THE ``TOP TEN'' REASONS TO SUPPPORT THE CLINGER AMENDMENT WHICH WOULD END THE EXPLOITATION OF CIVIL SERVANTS FOR PARTISAN ENDS; Congressional Record Vol. 141, No. 182
(Extensions of Remarks - November 16, 1995)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.


[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E2200-E2202]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




 THE ``TOP TEN'' REASONS TO SUPPPORT THE CLINGER AMENDMENT WHICH WOULD 
        END THE EXPLOITATION OF CIVIL SERVANTS FOR PARTISAN ENDS

                                 ______


                           HON. STEPHEN HORN

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                      Thursday, November 16, 1995

  Mr. HORN. Mr. Speaker, earlier this evening I urged the adoption of 
the Clinger Amendment to the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995-H.R. 2564. 
That proposal would prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars to develop 
materials which are ``intended to promote public support or opposition 
to any legislative proposal--including the confirmation of the 
nomination of a public official or the ratification of a treaty--on 
which Congressional action is not complete.''
  We are not trying to stop the appropriate officials from 
communicating with Congress. We are trying to stop what both Democratic 
and Republican administrations have done over the last three decades 
and that is having neutral civil servants ordered to prepare kits, 
pamphlets, booklets, news releases, and various types of film, radio, 
and television presentations which are designed for use by various 
special interest groups. These private groups have a vested interest in 
preserving in perpetuity a tax-supported federal program.
  I have no objection to any group lobbying for a particular program 
that it finds of some value. I do have an objection when what should be 
a private effort is supported with public funds. It is just plain 
wrong.
  Mr. Speaker, I ask that the following exhibits follow my remarks in 
order to illustrate this growing problem: First, ``Top Ten Reasons To 
Support Clinger Amendment,'' second, ``VA chief uses computers, pay 
stubs to bash GOP,'' third, ``VA chief terms `outrageous' GOP `cheap 
politics' charge,'' and fourth, ``Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jesse 
Brown's Taxpayer Paid Messages.''

              Top Ten Reasons To Support Clinger Amendment

       1. Department of Veterans Affairs--Employee check stub with 
     message from Secretary Jesse Brown urging opposition to House 
     budget plan.
       2. Department of Commerce--Secretary Ron Brown's invitation 
     to associations for an ``informational'' briefing discussing 
     opposition to Congressman Mica's Commerce legislation.
       3. Department of Labor--Newsletter sent to hundreds of 
     organizations leading off with a quote that ``GOP lawmakers 
     should stop preaching tax breaks for the rich . . .''
       4. National Spa and Pool Institute--Letter to EPA 
     Administrator Carol Browner complaining about receipt of 
     lobbying materials warning of the dire consequences of 
     enacting 

[[Page E 2201]]
     ``Contract with America'' provisions on Risk Assessment and Regulatory 
     Reform.
       5. EPA--E-mail discussing EPA's and environmental groups 
     lobbying strategy for unfunded mandates.
       6. Council on Environmental Quality--Widely distributed 
     fact sheet entitled ``The Lawbreakers' Bill of Rights'' on 
     the Contract with America.
       7. Commodity Futures Trading Commission--Letter from 
     Commissioner Dial to Washington Representatives urging them 
     to contact specific members of Congress to oppose bill 
     merging CFTC and SEC.
       8. U.S. Department of Interior--Letter to public land 
     constituents indicating opposition to ``Livestock Grazing 
     Act.''
       9. U.S. Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
     Service--``Taking It Too Far'' slide show and panel 
     discussion to oppose takings legislation.
       10. Corporation For National Service (Americorp)--Published 
     first annual report containing ``selected'' press clips 
     praising Americorp and criticizing Congressional action.
                                                                    ____


               [From the Washington Times, Nov. 7, 1995]

             VA Chief Uses Computers, Pay Stubs to Bash GOP

                            (By Ruth Larson)

       Veterans Affairs Secretary Jesse Brown is using department 
     computers to send anti-Congress notes to his employees and 
     has had messages critical of GOP budget plans printed on 
     their pay stubs.
       The messages paint Republican budget proposals as draconian 
     cuts that would devastate the nation's veterans and require 
     massive layoffs at the department.
       Congressional Republicans accuse Mr. Brown of using 
     government resources to send blatantly political messages to 
     civil service employees. In any event, they counter, the 
     administration's own budget proposal would mean deeper cuts.
       Sen. Alan K. Simpson, Wyoming Republican and chairman of 
     the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, charged, ``The 
     secretary of veterans affairs is playing plenty fast and 
     loose with the facts.''
       Citing a General Accounting Office budget analysis, he 
     said: ``Veterans should not be misled. Veterans are better 
     off under the budget that Secretary Brown is attacking than 
     they are under the president's budget he is defending.''
       He went on to denounce the secretary's messages as ``cheap 
     politics'' that ``demeans his office.''
       ``What is absolutely unacceptable is his use of taxpayer-
     funded VA resources to place his purely political message in 
     the hands of every VA employee and on the screen of every 
     single VA computer when it is cranked up every morning,'' he 
     said Friday on the Senate floor.
       ``Stump speeches are for out on the road. Mr. Secretary, 
     not for the taxpayers' computers,'' he said.
       VA spokesman Jim Holley issued a statement defending Mr. 
     Brown's actions: ``This political attack on the secretary 
     criticizes him for being an advocate for veterans and for 
     sharing with employees information they have every right to 
     know regarding VA programs.'' He called Mr. Simpson's attack 
     ``ironic, when you consider that's what he's supposed to 
     do.''
       Mr. Brown's messages came to light after VA field office 
     employees complained to their senator. One employee ``objects 
     strongly to this [message], feels it is political 
     propaganda,'' said an internal congressional memo obtained by 
     The Washington Times.
       ``As federal employees they're not even allowed to express 
     an opinion as to a political party. How can the secretary be 
     allowed [to make] this type of propaganda?'' the memo said. 
     Another employee ``feels this type of activity is 
     inappropriate, at least, and possibly illegal,'' the memo 
     said.
       Mr. Simpson said that during his 17 years in Congress, ``I 
     have never seen a VA administrator or secretary--Democrat or 
     Republican--misuse VA's internal communications methods in 
     this blatant fashion.''
       ``It is wrong,'' he said. ``It should stop.''
       For months, Mr. Brown has warned veterans groups of the 
     dangers lurking in Republican budgets.
       Last week, the VA announced that ``hundreds of thousands of 
     veterans could lose access to health care under proposed 
     changes in the Medicare and Medicaid programs now advancing 
     through the Congress, according to a government study.''
       Republicans complained when they learned that the 
     ``government report'' on which the study was based was, in 
     fact, a July 1995 report by the Urban Institute, a private, 
     nonprofit policy research group.
       In September, the General Accounting Office disputed the 
     Urban Institute's methods and assumptions used in its 
     report--the same techniques used to prepare the VA 
     predictions.
       Congressional Republicans argue that veterans actually 
     suffer larger cuts under the administration's proposed 
     budget.
       For example, on a CNN broadcast last week, Rep. Tim 
     Hutchinson of Arkansas contended that while his party would 
     save $64. billion in veterans' benefits over seven years, the 
     Clinton administration plans to slow the growth of veterans' 
     benefits by $17.1 billion over 10 years.
       Mr. Brown responded: ``I don't know where you got that 
     number from. . . . It sounds like someone just made it up.'' 
     In fact, as Mr. Hutchinson pointed out later in a letter to 
     White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, the figure comes 
     from the administration's own fiscal 1996 budget.
       Mr. Brown later explained in a letter to Mr. Hutchinson 
     that the $17.1 billion figure represents savings in mandatory 
     VA spending and is ``totally irrelevant to veterans' access 
     to health care.''
       ``Since the figure had nothing whatever to do with the 
     subject at hand, I had not been briefed on it, and it 
     sounded, as I said, unfamiliar and, in the context of VA 
     health care, `made up.' '' he said.


                            brown's comments

       Some comments from Veterans Affairs Secretary Jesse Brown, 
     transmitted to his department's 240,000 employees via 
     electronic mail or printed on their pay stubs.
       Secretary's daily message on Aug. 21: ``This is what our 
     veterans budget future boils down to: the president has 
     proposed a 10-year plan to eliminate the deficit, while 
     protecting critical programs. He has proposed no new cuts in 
     veterans' entitlements. Congress has adopted a budget 
     resolution outlining a seven-year plan to eliminate the 
     deficit which would be devastating to veterans' programs. * * 
     * The congressional budget resolution effectively freezes VA 
     funding for veterans' health care at 1995 dollar levels for 
     the next seven years.
       ``This means eliminating 61,000 health care positions by 
     2002 and denying care to more than a million veterans. This 
     House budget would also cancel plans for two badly needed VA 
     replacement hospitals in central Florida and northern 
     California. When it comes to meeting veterans' needs, 
     gratitude and penny-pinching don't mix.''
       Excerpt from the secretary's Oct. 6 daily message: ``It is 
     important that employees be made fully aware that tens of 
     thousands VA jobs may be eliminated over the next seven years 
     as a result of current budget proposals. I am not calling on 
     you to act, but I think you have the right to know the facts. 
     Stay tuned!''
       Excerpt from the secretary's message on a VA pay stub: 
     ``The administration and the Congress have outlined 
     dramatically different budget approaches designed to balance 
     the budget, reduce taxes, and create a leander government. As 
     I have been telling the nation's veterans organizations this 
     summer, the administration's plan is much better for veterans 
     and their families. * * * [House and Senate budget proposals 
     are] nothing but a means test that will push some service-
     connected veterans into poverty. We hear a lot these days 
     about making sacrifices. We need to point out that veterans 
     and their families have already paid their dues.''
       Source: Congressional Record, Nov. 3.
                                                                    ____


               [From the Washington Times, Nov. 8, 1995]

      VA Chief Terms ``Outrageous'' GOP ``Cheap Politics'' Charge

                            (By Ruth Larson)

       Veterans Affairs Secretary Jesse Brown said he will 
     continue telling his employees about the effect of 
     congressional budget proposals, despite congressional 
     Republicans' objections that he was engaging in ``cheap 
     politics.''
       ``It's outrageous to suggest that the VA shouldn't tell its 
     240,000 employees that as many as 61,000 jobs are at risk, or 
     that 41 veterans hospitals may close,'' Mr. Brown said in a 
     telephone interview yesterday.
       Sen. Alan K. Simpson, Wyoming Republican and chairman of 
     the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, on Friday blasted Mr. 
     Brown's use of VA computers and employee pay stubs to 
     criticize congressional budget proposals and warn of massive 
     layoffs at the department. He accused Mr. Brown of using 
     government resources to send out partisan misinformation.
       Mr. Brown countered: ``I hope someone tells me that it's 
     not going to happen--that they're not going to lock in our 
     funding at 1995 levels for the next seven years. If somebody 
     would tell me that, I'd apologize--sure, I would,'' Mr. Brown 
     said.
       Asked about Mr. Simpson's assertions that veterans would 
     suffer more under the Clinton administration's proposed 
     budget than under congressional plans, Mr. Brown said, ``He's 
     absolutely right.''
       But he was quick to explain that statement. He said that 
     during the budget process, he'd gone to Mr. Clinton three 
     times to tell him that the administration's governmentwide 
     cutbacks ``would have the same effect as what the Republicans 
     are proposing.''
       Mr. Clinton assured him that he would be able to negotiate 
     the budget every year. ``I'll be sure the veterans are 
     treated fairly,'' he quoted Mr. Clinton as saying.
       ``We aren't getting the same commitment from 
     Congress. There is no flexibility,'' Mr. Brown said.
       Rep. Bob Stump, Arizona Republican and chairman of the 
     House Veterans Affairs Committee, criticized Mr. Brown for 
     ``intentionally misrepresenting and needlessly scaring 
     vulnerable veterans'' about Republican budget proposals.
       He said in a statement: ``The real hypocrisy lies with the 
     Clinton 10-year budget plan which takes nearly three times as 
     much from veterans' programs without balancing the budget.''
       The Washington Times reported yesterday that some VA field 
     employees had complained that Mr. Brown's messages 
     represented ``political propaganda''.
       Mr. Brown said he had sent out hundreds of daily messages 
     on a variety of subjects to his 240,000 employees. ``Out of 
     those hundreds of messages, [Mr. Simpson] chose three.''

[[Page E 2202]]

       Mr. Brown said he routinely runs the messages by his 
     general counsel ``to make sure they don't violate any laws or 
     ethics requirements, and they've all passed,'' he said. ``We 
     wouldn't do it if it weren't legal.''
       Administration officials often defend the legality of their 
     actions by saying they stop short of urging employees to 
     contact members of Congress. For example, in one of his 
     messages, Mr. Brown cautioned, ``I am not calling on you to 
     act.''
       ``No, not much,'' Mr. Simpson chided him on Friday. ``It 
     does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that many 
     employees might take that as a pretty good hint to take some 
     action.''
                                  ____


   Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jesse Brown's Taxpayer Paid Messages


message from secretary jesse brown printed on a recent va employee pay 
                                voucher

       The Administration and the Congress have outlined 
     dramatically different budget approaches designed to balance 
     the budget, reduce taxes, and create a leaner government. As 
     I have been telling the nation's veterans organizations this 
     summer, the Administration's plan is much better for veterans 
     and their families. The President recommended a good FY 1996 
     VA budget, with a $1.3 billion increase, including nearly $1 
     billion for health care. On the other hand, the House of 
     Representatives has approved a plan to increase veterans 
     health care $563 million by taking money from our 
     construction account and preventing us from building badly 
     needed hospitals in Florida and California, hospitals which 
     the President proposed be fully funded. And we will lose some 
     of the money we need to renovate older facilities. The House 
     also voted to stop compensation to some incompetent veterans. 
     This is nothing but a means test that will push some service-
     connected veterans into poverty. We hear a lot these days 
     about making sacrifices. We need to point out that veterans 
     and their families have already paid their dues.
                                                                    ____



             secretary brown's message sent august 21, 1995

       This is what our veterans' budget future boils down to: the 
     President has proposed a 10-year plan to eliminate the 
     deficit, while protecting critical programs. He has proposed 
     no new cuts in veterans entitlements. Congress has adopted a 
     budget resolution outlining a 7-year plan to eliminate the 
     deficit, which would be devastating to veterans' programs. 
     The President has recommended a $1.3 billion increase in VA's 
     FY96 budget, nearly a billion of which is targeted to 
     veterans' health care. The congressional budget resolution 
     effectively freezes VA funding for veterans' health care at 
     1995 dollar levels for the next 7 years. This means 
     eliminating 61,000 health care positions by 2002 and denying 
     care to more than a million veterans. The House budget would 
     also cancel plans for two badly needed VA replacement 
     hospitals in central Florida and northern California. When it 
     comes to meeting veterans' needs, gratitude and penny-
     pinching don't mix.
                                                                    ____



           secretary brown's daily message on october 6, 1995

       I am being attacked publicly for telling you through 
     various forums what is going on with our budget. Rest assured 
     I do not intend to stop. I believe VA employees had a right 
     to know about the pubic and Congressional debate on VA's 
     future and the impact our lawmakers' decisions can have on 
     benefits and services for veterans. Is this a partisan 
     endeavor? Absolutely not! As Secretary of Veterans Affairs, I 
     have a responsibility to keep you informed on issues that 
     affect your careers, livelihood and roles as members of the 
     VA team. And certainly I have the right to let our valued 
     constituency--veterans and their families--know that their 
     programs may be adversely affected. It is important that 
     employees be made fully aware that tens of thousands of VA 
     jobs may be eliminated over the next seven years as a result 
     of current budget proposals. I am not calling on you to act, 
     but I think you have the right to know the facts. Stay tuned!
       Source: Congressional Record--Senate (November 3, 1995) 
     page S16653.