George Bush photo

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

July 29, 1991


(Senate Floor)
(Sponsors: Byrd (D), West Virginia; Hollings (D), South Carolina)

The purpose of this Statement of Administration Policy is to express 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 Senate Appropriations Committee.

The Administration finds the overall funding provided by the Committee to be a marked improvement over the levels provided by the House. The Administration is concerned, however, that the funding level is $200 million below the President's request for law enforcement activities, including prosecution of white-collar crime and Federal debt collection. Lower-priority programs are funded at the expense of programs that address these critical Federal activities.

Department of Justice

The Committee bill fails to address adequately the funding needs of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), judicial security and other U.S. Marshals Service programs, and offices of U.S. Attorneys. Specifically, the Administration is concerned that the Committee has not provided full funding for the FBI's treaty verification program. The Committee Report states that the Department of Justice should submit an "emergency" supplemental request following treaty passage. The Administration believes that because the need for this funding was known in advance, the funding does not qualify as an emergency and should be considered domestic discretionary spending subject to the spending limits of the Budget Enforcement Act (BEA).

Department of Commerce

The Administration is concerned about excessive funding — totaling more than $440 million — for non-essential Commerce activities, principally the Economic Development Administration (EDA). This funding is provided at the expense of such important programs as NOAA weather service programs and certain programs of the Bureau of the census, including the Economic Statistics Initiative.

The Administration is particularly concerned that the Committee's reduction of $53 million from the request would seriously jeopardize NOAA's ability to continue the modernization of the National Weather Service. This could have an adverse impact on public safety. Further, the Committee's $32 million reduction to NOAA's global change program would prevent NOAA from fulfilling its important role in integrated inter-agency global change activities.

International Affairs Programs

The Administration objects to the Committee's funding level for arrearage payments to the United Nations and other international organizations, and urges the Senate to provide the President's request. The Committee's funding level would include only a partial arrearage payment ($131 million) instead of the President's request for full funding authority ($503 million). At a time when the United Nations is playing such an important role in world affairs, the United States must fulfill its treaty obligations and pay our required share.

The Administration commends the Committee for restoring requested funds for the National Endowment for Democracy. However, the Administration objects to the Committee's $34 million reduction from the President's request for the State Department's Salaries and Expenses appropriation. Of particular concern is the elimination of funding for State's Telecommunications Network. This reduction would hamper the Department's ability to cover growing operational demands. Further, the Administration objects to the bill's provisions concerning the Moscow New Embassy Office Building. These provisions would infringe upon Presidential authorities, reduce the flexibility of the Administration in resolving this problem, and interfere with continuing negotiations relating to overall resolution of Moscow embassy issues. Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

The Administration strongly objects to the Committee's decision not to include in the bill requested language that would give the FCC authority to assign licenses for use of the radio spectrum by competitive bidding. This proposal would raise a net $2.5 billion through FY 1996 and would enable the public to reclaim some of the private benefits derived from the licenses that permit exclusive use of the spectrum.

On the basis of OMB's initial scoring, the Administration finds that the Committee bill exceeds the revised 602(b) allocation for domestic discretionary budget authority and outlays by $154 million and $207 million, respectively. The bill is within the revised 602(b) allocation for international budget authority and outlays and defense budget authority, but exceeds the revised 602(b) allocation for defense outlays by $7 million. In aggregate, the revised 602(b) allocations are consistent with the statutory spending limits enacted in the Budget Enforcement Act.

Additional Administration concerns with the bill, including objectionable provisions that infringe upon Presidential authorities, are discussed in the attachment.


(Senate Floor)



A. Funding Levels

Department of Justice

General Management. The Administration is concerned that certain provisions in the bill would restrict the ability of agencies to manage resources effectively. An example is an Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) provision, which would prohibit the closing of certain Border Patrol offices and the relocation of staff from these offices to facilities closer to the border where the greatest need exists.

Office of Justice Programs. The Administration objects to the Committee's provision of funds in excess of the President's request for the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Program (+$67 million), the Mariel Cubans Program (+$5 million), and the Regional Information Sharing System (+$15 million). The funding levels proposed by the Committee would continue programs that have, in the case of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Program, met the stated purposes of the authorizing legislation, or are largely State and local activities that should be paid for by State and local funds. In addition, the Administration objects to the considerable earmarking of funds for Office of Justice Programs specified in the Committee Report.

Bureau of Prisons. The Administration objects to the $37 million transfer for prison maintenance from the Salaries and Expenses account to the Buildings and Facilities account. This action would simply shift "fast-spending" funds to a "slow-spending" account and would artificially reduce outlay estimates by approximately $30 million. By shifting this activity to the Building and Facilities account, maintenance needs performed on a daily basis would inappropriately compete for funding with requirements for major repair and new construction projects.

The Administration is concerned about the funding level for the construction of new prisons. Although the Committee provides $40.5 million more than the request for the Buildings and Facilities account, the increase is illusory since it is intended primarily to fund maintenance of existing prisons, an activity previously funded through the Salaries and Expenses appropriation, as noted above. While the Committee's funding of new construction is roughly consistent with the President's request for funding through the Buildings and Facilities account, the request assumed — in addition — a transfer of $46 million from the Special Forfeiture Fund of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. This transfer of funds from the Special Forfeiture Fund is not included in either the House- or Senate-passed version of the Treasury/Postal Service Appropriations Bill. Without these resources, the Federal Prison System would not be able to expand according to plan.

Legal Activities. The Administration objects to the inadequate funding the committee bill would provide for the Government's attorneys. The Administration has requested a total of $1.2 billion for the General Legal Activities and the United States Attorneys accounts. The Committee has provided $1.1 billion, $69.9 million less than the request. Reduced funding would impair the Government's ability to prosecute crime (including white-collar crime), protect the environment, enforce civil rights, and collect money owed to the Government.

Department of Commerce

Bureau of the Census. In reducing the request for the Periodic Censuses and Programs account by $30 million, the Administration believes that the Committee has substantially overestimated savings from procurement delays. This reduction could diminish the production and dissemination of 1990 Decennial Census data. The Committee's $5 million reduction to Census' Salaries and Expenses appropriation would hamper the government-wide Economic Statistics Initiative. Without this funding, the nation's economic statistics would provide decisionmakers with a less accurate picture of the structural economic shift toward services, the emergence of new products and technologies, and our increasing integration into a global economy.

United States Travel and Tourism Administration (USTTA). The Administration opposes the inclusion of $2 million for tourism disaster grants. It is the Administration's view that Federal funds for disasters should be handled by emergency management agencies such as FEMA and should not be targeted, a priori, to specific industries.

International Trade Administration (ITA). The Administration objects to the additional funding ($15.5 million) the Committee bill would provide for the Tailored Clothing/Technology Corporation (TC2) and the National Textile Center within the International Trade Administration. It is inappropriate for the Federal government in general — and ITA in particular — to subsidize commercial operations.

Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP). The Administration opposes funding for the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP). The Administration believes this program should be terminated because more than 95 percent of all Americans can receive either a public radio or a public television signal.

International Programs

State: Salaries and Expenses. The Administration objects to the Committee's $34 million reduction to the President's request as well as to its unrequested, $21 million earmark for the Oceans, Environment, and Science Bureau. This reduction would hamper the Department's ability to conduct its operations, force it to absorb foreign national employee pay raises, and prevent it from upgrading important communications and information management systems.

The Administration is particularly concerned with the Committee's elimination of funding for the Department of State Telecommunications Network as well as the requirement for the convening of a blue-ribbon panel to review the need for the system. The need for the system has been exhaustively reviewed, and further delays would only serve to postpone needed upgrades to meet the United States government's overseas telecommunications requirements.

State: Moscow Embassy Reconstruction and Security. The Administration objects to the Committee's establishment of a separate account for construction of the Moscow New Embassy Office Building (NOB), as well as to legislative language that would direct the Department to implement the teardown/rebuild option for the NOB and direct the Secretary of State to seek reimbursement from the Soviets for the costs of building the NOB.

Because the Constitution confers on the President alone the responsibility for negotiations with foreign governments, attempts to condition the availability of funds on the pursuit of a specific position in negotiations with a foreign government raise significant constitutional concerns. Further, these actions would reduce the flexibility of the Administration in resolving this problem, and interfere with continuing negotiations related to an overall resolution of Moscow embassy issues.

State: Foreign Buildings. The Administration objects to the Committee's $34 million reduction to the President's request ($24 million through transfers to other accounts). This reduction would delay the Department's implementation of its five-year capital construction program as well as adversely affect its ability to maintain overseas properties.

United States Information Agency (USIA). The Committee has added $36 million to the President's request for USIA at the expense of other international affairs programs. The Administration objects to this reordering of program funding priorities. Specifically, the Administration objects to the $14 million transfer to USIA's operating account and radio construction program at the expense of certain State Department activities. In addition, the Administration objects to the $22 million increase for unrequested education, research, and training programs. USIA can effectively carry out its public diplomacy responsibilities at the President's request level, which the Senate is urged to adopt.

Small Business Administration (SBA)

The Committee bill includes $56 million for Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), $26 million more than requested in the President's Budget. The Budget proposes to reduce Federal assistance to these centers in order to encourage them to rely increasingly on non- Federal sources of support.

The Committee bill does not reflect the Administration's proposals to increase guarantee fees on certain loans and to reduce the SBA contingent ability on general business loans. Instead, the Committee provides,$188 million more than requested for guaranteed loan subsidies. In addition, the Committee provides $27 million for direct loan subsidies, $25 million more than requested. The FY 1992 Budget proposes to substitute general business guaranteed loans, where appropriate, for most categories of direct loans. The lower subsidy rate for general business guaranteed loans represents significant savings compared to the subsidy rate for direct loans.

The Committee bill includes $1.8 million in subsidy budget authority for a $15 million micro loan program. This appropriation assumes a subsidy rate of 12 percent, while OMB's scoring of the bill assumes a subsidy rate of 17.25 percent. Using OMB scoring, an appropriation of $2.6 million would be needed to support the $15 million program level.

Commission on Civil Rights

Salaries and Expenses. Although the Committee's funding level of $7.6 million is above the House-passed level, it is still $3.2 million, or 30 percent, below the President's request. This reduction would severely hamper the operations of the Commission just after it would have been reauthorized. It would eliminate the Commission's initiative to increase the number of regional offices to ten, by restoring the seven offices that were eliminated in 1987. The regional offices support the State Advisory Committees that are the "eyes and ears" of the Commission. The Administration urges the Senate to restore funding to the level requested in the President's budget.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

Salaries and Expenses. The Administration strongly objects to the Committee's rejection of the $65 million fee proposal included in the President's budget. The enforcement work of the FCC is related directly to ensuring that the activities of FCC licensees can be carried out without interference from other users of the radio spectrum. The proposed fee schedule prepared by the FCC reflects the relative share of the enforcement workload associated with the different types of licensees, who should bear the costs of enforcement.

The Committee's rejection of the Administration's fee proposal, combined with increases the Committee has provided totaling $58.4 million, would result in an overall reduction to the request for FCC's Salaries and Expenses of $6.6 million. This reduced level of funding would not support the Commission's preparation for and attendance at the World Administrative Radio Conference in 1992, thereby making it difficult for the FCC to represent U.S. interests in the reallocation-of the radio spectrum among emerging technological services. In addition, this level of funding would not allow the Commission to begin its required consolidation into one building.

Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) Act

The Administration appreciates the Committee's deletion of the provision preventing implementation of the CFOs Act and urges restoration of the funding requested by the President to carry out the Act, which is essential to good government.

B. Language Provisions

Department of Justice

Anti-Drug Abuse Grants. The Administration objects to Sections 108 and 109 of the bill, which would diminish considerably the requirements for State and local contributions to projects funded by Anti-Drug Abuse grants.

The change proposed by Section 109 would allow the Federal share of projects to remain at the 75-percent level, rather than decline to 50 percent. Section 108 would do away entirely with the requirement for matching amounts from local governments participating in multi- jurisdictional drug task forces. This program was established to encourage States and local governments to increase their efforts in the war against drugs. These provisions could lead to a substitution of Federal funds for local monies.

Department of Commerce

United States Travel and Tourism Administration. The Committee bill would remove the requirement for matching funds from States receiving grants, effective retroactively to FY 199l grants. The Administration believes that matching fund requirements ensure that the project being funded by the Federal government is a high priority within the State.

Advanced Technology Program. Insofar as they would constrain market access, the Administration opposes restrictions of section 205 on foreign company participation in the Advanced Technology Program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Department of Transportation

Maritime Administration. The Administration objects to language in the Committee bill that would direct the acquisition or modification of ships for the Ready Reserve Force to the United States. The United States' trading partners could view this language as a violation of U.S. obligations in the Agreement on Government Procurement. If found inconsistent, this language could subject U.S. exporters to retaliation abroad.

International Programs

United Nations (UN) Hiring Practices. The Administration concurs with the Senate Committee's position that the UN and other specialized agencies should work to increase American staffing in their organizations. However, the Administration does not believe that payment of arrearages should be linked to increases in American staffing. The President is committed to meeting U.S. obligations to the international organizations, particularly at a time when the UN is playing such an important role in world affairs. The State Department will continue in its efforts to ensure appropriate levels of American employment in the UN system.

State: Contracting Prohibition. The Administration opposes the prohibition on the use of funds for contracting with commercial firms that comply with the Arab League Boycott of Israel or discriminate in the award of contracts on the basis of religion. While the Administration sympathizes with the intent of this provision, such restrictions infringe upon Presidential authorities and constitute micromanagement of international programs. It is U.S. policy not to support directly or indirectly the boycott of Israel.

State: U.S. Passport Issuance. The Administration objects to the prohibition on the use of State Department funds to issue Israel-only passports to U.S. officials, diplomats, and private persons. Similarly, the Administration objects to the prohibition on the issuance of more than one diplomatic or official passport to U.S. government employees traveling to the Middle East. The President alone is responsible for negotiating with foreign nations on behalf of the United States. , The limitation of this provision would interfere with the exercise of that responsibility. The President needs to be able to send his emissaries anywhere, with whatever documents receiving governments may require for entry.

Chinese Launch Vehicles. The Administration objects to the Committee bill's prohibition on the use of funds to approve any licenses for launch of U.S. satellites on Chinese-built launch vehicles, unless the President, certifies that the case is in compliance with the U.S.- P.R.C. agreement on commercial launch vehicles. Legislating such a restriction would unduly limit the President's flexibility in the conduct of foreign affairs.

Commission on Civil Rights

The Committee bill would continue to earmark funding for operations of regional offices and civil rights monitoring activities. Further, the bill would 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 is opposed to this language because it would hamper the Commission's ability to meet its legislative mandate effectively and to operate efficiently.

Legal Services Corporation (LSC)

Restrictions on Expenditures. Section 607 would continue the restrictions on LSC expenditures that were included in last year's Appropriations Act, P.L. 101- 515. In his signing statement for that Act, the President noted that he "interpret[ed] the provisions on the Legal Services Corporation as not restricting the authority of future recess appointees to exercise all powers conferred upon members of the Board of the Corporation." While the Administration would interpret this year's bill in the same manner, it would be preferable to delete the provisions concerning recess appointees and thus remove any doubt on this point.

The Constitution provides that the President may "fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session." (See U.S. Const. Art. II, 2, cl. 3.) Recess appointees, therefore, hold their offices on the same terms as other officers, except that their commissions expire at the end of the next Congressional session. Congress may not deprive a recess appointee of any powers that any other holder of the office could exercise.

The Administration urges the Senate to show its confidence in the Legal Services Corporation by removing the numerous micromanagement restrictions contained in section 607, including the prohibition on making final any regulations between October 1, 1990 and October 1, 1992.

C. Technical Issue

General Provisions. The language of section 110 would prohibit the use of appropriated funds to pay a fact witness fee to an incarcerated person. The present language is defective because it does not make this category of person ineligible to receive the fee. The language would only limit the use of appropriated funds.

The attached data tables can be downloaded in PDF format by clicking this link

Related PDFs

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

Simple Search of Our Archives