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Statement of Administration Policy: H.R. 2076 - Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, FY 1996

July 24, 1995


(House Floor)
(Sponsors: Livingston (R), Louisiana; Rogers (R), Kentucky)

This Statement of Administration Policy provides the Administration's views on H.R. 2076, the Departments of commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, FY 1996, as reported by the House Appropriations Committee.

The Administration is committed to balancing the Federal budget by FY 2005. The President's budget proposes to reduce discretionary spending for FY 1996 by $5 billion in outlays below the FY 1995 enacted level. At the same time, the President's budget increases funding for investment programs essential to economic growth and a higher standard of living for all Americans. The funding allocations for many of these investments, particularly in the areas of civilian technology, environment, violent crime control, and international affairs are contained in this bill. The Administration does not share all of the priorities reflected in the Committee's mark or support the level of funding assumed by the Committee's 602(b) allocations. This bill is nearly $2.9 billion below the President's request.

The Administration urges the Congress to continue to support and fund the Department of Commerce. The Commerce Department helps to ensure economic growth and a higher standard of living for all Americans. Its viability as an agency is essential. The Administration is pleased that the Committee has supported increased funding for the Department of Justice, although at lower levels than requested by the Administration. Recent crime statistics have shown a decrease in violent crime in the United States. Continued support for the Department of Justice is essential for ensuring that America continues on this path.

Regrettably, the Committee has approved several provisions that the Administration finds seriously objectionable. For the reasons discussed below, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Commerce, and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget would recommend that the President veto the bill if it were presented to him in its current form.

Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS)

The Committee mark would eliminate the COPS program, which would provide grants to localities to hire new police and would eventually put 100,000 new officers on the streets of America. Instead, the Committee bill would fund a general law enforcement block grant program that would allow spending on anything from street lights to public works projects. The American public has shown a clear desire for additional police to work hand-in-hand with communities to fight crime. The block grant approach would not guarantee one new officer. The President has indicated that this action is unacceptable. COPS is a highly successful program that promotes community policing, a proven, effective means of reducing crime at the neighborhood level.

To date, the COPS program has already authorized funding for more than 20,000 new officers throughout the United States and has initiated a number of innovations in the grant process, such as simplified applications and coupons for drawing down grant funds. Police chiefs and sheriffs from around the country have praised the administration of the COPS program as customer- oriented, non-bureaucratic, and visionary. It is essential that the Congress restore full funding for the COPS program to ensure that the progress made to date in increasing the number of police on the street and fighting crime is not lost.

Other Violent Crime Reduction Trust Fund Programs

The Committee bill would provide $3.9 billion for programs funded by the Violent Crime Reduction Trust Fund, approximately $24 million less than requested. Especially troubling within this allocation is the Committee's lack of support for important "smart" crime fighting initiatives such as Drug Courts, the President's crime Prevention Council, violence against women countermeasures, the Presidential Summit on Crime, and various other crime control programs. While the Committee presumably intends for these initiatives to be funded from the law enforcement block grant, specific funding allocations should be set aside for these proven, effective programs.

Advanced Technology Program. Department of Commerce

The Administration remains firmly committed to increasing the Nation's productivity and raising living standards by investing in civilian technology. By eliminating funding for the Advanced Technology Program (ATP), the Congress would extinguish one of the country's most productive industry-government partnerships — a partnership that is just beginning to expand our economy and help America to compete in the global marketplace.

ATP accelerates the development of enabling technologies with commercial potential and broad-based economic benefits through a rigorous, merit-based competition. The program provides an effective mechanism for augmenting U.S. economic growth through highly-leveraged, industry-led research and development. Analysis of ATP awards to date shows that they foster important technology development, enable research to be performed more quickly and aggressively, promote industrial alliances, and create jobs. The Administration strongly urges the Congress to restore funding for this valuable program.

Other Commerce Programs

The Committee mark would make substantial reductions to the President's requests for the Economies and Statistics Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These cuts would reduce our investment in the Nation's statistical system, which provides policymakers critical economic and demographic indicators about our Nation. The reductions to NOAA would undermine efforts to manage the Nation's marine fisheries and coastal areas and reduce our efforts to monitor global environmental changes. The Administration finds particularly objectionable the Committee's elimination of the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program.

The Committee's funding reductions to Commerce programs would require substantial staffing reductions across virtually the entire Department. In certain areas of commerce, these staffing reductions could approach 20 to 40 percent and require significant reductions-in-force.

The Administration's concerns about the impact of these funding and staffing reductions are discussed further in the attachment.

Legal Services Corporation (LSC)

The Committee mark of $278 million — a one-third reduction in funding below the FY 1995 level — would result in more than a one-third reduction in civil legal services to the poor, particularly in rural areas and in areas with programs that receive a large portion of their total funding from the LSC. This reduction, coupled with severe new restrictions on how the Corporation and its grantees may utilize their funding — regardless of the source — may drive away a significant portion of non-Federal funding and pro bono involvement. Nationwide, 40 percent of the funding for the LSC's programs comes from private sources. State and local governments, as well as private groups, charities, and individuals do not want the Federal government restricting the use of funds they provide to address the particular legal needs of the poor in their communities.

Oklahoma City/Anti-terrorism Funding

The Administration is pleased that the Committee has incorporated most of the funding requested by the President on July 17, 1995, for anti-terrorism activities in response to the Oklahoma city bombing and urges the Congress to fund fully all of the requests contained in the proposals.

Other Issues

The Administration would oppose any amendment that would restrict the ability of the United States to operate and conduct diplomatic relations with Vietnam.

Additional Administration concerns with the bill as reported by the Committee are contained in the attachment.


Attachment (House Floor)



The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to address the following concerns:

Department of Justice

Privatization of Federal Prisons. The Committee recommends the privatization of the operations of only one of the four prison facilities recommended for privatization in the President's FY 1996 Budget. The Administration continues to believe that it is appropriate and timely to privatize operations of all future pretrial detention facilities, along with future minimum and low security prisons that are not in complexes with higher security levels.

The Bureau of prisons has extensive experience contracting for the housing and care of prisoners, with approximately 10 percent of the current prisoner population housed in private facilities. Privatization would contribute significantly to efforts to reduce the size of the Federal workforce. To delay this initiative for further study, as recommended by the Committee, would risk the opportunity to privatize certain prisons under construction that have not yet been staffed with Federal employees and would largely preclude their future privatization.

General Legal Activities. The Committee decision to transfer 200 attorneys from the General Legal Activities appropriation to the United States Attorneys is described in the House Committee Report as an initiative that would contribute to "sustaining the strength of Federal law enforcement." However, the impact of a transfer of 200 attorneys would result in anything but a strengthening of tax and environmental law enforcement. Such a transfer would send the wrong signal to the private bar about cur enforcement capability, and it would be seen as a dilution of our specialized expertise.

Fair and consistent application of tax and environmental laws is something that industry wants. Moreover, environmental and tax cases would likely be subsumed by local criminal cases, especially in light of the pressures presented by the Speedy Trial Act. Less environmental and tax work would result.

Civil Liberties Public Education Fund. The committee mark would not provide the $5 million in funding requested for the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund. These funds, as authorized by the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, would be used to promote public education and awareness of the conditions of confinement experienced by scores of Japanese Americans during World War II. The Administration is concerned that the lack of funding in the committee bill would compromise the success of this important program.

Support of United States Prisoners. The Committee mark for the Support of U.S. Prisoners appropriation is $45 million below the President's request. This program provides for housing and subsistence for the Federal prisoners remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. An appropriation of less than the President's request may result in insufficient funds if the detainee population or per diem costs increase as projected, sufficient resources are necessary because the Government has no choice but to house and provide medical care for Federal detainees and prisoners.

Other Justice programs. The Administration appreciates the Committee's full funding of the request for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program and prison grants. However, the Administration strongly supports language that would target Federal prison grant funds for uses that expand the capacity of State prison systems rather than for prison operations, which are clearly a State responsibility.

Department of Commerce

Civilian Technology Investment Programs. The Committee mark for civilian technology programs could threaten the United States' standing with respect to technology advancements, innovation, and economic competitiveness. The Committee's allocation for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program would leave large areas of the U.S. without access to the technical assistance that helps smaller manufacturers to employ advanced manufacturing technology critical to global competitiveness. The Committee's allocation for the National Information Infrastructure Grants program would deny hospitals, schools, and local governments access to advanced communications technologies to save lives, educate people, and deliver important services.

Economics and Statistics Administration. The Committee mark for the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) is $94 million below the President's request and $17 million below the FY 1995 enacted level. This reduction would terminate efforts to increase the quality of the Nation's economic statistics and would degrade the quality of some existing economic indicators. During a time when Congress is turning over more programs to the States, BEA would be forced to reduce regional data on State and local per capita income and gross state product estimates used for allocating over $100 billion in Federal funds.

The Committee's recommendation would make it impossible for the Census Bureau to sustain the progress that has been made in improving the accuracy of the 2000 Decennial Census. Census and BEA would not be able to fund essential long-term systems modernization, which is needed to avoid future cost increases. BEA's 1970s vintage mainframe computer is rapidly failing and cannot be replaced within the current funding levels. This increases the risk of e catastrophic failure that could jeopardize the timely calculation of the Gross Domestic Product.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Committee mark would provide $1.75 billion for NOAA, $354 million or 10 percent below the FY 1995 enacted level and 17 percent below the president's request. Fisheries management and enforcement would be retained, but at 14 percent below FY 1995 and 27 percent below the FY 1996 request. Both fisheries and endangered species work would be cut back. The U.S. economy would likely suffer the further decline of the fishing industry, causing additional loss of jobs. These cuts would impede NOAA's ability to provide for Pacific salmon recovery.

Under the Committee bill, NOAA research would be curtailed by 24 percent, including substantial cuts in climate research and forecasting programs and the elimination of the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program. These activities are crucial to support the goal of sustainable development of the Nation's environmental resources. Funding cuts in programs that support the Nation's coastline, coastal ecosystems, and fisheries habitats would seriously jeopardize ongoing efforts critical to effective management of these resources.

In addition, the Committee's allocation would slow down modernization of the National Weather Service and jeopardize satellite continuity. The Committee's proposed reductions would mean that some 10 Weather Forecast Offices would not receive staff as proposed in the President's FY 1996 Budget. The follow-on Geostationary Satellite (GOES) program would require slowdown and reassessment, resulting in a possible gap in future GOES coverage. Improvements in forecasts and warnings, which lead to reduced loss of life and property, would be delayed. The U.S. experiences more severe local storms and flooding than any other nation in the world. These events translate into considerable loss of lives and annual property damages estimated in the billions of dollars.

Staff Cuts for the Commerce Department. Staff in the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Economic Development Administration would have to be cut by 20 to 40 percent to accommodate the Committee's reductions in funding for these agencies. A substantial number of RIFs or furloughs would be required in the Minority Business Development Administration, Office of the Secretary, and NOAA. In addition, no funds would be provided to pay for RIP costs in the U.S. Travel and Tourism Administration. The unfunded costs from RIFs and terminations could exceed $86 million under the Committee's allocation.

Department of Transportation

Maritime Administration. The Committee bill would not fund the new $175 million Maritime Security Program (MSP), a Presidential initiative critical to the national security and economic security of the United states. The MSP would support up to SO vessels and assist in maintaining a U.S. flag merchant fleet crewed by U.S. citizens. The program would assure the continuance of an international trade fleet crewed by U.S. seafarers. The current U.S.-flag dry cargo international merchant fleet consists of 124 liner vessels. Failure to fund this program could result in the elimination of more than two-thirds of this fleet by the year 2000, and the loss of over 5,000 seafaring jobs.

International Programs

The Administration is concerned with the large reductions the Committee has made in several programs that are important to promoting U.S. foreign policy objectives.

Contributions to International organizations, which pays U.S. assessments to international organizations and are based primarily on treaty obligations, would be reduced by over $60 million. This reduction would force the U.S. to abandon our obligations, which by treaty the U.S. is still bound to meet, and could terminate U.S. participation in several international organizations.

The Committee mark would severely damage the Administration's ability to pursue foreign policy objectives through important U.S. public diplomacy programs. From the President's request, the mark would reduce funding for USIA operations by 11 percent, would cut funding for international broadcasting programs by over 14 percent, and would reduce funding for Educational and Cultural Exchange programs by 24 percent.

With regard to the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, the Committee would eliminate funding for cobra Dane, a radar facility in Alaska important for verification of strategic arms reduction treaties. The Administration believes that the Congress should ensure that this activity, requiring $14 million in FY 1996, would be funded in the national security appropriation if it is not included in the Committee's bill.

The Administration is concerned about reductions in the state Department's operational accounts, particularly the 50 percent reduction in the Capital Investment Fund and the $30 million reduction in the Foreign Buildings Program. The Administration's request of $32.8 million for the Capital Investment Fund is necessary to invest in modern information technology that will enable the Department of State, through increased efficiencies, to meet the challenges posed by tight resource levels. In addition, the Committee would make imprudent reductions of $30 million to the foreign buildings request. In FY 1996, the buildings request includes only sufficient resources to meet the practical need of preserving the value of existing U.S. Government assets through a measured program of facility rehabilitation and repair.

The Administration opposes the imposition of an FY 1997 deadline to implement fully a revised cost sharing system for overseas administrative support. As the Committee report acknowledges, the Administration is currently working to implement a revised approach, the International Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS) program, at a number of pilot posts in FY 1996. This new concept includes empowering an inter-agency board at each overseas post with decision-making power over the provision of administrative services. Implementation on a world-wide basis will depend upon an evaluation of pilot post operations. The Administration opposes imposition of a one- year deadline without the benefit of pilot post experience and without Administration review on the feasibility of worldwide implementation.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

The Committee mark would provide $233 million for the EEOC, a reduction of $35 million, or 13 percent, from the President's request. This allocation would be insufficient to address the backlog of over 100,000 unresolved complaints that is currently facing the Commission. The Committee's level of funding would also jeopardize ongoing management efforts to streamline case processing, especially the implementation of alternative dispute resolution techniques, Which are a critical component of the Commission's law enforcement mission.

Small Business Administration (SBA)

Disaster Loan Program. The Committee mark would provide the requested $34.4 million for the Disaster Loan Program. The requested level, however, assumes the enactment of a program reform to increase interest rates on these loans to the Treasury cost of borrowing plus two percent. If the reform is not enacted, the $34.4 million provided in the Committee bill would support only $110 million in disaster loans — about one-quarter of the historical average (excluding catastrophes).

Section 504 Certified Development Company Program. The Committee mark would not provide funding for this program as requested. However, the request for zero funding assumes the enactment of a program reform that would reduce the subsidy rate to zero through increased fees on borrowers. If the reform is not enacted and the subsidy rate remains at 0.57 percent, the program would not be able to continue with zero funding.

Office of Advocacy. The Administration urges the Congress to restore the $6 million requested for SBA's Office of Advocacy. The Committee bill would provide no funding for this function. The Office of Advocacy is an independent voice for small business within the Executive Branch and carries out certain congressional mandates, including the monitoring of Federal agencies compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

William J. Clinton, Statement of Administration Policy: H.R. 2076 - Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, FY 1996 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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