HR 4274 -- 10/02/98
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October 2, 1998
(House Floor)


(Sponsors: Livingston (R), Louisiana; Porter (R), Illinois)

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):

  • 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 education reforms.

  • 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 proficient children.

  • 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 $237 million:

    • 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.
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.
  • 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 measures.

  • 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 unrealistically short.

  • 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.
Department of Labor

The Administration has strong concerns with the inadequate funding levels provided for the following Labor programs (listed in bill order):

  • 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 protection programs.

  • 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.
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.

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 order):

  • 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 other priorities.

  • 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 requested level.

  • 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.
In addition, the Committee bill contains several language provisions that are troubling to the 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 HIV/AIDS research.

  • 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.
Social Security Administration

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 administrative expenses.

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 shortfalls.

Other Agencies

  • 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.

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