This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views on S. 1205, the Military Construction Appropriations Bill, FY 2000, as reported by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Your consideration of the Administration's views would be appreciated.
Section 129: Bluegrass Chemical Demilitarization Facility
The Administration strongly opposes section 129, which would require the demonstration of six alternative technologies to chemical weapons incineration before construction of the Chemical Demilitarization facility at Bluegrass, Kentucky, could begin. Prompt construction of the Bluegrass site is critical to ensuring U.S. compliance with the deadline for chemical weapons destruction agreed to under the Chemical Weapons Convention. The Department of Defense has demonstrated three alternative technologies, one more than required by P.L. 104-208, the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997. This provision would delay construction of the Bluegrass site by at least one year, resulting in a breach in the Chemical Weapons Convention deadline.
Overall Funding Level
The Administration commends the Committee for developing a bill that funds most of the construction projects requested in the President's FY 2000 Budget. However, the Administration is concerned that the Committee bill, which has significant funding for projects not requested in the budget, some of which are not in the Department's long-term plan, will drain critical resources from other programs. The Administration believes that the President's budget request correctly addresses our most important FY 2000 military construction and housing needs and that additional funding is not required.
The Administration questions the Committee's increase of over $650 million to the President's request for approximately 70 unrequested FY 2000 projects. Though much of the unrequested funding is for projects that are funded in DoD's Future Years Defense Program (FYDP), about $125 million is added for projects that are not in DoD's FYDP. While many of these unrequested projects may have some military utility, they are of much lower priority than the projects requested in the FY 2000 Budget and contained in DoD's FYDP. The Administration urges the Senate to delete the funding added for unrequested projects, especially those not in the FYDP.
Restriction on the Use of NATO Security Investment Program Funds
The Administration objects to section 121 which would prohibit the use of NATO Security Investment Program (NSIP) funds for Partnership for Peace programs or to provide support to non-NATO countries. No NSIP funds have been, or are proposed to be, spent on projects that do not have direct military benefit to the Alliance. Indeed, NSIP-funded proposals for projects that happen to be located in non-NATO countries must meet the same NATO military criteria as NSIP projects located in NATO member nations. The Alliance must have the flexibility to allocate NSIP funds as needed to satisfy NATO military requirements. Restrictions of the type included in the Committee bill could invite other NATO members to restrict their NSIP contributions according to narrow national concerns. The restriction could adversely affect future NATO-led military operations. The Administration urges the Senate to remove this restriction from the bill.
Family Housing Improvement Fund
The Administration strongly objects to the Committee's $52.2 million reduction to the Family Housing Improvement Fund (FHIF). Adequate family housing is critical to recruiting and retaining a quality force. To supplement existing Military Construction funds to revitalize DoD's housing inventory in a cost effective and timely manner, the Administration has sought through privatization to leverage Federal dollars with private sector capital. Subsequent to submission of the President's budget, the Department reviewed congressional concern over the scope of its privatization program, and responded by readjusting its proposed FHIF program. The proposed reduction to this fund would limit the ability of DoD to execute its planned FY 2000 program.
Counter-drug Forward Operating Location Construction
The Administration objects to the $37.8 million reduction to the $42.8 million request for Counter-drug Forward Operating Locations. Any delay in funding for new construction at these locations would reduce our ability to detect, and ultimately intercept, illicit drugs being brought into the United States. Plans are moving ahead, and this funding is needed now to meet pressing needs.
General Transfer Authority
The Administration urges the Senate to provide the requested transfer authority that would enable the Secretary of Defense to transfer appropriations among Military Construction Appropriations Act accounts. Similar transfer authority in Defense Appropriations Acts has been used with great success to meet unplanned requirements, without reducing the opportunity for congressional oversight.