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
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. 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
- 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
- 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
- High Hopes 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. In the FY 1999 budget, the President
proposed funding increases of $212 million for a series of programs to
enhance the educational achievement of Hispanic Americans. The bill
reduces the request by over $90 million, with 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. Most local education agencies have already developed their own
acceptable-use policies, many of which 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
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.
- Summer Jobs Program. The Administration strongly opposes the
Committee's elimination of the $871 million Summer Jobs program, which
could finance 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
strongly oppose elimination of this program, which is an essential
component of the Administration's Empowerment Zones/Enterprise Communities
initiative. We urge the House to provide full funding as requested,
particularly since the Congress last week authorized this program in the
Workforce Investment Act which the President will sign.
- Unemployment Insurance. The House Committee mark does not fund
the $90 million requested for the Unemployment Insurance (UI) integrity
initiative. This initiative was authorized in the Balanced Budget Act of
1997 and would, over five years, achieve $763 million in mandatory savings
assumed in the Bipartisan Budget Agreement. Failure to fund this
initiative would mean a continuation of errors in benefit payments and UI
- 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 $3 million increase to combat international
child labor abuses is inadequate in light of the magnitude of the problem,
and provides only a small fraction of the $27 million requested.
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, a new requirement for OSHA
to conduct duplicative peer review panels for its new 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.
The Administration objects to the continuation of last year's rider that
prohibits the use of funds for supervising the Teamster's election, despite
a court order requiring the Federal Government to pay for a supervised
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
- 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
- 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
- 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 that the Committee 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
- 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
- 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
- Family Planning. The Committee bill requires family planning
grantees either to receive written parental consent or provide advance
notification to parents before giving contraceptives to minors. Mandating
parental consent discourages sexually active minors from seeking health
care and reproductive counseling services and thus leads to more
unintended pregnancies, more abortions and more sexually transmitted
diseases, including HIV, among our nation's youth.
- 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 FY1998 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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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.