This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views on the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Bill, FY 1999, as reported by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Your consideration of the Administration's views would be appreciated.
The Administration appreciates the Committee's efforts to accommodate many of the President's priorities within the 302(b) allocation. Within the 302(b) allocation, the Committee has made difficult choices to produce a balanced bill. The President's FY 2000 Budget proposes levels of discretionary spending that meet important national needs while conforming to the Bipartisan Budget Agreement by making savings proposals in mandatory and other programs available to help finance this spending. Congress has approved and the President has signed into law nearly $29 billion of such offsets in appropriations legislation since 1995. The Administration urges the Congress to consider such proposals as the FY 2000 appropriations process moves forward. In particular, with respect to this bill, the Administration urges the Congress to consider our proposals for Customs user fees.
The following discussion highlights our specific concerns with the Committee-reported bill. We look forward to working with you to resolve these issues as the bill moves forward.
Enforcement of Certain Anti-Terrorism Judgements
The Administration strongly opposes section 118 of the Committee-reported bill. The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to resolve this issue as the bill moves forward. This section could cost the U.S. taxpayer millions of dollars by attempting to make U.S. government debts and blocked foreign property available for attachment and execution for private judgements. It would thereby also undermine the usefulness of blocking programs as a tool to advance the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States. The section could cause the United States to violate our international legal obligations, including those under the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations, which protect our diplomatic personnel abroad, and the 1981 Algiers Accords, which resulted in the release of American hostages from Iran. The section would also fail to treat all U.S. nationals with claims against foreign governments equitably.
Cuts to Programs of the Treasury Department and Other Agencies
The Administration is very concerned that the Committee did not include $81.5 million for Treasury to annualize the January 1999 pay raise. Without this funding, the Department would need to cut 1,150 program positions. Because some program operations are relatively non-discretionary (such as tax return processing and fee-funded trade compliance), these cuts will be concentrated in a limited set of more discretionary activities (such as drug interdiction and compliance services to taxpayers). The Administration is also very concerned about similar cuts to the pay raise in other agencies' salaries and expense accounts elsewhere in the bill.
Treasury Law Enforcement
The Administration is concerned that the Committee-reported bill uses $48 million from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund (TFF) Super Surplus to fund the base salaries and expenses associated with the Interagency Crime and Drug Enforcement program. The Administration urges the Senate to reserve TFF resources for critical law enforcement needs identified in the President's request. In addition, the Administration urges the Committee to fully fund the President's request for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' (ATF) site acquisition for a new headquarters in order to meet minimum security guidelines and thereby ensure adequate security for ATF employees..
General Services Administration (GSA) Anti-Terrorism Initiatives
The Administration is concerned that $4.3 million was not provided for the demolition of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Recent terrorist activities directed at the building assets of the United States around the world have highlighted security deficiencies at this location. A secure workplace for employees representing the United States at the United Nations can only be provided by construction of a new facility.
The Administration is concerned that the Committee did not include $32 million for a glass fragment retention initiative for federal facilities. This initiative would protect Federal employees and visitors from flying window glass fragments in the event of an explosion.
Federal Buildings Fund
The Committee bill would reduce the Rental of Space and Building Operations activities by $59 million each. The Administration is concerned that such a reduction would impede GSA's ability to operate and maintain Federal buildings under its control and to meet contractual liabilities for its leased space, and urges that these funds be restored.
Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)
The Administration opposes the Committee's provision of only $145 million for the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, $50 million, or 25 percent, below the President's request. Further, the Committee recommends that $49 million of the amount provided in FY 2000 not be available to ONDCP until the last day of Fiscal Year 2000. This action would effectively limit the Media Campaign to $96 million in FY 2000, nearly 48 percent below FY 1999. This level would not be sufficient to implement the President's program of targeted prevention messages to at-risk youth and their adult influencers, and it would cripple planning efforts now underway for this important effort.
Federal Employees Health Benefits Program
The Administration supports the Committee's exclusion of restriction on Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) coverage of abortions except in situations where the life of the mother is endangered or the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest. The Administration would strongly oppose an amendment that would restrict such coverage. While the President believes that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare, Federal employees and their families should not be precluded from choosing to purchase health insurance with broader coverage.
The Administration supports the provision of the Committee bill (section 634) that continues current law requiring coverage of prescription contraceptives by health plans participating in the FEHBP and would oppose an amendment to strike it. We support improvements in the basic health care coverage for women and the goal of the provision -- to reduce unwanted pregnancies and the need for abortion.
The Administration supports the Committee's decision to not extend the one-year moratorium enacted in last year's bill on the application of Cost Accounting Standards (CAS) to experience-rated contracts awarded under the FEHBP. We believe a statutory moratorium is not required as existing law provides for an administrative process that allows the CAS Board to exempt or waive classes or categories of contractors from any or all CAS requirements.
Executive Office of the President Unanticipated Needs
The Committee-reported bill does not provide the requested $1 million to enable the President to meet unanticipated needs in furtherance of the national interest, security, or defense. We urge the Senate to include this amount to ensure that the President has the same ability as previous Presidents to meet such needs.
Morris K. Udall Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund
The Administration strongly urges the Committee to restore the requested level of funding for the Morris K. Udall Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund. This fund provides for the operation of the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution, as created by Congress last year. The Institute is in its first year of operation, and the requested funding is necessary for the continued operation of the Institute. The Institute has already begun mediation cases with government entities, is establishing a Memorandum of Understanding with a Federal agency to be available for case mediation, and has created national training for mediators and a national conference regarding environmental dispute resolution issues. The ultimate goal of the Institute is to become self-sustaining, but it is still in a start-up mode. Without the requested funding level, it will be difficult for the Institute to continue its operations.
Separation of Powers
There are numerous provisions in the bill that purport to require congressional approval before Executive Branch execution of aspects of the bill. Specifically, these provisions purport to condition the spending of already appropriated funds on less-than-full legislative action. The Administration will interpret such provisions to require notification only, since any other interpretation would contradict the Supreme Court ruling in INS v. Chadha.
The Administration objects to section 622 of the Committee-reported bill which would prohibit the use of funds to pay the salary of any official who interferes with communications by other Federal employees with Congress. While the Administration strongly supports the Whistleblowers Protection Act and the protections it affords Federal employees, this provision raises substantial separation of powers concerns in depriving the President and his department and agency heads of their ability to supervise the operations and communications of the Executive Branch, including the dissemination of information affecting Executive Branch confidentiality interests.