HR 1757 -- 06/04/97
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June 4, 1997

H.R. 1757 - Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1998 and 1999
(Gilman (R) New York)

The Administration strongly opposes Division A of H.R. 1757, as reported by the Rules Committee, which would micromanage the planned reorganization of the foreign affairs agencies. Moreover, under the open rule for the bill, several very objectionable amendments, which are described below or in the attachment, may be considered. Of particular concern are amendments that would: (1) authorize foreign affairs programs at levels below those provided for in the 1998 Budget Resolution; (2) establish unreasonable conditions and restrictions on the payment of arrears to international organizations; and (3) impose unwarranted restrictions on international family planning programs. In addition, there are other amendments, as well as provisions of the bill, which would restrict the President's ability to conduct foreign relations. If Division A or any of these amendments are included, alone or in combination, in the bill presented to the President, his senior advisers would recommend that H.R. 1757 be vetoed

Foreign Affairs Reorganization

H.R. 1757 should permit bipartisan movement towards the common goal of reorganizing and reinventing the State Department, ACDA, U.S. Information Agency (USIA), and the Agency for International Development (AID). The Administration strongly opposes the reorganization provisions that were added to the bill without hearings, debate, or consideration by the International Relations Committee. These provisions would mandate many of the details on how to implement such a complex reorganization, thereby prejudging how the foreign affairs agencies are to be restructured. Such a directive would be incompatible with the flexibility needed by the President to reorganize the foreign affairs agencies to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The Administration, however, supports the Hamilton amendment on reorganization, which will achieve our common objective.

In addition, statutory requirements to create certain positions and specify criteria for personnel positions and bureaus (sections 1301, 1303, 1304, 1305, and 1306) undermine the Administration's ability and authority to organize the Department of State and manage U.S. foreign affairs. These and other restrictions on foreign service staffing levels, (particularly section 1326) along with proposed amendments which would require counterproductive reductions in AID staffing levels, are particularly problematic. This is especially true at a time when the Administration is working to implement the President's plan to restructure foreign affairs agencies.

Foreign Affairs Appropriation Authorization Levels

The appropriation authorization levels in H.R. 1757, in the aggregate, are consistent with the Budget Agreement for fiscal year 1998. The Administration, therefore, would strongly oppose any amendments to reduce foreign affairs authorizations below those levels or, in the case of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), to delete the Agency's entire authorization for fiscal years 1998-1999. The Administration also urges the House to provide appropriation authorization levels in FY 1999 consistent with the Budget Agreement.

International Organizations (IO) Arrears

The Administration is pledged to reforming the United Nations (UN) and other international organizations while enhancing U.S. credibility by paying arrearages -- a top priority of the Administration. The Administration has been working with the Congress to identify specific reform benchmarks, but there is a limit to what can reasonably be negotiated with other sovereign member states. While the Administration supports the Hamilton UN reform amendment, it strongly opposes the other amendments which may be considered that could actually undermine the ability of the United States to exercise leadership, achieve significant reform, and to work effectively with the UN.

International Family Planning

The Administration strongly opposes the Smith amendment's restrictions on international family planning programs, which go far beyond those contained in current law. These restrictions would severely undermine U.S. leadership in international population assistance efforts. The result of the amendment's provisions would be an increased incidence of unintended pregnancy, maternal and infant death, and abortion. These restrictions would put in jeopardy funding to the most experienced and qualified family planning and maternal-child health care providers working at the grassroots level to meet the growing demand for family planning and other critical health services in developing countries. The amendment, in effect, would impose in statute, limitations on international family planning assistance that were rejected by the Administration when it overturned the so-called Mexico City policy. The Administration remains adamant in its opposition to both the intent and the effect of this unacceptable amendment.

Foreign Relations Restrictions

H.R. 1757 also contains additional highly objectionable provisions that would restrict the President's ability to conduct foreign policy. For example, there are restrictions related to Jerusalem, which the Administration strongly opposes. The Administration's concerns are described further in the attachment. The Administration will seek to modify or delete these provisions as the legislative process continues. Finally, other objectionable amendments have been proposed that would severely restrict the President's authorities and make it harder for any Administration to react to unanticipated contingencies.

The Administration is continuing to review H.R. 1757 and may seek further changes to the bill as the legislative process continues.

H.R. 1758, "The European Security Act of 1997"

The Administration welcomes congressional support for enlargement of the NATO Alliance, as reflected in H.R. 1758. This "open door" approach to NATO enlargement will allow Alliance membership to remain open to other Central and Eastern European democracies after the first state or states are invited to join. Conversely, the Administration would oppose amendments requiring the President to differentiate among prospective members and rate publicly their relative preparedness to join the Alliance.

Pay-As-You-Go Scoring

H.R. 1757 could increase direct spending; therefore, it is subject to the pay-as-you-go requirement of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1990. OMB's preliminary scoring estimate is that the PAYGO effect of this bill is zero. Final scoring of this legislation may deviate from this estimate.

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