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Statement of Administration Policy: H.R. 2608 - Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, FY 1992

June 12, 1991


(House Floor)
(Sponsors: Whitten (D), Mississippi; Smith (D), Iowa)

This Statement of Administration Policy expresses the Administration's views on the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, FY 1992, as reported by the House Committee.

On the basis of OMB's preliminary scoring, the Committee bill is within the House 602(b) allocation. The House 602(b) allocation is consistent with the statutory spending limits enacted in the Budget Enforcement Act. However/ the bill reported by the Committee would significantly underfund several key areas such as programs to combat crime, while providing excessive funding for several lower priority activities, such as the Economic Development Administration and certain other Commerce and Justice programs.

Department of Justice

The overall $9.3 billion funding level established by the Committee for the Department of Justice is $486 million below the President's request. This substantially reduced level of funding would seriously undermine Administration efforts to combat and prosecute crime effectively. Key effects of the Committee's reductions would include:

  • impairment of drug law enforcement efforts;

  • failure to expand efforts to combat violent crime;

  • failure to prosecute vigorously in areas of anti-trust law, environmental crime, and white collar crime, including public corruption and bankruptcy oversight;

  • delays in the development of an automated and complete felon identification system; and

  • inability to expedite deportation of criminal aliens.

Department of Commerce

The Administration strongly objects to over $100 million in reductions from the President's request for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These reductions would seriously jeopardize NOAA's National Weather Service modernization program. It could result in a lapse in weather satellite coverage with serious implications for public safety. In addition, the Administration objects to the Committee's failure to fund fully NOAA's central role in the interagency U.S. Global Change Research Program. Finally, the Administration strongly objects to the reduction of $28 million from the President's request for the National Institute of Standards and Technology internal research programs.

International Affairs Programs (State)

The Administration urges the House to provide full funding for requested arrearage payments for the United Nations and international organizations. At a time when the United Nations is playing such an important role in world affairs, the United States must fulfill its treaty obligations to the UN and its affiliated organizations and pay our required share.

The Administration would strongly object to an amendment that may be offered to reduce funding for the National Endowment for Democracy. The National Endowment for Democracy plays an essential role in promoting U.S. objectives in Eastern Europe, Central America, and elsewhere.

Small Business Administration

The Committee's bill does not provide sufficient budget authority to cover the subsidy costs associated with all disaster loans expected to be made through the Disaster Loans Program Account in FY 1992. The bill provides $115 million in budget authority for subsidies that would support a loan level of only $322 million, although the annual average loan level is $365 million. An appropriation of $126 million for loan subsidies would be required to cover a typical year.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

The Committee's bill fails to provide adequate resources to fund the Federal Communications Commission. The bill provides only $68 million in direct appropriations. Without the $65 million in new fees requested by the President, planned staffing would be reduced by two-thirds, and significant furloughs would occur. No new or transfer licenses would be processed, and enforcement efforts would be limited to life-threatening cases.

Commission on Civil Rights

The Committee's funding level of $7.2 million is $3.6 million, or 33 percent, below the President's request. This reduction would severely hamper the operations of this Commission. It would preclude the Commission's initiative to restore the seven regional offices that were eliminated in 1987. The regional Offices support the State Advisory Committees that are the "eyes and ears" of the Commission. Funding should be restored to the level requested in the President's budget.

Legal Services Corporation (LSC)

The Administration objects to the Committee's proposed appropriations restrictions on the use of Legal Services Corporation funds. This provision would require the LSC to abide by any restriction that the House may, in the future, include in H.R. 2039, an authorizing bill currently under consideration. The Administration has begun its analysis of H.R. 2039 to determine whether its provisions are acceptable. Because the restrictions are contingent upon future actions and possible amendments to H.R. 2039, the appropriations language would bind the President with an unknown set of constraints. Moreover, one provision states that H.R. 2039 would be binding if it passed only the House but were not enacted. If H.R. 2039 were to pass the House after enactment of this bill, this provision would unconstitutionally purport to make binding law a bill later passed by only one House, contrary to INS vs. Chadha.

Chief Financial Officers Act

The Administration strongly opposes section 607 of the Committee bill, which would bar the use of funds appropriated in this bill for the implementation of Public Law 101-576, the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 (CFOs Act). This law addresses long-standing Congressional and Administration concerns about financial management deficiencies in the Federal Government. These are deficiencies that must be corrected.

In passing the CFOs Act (passed by voice vote without dissent), the Congress found that "[b]illions of dollars...lost each year through fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement...could be significantly decreased by improved management." As a remedy, the CFOs Act: (1) strengthens management capabilities; (2) provides for improved accounting systems, financial management, and internal controls to assure reliable information and deterrence of fraud, waste, and abuse; and (3) provides for reliable financial information — useful to Congress and the Executive Branch — in financing, managing, and evaluating Federal programs. Implementation of the CFOs Act is essential to good government.

Additional Administration concerns with the bill are discussed in the attachment.


June 12, 1991
(House Floor)



A. Funding Levels

Department of Justice

Law Enforcement Agencies. The Administration strongly objects to a $235 million reduction from the request level for the FBI, DEA, and OCDETF. This reduced level of funding would provide only 100 of nearly 900 special agents requested to continue Justice's mission against major drug trafficking groups, organized crime, and white collar crime. Further, no resources are provided to enforce new arms treaties expected to be completed shortly.

Legal Resources. The Administration opposes reductions totaling $146 million from the requested level for U.S. Attorneys and the Legal Divisions. Such reductions would result in increasing the backlog of unaddressed cases and would preclude increased prosecution of tax fraud, which brings millions of dollars in revenue from settlement of fraud suits in such areas as motor fuel excise taxes and general taxes. Further, additional resources would not be available for the violent crime initiative.

Immigration Service. The Administration strongly objects to a $61 million reduction from the request level for INS. This would severely impair the Administration's ability to add additional immigration judges and legal support to assure prompt deportation of criminal aliens. Funds to deport aliens were cut, which would result in increased costs due to longer periods of detention in the United States. Inspection lines at land border crossings could increase due to the lack of additional inspections. Border patrol resources at the border would not be augmented, and staffing at detention centers would not be adequately increased due to funding reductions.

Grant Programs. While underfunding important anti-crime programs, the Committee has provided funding to lower priority programs that have been recommended for reduction or elimination. For example,, the Committee's bill continues funding ($67 million over the President's request) for the Juvenile Justice Program. Continued funding of this program is unnecessary since virtually all States have reported a significant reduction in the number of non-criminal juvenile offenders detained, as recently verified in a GAO report. Additional objections include:

  • Proposed funding ($12 million over the President's request) for the Regional Information Sharing System, a program that should be funded primarily from state and local contributions.

  • Proposed funding of $25 million for Correctional Options Grants to States and localities. During this period of fiscal stringency, it is inappropriate to launch a new program of grants for which virtually no hearing record exists.

  • Proposed funding of $5 million to reimburse States and localities for the incarceration costs of Mariel Cubans convicted of violating State or local laws.

Finally, the Committee has assumed that $46 million would be available for construction of Bureau Of Prisons facilities from the Special Forfeiture Fund of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The Treasury/Postal Subcommittee has provided only $10 million from this source. As a result, there would be a $36 million shortfall for this purpose.

Department of Commerce

EDA. The Committee bill provides $246 million — as well as $10 million in loan guarantee authority — for the Economic Development Administration (EDA) for regional development, a matter better left to the private sector. The Administration opposes funding EDA, unless funds are to be used solely for close-out costs associated with termination of the agency.

Other Department of Commerce Increases. The Administration objects to funding several programs that have largely met their goal or that fill roles more appropriate to State and local entities. These include the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP), National Undersea Research programs, Stuttgart catfish farm, and various fishery grants.

Census. The Administration strongly objects to the Committee's lack of support for the FY 1992 Economic Statistics Initiative. The Committee-reported bill would reduce the President's request for the Economic and Statistics Administration by $5 million and the request for the Bureau of the Census by $12 million. With the exception of funds provided to maintain the quality of the GNP estimates and to improve the coverage of the service sector, the bill would underfund the integrated Government-wide undertaking to improve Federal economic statistics.

National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The Administration strongly objects to the $3 million reduction in the requested appropriation for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). A reduction of this magnitude would make it impossible for NTIA to carry out critical spectrum management tasks. In particular, NTIA would be unable to implement the reallocation of radio spectrum from Federal to private users as would be required by bills pending in both the House and the Senate. An error or delay in reallocating frequencies could cost the Federal government millions of dollars in wasted planning and unnecessary equipment purchases. As a result of delays in reallocating spectrum, introduction of new spectrum-based technologies could stall, and private users of the radio spectrum could lose hundreds of millions of dollars in potential revenues.

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Reductions to internal research programs would prevent NIST from addressing needed repairs to facilities and from adequately addressing a growing number of important measurement and standards issues that would go unresolved without funding. In addition, a strong internal research program is essential to maintaining the technical knowledge base at NIST required to manage effectively and carry out the new external programs. At the same time as the bill cuts internal research from the President's request, it adds $18 million for NIST's external program, including grants. This program is still young and in an experimental stage, with uncertain potential benefits.

International Programs (State and USIA)

Contributions to International Organizations and Conferences. The Administration objects to the Committee mark of $982 million for Contributions to International Organizations and Conferences, a reduction of $346 million from the President's request of $1.3 billion. The Committee's funding level includes only a partial arrearage payment ($157 million) instead of the President's request for full funding authority ($503 million). Full appropriation of budget authority for arrearage requirements would send an important signal to the United Nations and all members that the United States is committed to fulfilling its obligations with respect to these organizations.

State: Salaries and Expenses. The Administration objects to the Committee's $28 million reduction to the President's request. This reduction would hamper the Department's ability to cover growing operations demands and to continue upgrading important communications and information management systems.

United States Information Agency (USIA). The Administration objects to the addition of funding ($21 million) and earmarking of funds for several lower priority educational, research, and training programs. In addition, the reduction ($11 million) to the Salaries and expenses account would impede USIA's ability to carry out effective public diplomacy programs, especially in such vital areas as Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, and the Middle East. Small Business Administration (SBA)

Salaries and Expenses. The Committee mark includes $62 million for Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), $32 million more than requested in the President's Budget. The Budget proposes to reduce Federal assistance to these centers, which should rely increasingly on non-Federal sources of support.

Pollution Control Equipment Fund. The Committee bill includes $8 million for the Pollution Control Equipment Contract Guarantee Revolving Fund although it is no longer a discretionary account. As a result of the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990, this mandatory liquidating account has permanent indefinite borrowing authority from Treasury. Therefore, no appropriation is required.

Office of the Inspector General. The Committee mark includes $10 million for SBA's Office of the Inspector General, $3 million less than requested. A level consistent with the President's request is necessary to ensure stepped-up action to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse.

Business Loans Program Account. The Committee-reported bill does not reflect the Administration's proposals to increase guarantee fees on certain loans and to reduce the SBA share of general business loans. Instead, the Committee provides $188 million more than requested for guaranteed loan subsidies. In addition, the Committee provides $25 million for direct loan subsidies, $23 million more than requested. The Budget proposes to substitute general business guaranteed loans, where appropriate, for most categories of direct loans.

B. Language Provisions

Commission on Civil Rights. The Committee continues to earmark funding for operations of regional offices and civil rights monitoring activities and to place funding restrictions on the use of consultants, the number of special assistants, and the number of billable days for which a Commissioner can be reimbursed. The Administration opposes this language because it would hamper the Commission's ability to meet its legislative mandate effectively and to operate efficiently.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC): Spectrum Reassignment. The Committee has not included Section 609 of the General Provisions proposed in the President's budget. That section would direct the FCC to move current occupants of 30 MHz of certain parts of the radio Spectrum to other locations on the radio spectrum and to reassign the vacated frequencies using competitive bidding procedures.

The Administration objects to the deletion of this proposal because Section 609 would: enable the public to reclaim some of the private benefits derived from the licenses to the exclusive use of the spectrum; improve the FCC licensing process by doing away with costly and inefficient comparative hearings; and end the assignment of licenses by the purely random lottery process.

SBA Salaries and Expenses. The Committee bill would prohibit SBA from adopting, implementing, or enforcing any regulation for the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) program or from changing any policy that was in effect on October 1, 1987. The Administration opposes inclusion of this prohibition because new regulations are needed to prevent possible abuses of this roughly $60 million-per-year program. In the absence of such prohibition, SBA would not take any action that would restrict or limit Federal funding of SBDCs. Instead, SBA would act to reduce deficiencies currently plaguing the program. A number of rules likely would be promulgated including: 1) regulations to ensure that individual SBDC's have adequate internal controls and accounting standards to track the receipt and disposition of program income; 2) regulations to ensure consistency of program delivery; and 3) regulations to reduce conflicts between SBDC's.

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC): Salaries and Expenses. The Committee bill rejects the offsetting (governmental) collection proposals included in the request for SEC Salaries and expenses, which were projected to generate revenues of $68 million. The Committee has provided only $157.5 million. When combined with the failure to enact the offsetting collections proposals, this results in a reduction of- $68 million, or 30 percent, from the President's request.

C. Scorekeeping Issues

The Committee-reported bill provides $4.6 million to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to lease-purchase a Class VII supercomputer. The net present value of this lease-purchase is $22.1 million, requiring a scorekeeping adjustment of $17.5 million.

George Bush, Statement of Administration Policy: H.R. 2608 - Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, FY 1992 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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