EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20503
STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY
(THIS STATEMENT HAS BEEN COORDINATED BY OMB WITH THE CONCERNED AGENCIES.)
July 24, 1997
S. 1022 -- DEPARTMENTS OF COMMERCE, JUSTICE, AND STATE,
THE JUDICIARY, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS BILL, FY 1998
(Sponsors: Stevens (R), Alaska; Gregg (R), New Hampshire)
This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views on S. 1022, the Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, 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 Committee has developed a bill that provides requested funding for many of the Administration's priorities. For example, we appreciate the Senate's funding of law enforcement programs in general and the COPS program in particular. Funding COPS at the requested level of $1.4 billion is consistent with the Bipartisan Budget Agreement and will enable us to achieve the goal of hiring 100,000 additional police officers by the year 2000. While below the request, the Administration also appreciates the funding level provided for the Legal Services Corporation. We strongly urge full funding of the President's request.
As discussed below, the Administration will seek restoration of certain of the Committee's reductions. 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. For example, funding could be reduced for the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant and the new Juvenile Justice Block Grant. 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.
Department of Commerce
Department of Justice
- National Institute of Standards and Technology. The Administration urges the Senate to restore funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to the level agreed upon in the Bipartisan Budget Agreement. The Committee mark of $604 million falls short of the agreed upon level by $89 million. The reduction is targeted to the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) and Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), which work in partnership with industry to advance U.S. competitiveness. ATP is funded at $200 million, $76 million below the President's request. This funding level would reduce the number of innovative technology development grants that NIST could award. MEP is funded at $111 million, $12 million below the request. The Committee's reduction would prevent funding for new initiatives designed to increase the synergy of our national network of centers. We strongly urge full funding of the President's Budget.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Administration is disappointed that no funds have been provided for the President's Clean Water Initiative, which would help protect coastal communities from pollutants. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is the primary trustee of our Nation's coastal resources and, as such, plays an important role in this initiative. The $22 million initiative builds from NOAA's unique coastal responsibilities and partnerships with States and other Federal Trustee agencies. In addition, we are disappointed that the Committee has not included any funding for the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment Program (GLOBE). This program was developed to increase understanding of the Earth and has already formed partnerships with over 2,500 U.S. schools and 35 other countries, involving thousands of students across the U.S. and worldwide. The Committee is recommending over $100 million in funding for NOAA activities not requested by the Administration. We strongly urge that a portion of these funds should be redirected to continue the Clean Water Initiative, GLOBE, and other priorities.
- Census Sampling. While the compromise language that passed the Senate in the FY 1997 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations and Rescissions Bill would be workable, the Administration would strongly object to any prohibition on the use of sampling as part of the 2000 Decennial Census. Without the limited use of sampling, the accuracy of the census would decrease significantly, especially with regard to children and minority groups that have been traditionally undercounted. The National Academy of Sciences, the General Accounting Office, the Commerce Department Inspector General, and the vast majority of the professional statistical community support the use of sampling in the decennial census.
- National Information Infrastructure Grants Program. The Administration urges the Senate to reallocate resources between the National Information Infrastructure (NII) grants program and the Public Broadcasting Facilities program. The Committee mark substantially reduces funding for the former and provides a large, unrequested increase for the latter. The NII program is meritorious, providing seed money for innovative projects that deploy, use, and evaluate advanced telecommunications and information technology.
Ounce of Prevention Council
- Drug Courts and Drug Testing. The Administration opposes the Committee's $40 million funding level for the drug courts program. The drug courts program is a proven, cost-effective means of using the coercive power of the courts to move non-violent offenders into drug treatment. Also, the President's budget provides a total of $30 million to offset the costs associated with drug testing State and local arrestees. The Administration is concerned that the Committee does not identify $30 million from the Byrne Grant program for the State and local portion of the drug testing program. The drug courts and drug testing programs could be restored to the requested levels by reducing the Committee's funding level for the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant program.
- Juvenile Justice Block Grant. The Administration appreciates the Committee's desire to provide additional support for juvenile justice programs. However, we are concerned that the block grant program may authorize a broad and unfocused range of activities. We urge the Senate to target $100 million for the prosecutorial grant program, which is designed to facilitate the cooperation and coordination of prosecutors and police with school officials, probation officers, youth social service professionals, and community members in an effort to reduce the incidence of gang activity and violent juvenile crime. The Administration also urges the Senate to target $50 million for the violent youth court program, which is designed to develop initiatives that courts and court-related entities, such as probation and parole offices and victim/witness centers, may use to enhance and expedite the handling of youth violence cases.
- FBI Recruitment. The Committee bill exempts the FBI from Title 5 personnel laws and regulations on the basis that the FBI is restricted in its ability to recruit and retain individuals with scientific and technical skills, and that pay flexibility under Title 5 is inefficient. We believe the Committee's action, while well intended, is flawed. There is insufficient evidence of a recruitment problem at the FBI that would be solved by exemptions from Title 5 provisions for employee classification, pay, and performance. S uch exemptions would not address significant non-pay recruitment problems, such as the large number of applicants that fail drug and/or polygraph tests. The Federal agencies that have documented pay-related recruitment problems have successfully used the pay flexibility provided in Title 5. In addition, the provision would establish a personnel system not subject to Office of Personnel Management oversight; exempt all FBI employees, including support staff, from Title 5 in response to undocumented recruitment problems related to scientific and technical personnel; and, would address the Government-wide needs for scientific and technical employees, including the those of other law enforcement agencies, in an inconsistent manner. We recommend that this prov ision be deleted from the bill.
- Telecommunications Carrier Compliance. The Committee bill does not provide any FY 1998 funding for the Telecommunications Carrier Compliance program. The Administration has requested $100 million to reimburse communications equipment manufacturers for the cost of modifying equipment to ensure that law enforcement agencies would be able to conduct court-authorized wiretaps. As requested, the FBI has provided the Committee with a detailed implementation plan for the program. Implementation should not be delayed further for the creation of an FBI/industry working group and refinement of the implementation plan as the Committee's Report directs. The Administration strongly requests that funding for this program be provided.
- Bureau of Prisons. The Administration objects to language of the Committee Report concerning the Bureau of Prisons, Buildings and Facilities, appropriation. The Report mandates that unless a certain minimum funding level is included in the President's FY 1999 Budget for prison facilities, funding for INS political appointees will be restricted in FY 1998. This provision inappropriately attempts to encroach on the President's authority to determine the Administration's FY 1999 funding priorities and precludes an assessment of the Bureau's needs in favor of a pre-determined level set by Congress. Finally, this action would tie funding for prisons to a sanction in another, unrelated appropriation (INS).
The Administration urges the Senate 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.
The Administration opposes the Committee's termination of the Ounce of Prevention Council. Elimination of this program would hinder the Federal Government's ability to help neighborhoods implement balanced strategies to reduce crime through enforcement, prevention, and intervention. The Council awards discretionary grants for promising community collaborative crime prevention programs, publishes a catalog of crime prevention grants and programs, and provides information and technical assistance. It plays a critical role in helping communities gain access to information on crime prevention best practices. The Administration strongly urges the Senate to provide funding for the Council and has identified an appropriate offset.
The Judiciary: Ninth Circuit
The Administration opposes the provision in the Committee bill that would reorganize the Ninth Circuit by splitting it into two separate circuits. We understand that other substantive amendments to divide the Ninth Circuit may be offered on the Senate Floor. The Administration strongly objects to using the appropriations process to legislate on this important matter. The division of the Ninth Circuit is an important issue not just for the bench and the bar of the affected region, but also for the citizens of the Ninth Circuit. The Administration believes that a much better approach would be passage of legislation, H.R. 908 -- already passed by the House and currently pending at the desk in the Senate -- that would create a bipartisan commission to study this difficult and complex question and make recommendations to the Congress within a date certain. This would allow for substantive resolution of the issue in a deliberative manner, allowing all affected parties to voice their views.
Legal Services Corporation
Of the $300 million appropriated for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), $17 million is earmarked for "pro se" legal education programs. Funding for the provision of legal services remains at the FY 1997 level. The Administration recommends full funding of the President's request.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The Administration appreciates the Committee's desire to provide additional resources over the FY 1997 level for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). However, we urge the Senate to go further and fully fund the President's request of $246 million, given the importance of the EEOC's work in addressing unlawful discrimination.
Department of State
The Administration appreciates the Committee's strong support for the State Department's accounts that fund diplomatic and consular activities, which would help reverse the erosion of the Department's worldwide operations. We are also pleased that the Committee provided the transfers as requested to support the International Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS) program.
While the Administration welcomes the first-year funding of $100 million for arrears payments, we are greatly concerned about the funding levels for the FY 1998 annual assessments provided in Contributions to International Organizations and Contributions for International Peacekeeping Activities (CIPA). United States leadership in these organizations on a host of issues of importance to the American people will be compromised if we fail to meet our binding obligations to them. It is important that funding for these activities be protected so that the Administration can pay annual costs, avoid new arrears, and be given some flexibility to address unforeseen needs relating to peace and security around the world.
Funding for both accounts is significantly below what is necessary to pay annual costs, avoid new arrears, and provide some flexibility for the President to address unforeseen needs relating to peace and security around the world. We believe it is premature to direct that FY 1997 CIPA funds be reallocated given continuing uncertainties in some regions of the world. Further, we are disappointed that the bill does not provide a commitment for three years of arrears payments, consistent with the Senate-passed authorization bill. These appropriations levels are inconsistent with the extensive negotiations between the Administration and Congress on reform and funding of the U.N. system.
The Administration urges the Senate to strike two provisions that raise serious Constitutional concerns, sections 406 and 408. Section 406 would condition the use of funds for diplomatic relations with Vietnam on Presidential certification that Vietnam has satisfied specific conditions contained in this section. This unworkable requirement would unconstitutionally constrain the President's exercise of his power to recognize foreign governments. Section 408 would mandate that the United States withdraw from an international organization if the President determines that amounts appropriated for payment of all contributions to such organization are less than the actual amount of contributions to such organization. This congressional mandate would infringe on the President's constitutional power to conduct U.S. diplomatic affairs.
Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
The Administration strongly opposes the Committee mark of $32.6 million for the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), which would severely undercut the Administration's efforts to reduce the threat of nuclear and other weapons to the security of the American people. In addition to the $46.2 million request included in the FY 1998 Budget, a fully-offset budget amendment for Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty requirements was transmitted on July 17th, bringing ACDA's FY 1998 request to $59.2 million. The full revised request is needed for these important national security activities.
National Endowment for Democracy
The Administration strongly objects to the Committee's elimination of funding for the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), particularly given the Committee's increases above the request for other USIA-funded grants. The President's request of $30 million is needed to support democracy-building programs throughout the world. We urge the Senate to provide funding for NED at the requested level of $30 million.
Additional Administration concerns with the Committee bill are contained in the attachment.
DEPARTMENTS OF COMMERCE, JUSTICE, AND STATE, THE JUDICIARY
AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS BILL, FY
1998 (AS REPORTED BY THE SENATE COMMITTEE)
The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to address the following additional concerns:
Department of Commerce
Department of Justice
- Economic Development Administration. The Administration supports the restoration of funds for economic development public works grants and defense economic adjustment to levels that would provide sufficient funding for their effective administration. Both are funded at a level significantly below FY 1997 in the Committee bill. These grants foster the establishment or expansion of industrial and commercial businesses supporting the creation and retention of jobs and help rebuild and diversify communities affected by base closures.
- Economic and Statistical Analysis. The Committee mark for Economic and Statistical Analysis (ESA) is insufficient to make necessary improvements to important economic indicators. For the past four years, ESA has been denied funding for improvements to GDP and related regional, national, and international accounts data. In the past, ESA has dealt with funding constraints by eliminating important but non-core activities such as the Pollution Abatement Survey and Regional Economic Projections. ESA cannot sustain the quality of the Nation's basic economic indicators under continued funding constraints.
- Congressional Earmarking. The Administration is concerned about unrequested funds that are earmarked for low priority programs, particularly in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Economic Development Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the International Trade Administration.
Legal Services Corporation
- Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Fee Accounts. The Administration is very concerned that the Committee bill would underfund certain authorized discretionary programs and use mandatory funds from immigration examination and user fees for certain unauthorized discretionary activities. The bill directs the Department of Justice to use examination and user fee revenue -- classified as mandatory -- for discretionary activities that are not authorized. The bill further commits to unrequested discretionary activities collections and unobligated balances that are necessary for providing services or processing and adjudicating applications. The result of these actions would be that INS would not have sufficient resources available to process pending naturalization applications or properly provide other serv ices and benefits.
- Executive Support. The Administration opposes the Committee's action to freeze legislative and public affairs activities at FY 1997 levels throughout the Department. Freezing these activities would inhibit the Department's ability to clear legislation in a timely and responsive manner and constrain its capacity to serve Congress. The Administration urges the Senate to increase funding for the Executive Support offices and to delete the Committee bill's restrictions on the use of detailees.
- United States Attorneys. The Judiciary appropriation contains a provision capping the amount that Federal Public Defenders may spend on representation of defendants in capital cases. It stipulates that any costs over this cap must be borne by the courts and prosecutors. This provision is an unacceptable restriction on defendants' right to legal representation, raising the prospect that the decisions of judges and prosecutors could be affected by monetary pressures. The Administration opposes any suggestion that the cost of defending a citizen should be a consideration in the litigation of any matter, especially in capital cases.
Federal Communications Commission
- Debarment of Grantees. The Administration is concerned about section 504(c)(5) of the bill, which would permit LSC to debar any grantee that files a lawsuit against the Corporation or any government agency. While existing law prevents LSC grantees from using LSC funds to sue the Corporation, the Administration opposes restricting grantees from using non-Federal funds to exercise their right to protect themselves from improper government actions.
U.S. Information Agency
- Relocation. The Committee bill provides no funds in support of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC's) scheduled move to the Portals complex. Failure to provide these funds would delay the move, which could result in the Government unnecessarily paying for rent on an unoccupied building. The Administration urges the Senate to provide the $30 million required for the FCC move in FY 1998.
- International Broadcasting. The Administration urges the Senate to restore funding for the International Broadcasting Operations account to the President's requested level of $367 million, including funding for Radio and TV Marti. The restoration of the Committee's $5 million reduction is of particular concern given the Administration's agreement to support a congressional initiative to increase broadcasting to China significantly in FY 1998, an initiative proposed after the budget request was developed. In addition, the Administration objects to language in the bill that would tie the availability of direct appropriations for international broadcasting programs to the collection of revenues from advertising. We believe that it is unwise to link ongoing broadcasting services to an estimate of revenue that may not materialize.