Statement on Signing the Military Construction Appropriations Act, 2001, Emergency Supplemental Act, 2000, and Cerro Grande Fire Supplemental
Today I have signed into law H.R. 4425, the Military Construction Appropriations Act, FY 2001, Emergency Supplemental Act, FY 2000, and Cerro Grande Fire Supplemental, which provides funding for military construction and family housing programs of the Department of Defense (DoD), and urgently needed supplemental resources.
I am gratified that my Administration and the Congress were able to reach agreement on the FY 2000 supplemental legislation included in H.R. 4425. This important supplemental appropriation provides urgently needed resources to keep the peace and build stability in Kosovo, bolster democracy and reform elsewhere in Southeast Europe, support the Colombian government's fight against drug traffickers, provide needed home energy assistance for low-income families, provide further assistance to the victims of Hurricane Floyd and other natural disasters, including the crisis in Mozambique, and for other purposes.
I commend the Congress for providing the critical resources needed to continue our support for Plan Colombia, President Pastrana's strategy to address Colombia's national security, socioeconomic, and drug-related problems. The $1.3 billion provided underscores our commitment to support the fight against drug traffickers and benefits the United States by bringing greater peace and prosperity to an important American ally.
Nonetheless, I am concerned that certain provisions of the bill will limit the effectiveness of our assistance. Key initiatives, such as groundbased radar, secure field communications, and force protection are funded at levels below my request. Furthermore, the Congress substituted its own judgement for that of the U.S. and Colombian militaries, and provided funding for only 16 of the 30 Blackhawk helicopters requested for the Colombian Army, providing instead funding for 30 Huey II helicopters. The substitution of Huey IIs for Blackhawks creates logistical and pilot training problems for an already stretched infrastructure in Colombia, and fields a significantly less capable helicopter for the counterdrug mission.
I am pleased that the bill fully funds our request for military operations in Kosovo. We will work to ensure that the additional resources for readiness, military personnel, natural disaster recovery, defense healthcare, fuel, equipment upgrades, and intelligence support high priority activities within the Department of Defense.
I am disappointed that the bill does not include funding I requested for U.N. peacekeeping operations in the region, requested security and operational needs for embassies in Kosovo, or assistance for economic and democratic reforms in the region. The U.N. mission in Kosovo is performing an extraordinarily difficult but essential task of overseeing civilian administration until the people of Kosovo are able to assume that responsibility themselves. Secure facilities are needed in Kosovo to ensure the security of our employees serving U.S. interests and working to achieve lasting peace in the region. The requested funds support essential civilian infrastructure that would facilitate a prudent exit strategy for Kosovo and achieve long-term stability in the Balkans.
I am also disappointed that the bill does not include requested funding for the multilateral Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt reduction initiative. Debt relief is both a moral imperative and good economics. Each year, most countries eligible for the HIPC initiative spend more on foreign debt service than on health. In many, one in ten children dies before his or her first birthday, one in three is malnourished, the average adult has had only 3 years of schooling, and HIV infection rates are as high as 20 percent. The failure of the Congress to provide this funding will result in delays in implementing debt reduction for qualifying countries, especially those in Latin America that have implemented far-reaching economic reforms. Similarly, while I am pleased that the Congress provided some funding for reconstruction assistance to Mozambique and the other Southern African countries devastated by recent flooding, these countries require additional assistance to recover from natural disasters and continue their progress in implementing economic and democratic reforms.
I am disappointed that requested funding was not provided for a number of other important programs including:
- Projects designated to strengthen our critical infrastructure.
- The Ricky Ray Hemophilia Relief Trust Fund. This request was part of my plan, announced in the Mid-Session Review Budget, to fully fund the $750 million Trust Fund by FY 2001. I will work with the Congress to find other ways to achieve this goal. Delay in funding the Trust Fund will mean there will be fewer hemophiliacs with HIV alive to benefit from this program.
- Summer jobs and other education and training opportunities for disadvantaged youth. The request would have ensured that our Nation's young adults were not left behind as States and local areas transition to the requirements of the Workforce Investment Act.
I am pleased that the bill provides $40 million included in our agreement with the Government of Puerto Rico related to the Navy training facility on the island of Vieques. This will be used for projects that will meet the health, environmental, and economic concerns of the residents as well as fund the referendum to determine the range's future.
I am especially pleased that this legislation includes over $300 million in relief funds for Hurricane Floyd and other natural disasters. It also includes $600 million I requested for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. This funding will provide needed assistance for low-income families.
The bill provides $661 million to address the consequences of the fires in Los Alamos, New Mexico, as well as $350 million for firefighting activities.
While the Congress dropped most of the objectionable riders from the bill, regrettably, the Congress has included several objectionable language provisions:
- Most objectionable is an anti-environmental rider that was not in either the House or Senate version of the bill, which could significantly slow efforts to clean up the 20,000 bodies of water the States have identified as too polluted for fishing or swimming. Before this problematic prohibition became effective, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its final clean water rule, which is the subject of this rider. In the final rule, EPA responded to many of the comments it received, including comments from the States and Members of Congress. The EPA rule grants to the States flexibility in deciding how reductions in water pollution can best be achieved, contains deadlines for the development of State clean water plans and additional time for achieving the pollution reductions States have chosen, and drops provisions that could require new permits for forestry, aquaculture, and animal feeding operations. Moreover, the rule's effective date coincides with the end of the congressional prohibition—October 1, 2001. This delayed effective date will allow States to develop their plans during FY 2001, under existing clean water rules.
- The bill also includes a rider that would delay until the end of the fiscal year environmental analysis of Central Arizona Project (CAP) water allocations that must be made before major Indian water rights settlements and litigation over the CAP repayment obligation can be finally resolved, thus jeopardizing these important settlements.
- The bill includes riders to Colombia assistance, limiting the use of certain funds to support the initiative, placing caps on U.S. personnel, and requiring detailed certifications concerning Colombian compliance with specific human rights provisions and the Colombian drug eradication strategy. These riders may make it more difficult to provide effective assistance as drug traffickers change their tactics.
- There is also a provision that would create a burdensome reporting requirement for the National Missile Defense Organization.
I am pleased that the Congress has decided not to include statutory language that would have interfered with the Department of the Army's management of the Army Corps of Engineers. The proposed legislative rider would have prevented the Secretary of the Army from clarifying the proper relationship between senior Corps of Engineers officials and the appointed civilian officials of the Army who have responsibility for overseeing the Corps of Engineers' activities. It is important and appropriate that the Congress has retained for these civilian officials, who are confirmed by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, the means to ensure a clear chain of command necessary for effective organization performance.
Weakening this relationship statutorily would raise serious constitutional issues that extend to civilian-military relationships far beyond the Corps of Engineers. I am concerned, however, about language included in the Conference Statement of the Managers setting out certain conditions related to these management issues. As this language does not prevent the Army from proceeding with management improvements, to the extent the Congress has requested additional consultation, this request will be fully honored. The Congress has also requested that the Army not move forward with these clarifying improvements until ongoing investigations regarding the Army Corps of Engineers are made available and considered. We take this language to refer to the Army Inspector General's investigation of matters related to the Upper Mississippi study, which is the only investigation the Army has underway regarding the Corps of Engineers. I am directing the Secretary of the Army to review potential implications of the Inspector General's investigation for the proposed reforms, to take them into account if relevant, and to consult with the Congress about these investigations as he proceeds with his management improvements.
The Act funds the vast majority of my request for military construction projects, the military housing program, and other quality-of-life projects for our military personnel and their families. The requested projects are critical to supporting military readiness and the quality of life of our soldiers and their families. However, I have several concerns with the bill:
- Continuing a trend of the past few years, the Congress has not provided the requested level of construction funding for the Chemical Weapons Demilitarization program, an important national program. This year's reduction of my funding request by $20 million threatens the ability of the United States to meet the 2007 Chemical Weapons Convention deadline for the destruction of the U.S. stockpile of chemical weapons. The sooner these weapons are destroyed, the safer we will all be.
- The Congress has chosen to add funds for projects that DoD has not identified as priorities. In particular, the bill includes $475 million for 83 projects that are not in DoD's Future Years Defense Program.
- The Congress has again included a provision (section 124) that would prevent the use of funds provided by this Act for Partnership for Peace Programs in the New Independent States of the former Soviet Union. Although this provision would have no practical effect in the short term, I believe it could adversely affect U.S. foreign policy initiatives, as well as future NATOled operations, if it were to become a permanent fixture in future Military Construction Appropriations Acts.
Today, I am designating as emergency requirements the funds—with two exceptions—in the Act that the Congress has so designated. The exceptions are for the Department of Health and Human Services Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program and the Department of the Interior Wildland Fire Management program. The emergency designations are necessary so that urgently needed funds are available for critical needs.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
The White House, July 13, 2000.
NOTE: H.R. 4425, approved July 13, was assigned Public Law No. 106-246.
William J. Clinton, Statement on Signing the Military Construction Appropriations Act, 2001, Emergency Supplemental Act, 2000, and Cerro Grande Fire Supplemental Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/229570