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

September 14, 1995


(Senate Floor)
(Sponsors: Hatfield (R), Oregon; Gramm (R), Texas)

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 Senate 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 Administration supports reducing spending but does not share the priorities reflected in the Committee bill, which is roughly $4.5 billion below the President's request.

The Administration is pleased that the Committee has supported an increased overall funding level for the Department of Justice. Continued support for the Department of Justice is essential for the fight against crime.

However, the Administration strongly opposes several aspects of the Committee bill, which are detailed below. For these reasons, the President would veto the bill if it were presented to him as reported by the Committee.

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 would fund a 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 a single new officer. The President has indicated that this is unacceptable. COPS is a highly successful program that promotes community policing, a proven, effective means of reducing crime at the neighborhood level.

Other Violent Crime Reduction Trust Fund Programs

The Committee mark would provide $3.9 billion for programs funded by the Violent Crime Reduction Trust Fund. However, the Committee has failed to fund crime prevention programs, with the exception of the program to address violence against women. The Administration believes that funding allocations should be restored for these proven, effective, crime prevention programs, including drug courts and the President's Crime Prevention Council.

Department of Commerce

The Administration strongly urges the Senate to support critical programs of the Department of Commerce. The Commerce Department works to ensure economic growth and a higher standard of living for all Americans. Its continued viability as an agency is essential to our Nation's economic competitiveness.

Department of Commerce - Technology Programs

The Administration is deeply disappointed by the Committee's under-funding of civilian technology programs essential to economic growth. These programs support industry-government partnerships engaged in developing new technologies that increase the Nation's productivity and raise living standards. The Committee's funding levels for the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership are unacceptably low. The Committee level for ATP would not only prohibit any new awards, but would result in the government being unable to fulfill funding commitments for awards made in prior years to over 400 companies.

The Committee mark would sharply reduce the activities of the Department of Commerce's telecommunications policy office and would eliminate the highly successful National Information Infrastructure grants program. The Committee bill also would reduce funding for patent processing and technology policy, and would rescind funds for construction of state-of-the art technology laboratories. These programs accelerate the development and deployment of new and enabling technologies that help expand our economy and help Americans compete in the global marketplace. The Committee's reductions, if enacted, would represent a major blow to U.S. competitiveness. The Administration strongly urges the Senate to restore funding to these programs.

Department of Commerce - Other Programs

The Committee mark would make substantial reductions to a wide range of other Commerce programs. The Committee's reductions to the International Trade Administration would undermine support for U.S. firms in their efforts to sell U.S. products overseas. Reductions to the Economic Development Administration would severely hamper the Federal government's most flexible tool for local economic development. Eliminating the Minority Business Development Administration would undermine efforts to develop and strengthen new and existing minority-owned businesses. In addition, the Committee's failure to provide funding for the White House Conference on Travel and Tourism would undermine support for this major U.S. industry.

Legal Services Corporation

The Committee mark would eliminate the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) and provide $210 million to the Office of Justice Programs to fund a new block grant for legal assistance to low-income individuals. Eliminating the LSC, an organization whose sole purpose is to provide legal services to the poor, and providing a block grant that is roughly half of the current funding level, would strike a devastating blow to those most in need of assistance.

International Programs

The Committee's drastic reductions to international programs funded by this bill would seriously jeopardize the conduct of foreign relations by the United States. The Administration strongly urges restoration of these funds to enable it to carry out a foreign policy that advances the interests of the American people.

Reductions of 12 percent from the President's request for the State Department would severely disrupt operations and would result in closing of many more overseas posts than planned. The effects of this would be felt across the government due to the resulting drastic reductions in State-funded administrative support for other agencies operating overseas. In addition, the Committee bill would slash funding for the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency by 70 percent from the President's request. This would decimate the United States' ability to continue ongoing arms control negotiation and verification activities.

The Committee would reduce the President's requests for contributions to the United Nations and other international organizations by more than 40 percent. These reductions would cause the United States to violate its treaty obligations and would end U.S. participation in multilateral organizations that promote national interests. The Committee's 44-percent reduction in contributions to international peacekeeping activities would seriously compromise the ability of the international community to continue efforts to settle existing or potential armed conflicts.

The Committee mark would severely hamper the U. S. Information Agency's (USIA's) ability to conduct important international public diplomacy programs by cutting funds for USIA operations by 15 percent, exchange programs by 25 percent, and international broadcasting by 22 percent. The deep reductions in operations and exchange programs would require elimination of 1,000 positions, closure of 30 overseas posts, and cutbacks in Fulbright grants and programs for the New Independent states of the Former Soviet Union. The cuts to broadcasting operations and the related construction program would require the elimination of up to 15 language broadcast services; the elimination of 250 positions, requiring reductions in all other broadcasts; and the cancellation of a new transmitter project to broadcast to China.

Language Provisions

Section 614 of the Committee bill would modify Federal affirmative action law, as it applies to agencies receiving funding through this bill. The language would impose restrictions on consideration of race, color, national origin, and gender that exceed those imposed by current law and would be inconsistent with the President's policy on affirmative action. Therefore, the Administration would oppose the provision.

The Committee bill includes language that would dramatically alter SBA's Section 8(a) minority contracting program. The Administration is willing to consider reforms to the 8(a) program that are consistent with the President's recent report on affirmative action but believes that the language contained in the bill goes too far. However, the Administration strongly urges the Congress to undertake reforms to the Section 8(a) program through the authorizing process, where the issues and options can be fully examined and discussed.

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


Attachment (Senate Floor)



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

Small Business Administration (SBA)

The Committee mark would reduce funding for SBA's operating expenses by $55 million. This could require termination of up to 1,194 employees, a 38-percent reduction in SBA's total employee level. A personnel reduction of this magnitude in FY 1996 would render SBA unable to protect the government's interest in SBA's $30.7 billion loan portfolio. The Administration urges the Senate to restore adequate funding for SBA's personnel expenses. The Administration recommends shifting funds from the Section 7(a) loan program, which appears to be funded at $133 million — almost $29 million above the House mark — to help address this problem.

Federal Communications Commission

The Committee mark would sharply reduce the Federal Communications Commission's (Fee's) ability to promote competition in the telecommunications industry and protect consumers. In addition, this reduction would strain the FCC's ability to continue its successful spectrum auction program that has, to date, raised over $9 billion for the Federal treasury.

Federal Trade Commission

The Committee has provided $79 million for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), $20 million below the House funding level. This level of funding would severely limit FTC's ability to carry out its mission, including protecting consumers from widespread telemarketing and health care scams and working with state attorneys to protect consumers and the marketplace in their respective States.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The Committee mark would provide $233 million for the EEOC, a reduction of $35 million 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 Administration strongly recommends continuous and vigorous enforcement of the laws against employment discrimination. This simply cannot be achieved without additional funding for the only Federal agency charged with enforcing civil rights employment laws. The Committee's level of funding would jeopardize ongoing management efforts to streamline and improve case processing, especially the implementation of alternative dispute resolution techniques, which are a critical component of the Commission's law enforcement mission.

Securities and Exchange Commission

The Committee mark would reduce the President's request for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) by $59 million, a 20-percent reduction from the FY 1995 level. Such a large reduction would reduce the ability of SEC to maintain the efficient functioning and integrity of securities markets. The Administration urges the Senate to restore funding for SEC to the House-passed level. The President's FY 1996 Budget proposes using fees to fund Commission responsibilities and to develop a stable long-term funding structure.

Department of Justice

Office of Inspector General. The Administration is concerned that the Committee has not provided the requested $5 million transfer from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to the Office of Inspector General (OIG). For the past three years, the $5 million proposed for transfer has been paid by INS to the OIG on a reimbursable basis and, therefore, represents neither a net loss to INS nor a net gain to the OIG. The transfer of the funding to the General Administration appropriation, as recommended by the Committee, would require elimination of fifty full-time permanent staff within the OIG. A reduction of this magnitude would likely result in a reduction-in-force and would severely impair the OIG's ability to perform sensitive special investigations and projects.

Community Relations Service. The Community Relations Service has served as an important stabilizing resource in communities. To terminate this program would leave the Federal Government without a critical tool in addressing fast-emerging crises. The Administration requests that the Senate restore funding for this needed program.

Department of Transportation

The Committee has not provided $175 million requested for the new Maritime Security Program, an initiative critical to the security of the United States. 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. The Administration also objects to the Committee's decision not to provide funding for Title XI loan guarantees.

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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