Mr. PACKARD. Madam Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 598, I call up the conference report on the bill (H.R. 4733) making appropriations for energy and water development for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2001, and for other purposes.
The Clerk read the title of the bill.
Mr. PACKARD. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present to the House the conference report on H.R. 4733, the fiscal year 2001 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act.
At the outset, I would like to briefly state how pleased I am that the conference committee was able to work out the dramatic differences between the House and the Senate bills as amicably as we have and with a positive effect. Given the great divide over the House and Senate priorities, many concluded that we would never be able to resolve our differences. Not only did we resolve those differences, but we did so in such a way that the critical priorities of the House were carefully protected.
I am proud of the agreement struck between the House and that Senate on energy and water resources development programs. It was a difficult and arduous negotiation, but the product of our deliberations is a package that will help strengthen our defense, rebuild our critical infrastructure, and increase our scientific knowledge.
The total amount included in the conference agreement for energy and water program is $23.3 billion. This is about $1.6 billion over the amount included in the House-passed bill. The bill also includes $214 million in emergency appropriations primarily to continue recovery operations at the Los Alamos National Laboratory as a result of the Cerro Grande fire.
I am especially pleased with the level of funding we have recommended for [Page: H8417]
the Civil Works program of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. At $4.52 billion, the recommended funding is almost $460 million higher than the administration's inadequate budget request. The majority of this increase, about $350 million, is in the Corps' construction program. While that may sound like a large increase, the amount we have recommended is about the same as the amount
the Corps will expend this year on construction. If we had funded the construction program at the level requested by the administration, the result would have been schedule delays, increased project costs, and the loss of project benefits.
In addition to providing more funding for ongoing projects, I am pleased that the conference agreement includes funding for a number of new construction starts.
For the Bureau of Reclamation we have provided $816 million, which is $10 million above the fiscal year 2000 level and $24 million above the budget request.
Perhaps the most significant item is one that we did not fund, the Bay-Delta Ecosystem Restoration Program in my State of California. The administration had requested $60 million to continue this program in fiscal year 2001. However, the authorization for the program expires at the end of this fiscal year; and as a result, neither the House nor the Senate included funding in their respective bills for this project.
The House authorizing committee reported the bill to reauthorize this program for fiscal year 2001; and as late as yesterday afternoon, we thought a compromise had been reached to permit the program to go forward. However, negotiations broke down when the Senate did not agree with the proposal. Accordingly, we have not funded it in this conference report.
For the non-defense programs of the Department of Energy, our top priority all year long was to provide adequate funding for the basic research programs of the Department. The basic research performed by the Department of Energy has led to many of the technological breakthroughs that have helped our economy grow. These programs will be even more important as we move into the 21st century.
I am pleased to report that additional allocations were received to enable us to fund these programs near the level requested by the administration. For renewable energy programs, I am pleased to report that we were able to provide about $30 million over the House-passed level.
For the Atomic Energy Defense programs of the Department of Energy, the conference agreement includes about $13.5 billion. These funds will permit the Department to ensure that we have a reliable and safe nuclear weapons stockpile.
For the National Ignition Facility, we provided $199 million. We are very concerned about the way this program has been managed in the past. However, we believe that the Department has assembled the management team and put in place the procedures that will enable the project to be successfully completed.
I need to point out to the Members of the House that when we were at conference this week, we received a letter signed by the President's chief of staff indicating that the President would veto the bill if a provision regarding the management of the Missouri River included in the Senate bill was not dropped in the conference. It was not dropped, incidentally, in the conference. I believe that this is the only item in the bill that the Senate actually voted on. Therefore, the provision was retained
I would point out that the President has signed this very same provision into law four times previously. I would hope that on the fifth time the President would not see fit to veto the entire bill over this one issue that he has agreed to in the past and would not allow a single issue to destroy months of hard work by the House and the Senate.
The conference agreement includes funding for many of the administrative initiatives, particularly in the Department of Energy's science programs, but also in a number of smaller programs that are important to the President.
I want to thank my Senate counterpart, Chairman PETE DOMENICI, and his ranking minority member, Senator HARRY REID, for their cooperation and hard work in conferencing the bill. Moreover, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to my colleagues on the House Subcommittee on Energy and Water, whose devoted efforts have made this conference report possible.
I am especially grateful to my very good friend and the ranking minority member of the House subcommittee, the honorable gentleman from Indiana (Mr. VISCLOSKY), for his tremendous effort on behalf of this conference report.
Some last minute issues arose yesterday that had the potential to reopen our conference and not allow us to be here today and finish the work. His willingness to cooperate permitted us to complete our work, and I am deeply grateful for his cooperation.
I also want to thank our chairman, the gentleman from Florida (Mr. YOUNG), and the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. OBEY), the ranking member of the full committee, for their cooperation in enabling us to bring this conference report to the floor today.
I would be remiss if I did not express my sincere gratitude to all of the staff people who have worked on this conference report. They have given untireless effort to getting the conference report ready for this morning, and I sincerely want to thank them: Mr. Bob Schmidt, the clerk of the committee; Jeanne Wilson; Tracey LaTurner; Witt Anderson; Terry Tyborowski; Sally Chadbourne; and Rich Kaelin; and perhaps several others even on the Senate side that have helped us so much.
I believe the conference agreement is balanced and fair. I would urge the unanimous support of the House for its adoption. I would hope we could quickly conclude action on this conference report so we can get the bill to the White House before the new fiscal year begins.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. VISCLOSKY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would want to note for all of the Members in the Chamber that as we begin the debate on this conference report, this will also be the last time that the gentleman from California (Mr. PACKARD) will manage legislation on the House floor.
As I mentioned in my earlier remarks during House consideration of this legislation, we ought to all just take a moment to appreciate the fact that for over 4 decades, every day of every year of more than 40 years, the gentleman from California (Mr. PACKARD) has dedicated his life not only to his family, but to his country. We are richer for that. And given the experience I have had during the last 2 years of working closely with the gentleman from California (Mr. PACKARD) as my
chairman, I certainly would emphasize to all of the Members of the House that the golf game of the gentleman from California (Mr. PACKARD) will certainly improve, not that it needs much improvement, in his retirement, his family will see him more often, but we will be the poorer of it.
Again, I would say to the gentleman from California (Mr. PACKARD), he has done a terrific job, and we ought to give him a hand.
Mr. Speaker, I want to also not only thank the gentleman from California (Mr. PACKARD) and the members of the subcommittee and full committee, but to thank those who are truly responsible for ensuring that this legislation is on the floor, and that is the staff connected with the committee, as well as the personal offices. I want to thank Nora Bomar, who is in the office of the gentleman from California (Mr. PACKARD); Terry Tyborowski; Carol Angier; Tracey LaTurner; Witt Anderson;
Sally Chadbourne; Jeanne Wilson; Bob Schmidt; Rich Kaelin; and, as a former associate staff person myself, all of the associate staff who worked so hard with the professional staff throughout the year to make this conference report a reality.
Before getting into the merits of the bill, I would also want to express my regret and apology to Members who feel that, for whatever reason, their requests were not met in this bill. While we did receive a larger allocation after conference, there clearly was more demand placed on us than ability to perform. [Page: H8418]
I do want to emphasize to Members that, regardless of which side of the aisle they were on, particularly on water projects, we tried to give everyone every serious consideration, every fair consideration, but clearly we could not do everything. I do regret that. I am sure that the gentleman from California (Mr. PACKARD) does as well. It was unavoidable.
During House consideration and consideration in the committee, I expressed concern that as far as this country's investment in infrastructure, we have fallen short; and while we have moved strongly in the right direction during conference on this bill, I would reiterate that, for myself, I do believe that we continue to under invest in economic infrastructure, and I would continue to use the Army Corps as an example of that failure.
There are $30 billion on the active construction list that are authorized, that are economically justified, and that are supported by non-Federal entity. Most of those will, unfortunately, not be funded in this bill, because, again, of the squeeze of our allocation. There is $450 million in backlog of critical deferred maintenance for next year alone, and the Corps estimates they need $700 million per year to permit projects to move forward on their most efficient schedule.
The administration asked for a new initiative on recreational facility modernization, and the money was not available to do that. The administration asked for the Challenge 21 Riverine Exploration Program to begin, and there was not enough money for that.
Generically, in constant dollars, we have seen expenditure on these kinds of projects to decline from 1996 of $5 billion to approximately $1.7 billion during the 1990s in constant dollars. So while we have improved this bill and increased funding for economic infrastructure, I think, generically, this institution and the administration has not paid enough attention to this critical need.
I would also want to advise Members that while I am going to vote for this bill, they should all, as a matter of information, understand that the President has threatened to veto this bill because of a paragraph included in the Senate relative to a master water control manual for the Missouri River that is being developed by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Relative to the House mark, the Army Corps of Engineers will have an additional $395 million, and I think that is a vast improvement. I am also happy that the compromise struck in the conference raised the dollars to the House level relative to the regulatory programs that the Corps has to undergo. That figure is $125 million.
I would note, however, for the record that because of additional regulatory requirements that the Corps has now undertaken, as well as additional reporting requirements that we will be imposing on the Corps in this bill, it is my belief today that the Corps remains $6 million short.
I warn Members that I hope we do not see a self-fulfilling prophesy; and that is during the debate on these new regulations and requirements the suggestion was this was going to slow down permitting process nationally, well, if you do not give an agency the required monies, that is not a possibility. It would not in this case be the Army Corps' fault.
We had a debate during House consideration as far as monies set aside for civilian science. That number is higher today than it was in the House, and in fact is $356 million higher.
Finally, we had an amendment in debate on renewable energy. The figure in this conference is $422 million. That is $59 million greater than when the bill left the House, but I would also note for the information of Members that it remains $30 million below the President's request. Again, I have these iterations essentially for the information of Members.
It has been a pleasure to work with the gentleman from California (Chairman PACKARD). This is a good bill, I support it, but I do want Members to be fully informed before their vote.
Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. OBEY).
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, the two gentleman bringing this bill to the floor have done a fine job. The gentleman from California (Mr. PACKARD) is a fine Member of this institution, and I am going to hate to see him leave his post. The gentleman from Indiana (Mr. VISCLOSKY) is also an extremely fine Member. But I am not going to vote for this bill, and I want to explain why.
This bill is the product of the total and utter collapse of the budget process. That collapse came about as a result of the adoption of a budget resolution last spring which pretended that domestic spending priorities could be squeezed to the bone, far below the level that everyone understood would actually be producible by this Congress, and under that resolution the House then proceeded to debate and pass all 13 appropriation bills. We spent the entire summer working on those bills. Many of
those bills passed by the narrowest of margins because of concerns expressed on both sides of the aisle over the lack of adequate resources being provided and most of them to fund government activities.
Now, suddenly, in the last inning, in the middle of September, only a few weeks before the beginning of the fiscal year, that budget resolution has been thrown out. Discipline has been thrown out. Now we are told that we should ignore all decisions that were made in early morning and late night sessions throughout the spring and summer to produce radically different bills.
The new guidelines that we have been given by the Republican leadership are to spend up to 10 percent of the unified budget surplus of nearly $280 billion. That was first interpreted to mean about $28 billion. Later Republican leaders revealed that, relative to the budget passed last spring, they would permit $41 billion of the surplus to be spent. But you need to understand that really means close to $80 billion. Here is why.
The surplus is only spent when the funds actually leave the Treasury. Most appropriations for discretionary programs do not result in all of the money leaving the Treasury in the fiscal year for which they are provided. They are spent later. So, on average, only half of the appropriated funds leave the Treasury in any give year, and, for some programs, less than one-tenth of the appropriated funds result in funds leaving the Treasury during that same fiscal year. As a result, that $40 billion
in spending can be leveraged into an expenditure of up to $80 billion, and, if you really twist the numbers, you could squeeze even more than $80 billion in additional spending into the budget.
That is why this bill now can come to the floor almost $2 billion above the level of the same bill passed by the House in the summer, and $800 million above the level requested by the President.
Now, the leadership is arguing that the reason this has to be done is to reach compromise with the President because they do not want him to veto the bill. Well, if you take a look the statement of administration policy for this bill when this bill was reported in mid-June, almost $2 billion lower in spending than the bill now before us, you do not find in that eight-page statement the word ``veto.'' The President would have signed that bill as it stood in June.
The problem that we have here is that the $2 billion that has been added to this bill was not for him, it was for Members of this body, and this is not the only bill where that is happening. The problem is that I might be willing to vote for this money if I knew what was going to happen in some of the other bills, but we are being told, for instance, that in the Labor, Health and Education conference, that we cannot add to the amount that has been agreed to by the majority in that conference.
So there is no room in the budget for additional funding above the level that the Republican Party has laid out for the Labor, Health and Education programs, and yet they have room to put $2 billion of additional money in for this program.
I am not willing to vote for that added money in this bill, if it means that it is going to be squeezed out of education or out of health or out of worker protection programs. Those are not my priorities.
If we have to choose, and we should have to choose, there should be some limits, there should be some context, there should be some discipline; but the problem is that there is none, because under the new rules under which [Page: H8419]
we are now proceeding in this rush to get out of town, the only people who know what the spending limits are are a few staffers in the leadership offices of the majority party. The problem is that they change the rules every 2 or 3
So at this point, by voting for the additional $2 billion in this bill, I do not know what consequences there are for other programs in the budget that, to me, are of higher priority. That is why I am not going to vote for this bill.
I mean no criticism of either of the gentleman, and I certainly mean no criticism of the gentleman from Florida (Mr. YOUNG), the full committee chairman.
But this process by which decisions are made arbitrarily by a few staffers on instruction from a few other staffers in the House leadership office disenfranchises rank and file members of the Committee on Appropriations. And if we doubt that, take a look at what is happening in all the other conferences. Those rank and file members are not in those conferences.
It also disenfranchises the vast majority of members of both parties in this House. That is not the fault of the Committee on Appropriations. In the end, the committee, the way this place works, will take the heat for it, but it is not the fault of the Committee on Appropriations. They are simply following the orders of their leadership.
So the result is we have institutional chaos, no discipline, no real understanding of what the rules are, and no context in which to judge whether the amount of money being put in these bills is responsible or not.
That is why, and I mean no criticism of these two gentlemen, but that is why I intend to vote against this bill. Because this is a lousy way to run a railroad, and it is a lousy way to run a legislative body that is supposed to be the greatest legislative body in the world.
Mr. YOUNG of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I thank the very distinguished gentleman from California (Mr. PACKARD), chairman of the subcommittee, for yielding me this time. I wanted to say to the gentleman, and I know it is not appropriate to direct a comment directly from one Member to another without going through the Chair, so, Mr. Speaker, let me say to the gentleman from California through the Speaker that he has been an outstanding member of the Committee on Appropriations, an outstanding
Member of the House of Representatives, and he has been a dynamic chairman on the subcommittees on which he has chaired over the last 6 years.
I would say that one way that a chairman of a committee can be successful in getting the job done is to have outstanding subcommittee chairmen. The gentleman from California (Mr. PACKARD) certainly fits that bill. He is, and has been, an outstanding subcommittee chairman.
Also, he has been a very good friend to this chairman, and I think to most everybody in this House Chamber. So, Mr. Speaker, I want the gentleman to know how much we are going to miss him, and I regret his decision to retire voluntarily from the United States Congress.
Mr. Speaker, I want to compliment the gentleman from California (Chairman PACKARD) and also the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. VISCLOSKY), the ranking minority member, for having brought this bill to the floor. It has not been an easy task. There have been many, many differences on this bill. There are many Members who have requests for projects in the bill that did not make it. They did not make it, not because they were not important projects, not because they were not necessary,
but because we were trying to be as fiscally conservative as we could possibly be. I know that there are several Members who are looking for another opportunity to have their projects considered.
But the idea that the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. OBEY) spoke to just a moment ago, that he would not support this bill because he was not sure what would be done in some other bill, well, that is not the way the process works. Mr. Speaker, we have 13 separate bills. I would say to and remind my colleagues that the House of Representatives has passed all 13 of our bills. And I cannot say that often enough. And we passed them at lower spending levels than the White House or many Members
of the minority side wanted.
If my colleagues recall, we spent hour after hour, day after day on some of these bills dealing with amendments to add more billions of dollars, and we fought off successfully most of those amendments, realizing that there was only a certain amount of money that we ought to spend.
Just because there is a $230 billion surplus out there, we do not have to spend it all. In our homes, in our personal lives, in our businesses, and in our government, at a time of great prosperity, we pay down some of our bills that have been haunting us for months or years before. That is one of the things that we are committed to doing in this Congress, pay down some of those debts.
Mr. Speaker, we have paid in the last 2 years nearly half a trillion dollars on the public debt that this Nation owed. That is good news, and it is good news for this reason, Mr. Speaker: it is good news because we have had to pay a substantial interest payment on the national debt. $250 billion is a good round figure to estimate what the interest payment on the national debt was last year and would be this year.
Can my colleagues imagine how many schools we could build? School construction is a big issue. How many schools could we build with $250 billion that we are now paying out as interest on the national debt? How many highways could we build or bridges could we build? How much more advantage could we give to our veteran population in medical care? In some areas veterans have to wait in line to get their medical care because the demand is greater than the supply available.
So, it is important that we have fought off some of these big spending amendments. I found it really ironic yesterday when I read a statement by the President of the United States scolding Congress for being a ``big spending Congress.'' Well, up until just the last couple of weeks, he was scolding us for not providing all of the money that he wanted for all of his programs. He cannot have it both ways. There he goes again. On the one hand he is scolding us for not spending enough; on the other
hand he scolds us for spending too much.
Mr. CALLAHAN. Mr. Speaker, the gentleman brought up the subject I wanted to discuss and that was the news accounts last night where I saw the President criticizing the majority for wanting to spend too much money. I have been in on some of the negotiations. The gentleman from Florida has been in all of them. In every instance that I have been involved in we have been trying to hold down the growth in spending; and the President's representatives ought to go see the President and see what he was
talking about, because the representatives he has negotiating these appropriation bills with us are insisting that we spend more money, that we increase the size of government. Yet the President very clearly last night on the news account indicated that we were trying to hold him hostage so we could spend more money.
I am glad the gentleman from Florida clarified that, because I was confused. I thought maybe I had fallen asleep in some of those meetings.
Mr. YOUNG of Florida. Mr. Speaker, reclaiming my time, I thank the gentleman from Alabama for those comments.
I think it is important that our colleagues know this. We have been very diligent in communicating with the White House and the President's staff, and the Office of Management and Budget, to do the best we could to accommodate the wishes that they had within our strong desire to keep the budget balanced and to pay down a substantial amount on our national debt.
Anyway, Mr. Speaker, we are at this point. This bill should be decided on its own merits. We should not vote for this bill or against this bill because of what may or may not be in some other appropriations bill. This is a good bill, and all of the minority members signed [Page: H8420]
the conference report except for the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. OBEY), so I think that is an indication that this is a pretty decent bipartisan appropriations bill.
Again, I congratulate the gentleman from California (Chairman PACKARD) and the ranking member, the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. VISCLOSKY), for bringing a good bill to this floor; and I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.
Mr. HINCHEY. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate what the gentleman just said, and I think that that is a very good procedure and the right direction, but is it not true that the bill appropriates an additional $2 billion for a variety of unknown works, and that it is $32 million [Page: H8421]
below the requests for energy conservation and alternative energy as requested by the President; is not that true?
Mr. PACKARD. Reclaiming my time, the $2 billion figure has been thrown around several times today. It is an inaccurate figure. We have increased the funding for this bill to the tune of $1.6 billion, not $2 billion. But the fact is we have readdressed the alternative fuel issue, and we have increased it substantially this year over last year. That is moving in the right direction and in the direction the gentleman has addressed.
Mr. BLILEY. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from California (Mr. PACKARD) for yielding me the time.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to the conference report before the House. We are supposed to be considering an appropriations conference report today. Instead, what we have before us is a legislative outrage.
Mr. Speaker, who knew that instead of funding energy and water programs this year, we would be bailing out the nuclear industry to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Well, that is exactly what this bill does, by dramatically changing the fee structure that the industry pays to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. [Page: H8423]
That is not all. Who knew that not only would we be funding the Department of Energy this year, but we would be legislating major changes to the agency that safeguards our nuclear secrets? That is right. This conference report contains substantial amendments to the National Nuclear Security. The NNSA has not been doing such a great job in the last year, does anyone really think that legislative on the fly like this is going to improve our nuclear safety?
It is conference reports like this, Mr. Speaker, that have gotten the American people sick and tired with Washington politics. Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to vote against the conference report.