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Letter from OMB Director Bolten to Rep. Bill Young Concerning the FY 2005 VA/HUD Appropriations bill

Status Report From: Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
Posted: Sunday, July 25, 2004

July 22, 2004

The Honorable C. W. Bill Young
Chairman
Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C.  20515

Dear Mr. Chairman:

The Administration appreciates the expeditious consideration of the thirteen FY 2005 Appropriations Bills in the House, including the FY 2005 Department of Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Bill.  The Administration, however, would not support House passage of the FY 2005 VA/HUD Appropriations bill as it is currently drafted.

The President supports a discretionary spending total of not more than $819 billion, in addition to $2.5 billion in advance appropriations for Project BioShield, consistent with his FY 2005 Budget.  The President’s Budget responsibly holds the growth in total discretionary spending to less than four percent and the growth in non-security spending to less than one percent, while providing the critical resources needed for our Nation’s highest priorities:

fighting the war on terror, strengthening our homeland defenses, and sustaining the momentum of our economic recovery.  Consistent with the need for responsible spending restraint, the Administration urges the Congress to fully fund unavoidable obligations and not to include any emergency funding, including contingent emergencies, unless mutually agreed upon in advance by both the Congress and the Administration.

The Administration appreciates the Committee’s support for our veterans.  The Administration is disappointed, however, that many of the other priorities outlined in the President’s FY 2005 Budget are not adequately funded in this bill, including the President’s “Vision for Space Exploration,” the HUD portion of the Prisoner Re-entry Initiative, and AmeriCorps.

In January, the President outlined his “Vision for Space Exploration,” a bold new initiative that committed the United States to a long-term human and robotic program to explore the solar system.  This vision for space exploration invests in America's future.  It will nurture the next generation of skilled workers and drive innovation, thereby helping the Nation ensure its technological leadership, security, and economic strength.  While the Administration appreciates the Subcommittee’s words of support for the new exploration vision, the funding levels provided by the Committee would drastically delay plans for FY 2005 critical technology design efforts that are needed to begin to implement the President’s Vision.  As reported by the Committee, the bill includes a total of $15.1 billion for NASA, a reduction of $1.1 billion from the President’s request, and $228.7 million below the FY 2004 enacted appropriation for NASA. 

In addition, no funds were provided by the Committee for the President’s Prisoner Re-Entry program, which would help prevent released prisoners from committing another crime by harnessing the resources and experience of faith-based and community organizations to assist them to contribute to society.  The goal of this program is to decrease costs on society associated with reincarceration by helping inmates adjust and find work when they return to their communities. 

The Administration strongly supports the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and AmeriCorps and is disappointed that the Committee funded CNCS at $572 million, which is $9 million below last year and $70 million below the President’s request.  This level of funding would allow for 70,000 volunteers, 5,000 volunteers below FY 2004 and 5,000 volunteers short of the President’s commitment for FY 2005. 

If the final version of this bill that is presented to the President does not include adequate funding levels for Presidential initiatives, his Senior Advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

The President’s Budget provided a framework to address all Presidential initiatives while maintaining fiscal discipline.  I remain confident that, with the Committee’s continuing cooperation as the legislative process advances, we will be able adequately to fund the President’s priorities while remaining within the agreed upon discretionary spending limits.

Sincerely,

/signed/

Joshua B. Bolten
Director

Identical Letter Sent to The Honorable C. W. Bill Young, The Honorable David R. Obey, The Honorable James T. Walsh, and The Honorable Alan B. Mollohan

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