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Public Statements

McCain Rails Against Pork Added to Final FY03 Omnibus Appropriations Bill

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Location: Washington, DC

MCCAIN RAILS AGAINST PORK ADDED TO FINAL FY'03 OMNIBUS APPROPRIATIONS BILL

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today made the following statement on the floor of the Senate regarding pork included in the conference report to the FY'03 Omnibus Appropriations bill:

"Mr. President, when the Senate finally passes this conference report today and the President signs it into public law, we will have finally finished the appropriations process for FY 2003. I cannot believe that more than four months into FY 2004, we are still debating funding for FY 2003! Instead of completing our work last year, we have had eight continuing resolutions to keep the federal government operating because last year, this body was consumed with election-year posturing, partisan clashes, and dilatory parliamentary tactics.

"What has been the consequence? In the end, we are left with a mammoth conference report on this "omnibus" appropriations legislation which no one in this body has had time to thoroughly review, examine, and debate. As a matter of fact, we received it just this afternoon and now we're expected to just go ahead and swiftly pass a conference report that is so large in scope that all its pages combined measure over two feet long. The goal is to pass this report quickly, rush out the doors for the recess, and hope that the American people do not ever learn what Congress has spent their hard-earned tax dollars on. Before this body finally passes this legislation, why don't we tell them what lies beneath the surface?

"Mr. President, there is no question that we have very scare resources. Look at the current state of our economy.

"Only a short time ago, everywhere we looked, the federal government was awash in huge surpluses. In 2001, we had a $127 billion surplus. But we are living in a different time now. The Congressional Budget Office recently forecast a larger-than expected deficit of $199 billion for this fiscal year, the biggest shortfall since 1994. And last week with the release of the President's Budget for FY 2004, the Office of Management and Budget has projected record deficits of $304 billion this year and $307 billion next year, easing only to $190 billion by 2008.

"Furthermore, last week, the Department of Treasury stated that given these soaring deficits, they will soon hit the $6.4 trillion ceiling on the national debt. In other words, the federal government will soon run out of borrowing authority and might have to look to other sources of funding such as the Social Security Trust Fund in the absence of a legislated increase in the debt ceiling.

"Not only is our economy in distress, we are also one step closer to war. There are current threats to our national security that must be disposed of. The pressures of security and fiscal challenges confront this great nation at a time unlike any other in history. And yet, in light of all this, the appropriators spend as if they were working in a vacuum. What do they spend the American taxpayers' hard-earned money on? We will soon find out.

"Mr. President, this conference report contains billions of dollars more in pork-barrel spending and numerous legislative riders. The multitude of unrequested funding earmarks will continue to burden American taxpayers. While the amounts associated with each individual earmark may not seem extravagant, taken together, they represent a serious diversion away from federal programs that have undergone the appropriate merit-based selection process.

"Let's take a look at a few examples of some of these "necessary" earmarks. They include:

$1 million for a DNA bear sampling study in Montana;

$280,000 for asparagus technology and production in Washington;

$220,000 to research future foods in Illinois;

$250,000 for research on the interaction of grapefruit juice and drugs;

$700,000 for the Midwest poultry consortium in Iowa;

$600,000 for Tri-state joint peanut research in Alabama;

$500,000 for Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois Corn Growers Association for a pilot program to develop "production protocols";

$50,000 to combat "feral hogs" in Missouri;

$500,000 to continue hybrid poplar research in Wisconsin;

$2 million for the Biomass Gasification Research Facility in Birmingham, Alabama;

$500,000 for the gasification of switchgrass in Iowa;

$1,000,000 for the National Agricultural-Based Industrial Lubricants Center;

$10 million to develop a high-speed data transmission between the Library of Congress and educational facilities, libraries or networks serving Western North Carolina;

$500,000 to be split between the Alexandria Museum of Art and the New Orleans Museum of Art for activities relating to the celebration of the Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial Celebration;

$200,000.00 for the replacement of Minton Tile in the Capitol complex;

$319,000.00 for Chandelier Restoration and Crystal Globe Replacement in the Capitol;

$25,000.00 for the maintenance of an outdoor sculpture on the Capitol Grounds;

$108,000 for kitchen exhaust and redesign in the Senate Office Buildings;

Nearly $2 million for Bus Ducts and Switchgear Replacement in the Senate Office Buildings;

$1 million for a company called Culpeper Glass in Warrenton, VA, that produces glass display cases for the Library of Congress;

$989,000 for a Lewis and Clark Exhibition at the Library of Congress. I highly doubt that the whole expedition cost as much as this exhibit does;

$3 million for an award to the National Technology Transfer Center for a coal slurry impoundment pilot project in Southern West Virginia;

$1 million for the Automated Nursery Project in Mississippi; and

$500,000 for Vermillion Community College in Ely, Minnesota for development of a Professional Forest Harvester Program.

HUD

"Mr. President, under funding for the Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the appropriators have included 885 "targeted grants," their favorite euphemism for pork in the Economic Development Initiative (EDI) program's budget. While many of the programs funded are laudable, I am deeply concerned about the number of earmarks in this section, many of which have absolutely nothing to do with housing or economic development.

"Sports faired well in this section. Like many Americans, I enjoy sports, but I find it remarkable that within a housing economic development fund, the appropriators find it suitable to earmark:

$202,500 to the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame, Sports Research Center in Patchogue, New York for facilities renovations;

$405,000 to the Staten Island Soccer League of New York for facilities construction;

$800,000 to the New York Olympic Regional Development Authority for facilities construction for the Mount VanHoevenberg Olympic Sports Complex; and

$450,000 for Lubbock, Texas for capital needs of the Lubbock Amphitheater.

"Transportation initiatives have also found their way into this HUD fund. If you cannot get your earmark into one fund, all you have to do is find another. Those projects include:

$202,500 for facilities construction for the Dual Rail Industrial Park in Dooly County, Georgia;

$180,000 for the City of Shreveport, Louisiana for the re-development of a bus terminal; and

$405,000 to the City of Elgin, Illinois for construction of pedestrian improvements.

"This HUD program also funds earmarks such as:

$250,000 to the Missouri Soybean Association to develop a Missouri soybeen seed composition and analysis program;

$202,500 for the National Peanut Festival Fairgrounds for construction of the National Peanut Festival Agriculture Arena in Donthan, Alabama;

$405,000 to the London-Laurel County Tourist Commission, Kentucky for facilities construction for the Blue Gray Civil War Theme Park;

$81,000 to the Lawrence County Farm Show, Inc. for facilities construction in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania;

$202,500 for the City of Clearwater, Florida for Waterfront facilities construction of the "Beach by Design Initiative";

$90,000 to the City of Cleveland, Ohio for economic development planning for the LTV Steel Economic Development Initiative;

$202,500 for the Warner Robins Museum of Aviation in Houston County, Georgia for expansion of facilities for the Century of Flight exhibit;

$283,500 to the Monroe County Wellness Center, Inc. of Monroe County, Kentucky for facilities construction;

$450,000 for the Northeast Ventures Corporation in Duluth, Minnesota for a revolving loan fund;

$202,500 to the Michigan State Trust for Railway Preservation, Inc. for construction of facilities for the Steam Railroading Institute's "linear museum concept" in Shiawasse County, Michigan;

$1,500,000 for the Food and Agriculture Policy Research Initiative in Columbia, Missouri to analyze commercial shipping alternatives;

$135,000 to the Culinary and Hospitality Academy Center of Las Vegas, Nevada for construction related to expansion of an education training center;

$270,000 fo Garth Fagen Dance Studio in Rochester, New York for construction of a new theater;

$202,500 to the city of Clairsville, Ohio for renovation and restoration of the Clarendon Hotel building;

$202,500 to continue the rehabilitation of the former Alaska Pulp Company mill site in Sitka, Alaska;

$450,000 for the Mananuska-Susita Borough for an agricultural processing facility in Wasilla, Alaksa;

$81,000 to the County of San Bernadino, California for facilities expansion for the Big Bear Zoo;

$90,000 for the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California for renovations necessary for theater improvements;

$202,500 for the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum in Palm Springs, California for facilities reconstruction;

$405,000 for the Harp Foundation for construction of the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk "Link" Project of Pueblo, Colorado;

$90,000 to the City of Meriden, Connecticut for a study to determine the feasibility of the construction of a community play house and arts center - that is $90,000 just to study whether or not something should be built.;

$90,000 for another Connecticut "feasability study", this time for the City of Waterbury, Connecticut for an economic feasibility study focused on construction of a multi-purpose sports facility;

$90,000 to St. Petersburg, Florida for completion of facilities improvements at the Florida Botanical Garden and Folk Cultural Center; and

$900,000 for the historic restoration and renovation of the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida.

Catfish

"Mr. President, let's talk about the lowly catfish and its heretofore unknown relation to the cow. In the emergency disaster relief section of this bill, a provision was included that would qualify catfish farmers for livestock compensation payments. As my colleagues know, the livestock compensation program is a federal farm program that compensates eligible livestock producers—such as owners of beef and dairy cattle, sheep, goats, or certain breeds of buffalo—who have suffered losses or damages as a result of a severe drought.

"While I often take issue with various farm policies that disproportionately benefit large agribusiness or farms at the expense of small farmers and taxpayers, or those that compromise American agricultural trade commitments, this effort to compensate catfish farmers from a farm program that is intended for livestock stands out. I am certain that catfish proponents will offer a dozen different explanations to justify this provision. However, not even hog, poultry or horse producers are eligible under the livestock compensation program. Why should catfish then get livestock payments? When did a catfish become analogous to a cow?

"Catfish farmers are hardly left out in the cold—they are eligible for other types of emergency assistance from USDA. Also, in the recent 2002 Farm bill, domestic catfish proponents were successful in banning all catfish imports by requiring that foreign catfish be labeled as something other than catfish. It seems very clear to me that catfish farmers do not want to compete on a fair basis, domestically or abroad, and are willing to double-dip into disaster-relief funding intended for other farmers in need. Mr. President, let's remove this extraneous provision and let livestock be livestock, not catfish.

More Agriculture

"Mr. President, as we know, labeling continues to be a nationally significant agricultural issue, whether we label an imported product or call a catfish by some other name. Now, new provisions were added to the agriculture section of this conference report that will allow certain farmers to call themselves "organic" when they really are not.

"This language has been added to allow farmers to call their animals "organic" even if they aren't being fed organic materials because the cost of producing and shipping the organic feed is too expensive. What this means is that a chicken farm in Georgia will now qualify as an "organic farm" even though their chickens are getting normal food. This is disingenuous to American consumers and a waste of taxpayer dollars. If this has to be labeled, why not just call it what it is—special interest pork.

Bonneville Power Administration

"Mr. President, on the Senate Floor, an amendment was added during debate of the Senate version of the bill, despite my objections, to dip into the federal treasury for an additional $700 million in borrowing authority for the Bonneville Power Administration in the Pacific Northwest. I didn't know much about Bonneville's situation at the time, but it seemed pretty extreme to add $700 million to its $3.75 billion in current borrowing authority, which includes $1 billion in unobligated borrowing authority. This amendment was added despite an earlier rejection of its inclusion during last year's appropriations debate by the authorizing committee who wanted to consider its merits in the legislative committee of jurisdiction-which is more appropriate than adding it as a last-minute rider to an appropriations bill.

"The more I've learned, the more I realize that Bonneville has a terrible record of fiscal accountability and is facing a financial crisis of its own making. According to GAO, Bonneville has an abysmal record of repaying federal loans. Taxpayers and other affected stakeholders in this region, including Native American tribes, have condemned Bonneville for its irresponsible management, and for its request to increase its borrowing authority while failing to meet current obligations to rate-payers and Indian tribes. The stakeholders have called for a top-to-bottom financial and management audit-that would be the responsible action, rather than opening up the federal treasury and exacerbating another fiscal boondoggle.

Army Corps of Engineers

"Mr. President, all I can do is identify and discuss some of the provisions of this legislation that I am certain the majority of federal taxpayers would strenuously object to not only because it diverts federal dollars to projects and activities that they will never receive any benefits from, or the environmental and other adverse effects these projects may cause but also because this bill contains significant changes in existing policies and laws that have never been considered by the Congress.

"I will share several examples of significant changes in policy or law under the rubric of this appropriations bill. In this legislation, the Administration is prevented from proposing or even studying changes to the Army Corps of Engineers' civil works program, such as reorganizing aspects of the agency's management structure, without specific direction in an Act of Congress.

"Considering the controversy generated over the past three years by the Corps' civil works program-spurring critical reports from the Army Inspector General, National Academy of Sciences, and General Accounting Office-there is a great need to have an open and frank debate about the future role of the Corps' civil works program in the development of our nation's water resources.

"The Corps current approach is not adequately serving the interests of American taxpayers and the environment.

"A series of legislative proposals introduced in the 107th Congress and the President's FY 2004 budget address key Corps reform issues, and I hope these proposals will be given full consideration later this year under the Water Resources Development Act. There is a clear need for change and Congress has a great responsibility to determine what changes are needed-but not the sole authority. The executive branch also has a responsibility. We should be encouraging the Administration to fully participate in the process of developing constructive reforms, not preventing their involvement and particularly not in an appropriations bill.

"The majority of the Congress, let alone the public, is probably unaware that this bill produces a significant change in national forest management policy. This rider takes the concept of stewardship contracting by the Forest Service-that is exchanging goods, timber in most cases, for services rather than money and expands it from a demonstration project program to a full blown program for 10 years and throws the Bureau of Land Management in as well. This provision will allow local Forest Service and BLM officials along with local commercial interests authority to manage public forest as they see fit. When I think of all the time and effort that has been expended by both bodies of Congress deliberating forest issues, I find it difficult to believe that this sweeping change in current practice could be placed in this bill without any consideration by those that have an enormous stake in our forests.

"My staff checked with Arizona forest managers and experts about this rider and were told they were enthusiastic about stewardship contracting only as a demo program because the effects of the existing projects have not been assessed and the program can be only be responsibly and carefully conducted on a project-by-project basis in conjunction with a comprehensive forest management plan. This is what state officials that want the local forest to be well-managed to sustain forest health and reduce wildfire risk have said and they were supportive of extending the deadline for the demonstration stewardship program. But now, we are stuck with this language which isn't good for the Forest Service or the BLM because it adds more controversy to the relationships with interested parties, and it isn't beneficial for our national forests, or the owners of those forests, the public.

"And if you're looking for other policy changes in this bill, you don't have to look any farther than the state of Alaska and one of it's spectacular forests, the Tongass. The Tongass National Forest will be managed differently than any other national forest land because of precedent-setting language in this bill which prevents administrative or judicial review of the 1997 Tongass Land Management Plan. The Forest Service altered the plan in 1999 to protect 18 areas of particular importance to communities in S.E. Alaska, but that was challenged by the timber industry. So this approps. bill will take the future of the Tongass out of the Forest Service's hands and those of other non-commercial interests.

"I can't let this bill pass without mentioning all the billions of dollars in unauthorized water projects that this bill contains. If these projects are technically sound, and economically and environmentally acceptable, why can't they proceed through a deliberative legislative process? The two projects that I previously raised on this floor are still in there and I must say again the Devils Lake project should be studied more thoroughly before construction proceeds, particularly in view of all the concerns of the neighboring states and our neighbor Canada. The Yazoo Pumps project is funded at $5 mill. less than the Senate bill, but it still obligates the federal taxpayers to pay for a project that will cost more than $181 mill and result in the destruction of 200,000 acres of ecologically significant wetlands without a final environmental review or a feasibility report.

NCL provision

"Mr. President, I regret that the conferees chose to adopt a special interest provision for one foreign cruise ship company at the expense of all other competitors. The last time Congress meddled in this area with hollow promises of spurring the American ship building industry, it ended up costing the American taxpayers a whopping $185 million. I shudder to think that we are meddling again.

"The conference report grants a subsidiary of the Malaysian-owned "Norwegian Cruise Lines" (NCL) the exclusive right to operate three large foreign-built cruise vessels in the domestic cruise trade. This will be permitted notwithstanding the Passenger Vessel Services Act, which requires vessels transporting passengers between ports in the U.S. to be U.S.-owned, U.S.-built, U.S.-flagged, and U.S.-crewed. While I am not a fan of those requirements, I cannot support granting a waiver for one company.

"This provision provides an unfair competitive advantage to NCL at the expense of all other cruise ship operators. No other company will be allowed to operate foreign-built U.S.-flag cruise vessels in the domestic market other than NCL. It effectively creates a de facto monopoly for this one foreign company to operate in the Hawaiian Islands, and West and East Coast cruise trades.

"Again, I remind my colleagues, the last time we provided special treatment for one shipping company, it came at a price tag of $185 million. American Classic Voyages' failed "Project America" venture was aided by special exemption language included in the 1998 Department of Defense Appropriation Bill. When American Classic Voyages filed for bankruptcy in October 2001, the American taxpayers paid the price. At what point are we going to say enough is enough, and put a halt to gambling away the hardworking Americans' tax dollars?

"Mr. President, there has been no analysis of the value of granting this exclusive exemption from the Passenger Vessel Services Act to NCL, nor, more importantly, have the Committees of jurisdiction had an opportunity to consider the proposal and analyze its overall impact on the maritime industry.

"This provision provides an unfair competitive advantage to NCL at the expense of all other cruise ship operators. No other company will be allowed to operate foreign-built U.S.-flag cruise vessels in the domestic market other than NCL. It effectively creates a de facto monopoly for this one foreign company to operate in the Hawaiian Islands, and West and East Coast cruise trades.

"Again, I remind my colleagues, the last time we provided special treatment for one shipping company, it came at a price tag of $185 million. American Classic Voyages' failed "Project America" venture was aided by special exemption language included in the 1998 Department of Defense Appropriation Bill. When American Classic Voyages filed for bankruptcy in October 2001, the American taxpayers paid the price. At what point are we going to say enough is enough, and put a halt to gambling away the hardworking Americans' tax dollars?

"Mr. President, there has been no analysis of the value of granting this exclusive exemption from the Passenger Vessel Services Act to NCL, nor, more importantly, have the Committees of jurisdiction had an opportunity to consider the proposal and analyze its overall impact on the maritime industry.

Aviation

"Mr. President, there are numerous other provisions in this conference report that circumvent the clear jurisdiction of the Commerce Committee. For example, it incorporates almost wholesale a bill passed last year by the House of Representatives regarding air traffic control towers. The provision expands on the class of air traffic control towers that is eligible for federal money. While I'm all for aviation safety and this may be a good provision, I'm troubled by several aspects of it.

"First, the provision doesn't just make new towers eligible for reimbursement, it also makes eligible towers that were built beginning in 1996-over seven years ago.

"Things were very different seven years ago. Bill Clinton was President and I had more hair. I know President Clinton's theme song was "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow," by Fleetwood Mac, but I find it very difficult to believe that airports that built towers in 1996 had any expectation they should get reimbursed by the federal government SEVEN years later. It's awfully nice that we're willing to do that. I didn't know this omnibus bill was also the first economic stimulus package of the year. Had I known, I might have sought inclusion of a payroll tax holiday!

"Secondly, at least the provision passed last year by the House provided that an airport tower would be eligible for a grant under this program ONLY IF the Secretary certified that the selection of the tower for eligibility was based on objective criteria, giving "no weight to any congressional committee report, joint explanatory statement of a conference report, or statutory designation." I wish to congratulate my House colleagues. Clearly, they were concerned about the pork barrel politics practiced by the appropriators and tried to insulate this particular program from such antics. However, the appropriations committee decided that this took away too much of their power and deleted the provision. I don't mean they rewrote the provision. They literally crossed it out in the conference report.

"Mr. President, the conference report also includes a provision that implements a whole new funding scheme for for airport security projects. I am very concerned about funding for airport security. This is a reauthorization year for aviation programs, and the Senate Commerce Committee, the committee of jurisdiction, has already begun hearings on FAA issues.

"Yet the appropriators have taken it upon themselves to establish a brand new funding scheme that has never been vetted, discussed, or voted on by the authorizors. Some might start to wonder just what the Commerce Committee's role is in policy decisions regarding the programs under its jurisdiction.

"This provision authorizes a new $2.5 billion program over 5 years for airport security projects without any discussion that I am aware of. The TSA was not consulted about this provision. It seems that the special interest groups who were shopping this provision were the only ones that mattered. If this had gone through the regular legislative process, at least all parties could have been heard. There are many different ways to fund security projects. This provision may be a good one, it mirrors a similar program set up at the FAA. However, the DOT Inspector General proposed several other ideas to our committee.

"Another provision would allow airports to give Airport Improvement Program (AIP) money back to the FAA so the agency can hire staff to speed up environmental reviews airport projects. This is an area in which the Commerce Committee took action on last year and will continue to pursue this year. It should not be addressed in an appropriations bill.

"While the earmarking in this legislation is as egregious as ever, the raiding of existing accounts for unrelated purposes is equally appalling. The AIP program is supposed to be devoted to the infrastructure needs of our nation's airports. Yet the conference report takes tens of millions of dollars out of AIP to pay for the FAA's costs of administering the EAS program, and the Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program. These are worthy activities and programs, but it violates the long-established purpose of AIP to use monies for these things. This continual raiding of AIP which is also being encroached upon by the appropriation of security costs from it will slow the necessary development of the nation's infrastructure. We may be in an aviation funding crisis this year if this wholesale taking of money from accounts that are for capacity, infrastructure and modernization does not stop.

Amtrak

"I want to commend the conferees for their attempts to help protect the investment that the American taxpayers continue to provide to Amtrak, which since 1971, has received federal subsidies totaling $26 billion-an enormous sum for a system that serves less than one percent of the traveling public.

"The conference report, which provides Amtrak $1.05 billion for FY 2003, includes conditions that require the funding to be appropriated on a quarterly basis through formal grant agreements with the Department of Transportation (DOT). Amtrak also will be required to spend its appropriated funds only on items identified in its business plan and approved by DOT. And, such funds may only be spent on existing plant and services, not on grandiose or far-fetched expansion plans. These controls are a step in the right direction.

"The conferees also worked to ensure that Amtrak reserves sufficient funds to meet its contractual obligations with state and local subdivisions for commuter and intercity corridor services. Amtrak should not be in a position to shut down commuter operations, as it threatened last summer, because it does not have sufficient funds to operate its entire network. Commuter operations, such as those on the Northeast Corridor, are funded by state and local governments and clearly should continue to operate even if other Amtrak operations should cease. Further, Corridor trains that the states are helping subsidize also should also receive priority. Continuing to operate Northeast Corridor services, off-Corridor commuter service, and those trains financed in part by the states would preserve service for 93% of Amtrak's combined intercity and commuter ridership.

"While the conference committee has slightly reduced Amtrak's appropriation from that provided in the Senate-passed measure, from $1.2 billion to $1.05 billion, it also has postponed repayment of Amtrak's $100 million dollar loan from DOT, effectively providing Amtrak $1.15 billion, or only $50 million less than the $1.2 billion Amtrak requested. Although Amtrak may end the year with less than its targeted $75 million in working capital, it should be able to continue operating while Congress considers the long-term future for intercity passenger rail service. I look forward to a full and open debate on this issue.

Tourism Board

"Mr. President, the conferees authorize the Secretary of Commerce to award grants and make direct lump sum payments of up to $50,000,000 to support travel to the United States. To carry out this new authority, the appropriators establish the United States Travel and Tourism Promotion Advisory Board and provide $50,000,000. This Tourism Board has never been considered by the authorizing committee of jurisdiction, nor did the Department of Commerce have any input on the creation of this new Board. This is another example of authorizing language in an appropriations bill and $50,000,000 is an enormous amount of money for an initiative that has not yet been fully vetted.

NASA

"Mr. President, I commend the conferees for their efforts to address the funding needs of the Space Shuttle Columbia accident investigation. Just yesterday, the Commerce Committee held a hearing on the investigation, and I agree that the Congress should be supportive of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. We must find the cause of this horrible tragedy, and ensure that such an accident never happens again.

"Unfortunately, other NASA provisions are included in the conference report that should be handled by the authorizing committee of jurisdiction. For example, the conference report establishes a NASA working capital fund for capital repairs, renovations, rehabilitation, sustainment, demolition, or replacement of NASA real property. As Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over NASA, I am fully aware of NASA's declining infrastructure and the need to ensure safety of NASA missions. In light of the Space Shuttle Columbia accident, I think it would be a prudent course of action if we fully consider this provision in the context of an overall review of NASA, which is currently underway. No hearings have yet been held on this proposed working capital fund, nor has it been considered by the full Senate. I do not question the conferees strong interest in addressing NASA funding needs, but I note this is yet another case of authorizing on an appropriations bill.

"I am particularly concerned by provisions in the conference report that would establish a NASA demonstration project regarding an enhanced-use lease of real property. The Commerce Committee has not had a chance to review this language, and no hearings have been held on this enhanced lease scheme. The leasing of public property deserves a public discussion.

Election Reform

"I am pleased to see that the conferees appropriated almost $1.5 billion to implement the election reform bill. This funding is a good start for a process to improve our system of election administration and renew the public's confidence in our election system. I am especially pleased that this conference report includes payments to help states to promote disabled voter access.

NOAA

"The conference report provides more than $490 million in earmarks and programs just for the aquatic - not atmospheric - programs of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This funding will go toward more than 150 line items. The Administration did not request funding for these programs in their budget; in fact, many programs that they did request funding for are underfunded or zero-funded.

"The conference report appropriates an astounding $100,000,000 for fisheries disaster assistance.

"Of this amount, $35,000,000 is for direct assistance to the state of Alaska, for any person, business, or town that has experienced an economic hardship even remotely related to fishing. This money is in addition to the $20,000,000 they are also getting for developing an Alaskan seafood marketing program.

"Of the remainder:

$35,000,000 is for the shrimp industries of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic, to provide far-reaching assistance for many aspects of these fisheries;

$20,000,000 is provided for voluntary capacity reduction programs in the Northeast and West Coast groundfish fisheries;

$5,000,000 is for Hawaiian fishermen affected by fishing area closures and other management rules; and

$5,000,000 is for blue crab fisheries affected by low harvests.

"The report also provides these hand-outs without requiring any accountability for how the money is actually spent. These appropriations were made without offering any form of justification or rationale. How much federal money do these regions really need, if any? If these needs are legitimate, how do they compare to the needs of other regions? We'll never know, because these appropriations circumvented every stage of committee review, consultation, analysis, and authorization. We have no basis for determining how necessary this is or whether or not this is sound policy.

"Furthermore, the conference report requires the Department of Commerce and Coast Guard to provide coordinated, routine support for fisheries monitoring and enforcement through use of remote sensing, aircraft, and communications assets, with particular emphasis on federal waters seaward of the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia. Again, without any review by the authorizing committee, we have no basis for knowing why this is regional program is a good use of federal dollars and resources. Is this really the best use of limited Coast Guard resources, at a time when our country is under a heightened terror alert?

"The conference report also earmarks $10 million from the "Promote and Develop Fishery Products and Research Pertaining to American Fisheries" fund, to develop an Alaskan seafood marketing program. $10 million is whole lot of money to be spending on a marketing program, yet we are given no details on exactly what this federal funding will be used.

Coast Guard

"The conference report and statement of managers earmarks a total of $83.962 million of the Coast Guard budget. The level of Coast Guard earmarks increased over $10 million compared to the enacted FY02 Coast Guard budget.

"In this critical time when the Coast Guard is so hard pressed to carry out it Homeland Security missions, in addition to its many traditional missions, it is indefensible to be earmarking the Coast Guard's budget for pet products. Adding insult to injury, the Committee report takes the Coast Guard to task for devoting its scarce resources to homeland security at the expense of its other traditional missions, yet in the same report, they earmark critically needed resources for other projects. This type of micro-management serves only to tie the Coast Guard's hands and deny it the flexibility it needs to respond to very real threats.

"We all know the Coast Guard is underfunded and definitely in need of additional personnel and resources. Our first step should be to give it its full budget without these unrequested and restrictive earmarks.

"Here are just a few examples.

The statement of managers earmarks $1,600,000 for enhanced oil spill prevention activities in the waters of Washington State. This earmark was not requested by the Administration and I think it should probably receive an award for the most creative language. It states, and I quote, "the Committee expects the Captain of the Port to use his professional judgment in allocating these funds to measures that he believes will best protect these waters. Such measures could include a cost sharing arrangement with the State of Washington for the hiring of a rescue tug at Neah Bay. However, these funds could be allocated to alternative measures if, in the view of the Captain of the Port, such alternative measures will provide a superior level of protection." Does anyone wonder what decision the Appropriations Committee expects this Coast Guard captain to make?

$4 million is for LTS-101 helicopter engines.

The statement of managers earmarks $10,000,000 of the Coast Guard's Acquisition, Construction, and Improvements budget for a new line item entitled "Security Surveillance and Protection." What does this mean? The Senate report vaguely stated that this provision is to develop and acquire equipment that will improve security surveillance and perimeter protection capabilities in the Nation's ports, waterways, and coastal zones. In other words, it could mean almost anything.

The statement of managers earmarks $16,000,000 for costs associated with repairing and rebuilding the Coast Guard's Integrated Support Center at Pier 36 in Seattle. These funds are in addition to the $10,000,000 earmarked for this project in the FY2002 Transportation Appropriations bill. None of these are funds were requested by the Administration and this project is not one of the Coast Guard's highest priorities for shoreside construction. My question is, how much will be earmarked for this project in next year's budget?

Of particular note, the Conference report earmarks over 27 percent of the Coast Guard's research and development budget for specific projects. These earmarks will hinder the Coast Guard's efforts to better surveil our ports, create new technologies to detect explosives and weapons of mass destruction, and develop non-lethal technologies.

The statement of managers earmarks $1,000,000 to support the continued development, demonstration, and evaluation of engineered wood composites at Coast Guard facilities. The statement of managers also earmarks $1,000,000 for a pilot project to test automatic search and rescue spectral imaging technology for Coast Guard C-130 aircraft solely located at Kalaeloa, Hawaii.

Once again we are seeing an Appropriations Bill attempting to circumvent the authorization process. This bill would limit the funding for Coast Guard flag officers to 37. The Coast Guard is authorized under Title 14 to have 48 flag officers and currently has 37 flag officers on active duty. As the Coast Guard grows in size to meet its new homeland security missions it will not have any of its authorized flexibility to promote additional flag officers. If there is a concern that the Coast Guard has too many flag officers, then that concern should be raised through the Commerce Committee.

The bill authorizes the Coast Guard Yard at Curtis Bay, Maryland and other Coast Guard specialty facilities designated by the Commandant to enter into joint public-private partnerships and in doing so may enter into agreements, receive, and retain funds from and pay funds to such public and private entities, and may accept contributions of funds, materials, services, and the use of facilities from such entities. This provision would enable the federally subsidized Yard to indirectly compete with private industry for shipbuilding contracts. This is authorization language pertaining to the Coast Guard Yard that is clearly within the jurisdiction of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. Nonetheless prior to the consideration of this legislation by the Appropriations Committee, it did not consult with or notify either the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee concerning the changes in law.

"Mr. President, let me conclude by saying that our uncertain economy and our current vital national security concerns show that we need more than ever to prioritize our federal spending. As the appropriators have shown us, they do not understand this yet. What does it take? We can and we must do better.

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