY
1998, as reported by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Your consideration
of the Administration's views would be appreciated.
The Administration is pleased with many aspects of the Committee bill,
particularly funding support provided for transportation safety and
transportation infrastructure programs. As discussed below, the
Administration will seek restoration of certain of the Committee's reductions
from the President's request. We recognize that it will not be possible in all
cases to attain the Administration's full request and will work with the Senate
toward achieving acceptable funding levels.
The Administration is committed to working with the Senate to identify
reductions in the bill in order to find offsets for the restoration of funds
that the Administration seeks. The Administration suggests that virtually all
of its priorities could be funded through limited reductions in infrastructure
programs, which the Committee has funded at levels in excess of the
Administration's requests. We urge the Senate 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.
The Administration realizes that the Committee has not funded several
requested programs because they have not yet been authorized as part of the
National Economic Crossroads Transportation Efficiency Act (NEXTEA). The
Administration reiterates its support for State Infrastructure Banks, the
Transportation Credit Enhancement program, and the Access to Jobs and Training
program. These programs will significantly increase the impact of Federal
transportation investment and help to make "welfare to work" a reality. They
can be accommodated within the overall funding levels agreed to by the
The Administration is pleased with the Committee's decision to fund Amtrak
operations at the President's requested level of $344 million. The
Administration supports the request for $222 million in general capital funding
and objects to the Committee's decision to provide no funding. The Committee
has not provided Amtrak with general capital funding assuming that a proposal
for an Intercity Passenger Rail Fund, currently in the Senate version of the
Reconciliation bill, would provide Amtrak with over $600 million in general
capital funding in FY 1998. The Intercity Passenger Rail Fund may not be
Federal Aviation Administration
The Committee is encouraged to provide additional funding for the deployment
of security enhancement equipment, with offsets from other infrastructure
spending. The Administration also urges the Senate to provide the $100 million
in advance appropriations requested for this equipment in FY 1999 so that
continuity can be assured in the procurement process.
The Administration commends the Committee for not funding highway
demonstration projects. However, the Administration objects to the Committee's
earmarking of 25 transit projects for which Full Funding Grant Agreements
(FFGAs) have neither been signed nor are expected to be signed. Many of these
projects have yet to complete required planning and engineering studies to
determine their costs and benefits. Any future funding for these projects
would be in addition to the $3.7 billion outstanding Federal share of projects
with existing FFGAs. Such earmarking risks creating expectations that may be
difficult to meet under a balanced budget. The Senate is urged to redirect
theses funds to higher priority items.
The Committee has provided substantial funding to conduct several earmarked
operational tests within the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) program.
The Administration has requested funding in NEXTEA to support operational tests
and would prefer that, rather than setting aside funds for specific projects,
these projects compete on an equal basis with other potential proposals.
Furthermore, the ITS program's focus is shifting from operational testing to
integrated deployment. NEXTEA provides $100 million for a new Deployment
Incentives program to encourage integrated deployment. The operational tests
funded by the Committee could be duplicative of previous tests.
The Committee bill would modify section 29 of Public Law 96-192 (the Wright
Amendment) in two respects. The Administration believes that any change to
section 29 must be based on thorough analysis. Further, the question of which
aircraft should be allowed to operate under section 29 is currently before the
court in Astraea Aviation Services v. U.S. Department of Transportation,
5th Cir. No. 96-60802 (filed November 18, 1996). The Administration believes
that the Congress should review the court's ultimate conclusion on the proper
interpretation of section 29 before acting to change the statute.
Additional Administration concerns with the Committee bill are contained in