|May 16, 2000 |
This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views on S. 2521, the Military Construction Appropriations Bill, FY 2001, as reported by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Your consideration of the Administration's views would be appreciated.
The President has requested urgently needed emergency supplemental funding to fight against drug production and trafficking, to provide disaster assistance to victims of hurricanes and floods in the United States and abroad, and to sustain our military and civilian operations in Kosovo and the region, thereby protecting military readiness. Funding for UN peacekeeping and other stabilization measures in Kosovo is especially important to the eventual successful withdrawal of U.S. troops. The House passed emergency supplemental legislation addressing these urgent needs on March 30th. Regrettably, this legislation has moved slowly in the Senate and now appears to be bogged down by a number of controversial provisions. These include an amendment mandating troop withdrawals from Kosovo, a provision that would severely hinder the Federal Government's pending tobacco litigation, significant cuts to key international programs, as well as a number of anti-environmental riders. Moreover, the Senate has fragmented our consolidated request into separate bills, slowing the process dramatically and jeopardizing this urgently needed funding. Regrettably, the decision to link FY 2001 spending bills to FY 2000 supplementals is likely to delay further rather than expedite action. If a bill containing such provisions listed above were presented to the President, the President's senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill.
The Administration strongly opposes the Byrd/Warner amendment on Kosovo. This provision would damage U.S. credibility overseas, undermine our position as the leader of NATO, and inflame the situation in Kosovo where the United States continues to have important national interests at stake. If the bill were passed with this language, the President's senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill.
FY 2001 MILITARY CONSTRUCTION FUNDING
The Administration commends the Committee for reporting an FY 2001 bill that funds almost all of the Military Construction projects requested in the President's 2001 Budget. Especially noteworthy is the full funding of the requests for Chemical Demilitarization, Ballistic Missile Defense, and Base Realignment and Closure programs. However, the Administration is concerned that the overall funding level of the Committee bill would drain critical resources from other programs. The bill includes funding for 90 projects that were not requested, many of which are not even in the DoD five-year plan. The Administration believes that the President's budget request correctly addresses our most important FY 2001 military construction and housing needs and that additional funding is not required.
Overall Funding Level and Unrequested Projects
The Administration questions the Committee's increase of $600 million to the funding level requested in the President's budget. Within this overall net increase, the Committee has funded about 90 construction projects that were not requested in the President's budget. Many of these projects are not funded in DoD's Future Years Defense Program (FYDP). The Department of Defense has a rigorous process for selecting projects to be included in the FYDP and the budget. This process takes into account safety, health, environmental, and military utility issues to determine the highest priority projects. Substituting projects not in the FYDP for those included in the FYDP undermines the careful prioritization approved by the military services. The Administration urges the Senate to delete funding added for unrequested projects, especially those not in the FYDP.
NATO Security Investment Program
The Committee bill reduces the request for the NATO Security Investment Program (NSIP) by $15 million. The Administration urges the Senate to provide the $190 million requested in the President's budget to support critical NATO operations fully. Moreover, the Administration objects to section 121 of the Committee bill, which would prohibit the use of NSIP funds or other funds provided in the bill for use in Partnership for Peace programs in the New Independent States of the former Soviet Union. While we believe this provision would have no practical effect in the short term, if this provision were to become a permanent fixture in future Military Construction Appropriations Acts, it could adversely affect future U.S. foreign policy initiatives as well as future NATO-led operations. The Administration urges the Senate to delete this restriction.
General Rescission of Unobligated Balances
Section 125 of the Committee bill is a general provision that would rescind $73.5 million in unobligated balances from DoD's major military construction and family housing accounts. These construction funds are generally available for obligation for five years. A certain level of unobligated balances is built into our budget estimates; therefore, reducing those funds through a rescission could adversely impact high-priority, authorized construction projects for chemical weapons demilitarization and medical, barracks, family housing, and operational facilities.
Energy Conservation Investment Program
The Committee has reduced the request for the Energy Conservation Investment Program (ECIP) in its entirety ($33.6 million), citing large unobligated balances in this program. This program has proven its worth by financing capital improvements that yield significant energy savings to the Department and help in the elimination of inefficient and high-maintenance energy systems. Moreover, actual ECIP unobligated balances are much lower than those portrayed by the Committee and are likely to be exhausted by the end of the fiscal year. This is due to Congress' elimination of the FY 2000 ECIP budget request and proactive efforts by DoD to reduce unobligated balances by aggressively pursuing the execution of ECIP projects.
National Missile Defense
We commend the Committee for fully funding the Administration's National Missile Defense (NMD) request. However, we object to the general provision that would place an overly burdensome and broad reporting requirement on the NMD program by requiring the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization and all associated contractors to notify Congress 30 days prior to issuing any type of information or proposal solicitation under the National Missile Defense program.
FY 2000 SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS CONTAINED IN THIS BILL
As noted above, the Administration opposes the three-bill approach taken by the Senate regarding supplemental funding for critical domestic and foreign policy needs. Our specific concerns with these portions of the supplemental legislation attached to the Military Construction bill are described below. We want to work with the Congress to ensure that supplemental funding is enacted quickly and that urgent needs are met.
The Administration commends the Committee's support for the governments of Colombia and other countries in the region in their fight against drug traffickers. However, the Administration has a number of concerns with the Committee's proposed treatment of funding for Plan Colombia.
Plan Colombia is a comprehensive approach to combating drug production in the region and requires the sustained effort delineated in the Administration's proposal. Under that proposal, funding was requested through both Defense and State Department accounts. The Committee splits this comprehensive approach by addressing needs in the Military Construction bill and the Foreign Operations appropriations bill. This bifurcation is not a sensible way to address an integrated plan.
Setting aside that basic issue, the Administration appreciates the Committee's consideration of the funding requests, particularly in the Military Construction bill for the construction of essential Forward Operating Locations in Ecuador, Curacao, and Aruba. However, we have serious concerns with several funding issues and problematic provisions in this and the Foreign Operations bill. These include the absence of FY 2001 funding in the Foreign Operations bill, the impact of the Byrd amendment, cumbersome reporting requirements, and the substitution of Huey II for Blackhawk helicopters, which would greatly hinder the implementation of the Plan.
In particular, the Administration strongly opposes the Byrd amendment limitations in the Foreign Operations bill on support for Plan Colombia. This provision would forbid the use of funds from being used to support Plan Colombia, absent a Presidential request and congressional approval. This language could halt all ongoing counter-drug programs, air traffic surveillance activities, routine military training, intelligence collection activities, basic human needs and development work, agricultural development, and U.S. Customs programs linked to the Andean region, including those funded from appropriations already enacted into law. This amendment also would place a restrictive cap on the number of personnel who can operate in Colombia, leaving too little flexibility to carry out essential training, development programs, and Plan oversight as needed.
The substitution of the 60 Huey II helicopters for the 30 Blackhawk helicopters is also objectionable. The Huey II helicopters are significantly less capable than Blackhawks, with slower speeds, smaller capacity, and less range. In addition, it would take twice as many Huey IIs as Blackhawks to fulfill the same mission, which means twice as many helicopter pilots would need to be trained, and twice the amount of infrastructure, such as hangar space, would be required.
Assistance to Vieques, Puerto Rico
We commend the Committee for providing the requested funding to implement the President's Directives on Vieques. The training facility at Vieques is important to sustaining the readiness of our Naval forces, yet we cannot ignore the concerns of the inhabitants of Vieques. The Administration's plan will help balance national security with the legitimate health, safety, and environmental concerns of residents of Vieques. We look forward to working with the Committee to ensure that the funding is spent effectively and efficiently in support of these goals.
Undersecretary for Nuclear Security
The Administration supports the provision of a three-year term for the first person to be appointed as Under Secretary for Nuclear Security at the Department of Energy. However, the Administration opposes section 2406(b), which purports to limit the ability of the President and Secretary of Energy to remove the Under Secretary. This provision would impermissibly undermine the responsibility that the Constitution places in the President to fulfill all defense-related responsibilities established by law, including assuring the reliability and security of the U.S. nuclear stockpile.
Government Information Technology Rescission
The Administration objects to the proposed rescission of funds for Federal Government information technology programs and activities. This provision, in combination with the larger rescission contained in the Committee version of the FY 2001 Agriculture/Rural Development appropriations bill, could force agencies to forestall or cancel important information technology investments. Given the strong emphasis on capital planning and investment control for information technology, the excellent progress agencies are making in this area consistent with the Clinger-Cohen Act, and the stringent review new and ongoing information technology projects receive in the budget process, it would be unwise to reduce the resources necessary to follow through with these efforts.
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