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HR 1486 -- 06/02/97

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Office of Management and Budget


June 2, 1997
(House Rules)

H.R. 1486 - Foreign Policy Reform Act
(Gilman (R) New York)

The Administration supports the overall fiscal year 1998 appropriation authorization levels in H.R. 1486, as reported by the International Relations Committee. In the aggregate, these levels conform to those provided in the House-passed Budget Resolution. The Administration also commends the Committee for providing important new authorities, as requested by the Administration, to carry out U.S. foreign relations. These include provisions which constructively extend the President's special authorities in the Foreign Assistance Act.

Several very objectionable amendments, which are described below or in the attachment, have been submitted to the Rules Committee for its consideration in granting a rule for H.R. 1486. Of particular concern are amendments that would: (1) authorize foreign affairs programs at levels below those provided for in the 1998 Budget Resolution; (2) micromanage the planned reorganization of the foreign affairs agencies; (3) establish prejudicial conditions and restrictions on the payment of arrears to international organizations; and (4) impose unwarranted restrictions on international family planning programs. In addition, there are other amendments, as well as provisions of the bill, which would restrict the President's ability to conduct foreign relations. If any of these amendments are included, alone or in combination, in the bill presented to the President, his senior advisers would recommend that H.R. 1486 be vetoed .

Foreign Affairs Appropriation Authorization Levels

The appropriation authorization levels in H.R. 1486, in the aggregate, are consistent with the Budget Agreement for fiscal year 1998. The Administration, therefore, would strongly oppose any amendments to reduce foreign affairs authorizations below those levels or, in the case of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), to delete the Agency's entire authorization for fiscal years 1998-1999. The Administration also urges the House to provide appropriation authorization levels in FY 1999 consistent with the Budget Agreement.

Foreign Affairs Reorganization

H.R. 1486 should permit bipartisan movement towards the common goal of reorganizing and reinventing the State Department, ACDA, U.S. Information Agency (USIA), and the Agency for International Development (AID). The Administration supports the Hamilton amendment on reorganization, which will achieve this goal.

The Administration strongly opposes a Gilman-sponsored amendment that would mandate many of the details on how to implement such a complex reorganization, thereby prejudging how the foreign affairs agencies are to be restructured. Such a directive would be incompatible with the flexibility needed by the President to reorganize the foreign affairs agencies to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

International Organizations (IO) Arrears

The Administration is pledged to reforming the United Nations (UN) and other international organizations while enhancing U.S. credibility by paying arrearages -- a top priority of the Administration. The Administration has been working with the Congress to identify specific reform benchmarks, but there is a limit to what can reasonably be negotiated with other sovereign member states. While the Administration supports the Hamilton UN reform amendment, it strongly opposes the Gilman-sponsored amendment because it would push well beyond such limits and would set back chances for progress on this important matter. Other amendments which may be considered could actually undermine the ability of the United States to exercise leadership and to work effectively with the UN.

International Family Planning

The Administration strongly opposes the Smith amendment that attempts to impose statutory restrictions on funding for international family planning programs along the lines of the so-called Mexico City policy. Such limitations harm safe, voluntary family planning programs which are needed to reduce unintended pregnancies, child and maternal deaths, and the incidence of abortion.

Foreign Relations Restrictions

The Administration welcomes expressions in the bill of support for an "open door" approach to NATO enlargement, so that Alliance membership will remain open to other Central and Eastern European democracies after the first state or states are invited to join. Conversely, the Administration would oppose amendments requiring the President to differentiate among prospective members and rate publicly their relative preparedness to join the Alliance. Similarly, the Administration would oppose amendments seeking to stipulate the content of the Founding Act which the NATO members have already signed with Russia.

H.R. 1486 also contains additional highly objectionable provisions that would restrict the President's ability to conduct foreign policy. For example, there are restrictions related to Jerusalem and limits placed on assistance to Russia. These and other concerns are described further in the attachment. The Administration will seek to modify or delete these provisions as the legislative process continues. Finally, other objectionable amendments have been proposed that would severely restrict the President's authorities and make it harder for any Administration to react to unanticipated contingencies.

The Administration is continuing to review H.R. 1486 and may seek further changes to the bill as the legislative process continues.

Pay-As-You-Go Scoring

H.R. 1486 would increase direct spending; therefore, it is subject to the pay-as-you-go requirement of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1990. OMB's preliminary scoring estimates of this bill are presented in the table below. Final scoring of this legislation may differ from these estimates.

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