HR 2610 -- 11/08/97
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November 8, 1997

H.R. 2610 - National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1997
(Hatch (R) Utah and Biden (D) Delaware)

The Administration strongly supports reauthorization for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and has no objection to Senate passage of the bill as reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill reauthorizes ONDCP, and gives the Office additional needed authority to deal with the drug problem in America. The Senate version of H.R. 2610 incorporates the Performance Measurement System included in the Administration's bill to reauthorize ONDCP, which will establish ambitious yet achievable targets against which the progress of the National Drug Control Strategy will be measured. The bill also endorses long-term planning with a ten-year strategy and five-year budgets, enabling ONDCP to make the necessary commitment to address the complex problem of drug abuse. The Administration applauds the Senate for pursuing legislation that provides for ongoing evaluation of the Strategy without specifying numerical statutory targets.

The Administration, however, will seek amendments to:

  • Delete the provisions designating ONDCP as "the representative of the President in appearing before Congress on all issues relating to the National Drug Control Program," "the primary spokesperson of the President on drug issues," and "the chief drug policy control spokesman for the President." These designations raise constitutional concerns by interfering with the President's discretion to make such determinations.

  • Delete the provisions specifying the membership, chairmanship, and frequency of meetings of the proposed President's Council on Counter-Narcotics. These provisions inappropriately micromanage the deliberative process of the Executive branch. In addition, designating members of this proposed Council, whose positions are not established by statute (e.g., the White House Counsel), raises additional constitutional concerns.

  • Change the date for submission of the Performance Measurement System to the Congress from November 1, 1997, to early 1998 to permit the System to be developed in conjunction with the agency performance plans required by the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993.

  • Delete the provisions requiring ONDCP to provide to Congress all budgetary requests of drug control program agencies as part of its presentation of the President's annual drug strategy. These provisions interfere with Executive branch discretion to formulate and present a cohesive strategy by requiring the submission to Congress of draft proposals that were rejected in the policy and budgetary formulation process.

  • Revise the provision concerning the Parents Advisory Council on Youth Drugs to have the Council report to the Director of ONDCP instead of the President. In addition, the authority of the Council to compel agencies to provide requested information should be revised to grant the head of an agency discretion to withhold information such as medical records, confidential personnel records, investigative files, and other materials that need to be protected. The Administration also recommends that the Director of ONDCP serve as the Executive Director of the Council to avoid the need to create a new and unnecessary bureaucracy. Finally, the legislation should clarify in which branch of government the Council resides so that the appropriate body of ethics law can be applied to the Council members.

  • Delete Section 3, "Drug Interdiction", which establishes measures of success that conflict with ONDCP's performance measurement system and the 1997 National Drug Control Strategy.

  • Reauthorize ONDCP for 12 years. Although the bill, as a whole, supports long-range planning with a ten-year strategy and five-year budgets, the four-year reauthorization period is inadequate to implement this long-term approach.

  • Delete section 4(b), which would require the President to submit a report to Congress describing consultations with Western Hemisphere leaders about ways to improve multi-lateral cooperation in anti-drug efforts. This requirement would interfere with the President's authority to conduct the foreign relations of the United States.

  • Delete the provision that would permit the Director of ONDCP to require the National Drug Intelligence Center and the El Paso Intelligence Center to undertake specific tasks or projects in support of the National Drug Control Strategy. This provision would inappropriately interfere with the authority and ability of the Attorney General to manage these components of the Department of Justice.
The Administration's review of the bill is continuing, and any additional concerns will be communicated as they are identified.

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