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Statement on Signing the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1985

August 16, 1985

I have signed H.R. 2577, the Supplemental Appropriations Act for 1985. The act provides additional funding for a number of important programs, including economic aid to several nations in the Middle East, essential humanitarian aid to the Nicaraguan democratic resistance, funding for improving security at our Embassies and facilities abroad, and start-up funding for several water projects.

H.R. 2577 provides funds that I requested to support the Nation's foreign policy. It will contribute significantly to our ability to provide urgently required aid to our friends in the Middle East and will support our efforts to bring peace to the region. I would note in particular the funds it appropriates for both Israel and Egypt, as well as for Jordan. All three of these nations have a vital role to play if there is to be peace in the Middle East.

Moreover, the act contains $27 million in funding for humanitarian assistance to the Nicaraguan democratic resistance. While the program that has been approved is more modest than I believe necessary, we have clearly won bipartisan support on this very critical issue as well as recognition and humanitarian support for those fighting the Sandinista dictatorship. This is an important element in our overall effort to assist neighboring countries to defend themselves against Nicaraguan attack and subversion. Unfortunately, the provision unduly and unnecessarily restricts efficient management and administration of the program. Nevertheless, I will continue to work with the Congress to carry out the program as effectively as possible and will take care to ensure that the law is faithfully executed.

H.R. 2577 is also an important first step in reforming and revitalizing the Nation's water resources development program. Little progress has been achieved in recent years due mainly to the impasse over the proper Federal role in water projects and the amount of cost sharing that local project sponsors should assume. This act acknowledges that the traditional Federal role is no longer appropriate and that project beneficiaries must contribute a larger share of costs for water projects. It allows for progressive and essential new approaches to the financing of projects, while retaining a significant Federal role and demonstrating commitment to implementation of viable water projects. I commend the Congress' efforts in this matter. The act represents only the first of two steps that must be taken to reform national water policy. I anticipate that the Congress will soon be addressing a comprehensive water policy and project authorization bill that could set national policy for years to come. This administration has already demonstrated flexibility in working out a reasonably implementable cost-sharing agreement with the Congress. I am confident that the Congress will act in this matter in a prompt and responsible manner.

I am concerned that the act mandates a specific and excessive number of new grants to be awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Such requirements not only undermine the flexibility essential to the continued success of the NIH but also threaten the long-run stability of biomedical research funding. In signing this bill, it is my understanding that the Congress will take future appropriations action to restore programmatic flexibility and budgetary stability to the NIH.

This act authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to establish a national board to oversee an emergency food program. I am deeply concerned about the membership of the board. If read literally, the act would permit six private organizations to appoint members of the board. As members, these persons would be officers of the executive branch because the board will perform executive functions. Such appointments by private organizations is in clear violation of the Appointments Clause of the Constitution (U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 2, Clause 2). In order to avoid this constitutional infirmity, I direct the Director of FEMA to construe this provision as granting him complete discretionary authority to determine who should be appointed to the national board. The organizations mentioned in the act may make recommendations, but only the Director, as the "head of a department," id., is authorized to appoint members to the board.

I am disappointed that the bill provides more funds than I believe necessary. I must urge the Congress to exercise greater restraint if Federal spending is to be brought under effective control.

Note: H.R. 2577, approved August 15, was assigned Public Law No. 99-88.

Ronald Reagan, Statement on Signing the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1985 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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