July 27, 1999


(Sponsors: Young (R), Florida; Istook (R), Oklahoma)

This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views on the District of Columbia Appropriations Bill, FY 2000, as reported by the House Appropriations Committee. Your consideration of the Administration's views would be appreciated.

While the Administration appreciates the support of the Committee in developing a bill that provides requested funding for the Administration's priorities, and in voting to reduce the list of objectionable restrictions, we continue to strongly oppose several provisions included in the Committee bill that would seriously undermine local control. The Administration views the following highly objectionable provisions as unwarranted intrusions into the affairs of the District and would support amendments, if offered, to strike these provisions:

  • Abortion. The Administration strongly opposes a provision of the Committee bill that would prohibit the use of both Federal and District funds to pay for abortions except in those cases where the life of the mother is endangered or in situations involving rape or incest.

  • Domestic Partners Act. The Administration objects to a provision of the bill prohibiting the use of Federal and local funds to implement or enforce the Health Care Benefits Expansion Act of 1992 (the Domestic Partners Act).

  • Limit on Attorneys' Fees in Special Education Cases. The Administration strongly objects to a provision of the Committee bill that would cap the award of plaintiffs' attorneys' fees in cases brought against the District of Columbia Public Schools under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In the long-run, this provision would be likely to limit the access of the District's poor families to quality legal representation, thus impairing their due process protections provided by the IDEA. We look forward to working with the Congress to address this issue.

  • Voting Representation. The Administration opposes a provision of the bill that would prohibit the use of Federal or District funds to provide assistance for petition drives or civil actions that seek to require voting representation in Congress for the District of Columbia.

Resident Tuition Support

The Administration appreciates and strongly supports the Committee's inclusion of funding for a tuition assistance program for District of Columbia residents. We will continue to work closely with members of the authorizing committees on a bipartisan and bicameral basis, and with the Mayor, to determine how best to structure and administer the D.C. tuition assistance program.

Objectionable Amendments

The Administration strongly opposes the four amendments given special protections under the rule or other amendments that are intrusions into District self-government. One of the proposed amendments would prohibit the use of funds to carry out any joint adoption of a child between individuals who are not related by blood or marriage. This Administration is deeply committed to supporting adoptive families and to finding adoptive homes for children in foster care who are unable to return to their own families. The proposed amendment would stand as an unnecessary hindrance to providing children with loving adoptive families and the security, emotional and financial supports that two parents provide. We believe that decisions regarding the adoption of children should be guided by the best interests of the child and the individual circumstances of the case, consistent with State licensing and approval standards that assure the health, safety and well-being of the child.

The Administration appreciates the Committee's action to drop the ban on the use of local and private funds for needle exchange programs and strongly opposes the amendment to restore this restriction. The amendment would be an encroachment on the District's rights.

Reducing teen smoking is a high priority of the Administration; therefore, we support the objective of the amendment related to the possession of tobacco products by minors. However, for the same reasons that Congress has not legislated specific laws for individual States, it would be inappropriate to do so for the District.

The Administration objects to the amendment that would prohibit the District from legislating with respect to substances in a manner that all States are free to do, and would remain free to do, under the amendment.

If such amendments were adopted and included in the bill presented to the President, his senior advisers would recommend that the President veto the bill.