H.R. 4660, Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015

H.R. 4660

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015

Sponsor
Rep. Frank Wolf

Committee
Appropriations

Date
May 28, 2014 (113th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, May 28, 2014, the House will begin consideration of H.R. 4660, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2015, under a rule.  H.R. 4660 was introduced on May 15, 2014 by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), Chairman, House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies.  The bill was marked up and reported out of the House Appropriations Committee, as amended, on May 8, 2014, by voice vote.[1]

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[1] http://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20140519/HRPT-113-OJCR-HR4660.pdf

Bill Summary

H.R. 4660 funds the Department of Commerce, Department of Justice (DOJ), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other related agencies.  This legislation provides $51.2 billion in total discretionary funding, $398 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level.  “The Committee recommends terminating 33 programs, resulting in savings of more than $250 million from the fiscal year 2014 level and $190 million from the President’s request for these same programs.”[1]  It also rescinds $469 million in unused prior-year funding.

This legislation also makes a number of important policy changes, including: prohibiting the transfer or release of Guantanamo Bay prisoners into the United States; continuing existing provisions related to firearms; prohibiting NASA and the OSTP from engaging in bilateral activities unless authorized or certified; continuing existing policies regarding the sanctity of life; prohibiting contracting to train agency employees to engage in publicity activities; and prohibiting funds to require Federal firearms licensees to report information regarding the sale of multiple rifles or shotguns to the same person.

The major provisions of the bill are as follows:

Title I – Department of Commerce:

The Committee recommends a total of $8.36 billion in discretionary budget authority for the Department of Commerce, which is $175 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level, and $391 million below the President’s request for these programs.  Funding for the Department of Commerce includes funding for the following agencies:

  • International Trade Administration (ITA) – The Committee recommends $463 million in direct appropriations for the ITA, $3 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level, and $34 million below the request.
  • Economic Development Administration (EDA) – The Committee recommends $247.5 million for the programs and administrative expenses of the EDA, which is $1 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and approximately $1 million below the request.  Included in this funding is $5 million in grant funding to encourage the repatriation of jobs lost overseas back to the U.S.
  • U.S. Census Bureau – The Committee recommends $1.11 billion in funding for the U.S. Census Bureau, which is $161 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $105 million below the request.  The Committee recommends $859 million for periodic censuses and programs, and provides for a transfer of $1.5 million to the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for oversight of the Census Bureau.  The increase in funding is needed for research and planning activities in anticipation of the 2020 census.[2]
  • Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) – The bill provides $3.5 billion for the PTO, which is equal to the estimated amount of fees to be collected in fiscal year 2015 by the PTO.  Funding for the PTO is $434 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level.  The bill also allows the PTO to use any fees in excess of the estimated collected amount, subject to Congressional approval.[3]
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – The Committee recommends $856 million for the NIST, $6 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $44 million below the President’s request.  “Within this total, important core research activities are funded at $671 million to help advance U.S. competitiveness, innovation, and economic growth, and improve cyber security. The bill also includes $130 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program, which provides training and technical assistance to U.S. manufacturers in order to boost growth in this important sector of our economy.”[4]
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – The bill provides $5.3 billion for NOAA, including $16 million above the request for National Weather Service operations and systems.[5]  Overall, funding for NOAA is $11 million above fiscal year 2014.  “Within this total, National Weather Service operations and systems are funded above the President’s request, denying proposed cuts to hurricane forecasting and tsunami warning grants. The bill includes full funding for the Joint Polar Satellite System weather satellite program and the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite to help maintain and improve weather forecasting to warn communities about potentially devastating natural disasters.”[6]

Title II – Department of Justice:

The Committee recommends a total of $27.8 billion in discretionary budget authority for the Department of Justice, which is $384 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level, and $137 million above the request.  Title II reduces overhead and administrative costs in the DOJ, including $25 million less than requested for DOJ management.  Funding for the Department of Justice includes funding for the following agencies:

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – The Committee provides $8.5 billion for the FBI, which is an increase of $125 million from the fiscal year 2014 enacted level.  This legislation prioritizes counterterrorism programs, and programs that combat cyber-intrusion, gangs, and human trafficking.
  • Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) – The Committee recommends $2.1 billion for the DEA, which is $35 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level.  In addition, the bill includes $367 million for prescription drug abuse regulatory and enforcement initiatives funded by diversion control fees.[7]
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) – The bill contains $1.2 billion in funding for the ATF, $21 million above the 2014 enacted level.  “The bill continues all provisions carried in previous years related to Second Amendment rights, and makes two of the provisions permanent law.[8]  Also included is a new provision prohibiting funding to implement the international Arms Trade Treaty until it is ratified and approved by the U.S. Senate.”[9]
  • U.S. Marshals Service – This legislation funds the U.S. Marshals Service at $2.8 billion, an increase of $76 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level.  This funding includes $1.6 billion for federal prisoner detention.
  • Federal Prison System – The Committee funds the Bureau of Prisons at $7 billion, an increase of $121 million from the 2014 enacted level.  The funding increase will be used to expand staffing levels and continue funding to open new prisons.  The bill prohibits funding for construction, rehabilitation, or acquisition of a prison in the U.S. for prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay.
  • Grant Programs – The Committee recommends $2.1 billion for various grant programs, $72 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level.  “Within this amount, funds are targeted to the highest-priority national programs, including $425.5 million for Violence Against Women programs (which is $3 million above the President’s request), $376 million for Byrne Justice Assistance Grants, $210 million for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (which the President proposed to eliminate), $45.4 million for Victims of Trafficking grants, and $68 million for missing and exploited children programs.”[10]

Title III – The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF):

 The Committee recommends a total of $25.3 billion for the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), NASA, and the NSF.  This includes $17.9 billion in funding for NASA, which is $250 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $435 million above the request.  NASA funding includes $4.2 billion for exploration, including funding to keep NASA on schedule for the Orion Multipurpose Crew Vehicle and Space Launch System flight milestones, while continuing progress on the commercial crew program.  The funding also includes $3.9 billion for Space Operations, including operation of the International Space Station, and $5.2 billion for Science programs, including $1.5 billion for planetary science to ensure the continuation of critical research and development programs.

Title III also includes $7.4 billion for the NSF, which is $232 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $149 million above the request for basic scientific research.  “This funding is targeted to programs that foster innovation and U.S. economic competitiveness, including funding for research on advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity, neuroscience and STEM education.”[11]  The Committee further recommends $5.5 million for the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), which is the same as the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and the current year’s request.  Overall, the bill includes over $1 billion for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education programs across the NSF, NASA, and NOAA.[12]

Title IV – Related Agencies:

The Committee recommends a total of $869 million in funding for related agencies under this act, a decrease of $12 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $87 million below the request.  Title IV includes funding primarily for the following agencies:

  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – The bill contains $364 million for the EEOC, the same level as fiscal year 2014.
  • International Trade Commission – The bill contains $84.5 million in funding for activities conducted and services provided by the International Trade Commission.
  • Legal Services Corporation – The bill provides $350 million for the Legal Services Corporation, which is $15 million below the 2014 enacted level.
  • Office of the United States Trade Representative – The bill provides $54 million for the Office of the United States Trade Representative, $1 million above the 2014 enacted level.

[1] House Report 113-448, p 2.
[2] http://appropriations.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=377757
[3] Id.
[4] Id.
[5] House Report 113-448, p 4.
[6] http://appropriations.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=377757
[7] House Report 113-448, p 4.
[8] These provisions are: Sec. 517, which permanently prohibits requiring licenses to export firearms and parts to Canada; and Sec. 518, which permanently banning licenses for importing relic or curio firearms.  Both provisions have been previously included in CJS Appropriations bills.
[9] http://appropriations.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=377757
[10] Id.
[11] Id.
[12] House Report 113-448, p 4.

Cost

Based on CBO scoring, the bill provides $51.2 billion in discretionary budget authority, equal to the subcommittee’s 302(b) allocation.

Amendments

(Pre-printed Amendments, as Reflected in the Congressional Records dated May 23, 2014, May 27, 2014, and May 28, 2014)

1)         Rep. Bridenstine (R-OK) Amendment #1  Page 7, line 17, after the dollar amount insert “(reduced by $12,000,000).”  Page 13, line 21, after the dollar amount insert “(increased by $12,000,000).”  Page 14, line 8, after the dollar amount insert “(increased by $12,000,000).”

2)         Rep. Bridenstine (R-OK) Amendment #2  At the end of the bill (before the short title) insert the following: Sec. ____.  None of the funds made available by this Act may be used for the National Technical Information Service.

3)          Rep. Bridenstine (R-OK) Amendment #3 – At the end of the bill (before the short title) insert the following: Sec. ____.  None of the funds made available by this Act may be used by the Bureau of the Census to enforce any penalty under title 13, United States Code, or any other provision of law, against any individual who refuses or willfully neglects to answer questions in connection with the survey, conducted by the Secretary of Commerce, commonly referred to as the “American Community Survey.” Amendment Withdrawn.

4)         Rep. Westmoreland (R-GA) Amendment #4 – Page 74, line 13 after the each dollar amount, insert “(reduced by $150,000,000).”  Page 100, line 17, after the dollar amount, insert “(increased by $150,000,000).”  The amendment reduces funding for the Legal Services Corporation by $150 million and transfers it to the deficit reduction account.

5)         Rep. Castor (D-FL) Amendment #5 – Page 35, line 21, after the dollar amount, insert “(reduced by $15,000,000).”  Page 35, line 22, after the dollar amount insert “(reduced by $15,000,000).”  Page 74, line 13, after the first dollar amount, insert “(increased by $15,000,000).”  The amendment reduces funding for buildings and facilities in the federal prison system, specifically funding available “only for costs related to construction of new facilities,” and redirects it toward the Legal Services Corporation.

6)         Rep. Jackson Lee (D-TX) Amendment #6 – Page 12, line 4, after the dollar amount, insert “(reduced by $400,000).”  Page 72, line 9, after the dollar amount, insert “(increased by $400,000).”  The amendment reduces funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) by $400,000 and redirects it to funding for the Commission on Civil Rights.

7)         Rep. Jackson Lee (D-TX) Amendment #7 – Page 12, line 4, after the dollar amount, insert “(reduced by $2,000,000).”  Page 72, line 13, after the dollar amount, insert “(increased by $2,000,000).”  The amendment reduces funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) by $2 million and redirects it toward funding for the Commission on Civil Rights.

8)         Rep. Jackson Lee (D-TX) Amendment #8 – Page 34, line 8, after the dollar amount, insert “(reduced by $500,000).”  Page 38, line 2, after the dollar amount, insert “(increased by $500,000).”  The amendment reduces funding for the Federal Prison System’s salaries and expenses account and redirects it toward funding for Violence Against Women Prevention and Prosecution Programs.

9)         Rep. Jackson Lee (D-TX) Amendment #9  Page 34, line 8, after the dollar amount, insert “(reduced by $1,000,000).”  Page 65, line 11, after the dollar amount, insert “(increased by $1,000,000).”  The amendment reduces funding for the Federal Prison System’s salaries and expenses account and redirects it toward funding for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) education account.

10)      Rep. Jackson Lee (D-TX) Amendment #10 – At the end of bill, before the short title, add the following new section:  Sec. __. None of the funds made available by this Act for the “DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE–ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW AND APPEALS” may be used in contravention of sections 509 and 510 of title 28, United States Code.

11)      Rep. Holt (D-NJ) Amendment #11 – At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the following:  Sec. __. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used for the purchase or operation of an unmanned aircraft system (as such term is defined in section 331(9) of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012) by any State or local law enforcement agency.

12)      Rep. Holt (D-NJ) Amendment #12 – At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the following:  Sec. __. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used by the Department of Justice to purchase or operate an unmanned aircraft system (as such term is defined in section 331(9) of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012).

13)      Rep. Moran (D-VA) Amendment #13 – Amendment strikes sections 528 and 529.  Section 528 prohibits funding for the transfer or release to the United States of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or any other detainee who is held at Guantanamo Bay and is not a citizen of the United States.  Section 529 prohibits funding from being used to construct a facility in the United States to house Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or any prisoner held at Guantanamo Bay.

14)      Rep. Blackburn (R-TN) Amendment #14 – At the end of the bill, before the short title, insert the following:  Sec. __. (a) Each amount made available by this Act, except those amounts made available to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is hereby reduced by 1 percent.  (b) The reduction in subsection (a) shall not apply with respect to the following accounts of the Department of Justice: (1) “Fees and Expenses of Witnesses”; (2) “Public Safety Officer Benefits”;    (3) “United States Trustee System Fund.”

15)      Rep. Blackburn (R-TN) Amendment #15 – At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the following: Sec. __. None of the funds made available in this Act may be used for operation, renovation, or construction at Thomson Correctional Facility in Illinois.

16)      Rep. Collins (R-GA) Amendment #16 – At the end of the bill (before the short title) insert the following: Sec. __X. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to provide assistance to a State, or political subdivision of a State, that has in effect any law, policy, or procedure in contravention of immigration laws (as defined in section 101(a)(17) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(17))).

17)      Rep. Jolly (R-FL) Amendment #17 Page 7, line 17, after the dollar amount, insert “(reduced by $8,000,000).”  Page 13, line 21, after the dollar amount, insert “(increased by $8,000,000).”  Page 14, line 8, after the dollar amount, insert “(increased by $8,000,000).”  Page 14, line 9, after the dollar amount, insert “(increased by $8,000,000).”  The amendment reduces funding for periodic censuses at the Bureau of the Census and redirects it toward the general fund at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

18)      Rep. Grayson (D-FL) Amendment #18 – Page 44, line 24, strike “$3,000,000” and insert “$6,000,000.”  Amendment increases funding by $3 million for “competitive grants to distribute firearm safety materials and gun locks.”

19)      Rep. Grayson (D-FL) Amendment #19 – Page 54, line 8, after the word “rape” add “or incest.”

20)    Rep. Grayson (D-FL) Amendment #20 – SEC. __ None of the funds made available by this Act may be used by the Federal Bureau of Prisons to solicit, offer, or award a contract in which the federal government is required to provide a minimum number of inmates to a private correctional institution or a private detention center.

21)      Rep. Grayson (D-FL) Amendment #21 – At the end of the bill (before the short title), add the following new section: SEC. __. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to enter into a contract with any offeror any of its principals if the offeror certifies, as required by Federal Acquisition Regulation, that the offeror any of its principals: (A) within a three-year period preceding this offer has been convicted of or had a civil judgment rendered against it for: commission of fraud or a criminal offense in connection with obtaining, attempting to obtain, or performing a public (Federal, State, or local) contract or subcontract; violation of Federal or State antitrust statutes relating to the submission of offers; or commission of embezzlement, theft, forgery, bribery, falsification or destruction of records, making false statements, tax evasion, violating Federal criminal tax laws, or receiving stolen property; or (B) are presently indicted for, or otherwise criminally or civilly charged by a governmental entity with, commission of any of the offenses enumerated above in subsection (A); or (C) within a three-year period preceding this offer, has been notified of any delinquent Federal taxes in an amount that exceeds $3,000 for which the liability remains unsatisfied.

22)      Rep. Davis (D-CA) Amendment #22 – Page 3, line 10, after the dollar amount, insert “(increased by $3,000,000).”  Page 34, line 8, after the dollar amount, insert “(reduced by $3,000,000).”  The amendment reduces funding for the Bureau of Prisons by $3 million and redirects it to the International Trade Administration.

23)      Rep. Connolly (D-VA) Amendment #23 – Page 35, line 21, after the dollar amount, insert “(reduced by $1,120,000).”  Page 35, line 24, after the dollar amount, insert “(reduced by $1,120,000).”  Page 44, line 6, after the dollar amount, insert “(increased by $1,000,000).”  Page 48, line 11, after the dollar amount, insert “(increased by $1,000,000).”  The amendment reduces funding for buildings and facilities in the federal prison system, specifically funding available “only for costs related to construction of new facilities,” by $1.1 million and redirects $1 million to the veterans treatment courts program.

24)      Rep. Southerland (R-FL) Amendment #24 – At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the following: Sec. __. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to develop, approve, or implement a new limited access privilege program (as that term is used in section 303A of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1853a)) that are not already developed, approved, or implemented for any fishery under the jurisdiction of the South Atlantic, Mid-Atlantic, New England, or Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.

25)      Rep. Rohrabacher (R-CA) Amendment #25 – At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the following: Sec. __. None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.

26)      Rep. Gallego (D-TX) Amendment #26 – Page 39, line 23, after the dollar amount, insert “(increased by $4,500,000).”  Page 62, line 19, after the dollar amount, insert “(reduced by $4,500,000).”  The amendment reduces funding for the NASA aeronautics fund by $4.5 million and redirects it toward rural domestic violence and child abuse enforcement assistance grants.

Additional Information

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.

Additional Views

STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY
H.R. 4660 — Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015
(Rep. Rogers, R-KY)

This Statement of Administration Policy provides views on H.R. 4660, making appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015, and for other purposes.  While the Administration appreciates the support for research and development in the bill, H.R. 4660 inadequately funds areas critical to the Nation’s economic growth, security, and competitiveness in the global marketplace, including investments in climate research, assistance to small manufacturers, and support for commercial space flight, census research, and access to justice.  The bill also includes a number of objectionable language provisions that will make it more difficult to protect the public from gun violence and continues unwarranted restrictions regarding detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba that will undermine our national security.

The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress on an orderly appropriations process that supports economic growth, opportunity, and our national security while avoiding unnecessary fiscal crises that hold the Nation’s economy back.  This process should include reconciling funding levels for individual appropriations bills to promote economic growth and national security, and passing bills without ideological provisions that could undermine an orderly appropriations process.

The President’s fiscal year (FY) 2015 Budget provides a roadmap for making investments to accelerate economic growth, expand opportunity for all hard-working Americans, and ensure our national security, while continuing to improve the Nation’s long-term fiscal outlook.  At the same time, the Budget takes key steps to both continue and enhance the Administration’s efforts to deliver a government that is more effective, efficient, and supportive of economic growth.

The President’s Budget adheres to the FY 2015 spending levels agreed to in the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) and shows the choices the President would make at those levels—includinginvestments in research and development that will grow the economy and enable America to remain the world leader in innovation.  However, the levels agreed to in the BBA are already below FY 2007 funding levels adjusted for inflation and are not sufficient—either in FY 2015 or beyond—to ensure the Nation is achieving its full potential. For that reason, the Budget also includes a fully paid for Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative—evenly split between defense and non-defense priorities—that presents additional investments to grow the economy, expand opportunity, and enhance security.  The Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative would support additional research and development at the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Standards and Technology, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and other agencies across the government that would create the businesses and jobs of the future.

The Administration would like to take this opportunity to share additional views regarding the Committee’s version of the bill and urges the Congress to resolve these issues during the FY 2015 appropriations process.

Department of Commerce

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  The Administration appreciates the Committee’s support for the National Weather Service and critical weather satellites.  However, the Administration strongly opposes the significant reductions below FY 2014 funding levels for high priority climate research, as well as the elimination of funding for the Total Solar Irradiance Sensor that is necessary to maintain a long-term climate data record.  NOAA’s climate research will help the Nation better understand, monitor, and prepare for the impacts of climate change.  In addition, the Administration opposes the reduction to NOAA’s fisheries management and coastal restoration programs, including regional coastal resilience grants. These programs contribute to the long-term economic and ecosystem health of the fishing industry and coastal communities throughout the United States.

International Trade Administration (ITA).  The Administration urges the Congress to provide the requested funding level of $497 million for ITA, which would fully fund SelectUSA and the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center.  Reduced funding levels for these two priorities would undermine efforts to increase foreign investment in the United States, create jobs, and ensure a level playing field for U.S. businesses overseas.

Periodic Censuses and Programs.  The Administration objects to the inadequate funding provided to the Census Bureau to produce robust economic and demographic data, or sufficiently prepare for the 2020 Decennial Census.  The Committee’s proposed funding level would increase costs by billions of dollars over the next five years by preventing the Census Bureau from conducting the necessary research, testing, and early implementation activities that are needed to contain costs in conducting the 2020 Census.

Current Population Survey (CPS) Data Collection.  The Administration strongly objects to language in the bill included in the Bureau of the Census, salaries and expenses account requiring that the data collection for CPS use outdated health insurance questions included in previous years.  The revised questions will allow the Census Bureau to better measure the uninsured, while reverting back to the previous questions will create a gap in the data and severely limit its statistical value.

National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).  The Administration opposes the funding reduction from the FY 2014 enacted level and the FY 2015 Budget request for NTIA.  This reduction would prevent NTIA from standing-up the Internet Policy Center to bolster the Administration’s Internet governance and policy efforts.

National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST).  The Administration is concerned that the bill does not provide the requested increases to the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program to support small manufacturing businesses, or those that will enhance benefits from the Manufacturing Institutes Initiative.  These initiatives will help advance the development and adoption of new manufacturing technologies.

Department of Justice (DOJ)

State and Local Assistance Programs. The Administration appreciates the Committee’s support for the Justice Reinvestment Initiative and the Now is the Time Comprehensive School Safety Program.  However, the Administration strongly objects to the Committee’s decision to reduce funding from the requested levels for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention programs and for Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).  The reductions in COPS funding alone would result in almost 1,000 fewer officer hires.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Gun Riders.  The Administration strongly opposes language in the bill that severely inhibits ATF’s ability to combat illegal gun trafficking and protect the public.  This includes the requirement that ATF authorize the importation of certain “curio and relic” firearms simply because of their age and regardless of the danger they may pose; the prohibition against ATF’s current practice of collecting information on the sale of multiple long guns in the Southwest Border region; and the prohibition against ATF denying an application to import particular models or configurations of a shotgun that do not meet the statutory “sporting purposes” test.  In addition, the Administration urges the Congress to repeal a number of provisions made permanent in prior years, including a prohibition against requiring firearms dealers to conduct physical inventories and a prohibition on changing the definition of “curio and relic” firearms.

Working Capital Fund and Assets Forfeiture Fund Restrictions.  The Administration strongly opposes the limitations included in the bill for the Working Capital Fund and Assets Forfeiture Fund that would severely restrict DOJ’s ability to fund essential requirements of its financial management system consolidation efforts, to pay for other vital unfunded capital equipment needs, and to cover the costs of unanticipated expenses.  The Department must regain its ability to use the Working Capital Fund and Assets Forfeiture Fund spending authorities in order to minimize the financial impact to programs critical to public safety and national security while improving financial reporting, accountability, and law enforcement capabilities.

Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT). The Administration appreciates the Committee’s support for MLAT process reform, which is critical to investigating crimes, working with foreign partners, and prosecuting terrorists and other criminals.  This funding will provide for an updated, improved, and accelerated process to handle foreign governments’ requests for evidence as well as enhance mutual relationships.

Guantánamo Detainee Restrictions.  The Administration strongly objects to sections 528 and 529, which would prohibit the use of funds for the transfer of detainees to the United States and for the construction, acquisition, or modification of any facility to house Guantánamo detainees in the United States.  The President has repeatedly objected to the inclusion of these and similar provisions in prior legislation and has reiterated his call to Congress to lift the restrictions.  As the President said in his State of the Union Address, “this needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and we close the prison at Guantánamo Bay.”  Operating the detention facility at Guantánamo weakens our national security by draining resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and partners and emboldening violent extremists.  These provisions are unwarranted and threaten to interfere with the Executive Branch’s ability to determine the appropriate disposition of detainees and its flexibility to determine when and where to prosecute Guantánamo detainees based on the facts and circumstances of each case and our national security interests.  Section 528 would, moreover, violate constitutional separation-of-powers principles under certain circumstances.

Executive Office of the President

Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).  The Administration urges the Congress to provide the requested funding level of $56.2 million for USTR.  The funding reduction would limit USTR’s ability to conduct major trade negotiations, enforce trade agreements, and pursue new and existing trade disputes.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Commercial Crew Program.  The Administration appreciates the Committee’s support for NASA, but is disappointed the bill does not provide the full funding request for the Commercial Crew Program.  The lower funding level for the program jeopardizes the goal of sending astronauts to the International Space Station on American spacecraft by 2017 and will likely extend the period of time NASA needs to rely on Russia for transport to and from the Station. The Administration also encourages the Congress to support competition in the program, which is important to lowering risk and reducing prices in the long term.

Space Technology Program.  The Administration is concerned that the bill does not fund the full request for the Space Technology program.  Space Technology is important to reducing the cost and increasing the capability of NASA, other Government, and commercial space activities.

National Science Foundation (NSF)

The Administration appreciates the Committee’s support for NSF.  NSF invests in important research and education and lays the foundation for economic growth.

Legal Services Corporation (LSC)

The Administration strongly opposes the level of funding provided in the bill for LSC, which is $80 million below the FY 2015 Budget request.  At this funding level, tens of thousands of low-income Americans, including many military families and veterans, would be denied assistance with civil legal problems, impacting their ability to receive fair treatment in the courts.  The Administration also opposes the Committee’s decision not to lift the prohibition against filing class action lawsuits or restrictions on the use of non-LSC funds by LSC grantees as requested in the Budget.

Constitutional Concerns

Other provisions in the bill, including sections 509, 519, and 527, would also raise constitutional concerns in certain applications by intruding upon the President’s constitutional authority over international diplomacy.

The Administration looks forward to working with Congress to address these concerns.