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S 3041 - - 09/19/2000

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September 19, 2000

(Sponsors: Stevens (R), Alaska; Hutchison (R), Texas)

This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views on S. 3041, the District of Columbia Appropriations Bill, FY 2001, as reported by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Your consideration of the Administration's views would be appreciated.

The Administration commends the Committee for fully funding many of the Administration's priorities, including the D.C. Courts and Defender Services, the New York Avenue Metro station, Resident Tuition Assistance, and D.C. Corrections. Nonetheless, the bill reported by the Senate Committee does not provide adequate funding for several programs that promote the economic health and fiscal strength of the District of Columbia. In addition, the Committee bill contains many objectionable provisions that continue a pattern of undermining Home Rule, the principle of local control over local matters. The Administration views these objectionable provisions as unwarranted intrusions into the affairs of the District and believes that the District should be allowed to manage its local affairs in a manner that all states are free to do. For these reasons, we urge the Senate to improve the bill, consistent with the concerns discussed below, so that it can be signed by the President.


Economic Growth

While the Administration is pleased that the Committee has provided the full request for the New York Avenue Metro station -- a critical project for the economic development of an important section of the Capital City -- the Committee mark misses several opportunities to fund critical investments in economic growth in the District of Columbia. These investments would help to revitalize our Nation's Capital and continue Federal support of the District's efforts to build a sound economic base that generates sufficient tax revenue for the city to ensure its fiscal health. Failing to fund these investments would undermine the Committee's own efforts to put the District on a path to economic growth and fiscal strength.

  • Brownfields Remediation at Poplar Point. The Committee bill fails to fund the Administration's request for $10 million for brownfields remediation and site preparation at Poplar Point. Failure to fund this initiative would undermine a central element of the Mayor's plan to rejuvenate historic Anacostia and the riverfront. The city's brownfields remediation and site preparation strategy for Poplar Point is a critical component of a three-phase effort to clean up and revitalize the city-owned and Federal-owned parcels at Poplar Point. The history of Federal ownership of and involvement with various parcels of land at Poplar Point makes participation in the cleanup a Federal responsibility. Adequate funding for the remediation and preparation plan is crucial to the completion of this initiative, which will help link Poplar Point and historic Anacostia with development across the river at the Southeast Federal Center.

  • National Museum of American Music. The Committee has not included the Administration's request for $3 million for the National Museum of American Music. Failure to fully fund the request could delay the project another year. The museum will significantly contribute to the revitalization of the Nation's Capital and to the preservation and celebration of the rich heritage of American music. Launching a National Museum of American Music at this time will bring critical momentum to the District's efforts to bring renewed vitality and growth to downtown Washington. The Committee bill misses an historic opportunity to take advantage of a critical time in the economic growth of the city by funding the museum.

Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency

The Committee mark provides $109 million for the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA). The Administration's request for CSOSA totals $121 million -- $104 million in direct authority and $17 million as an earmark in the COPS program. The House has provided $116 million in direct authority for the Agency. Fully funding the President's request, both direct authority and the COPS earmark, would enable the Agency to provide substance abuse, mental health, and sex offender treatment to the supervised populations, and to build on its recent success in reducing the recidivism rate and preventing criminal activity among the 30,000 individuals under supervision in the District.


The Administration is pleased that the Committee has chosen to eliminate 37 of last year's General Provisions. However, the Committee bill still includes 46 General Provisions. This is unfortunate. The Administration believes that Congress need not re-enact any of the General Provisions included last year, since all the legitimate policy purposes addressed by the General Provisions are now addressed elsewhere in existing or proposed local or Federal law. Other General Provisions proposed by the Committee are unnecessary or would inappropriately interfere with local matters.

The following highly objectionable provisions of the Committee bill are particularly unwarranted intrusions into the affairs of the District, and we urge the Senate to strike them from the bill.

  • Voting Representation. The Administration opposes section 131 of the bill, which would prohibit the use of District funds to provide assistance for petition drives or civil actions that seek to require voting representation in Congress for the District of Columbia.

  • Needle Exchange Programs. The Administration strongly opposes section 133, which would prohibit the use of Federal and local funds for needle exchange programs. A ban on the use of local funds is an encroachment on the District's prerogatives and could seriously disrupt current HIV prevention efforts. However, the Administration appreciates that the Committee has not included language preventing entities that receive Federal funding from using their own separate funds for the purpose of needle exchange, or language that would prevent the exchange of needles in large portions of the city. The Administration would strongly oppose any amendments that would establish any such restrictions.

  • Controlled Substances. The Administration opposes section 139, which would prohibit the District from legislating with respect to controlled substances and from crafting effective diversion programs for non-violent, drug-dependent offenders in a manner that all states are free to do.

  • Abortion. The Administration opposes Committee bill language (section 121) 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. The Administration objects to a provision of the Committee bill (section 122) that would prohibit the use of Federal and local funds to implement or enforce the Health Care Benefits Expansion Act of 1992 (the Domestic Partners Act).

  • District CFO After Control Years. The Administration objects to sections 142 and 143 of the bill, which would interfere with the rights of the Mayor and Council to appoint and dismiss the Chief Financial Officer, a local official, by requiring congressional review of this basic local personnel decision, and which sets forth duties of the CFO without consultation with either the Mayor or the Financial Authority. These provisions would interfere with local decisions after the District has achieved four straight years of balanced budgets and the control period has ended. The end of the control period should not be an occasion to introduce new means of Federal interference with local decisions.

  • Infringement on Contract Authority. The Administration objects to the Senate Committee bill infringing on the District's decision-making authority with respect to local contracts. In addition to being an intrusion into local matters, this infringement has the potential to result in inappropriate Medicaid billing for special education services, a problem that Congress and the Federal Government are working to eliminate.

  • Limit on Attorneys' Fees in Special Education Cases. The Administration strongly objects to a provision in the Committee bill (section 120) that would cap the award of plaintiff attorney fees in cases brought against the District of Columbia Public Schools under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This provision, also included in last year's act, has had the effect of limiting the access of the District's poor families to quality legal representation, thus impairing their due process protections provided by the IDEA.

Resident Tuition Assistance

The Administration appreciates the Committee's provision of the full $17 million request for the Resident Tuition Support program. However, the current law restricts eligibility to students who graduated on or after January 1, 1998, which excludes students who will be entering their fourth year of college this fall. The Administration supports expanding the program to include students who graduated from high school on or after January 1, 1997. The Administration urges that an amendment be offered to ensure that all students in their first four years of college are included.

Flexibility in the Use of Local Funds

In addition, the Administration would support additional flexibility in the use of local funds requested by the Mayor, with respect to inter-appropriation transfers of local funds, use of local funds for one-time public health care system restructuring costs, and changes to the District public school system's fiscal year with respect to local funds. These are matters appropriately at the discretion of local officials under home rule.

Infringement on Executive Authority

The Administration objects to a number of provisions in the bill that would require congressional approval before Executive Branch execution. The Administration will interpret these provisions to require only notification of Congress, since any other interpretation would contradict the Supreme Court ruling in INS v. Chadha.

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