June 7, 2000


(Sponsors: Young (R), Florida; Porter (R), Illinois)

This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views on the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, FY 2001, as reported by the House Appropriations Committee. Your consideration of the Administration's views would be appreciated.

The President's FY 2001 Budget is based on a balanced approach that maintains fiscal discipline, eliminates the national debt, extends the solvency of Social Security and Medicare, provides for an appropriately sized tax cut, establishes a new voluntary Medicare prescription drug benefit in the context of broader reforms, expands health care coverage to more families, and funds critical investments for our future. An essential element of this approach is ensuring adequate funding for discretionary programs. To this end, the President has proposed discretionary spending limits at levels that we believe are necessary to serve the American people.

Unfortunately, the FY 2001 congressional budget resolution provides inadequate resources for discretionary investments. We need realistic levels of funding for critical government functions that the American people expect their government to perform well, including education, national security, law enforcement, environmental protection, preservation of our global leadership, air safety, food safety, economic assistance for the less fortunate, research and technology, and the administration of Social Security and Medicare. Based on the inadequate budget resolution, the Committee bill fails to address critical needs of the American people. In addition, the Committee bill includes an unacceptable language rider that would prohibit the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) from finalizing its standard to protect the Nation's workers from ergonomic injuries. For the reasons discussed below, if the bill were presented to the President in its current form, the President would veto the bill.

The Administration strongly opposes the provision in the bill that would prohibit the Occupational Safety and Health Administration from finalizing its standard to protect the Nation's workers from ergonomic injuries. Each year approximately 1.8 million American workers suffer musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), approximately one-third of which are serious enough to require time away from work. OSHA estimates that by the tenth year after the rule is in effect, it will have reduced general industry MSDs by 450,000. After more than 10 years of experience with ergonomic guidelines, exhaustive scientific study, five months of public comment and public hearings on the proposed regulations, and millions of unnecessary injuries, the Administration believes that it is time to move forward to finalize this regulation.

Department of Education

The House Committee bill would undermine our Nation's commitment to improving our schools by cutting $2.9 billion from the President's overall FY 2001 request for the Department of Education. The bill fails to fund key education priorities including funding to help strengthen accountability and turn around failing schools, reduce class size, improve after-school and summer-school opportunities, increase school safety, renovate aging and neglected schools, improve teacher quality, and prepare students for college. The most significant problems with the bill include the following:

  • Class Size. The House Committee bill does not guarantee funding for the President's initiative to hire 100,000 new teachers by FY 2005 to reduce class sizes to a nationwide average of 18 in the primary grades. The House bill would effectively repeal the bipartisan agreement on class size reduction, jeopardizing the Federal commitment to hire as many as 20,000 new teachers next year and to continue support for the 29,000 teachers already hired. As many as 2.9 million children could be denied the benefits of smaller classes.

  • Urgent School Renovation. The House Committee bill provides no funding for the President's initiative to provide $1.3 billion in loan subsidies and grants to repair 5,000 aging and neglected public school buildings, including $50 million for public schools with high concentrations of Native American students.

  • Accountability and Title I, Education for the Disadvantaged. The House Committee bill provides no funding for the Title I Accountability Fund that helps States and districts turn around low-performing schools and ensure that no student is trapped in a failing school. As a result, nearly 6,000 low-performing schools would not receive extra assistance to improve student achievement. In addition, the bill would reduce or eliminate services to more than 260,000 disadvantaged students aimed at helping them reach challenging academic standards. The bill also does not provide funds for the proposed Reward and Recognition program that supports rewards to States that show significant gains in student achievement and narrow the achievement gap between high- and low- performing students.

  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers. The House Committee bill cuts the President's $1 billion request for 21st Century Community Learning Centers by $400 million, denying funding for over 3,000 centers, which would provide after- and summer-school programs to over one million children. Extended learning time is an essential strategy to help all students master challenging academic material and reach high standards. The President's request would support 10,000 after- school and summer-school centers serving 2.5 million children. The Administration would oppose efforts to further reduce this program on the floor.

  • Teacher Quality. The House bill fails to provide funding for the proposed $1 billion Teaching to High Standards teacher quality programs. The President's request includes $690 million for States and school districts to provide high quality professional development to teachers. The House bill does not guarantee funding for professional development. Also included in the Teaching to High Standards programs is $310 million for teacher quality and recruitment initiatives of national significance such as Hometown Teachers and Transition to Teaching to help recruit teachers to high-need communities, Early Childhood Educator Professional Development, the School Leadership Initiative, and other teacher quality incentive programs. The House bill does not provide any funding for these programs.

  • Helping Schools Create Smaller and Safer Learning Environments. The House Committee bill provides inadequate funding for programs that create better and safer school learning environments. For Safe and Drug-Free Schools, the House bill freezes spending at the FY 2000 level, $50 million below the request, and provides no funding for Project SERV, which would provide emergency assistance to schools affected by serious violence and other crises. For Small, Safe, and Successful High Schools, the bill provides $45 million, the same as the FY 2000 level. Although we appreciate the Committee's continued support for this program, the bill's failure to provide the $75 million requested increase would deny as many as 400 high schools support to establish or expand smaller learning communities of no more than 600 students. Research shows that when students are a part of a small and more intimate learning community, they are more successful both academically and socially.

  • Technology and the Digital Divide. The House Committee bill would hamper efforts to bridge the digital divide by providing technology training to teachers and increasing access of information and assistive technology to individuals with disabilities. The House bill would eliminate training for over 100,000 teachers through Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to Use Technology and would not fund 700 of the proposed 1,000 community technology centers, denying access to computers and technology -- particularly educational technology -- for thousands of adults and children residing in economically distressed, high-poverty areas. Finally, the House bill would not support either the $14 million requested increase for the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, for a variety of technology initiatives, or the $7 million requested increase for Assistive Technology to expand alternative loan financing programs that help individuals with disabilities purchase assistive technology.

  • Reading Excellence. The House Committee bill cuts the President's $286 million request for Reading Excellence by $26 million, denying 100,000 students the help they need to become successful readers, the cornerstone of all learning.

  • Opportunities to Improve our Nation's Schools (OPTIONS). The House Committee bill provides no funding for this $20 million initiative to support innovative public school choice programs such as worksite schools and inter-district choice programs. The bill would deny 40 States and districts support to develop and implement new models for enhancing public school choice.

  • GEAR UP. The House Committee bill provides no increase in funding for GEAR UP, a program that helps low-income students prepare for college. The President's FY 2001 Budget would provide $325 million for GEAR UP, a $125 million increase over FY 2000, to support early intervention and college preparation services for approximately 1.4 million disadvantaged youth. The House bill would deny these services to as many as 644,000 students.

  • Dual Degree Program. The House Committee provides no funding for Dual Degree Programs for Minority-Serving Institutions, the President's initiative to increase academic opportunities for students at minority-serving institutions. The House bill would deny up to 3,000 students the chance to earn two degrees in five years and enter professions in which minorities are underrepresented.

  • Hispanic Education Action Plan. The House Committee bill fails to increase the Federal investment in essential components of the President's Hispanic Education Action Plan. For instance, the House provides nearly $50 million less than the President's request for Adult Education English as a Second Language civics. The Committee level would deny over 165,000 immigrants and limited English proficient (LEP) adults the literacy and civics skills necessary to become successful participants in American society. The House bill also does not include the $48 million requested increase for Bilingual Education. This reduction would deny grants to over 100 school districts -- primarily districts with little prior experience serving limited English proficient students -- and prevent over 2,300 additional new or certified teachers from receiving training and skills they need to teach LEP students.

  • Research and Statistics. The House Committee bill fails to support increases for education research, including the budget's requested $30 million increase for Education Research, the $16 million increase for Statistics, and the $10 million increase for Special Education Research and Innovation. Now, more than ever, teachers, parents, and policymakers are demanding research-based information about what education reforms work and why. The Department of Education's research investments called for in this budget -- such as the Interagency Education Research Initiative -- are vital to generating such a knowledge base for improving student performance.

  • Departmental Management. The House Committee does not provide critical increases in administrative funding requested for the Department of Education. These funds are necessary to ensure proper oversight and management of Federal education programs, especially in the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The House Committee's proposed funding for OCR would hamper the efficient resolution of complaints, threaten a return to onerous backlogs, and curtail new technical assistance activities that allow OCR to work proactively with customers to prevent discrimination before it occurs.

  • America's Tests. The House provides no funds for America's Tests, which would help principals, teachers, and parents assess how well students are doing compared to challenging academic standards in reading and math. The Administration also objects to the language limitation that would halt the President's efforts to help States and parents raise academic standards through any federally sponsored national test including the Administration's proposed voluntary national test. The Committee bill's language would prohibit development, pilot testing, field testing, implementation, administration, and distribution of the tests unless explicitly authorized. The language prohibition prevents Federal efforts to promote high standards for all students.

  • Department of Education One-Percent Transfer Authority. The Committee bill would eliminate the Department of Education's authority to transfer funds between appropriations. The Department has used its transfer authority only once, in response to a congressional request to find funding for the agency's financial audit. The Administration urges the House to restore this authority, which the Department will continue to use prudently -- and only if necessary -- to respond to unforeseen needs.

Department of Health and Human Services

The House Committee underfunds public health priorities, including mental health and substance abuse services, family planning, health care access for the uninsured, nursing home safety, and infectious diseases. The Administration is concerned about the following cuts to key health and social service programs:

  • Head Start. The Committee bill provides $600 million less than the President's request for Head Start, which would result in 50,000 fewer children receiving services than under the President's budget. It would also severely restrict the funding of critical legislatively mandated quality activities.

  • Child Care Development Block Grant. The Committee bill is $417 million below the President's requested level of $2 billion. At this level, approximately 80,000 fewer children would receive child care services.

  • Family Caregivers. The House Committee fails to provide the President's request of $125 million to support caregiver activities for 250,000 families who care for elderly relatives with chronic illness or disabilities. These funds would provide older persons with quality respite care and other support services necessary for them to remain independent in their homes and communities. Support for caregiver activities is a critical component of the President's long-term care initiative.

  • Individual Development Accounts. The House bill fails to fully fund the President's budget request of $25 million to promote savings among low-income individuals for a first home, post-secondary education, a new business or, under the Administration's proposal, a car that will allow them to get or keep a job.

  • Health Care Access. The House Committee fails to provide funding for the Community Access Program (CAP), which would improve health care access for many uninsured and underinsured Americans. The President's request of $125 million for the CAP Initiative would enable the development of integrated systems of care and better coordinated health services.

  • Family Planning. The House Committee bill does not include the $35 million increase requested for family planning services. This increase would provide family planning services to an additional 500,000 clients who are neither Medicaid eligible nor have health insurance.

  • Tobacco Litigation. The House bill does not approve requested HHS funding to support the Department of Justice's tobacco litigation efforts. The costs of preventing and treating tobacco-related disease exceed $50 billion per year, and the Department of Health and Human Services pays a substantial portion of these costs. This includes direct health care expenditures in Medicare, Medicaid, and the Indian Health Service. HHS agencies also fund research on the treatment and management of smoking-related illnesses, as well as education and related efforts to prevent youth smoking. The tobacco litigation is in full accord with the HHS mission and is vital to efforts to improve the health of all Americans. We encourage the House to assist in the Federal government's efforts to recover health care costs incurred as a result of tobacco-related illnesses.

  • Mental Health Services. The House bill would reduce funding for mental health services by $40 million from the President's request. The Committee has ignored the request of $30 million for new Targeted Capacity Expansion grants, which fund early intervention and prevention, as well as local service capacity expansion.

  • Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment. The House Committee bill reduces total funding for substance abuse by $54 million from the requested level. The bill's level would reduce our capacity to gain and implement new knowledge on the most effective treatments available and our ability to provide a rapid, strategic response to emerging substance abuse trends. The bill also eliminates funding for High Risk Youth Grants, which would end current efforts to provide science-based prevention and intervention services to prevent youth drug, tobacco, and alcohol use. In addition, the bill does not provide $12 million in Public Health Service evaluation funds for National Data Collection efforts as requested in the President's budget.

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The House Committee does not fund the requested increases for some of CDC's critical public health activities, including the full $26 million requested increase for infectious diseases, the $5 million increase for vaccine safety, and the $5 million increase for National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

  • Health Care Financing Administration Program Management (HCFA). The House Committee bill funds HCFA at $1.931 billion, $203 million below the FY 2000 enacted level and $355 million below the President's FY 2001 request of $2.286 billion. This reduction would threaten the Administration's efforts to ensure the quality and safety of nursing homes by forcing States to scale back or eliminate facility inspections and complaint investigations, and eliminate the Administration's efforts to tighten oversight of Medicare's contractors as directed by recent General Accounting Office and Office of the Inspector General reports. Additionally, the House has provided an estimated $15 to $19 million of the President's request of $150 million in Medicare+Choice user fees, which would be used to educate beneficiaries, enabling them to make informed health decisions.

  • Office of the Secretary. The House Committee bill fails to fully fund the Secretary's management and policy oversight activities as well as key programmatic activities, including civil rights enforcement and bioterrorism.

  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The House Committee bill funds AHRQ at a program level of $224 million, $26 million below the request of $250 million. Such a reduction would impair AHRQ's ability to fund important new research on worker health and to apply advances in information technology to health care. The Administration urges the House to provide full funding for AHRQ through one-percent evaluation funding, as requested in the President's budget.

  • HHS One-Percent Transfer Authority. The Administration objects to the reduction in the transfer authority of the Department of Health and Human Services. The bill would exclude the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from this authority. The Administration strongly urges that the Congress maintain the Department's flexibility to address emerging issues.

  • Needle Exchange. The Administration objects to the Committee's unconditional ban on the use of funds appropriated in the bill for needle exchange programs. The Administration urges the House to make the use of funds for such programs contingent upon certification by the Secretary of Health and Human Services that these programs are effective in reducing the transmission of HIV and do not increase drug abuse, as proposed in the budget and included in the Senate bill.

  • 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.

Department of Labor

The House Committee bill would cut the Labor Department by $1.7 billion, or 14 percent, from the request and $0.5 billion from the FY 2000 level. This level would threaten the viability of the new workforce development system as envisioned in the bipartisan Workforce Investment Act enacted in 1998. The bill would make deep cuts in worker training programs aimed at closing the skills gap, preparing workers for the 21st century, and helping employers reach out to an untapped pool of workers. These workers include high school dropouts, people leaving welfare, displaced workers, individuals with disabilities, and ex-offenders. In addition, the bill would cut programs that ensure safe and healthy workplaces, enforce domestic child labor laws, promote equal pay, and improve working conditions and reduce child labor in developing countries around the world.

In particular, the Administration is concerned about the following items in the Committee reported bill:

  • One-Stop Career Center/America's Labor Market Information System . The bill would eliminate the existing $110 million investment in the One-Stop Career Center system, undermining the foundation of the new workforce investment system intended to ensure access to the information and services of One-Stop Career Centers for all Americans. The Committee bill also fails to fund the President's request for a $44 million enhancement that would improve access to these services for millions of Americans.

  • Dislocated Worker Assistance. The House Committee cuts the Administration's request for Dislocated Worker assistance by over $389 million, or 22 percent, and provides $207 million less than the FY 2000 level. This level would deny training, job search, and re-employment services to over 216,000 dislocated workers.

  • Re-employment Services. The Committee eliminates the requested $50 million needed to provide over 222,000 unemployment insurance claimants with customized re-employment services needed to speed their re-entry into the work force.

  • Adult Job Training Program. The bill would cut funding for adult training by $93 million, or 10 percent, below the FY 2001 request and FY 2000 enacted levels, and would eliminate training services for over 37,000 of the 380,000 adults who would otherwise be served in FY 2001.

  • Youth Opportunity Grants/Youth Activities. Funding for the Youth Opportunity Grants program falls $200 million short of the President's request and $75 million short of the FY 2000 level, and would deny 45,000 youth in high-poverty communities access to vital education, training, and employment assistance and jeopardize the continuation of five-year Federal grants that were awarded to 36 communities in February. In addition, funding for the Youth Activities program, which includes Summer Jobs, is cut by $21 million, which would eliminate almost 13,000 low income youth from the program.

  • Fathers Work/Families Win. The House Committee bill does not support the President's new Fathers Work/Families Win initiative, for which the Administration has requested $255 million. Building on the partnerships developed under Welfare-to-Work, this important initiative would help approximately 80,000 low-income fathers and working families get the support and skills necessary to support their families and avoid welfare.

  • Youth Violence. The House bill does not provide the requested funding for two initiatives aimed at reducing youth violence. It rejects the $40 million requested to add the Department of Labor to the interagency Safe Schools/Healthy Students initiative. Furthermore, it provides only $14 million of the $75 million requested to bring young offenders into the workplace through job training and related services.

  • International Labor Activities. The Committee bill fails to fund the President's proposed $97 million increase to enhance several critical international labor activities aimed at improving working conditions in developing countries, eliminating and improving educational alternatives to abusive child labor, and addressing HIV/AIDS in the workplace. As a result, the President's requested $70 million enhancement of a comprehensive initiative to reduce international child labor and improve access to basic education in developing countries, which builds off the momentum created by the recent U.S. adoption of the International Labor Organization convention banning the worst forms of abusive child labor, would be severely undermined.

  • Homeless Veterans. The Committee's $5 million reduction to the President's request for job assistance to homeless veterans would result in over 3,000 fewer homeless veterans obtaining meaningful employment and economic security.

  • Disability Initiative. The Committee bill ignores the President's proposal to enhance the Department's leadership in helping people with disabilities enter, re-enter, and remain in the workforce through the establishment of a new Office of Disability Policy.

  • Unemployment Insurance (UI) Administration. The House has adopted the President's proposal to restructure UI administrative funding to bring it in line with the modern service delivery system, but has provided $93 million less than necessary to administer the UI benefit entitlement program, even under continued favorable economic conditions.

  • Worker Protection. The bill provides $92 million less than requested for critical programs that protect the safety, pensions, and wages of workers, essentially freezing these programs at their FY 2000 level. The bill provides $44 million less than the President has requested for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, eliminating planned increases in efforts to help employers ensure safe and healthful workplaces. The Administration urges the House to restore the President's request for worker protection programs.

  • Information Technology. The bill denies the $54 million requested for the Department's information technology initiative to address information security, infrastructure and web development, and office automation in a more efficient and comprehensive manner, thereby enhancing the Department's ability to implement its responsibilities and expand its Internet capacity to serve employers and the public better.

  • National Economic Indicators. The House Committee bill reduces the request by $13 million, which would deny improvements to some of the most sensitive and important economic data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, including expanding price, output, and productivity measures for the service sector, improving State and local employment and unemployment data, and surveying how Americans spend their time in work and non-work activities, including child and elder care.

National Labor Relations Board

The House bill would fund the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) at the FY 2000 enacted level, $10 million, or five percent, below the President's request. As a result, NLRB would be forced to curtail backlog reduction efforts, essential training, and information technology investments.

Social Security Administration

At the House Committee funding level, the Social Security Administration would not be able to hire thousands of direct service employees, resulting in longer wait times for individuals filing retirement and disability claims, and diminished service for individuals who call the agency's 1-800 phone service.

Corporation for Public Broadcasting

The Administration appreciates the Committee's full funding for Corporation for Public Broadcasting's (CPB) FY 2003 request for general programming and system support, and urges the Committee to provide full funding in 2001 for CPB's digital transition initiative, which will help ensure that the public broadcasting system can meet the federally-mandated May 2003 deadline for digital broadcasting.

Internet Access in Schools and Libraries

The bill contains objectionable language that would deny Federal funds for computers and Internet access to schools and libraries that have not installed software on their computers to block Internet access to illegal and inappropriate materials to minors. Currently, schools and libraries use a wide range of technology tools and monitoring techniques to ensure that children do not encounter inappropriate material and dangerous situations while online.

Recent studies confirm that virtually all schools that have Internet access have acceptable use policies in place. While the Administration strongly supports efforts to ensure that schools and libraries protect minors from inappropriate materials, the Federal Government should not mandate a particular type of technology, such as filtering or blocking software, in a dynamically changing technology environment. Rather, the Administration would support 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.

Amendment to Establish 21st Century Teaching Scholarships Act

The Rules Committee has made in order an amendment to be offered by Representative Wilson for a new $25 million teacher recruitment and quality improvement program -- the 21st Century Teaching Scholarships Act -- "if such legislation is enacted." This amendment would be offset with a cut of $25 million in funding for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The Administration strongly opposes the offset for this amendment. It will undermine the Department of Labor's efforts to protect our Nation's workers through the protections provided under the OSHA law, result in a cut of 375 FTE, and lead to RIFs and furloughs of OSHA employees. It is a cut of nearly 7% below last year's level, and a 16% cut below the President's request. The amendment will deny consultation visits to 1,800 small employers and reduce inspections by 8,850, mostly in construction and other high hazard workplaces. The Administration strongly urges the House to reject this ill-conceived reduction. With regard to the spending portion of the amendment, the Administration continues to support efforts to improve the quality of the Nation's teaching corps, such as the Hometown Teachers initiative, proposed in the President's budget.