DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2000--CONFERENCE REPORT
(Senate - October 29, 1999)

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    DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2000--CONFERENCE REPORT

  Mrs. HUTCHISON. Mr. President, I ask that the Chair lay before the 
Senate the conference report to accompany the D.C. Labor-HHS 
appropriations bill.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The report will be stated.
  The legislative assistant read as follows:

       The committee on conference on the disagreeing votes of the 
     two Houses on the amendment of the Senate to the bill, H.R. 
     3064, have agreed to recommend and do recommend to their 
     respective Houses this report, signed by a majority of the 
     conferees.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, the Senate will proceed to 
the consideration of the conference report.
  (The conference report is printed in the House proceedings of the 
Record of October 27, 1999.)
  Mrs. HUTCHISON. Mr. President, I want to talk a little bit about the 
bill as a whole. There is going to be a joint effort between two 
subcommittees on the Appropriations Committee--my subcommittee, the 
D.C. appropriations subcommittee, on which Senator Durbin is the 
ranking member, and then the Labor-HHS spending bill, which has Senator 
Specter as the chairman and Senator Harkin as the ranking member. In 
addition, this bill contains the 1-percent across-the-board spending 
cut that is necessary for us to come into our budget caps and save the 
Social Security surplus intact.
  First, I want to talk about the bigger bill because I think we should 
understand this is a very important achievement that we will make if 
Congress passes this bill and sends it to the President.
  This bill marks, for the first time in 30 years, that we will pass 
all of our spending bills, and there will be no raid on the Social 
Security trust funds. The Social Security trust funds will be left 
intact so that people who have paid in will get back not only what they 
have paid in, but they will be given Social Security benefits after 
they are eligible. No longer will we dip into the Nation's retirement 
fund to pay for today's spending needs. This is a significant 
achievement.
  For the record, this bill will be voted on on Tuesday. We will debate 
today and Monday. On Tuesday, I hope we will send this bill to the 
President, and I hope the President will sign it.
  Some have complained about the across-the-board spending cuts. I 
think we can afford one penny of savings on every dollar to preserve 
the retirement needs of America. I do not think that is too much to ask 
of this Congress. After all, there is a little waste in Federal 
Government.
  The inspectors general within the Departments across Government have 
already identified $16 billion in funds that have been misspent. The 
Governmental Affairs Committee, working with the General Accounting 
Office, has identified nearly $200 billion in savings in Federal 
overpayments, erroneous payments, and wasteful practices.
  With this waste, I believe we can take a 1-percent cut to preserve 
the integrity of Social Security to cover the programs that are worthy 
and use our taxpayer dollars more efficiently. With $216 billion in 
waste, we can cover the programs that need to be covered if our 
administrators have any integrity and if they are, in fact, competent. 
I hope they are. I do not think it is too much to ask. After all, when 
any family sees it is not going to meet its income and its spending 
needs, what does it do? It does not just spend anyway. Hopefully, it 
does not borrow. It sits down and determines where it can cut. I wager 
most families in America have had to make more than a 1-percent cut in 
their budgets when they have run into an emergency and do not have the 
funds to spend.
  I now turn to the provisions in the District of Columbia portion of 
this bill. This is our second attempt to get a District of Columbia 
funding bill the President will sign. I believe we have reached a 
solution that is acceptable to all the relevant parties.
  Senator Durbin has been very productive; he has been responsible; he 
has been a real player in this process. In

[[Page S13504]]

our negotiation, we came to terms that allowed both of us to be 
comfortable that we are doing the right thing for the District and that 
everyone has given a little bit without sacrificing principle.
  No bill is perfect. I am the first to say that. We all have had to 
sacrifice a little, but this is a bill the President will sign and it 
is important we have a bill the President will sign because every day 
this bill is not signed is a day our Nation's Capital is without 
important new initiatives that will make this a better city for our 
citizens and visitors. Despite our differences on other issues, let's 
look at what is good in this bill.
  We have provided $17 million for college scholarships for D.C. 
students. We have provided funds to fight the war on drugs in the 
District of Columbia, including money to combat open-air drug markets. 
We have $5 million for commercial revitalization. We have funds to 
clean up the Anacostia River, to promote adoptions, and to help the 
Children's Hospital.

  On marijuana legalization, the ban is retained. Medical marijuana use 
will not become law in the Nation's Capital.
  On needle exchanges, there has been a great deal of misinformation. 
In this bill, we continue the ban on Federal and local funding for 
needle exchanges. I believe needle exchanges do not work. The drug czar 
of the United States, who represents the President of the United 
States, believes needle exchanges do not work, and not one penny of tax 
dollars will be used to support needle exchanges in the District of 
Columbia.
  Any suggestion that tax dollars from the Federal Government or D.C. 
Government are being used is simply wrong. What the bill does allow is 
for clinics that have privately funded needle exchanges and do other 
worthy projects will not be prohibited from Federal funding for other 
worthy projects. But it is very clear there will be no Federal and no 
local money spent on needle exchanges in the District of Columbia.
  On the voting rights lawsuit, I believe strongly this is a 
constitutional issue. It is a legislative prerogative to deal with it. 
This lawsuit has named officers of the Senate, the House, and even the 
President as defendants. The taxpayers of our country are spending 
money to defend against the lawsuit. We provide the District with 2 
billion Federal dollars. Those funds should not be used to sue the 
Federal Government on an issue that is squarely a legislative 
prerogative.
  In my view, no public money should be used for this suit--not local 
money, not Federal money. Our bill permits the D.C. Corporation City 
Counsel to review and comment on legal briefs in private lawsuits. This 
is a limited role for their attorneys, but that is as far as this bill 
goes. There will be no public money spent on the D.C. voting rights 
lawsuit or to provide statehood for the District of Columbia.
  Finally, on legal fees in school disability cases, we retain the $60 
cap, up $10 from a $50 cap, but the cap will be removed if local 
officials develop a joint agreement--the school superintendent, the 
Mayor, and the control board--on a new cap.
  These are the changes we have made to our bill since it went through 
the Senate. We have White House support for these changes, and we have 
the support of the Democratic side for these changes.
  I want to mention one other very important part of the bill that has 
remained intact, and that is the Mayor asked for the ability to spend 
more of the D.C. funds. The District does have quite stringent 
requirements for a surplus as well as a rainy day fund. That is sound 
because we are just beginning to get investment grade bonds for the 
city which lowers the interest rate they will have to pay, and that, of 
course, means it lowers the cost of borrowing for the city.
  I thought it important to keep the reserve requirements intact. That 
will keep the city on a secure basis. I believed if they were going to 
spend money out of the surplus, that half of the surplus above the 
basic reserve requirement should be spent only for paying down debt, 
while the other half could go to new programs. That was a compromise 
the Mayor welcomed. He believes they will be able to address some of 
the infrastructure issues that they have not been able to address in 
their budget, while at the same time I will be satisfied that they will 
begin to pay down their long-term debt so they will have a more correct 
debt-income ratio. That will give them a higher bond rating. It will 
lower the amount of debt they are carrying and I think will put the 
city on a very firm financial footing in the very near future, which, 
of course, would then allow the city to go forward with a lower 
interest rate, a higher bond rating; and our capital city, I hope, will 
be able to flourish.

  So this is an excellent bill. I hope the President will sign it.
  With respect to the Labor-HHS part of the bill, I think this also 
contains a number of positive provisions and should not be vetoed. 
Senator Specter and Senator Harkin have worked very hard on this bill. 
No one should be led to believe this bill is underfunded. It is $6 
billion higher than last year's bill. In fact, it is $600 million above 
the President's request. This bill contains $2 billion more for 
education than last year; $300 million more in funding for the 
Department of Education than the President even requested. So if anyone 
tries to say we have underfunded education, the facts do not bear that 
argument out.
  The National Institutes of Health will receive nearly $18 billion. 
This is the funding for research, for medical research, for quality-of-
life improvements in our country. It is a $2 billion increase over last 
year's bill and $2 billion above the President's request.
  The Head Start program is increased by $600 million.
  So despite our goal of keeping funds intact for Social Security, we 
have still funded important priorities. If the bill is vetoed, it will 
not be vetoed because we have not addressed the correct priorities.
  With that, Mr. President, I conclude and reserve the remainder of my 
time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Illinois.
  Mr. DURBIN. I thank the Chair.
  Mr. President, we come today to begin the debate on the 
appropriations bill for the District of Columbia. I am not certain, but 
I believe, of the 13 appropriations bills considered by the House and 
Senate, this is probably the smallest bill. Yet if you looked at the 
controversy that has preceded this debate, it would be a surprise to 
realize it is a small bill in comparison to other spending bills.
  I say at the outset, my colleague and my friend, the Senator from 
Texas, Mrs. Hutchison, has been a pleasure to work with. Oh, we 
disagree on some things, and we have had some pretty hot debates, but I 
have the highest respect for her ability and her hard work and her 
willingness to sit down to try to work out our differences. I think it 
is because of that that we come today with the underlying D.C. 
appropriations bill--once vetoed by President Clinton--considerably 
improved over the original version.
  The Senator from Texas has outlined several elements that we have 
changed or improved, and I would like to note them as well for the 
record.
  I think it is important we follow the lead of the public health 
experts, who tell us the incidence of HIV and AIDS in the District of 
Columbia is a national disaster. It is seven times the rate of the rest 
of the United States. If we do not acknowledge this health care crisis, 
and respond to it with aggressive and creative programs, we are going 
to doom generations of D.C. residents and others who come into contact 
with them. It is that serious. That is why I applaud the Senator from 
Texas.
  The needle exchange program no longer receives any Federal funds or 
any local funds, but if the program is offered by a clinic, in the 
District of Columbia, they will not be disqualified from other public 
health programs. That, then, leaves it to the individual clinics to 
make the decision. It does not ban the program, it merely says there 
will not be governmental funds used for these purposes. That is not the 
compromise I was looking for, but I think it is a reasonable one. I 
support it.
  On the question of voting rights, it retains the ban on local and 
Federal funds on the voting rights case. But the D.C. corporation 
counsel, the city's attorney, is permitted to review and comment on 
legal briefs and private lawsuits.
  This is what it is all about. There is a fear on the Republican side 
of the

[[Page S13505]]

aisle that if the District of Columbia ever achieves statehood, it will 
elect Democrats. So they have historically opposed any efforts toward 
statehood; and they have tried to stop or slow it down in a variety of 
ways throughout history. It is a very clear political decision. But I 
think we have done the best we can and said that the D.C. corporation 
counsel can at least review and comment on the status of lawsuits 
moving in that direction with the city council.
  The cap on city council salaries of 5 percent is not something I 
would vote for were it not part of a package that I think is important 
to pass. I do not believe we should try to inject ourselves in the 
decisions of the D.C. City Council--even bad decisions. This is a 
questionable decision. The pay raise they are envisioning, I believe, 
is in the neighborhood of 15 percent, if I am not mistaken--a pretty 
substantial increase. And the Senator from Texas believes it should be 
no more than 5 percent.
  I am not certain I would even weigh in on that debate since it is a 
local decision. If we are going to weigh in on local decisions, I 
certainly would like to weigh in on what I consider the absolute 
foolishness of the D.C. City Council in announcing a tax cut of $57 
million at a time when the District of Columbia still lacks the most 
basic in public services.
  You can leave this Capitol Building right here, that is well known 
around the world, and go four or five blocks away, at night, and run 
the risk of being shot and killed. Of course, that happens in some 
other cities, including in my State of Illinois. But the fact is, the 
District of Columbia is not safe for visitors or residents. And to 
declare a tax cut under these circumstances is absolutely foolish. To 
ignore the public health needs of the District of Columbia and to say 
we have so much money in our till that we can give away $57 million in 
tax cuts is ridiculous.

  The HIV/AIDS crisis alone would argue that the District should take 
this public health issue more seriously. There was a program on 
television the other day, on CNN, which reported the ratio of students 
to computers in the United States of America: Dead last--and no 
surprise--the District of Columbia, 1 computer for every 31 kids. That 
is as good as it gets if you happen to be a child in the District of 
Columbia.
  Did the D.C. City Council decide to buy more computers so the kids 
could learn and become proficient in the use of computers to be able to 
compete and get good jobs? No; no way. They want to give a tax cut of 
$100 or $200 a year.
  Oh, there is applause among some quarters. You can say: I'm a 
politician. I'm giving away a tax cut. Then you look around and say: 
Wait a minute. It's not safe to live in my neighborhood. There's an HIV 
epidemic going on. And the schools are the most disgraceful in the 
Nation. That is what it comes down to. I think it is a bad decision, 
but it is a decision they have made.
  When you come down to other questions, such as attorneys fees and 
special education, we have made a concession in terms of the amount of 
money that will be allowed to attorneys representing families of 
special ed kids.
  I would like to finish my comments on this bill related to the D.C. 
Appropriations bill and the Labor-HHS Appropriations bill which is 
before us, but I see our minority leader has come to the floor.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to yield to the minority 
leader for such time as he may consume, and then resume my comments on 
the bill.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The minority leader.
  Mr. DASCHLE. I appreciate very much the courtesy of the distinguished 
Senator from Illinois. I came to the floor to have a personal 
conversation with him on another matter. So I will yield the floor at 
this time to allow that opportunity, and appreciate, again, his 
courtesy.
  Mr. DURBIN. Thank you very much, Mr. President. I was trying to do my 
duty as a member of Senator Daschle's team.
  Let me say that having said earlier that Senator Hutchison has done 
such an extraordinary job in trying to find a compromise, I would have 
to tell you that the District of Columbia deserves better. They deserve 
better than a process where every Member of the House or the Senate 
would decide that they might add a rider to a bill to override local 
decisions by the D.C. City Council.
  The District of Columbia certainly deserves better than to be in the 
predicament they are in today, where they have been appended as an 
afterthought to a huge spending bill, the Labor-HHS and Education bill, 
and, frankly, have bought a ticket on the Titanic. This bill is going 
to be vetoed, just as sure as I am standing here. So D.C. is about to 
see its third incarnation as an appropriations bill even later in the 
session.
  I would like to yield, if I might, to the Senator from----
  Mrs. HUTCHISON. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, I think 
Senator Specter, the chairman of the Labor-HHS committee, was going to 
make the next presentation. That was the order. Is that acceptable?
  Mr. DURBIN. I find no problem with that. I would be glad to yield to 
Senator Specter in one moment.
  Let me just finish on the D.C. bill, if I might, very quickly, and 
then yield to Senator Specter. Then we can come back to our side of the 
aisle for further comment. Let me tell Senators, for perspective, we 
are talking about a $429 million Federal appropriations bill for the 
District. The District of Columbia has its own budget of $6.8 billion. 
That budget is twisted in knots by Members of the House and Senate who 
have their own political agenda they want to inject into the 
appropriation for the District of Columbia. They impose standards and 
restrictions on the District of Columbia they would never consider even 
suggesting in their home States. The evidence is obvious. Some of the 
more controversial issues in which we get involved in the D.C. 
appropriations bill turn out to be programs these Congressmen and 
Senators don't even talk about in their home States. I think that 
really tells the whole story about what has happened with the District 
of Columbia in its spending bill.

  I have a number of comments I would like to make about the underlying 
bill, the Labor-HHS appropriations bill. But in the interest of 
continuing this debate and acknowledging the presence of the chairman 
of that Appropriations subcommittee, I yield the floor to Senator 
Hutchison, if she would like to yield to Senator Specter.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Texas.
  Mrs. HUTCHISON. Mr. President, it is now my intention to allow 
Senator Specter to take the floor. As I said, we have two bills 
together--the D.C. bill, which I chair, and the Labor-HHS bill, which 
Senator Specter chairs. Senator Specter has been very helpful, very 
cooperative to allow his very major bill to be put together with mine. 
He is very much a greater than equal partner in this bill. I have to 
admit, his bill is much bigger and much more important from a national 
standpoint, although the District of Columbia is very important. 
Nevertheless, Senator Specter's bill affects the lives of people all 
over our country.
  It is my pleasure to yield the floor to Senator Specter for such time 
as he may consume.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania.
  Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, I thank my distinguished colleague from 
Texas for yielding. I know there are other Senators on the floor 
waiting to speak, so I shall be relatively brief.
  I do chair the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and 
Education. We thank the managers of the District of Columbia bill for 
allowing us to participate in their conference and for bringing our 
bill along.
  The distinguished Senator from Iowa, Mr. Harkin, and I had worked 
through, in our subcommittee, a bill to finance the Department of 
Education, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Health and 
Human Services which received a vote of 73 to 25. It is a very solid 
bill.
  We then proceeded in a rather unusual way, because the House of 
Representatives had not passed a bill, to have an informal conference 
where Senator Harkin and I represented the Senate and Congressman 
Porter, chairman of the subcommittee on the House side, represented the 
House. Congressman Obey, the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, 
declined to participate because there had not been a House bill.

[[Page S13506]]

  We are trying to make the best of a very difficult situation. As I 
noted, I will speak relatively briefly because I came to the floor on 
Wednesday, October 27, and spoke at some length when we had just 
finished the conference. Those remarks appear in the Congressional 
Record for October 27.
  In substance, the portion of this bill on Labor, Health and Human 
Services is a $93.7 billion bill. It is an increase of $6 billion over 
fiscal year 1999, an increase of some $600 million over the President's 
figure. On education, which is a very high priority in America, 
priority second to none, this bill has appropriations totaling some $35 
billion, and it is a $300 million increase over what the President had 
recommended.
  We have sought to accommodate the President's interests and recognize 
his priorities. On Head Start, we had an increase of some $608.5 
million, bringing the total funding for Head Start in excess of $5 
billion. On GEAR UP, we had a 50-percent increase, from $120 million to 
$180 million. The President wanted a doubling. We could not find that 
much money. It is a good program, but we think a 50-percent increase 
was very substantial.
  There is a point of controversy on the question of teacher classroom 
size. We have funded that at $1.2 billion. The President wanted $200 
million extra. We anticipate that in negotiations that figure could be 
raised. Mr. Jack Lew, head of the Office of Management and Budget, has 
some add-ons he wants to make when the negotiations finally do occur, 
and they have some additional offsets to talk about at that time.
  There has been a disagreement over whether there ought to be a 
mandate for those funds to be used for classroom size reduction or 
whether there ought to be some flexibility on the school districts. On 
this matter, we have specified that classroom size is the first item on 
the agenda, but we have given the local districts the option of using 
them for teacher training or some other local purpose.
  We do not believe there ought to be a straitjacket coming out of 
Washington, if the local districts have some other need and can 
demonstrate that. I know this causes some heartburn to the 
administration. I talked to the President about it personally and 
talked to Jack Lew about it. It seems to us this is a matter where 
there ought to be some significant congressional input. The primary 
responsibility on appropriations comes to the Congress. That is what 
the Constitution says. Of course, the President has to sign the bill, 
and we are always concerned and take into consideration the President's 
priorities. But as a matter of public policy, it makes a lot of sense 
to allow local school districts to make a different allocation from 
classroom size reduction if they don't have a problem on classroom 
size. So that is one issue where there is disagreement.
  One aspect of the final bill, which came out of the conference, 
provides for a 1-percent across-the-board cut, with which, as I noted 2 
days ago, I am personally not in agreement. My preference would have 
been to go through the bill and itemize various programs to make those 
reductions without a 1-percent across-the-board cut. There was a very 
strenuous effort made by the leadership of the House and Senate and the 
representatives of the subcommittee and the full committee to find 
another way out, to have this bill come in without touching Social 
Security. Simply stated, this was the least of all the undesirable 
alternatives.
  It is my hope the President will sign this bill. He has already 
stated he will veto it. This is another step in the process of the 
appropriations procedures to come back to negotiations and to try to 
find a bill which will be acceptable to the President and to the 
Congress.
  I note that when we talk about a 1-percent across-the-board cut on a 
program such as Head Start, there will still be an increase of some 
$569 million, not as much as the $608 million we had hoped for but 
still a very substantial increase. When it comes to a variety of other 
programs, we have added very substantial increases, so even when there 
is a 1-percent across-the-board cut, there is still a net advance.
  Two more items are worthy of brief mention. We have added very 
substantially to the National Institutes of Health, some $2.3 billion. 
That is the crown jewel of the Federal Government. They are making 
enormous strides. The expert testimony specifies that the cure for 
Parkinson's may be only 5 years away; great advances on Alzheimer's, 
great advances on cancer--cervical cancer, breast cancer, prostate 
cancer--heart disease, the entire range of problems.
  We have in this bill an allocation of some $800 million for a program 
directed at youth violence. The actual figure is $733.8 million, where 
no additional funds were added, but there is a redirection to try to 
deal with that major problem in America.
  In essence, I think the bill that passed the Senate was a really good 
bill which would have clearly merited the President's signature, even 
though some differences have existed with the 1 percent across-the-
board cut. I understand the problems there. But if somebody has a 
suggestion on how to have offsets or cuts to protect Social Security, 
we are prepared to sit down and meet with the officers of the executive 
branch and the President to try to work out a bill that is acceptable 
to both the administration and the Congress, to be sure there is 
adequate funding for these three very important Departments.
  I thank the Chair and yield the floor.
  Mr. ABRAHAM. Mr. President, recently the Senate passed the last of 
the Fiscal Year 2000 appropriations bills, the Labor, Health & Human 
Services, Education appropriations bill. Despite tight budgetary 
constraints, the Senate has passed a bill which embodies the basic 
principles of our democratic society--all of our citizens deserve an 
equal opportunity to reach one's highest potential--by providing access 
to a good education, jobs skills training and protection from illness.
  While I believe that this is a well balanced bill which appropriately 
reflects the priorities of the Senate, many of the votes that we cast 
in relation to the this bill challenged these priorities as well as our 
commitment to protecting the Social Security surplus from careless 
government over-spending. Therefore, please allow me to address some of 
the specifics of individual amendments which touch upon these issues.
  As I stated before, this legislation rightly embodies the ideals of 
responsibility, accountability and flexibility. No greater are these 
ideals highlighted than in the areas of education. This legislation 
provides for $37.6 billion for the Department of Education; $6 billion 
for special education; and $892 million in education impact aid. In 
fact, the Committee exceeded the President's funding level requests by 
$537 million, $586 million and $156 million respectively. This support 
will provide the foundation by which we can continue to strengthen and 
improve the education system for all of our children.
  In addition, this legislation respects the right of the states and 
local districts to make appropriate decisions regarding education.
  However, some of my colleagues would jeopardize the jurisdiction of 
states, schools and parents to decide the most appropriate means by 
which to address the specific concerns of their children.
  Senator Murray offered an amendment (No. 1804) which would have 
increased the levels for the class-size reduction program from $1.2 
billion to $1.4 billion. This increase would be coupled to a mandate 
which requires that the funding must be used to reduce class size. Now, 
I agree that smaller class size is preferable to a larger class-size, 
just about anyone would; children receive more individual attention 
from the teacher when there are fewer children in the classroom. 
However, not all schools have the need for smaller class-sizes--42 
states have already met the goal of 18 students per teacher. Thus, not 
all districts place priority on smaller class-sizes. Why would the 
federal government force districts and states to spend limited 
resources on a program which is unnecessary? What right does the 
federal government have to decide for the schools and the parents what 
their priorities should be? Forcing schools to spend funding on one 
particular program, simply takes valuable resources from other programs 
which might better address the needs of their students. Although this 
amendment failed, the funding itself is still available to schools; to 
reduce the number of children in each classroom if they so choose or, 
if further class-size

[[Page S13507]]

reduction is unnecessary, to fund a more appropriate program such as 
technology-related training for teachers, dropout or drug abuse 
prevention programs and building new school facilities.
  It is for similar reasons that I could not support an amendment (No. 
1809) to increase funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers. 
Again, I do not doubt that after-school programs offer structural, 
educational, and health services to children and the families of 
communities. However, the funding for this program had already been 
increased $200 million over FY99 funding levels by the Committee. I 
cannot justify forcing states and localities to spend additional 
funding on specific programs which might not be appropriate for their 
communities.
  As we continue to raise the bar on the quality of education provided 
to our children, we have also increased state and local accountability 
for reaching these high standards. Accountability is a key component of 
a successful education policy, without it there is less incentive to 
succeed or exceed goals. Earlier this session, we passed the Education 
Flexibility Partnership Act (Public Law 106-25), which in exchange for 
greater accountability, provides states with expanded flexibility to 
choose which education initiatives best fit the needs of their 
children. In the five years the Ed-Flex program was in effect, prior to 
its expansion to all states with the passage of this bill, it has 
realized modest to spectacular results, and in no case has performance 
declined or has a state abused its increased flexibility by diverting 
or misrepresenting funds. I am proud to have voted for Ed-Flex and the 
principles it upholds.
  Unfortunately, some of my colleagues, while espousing the virtues of 
accountability, would at the same time take away the flexibility states 
need to respond quickly and effectively to the needs of their students 
and schools. This is why I opposed an amendment (No. 1861) offered by 
Senator Bingaman, which purported to increase accountability for 
states. This amendment undermined the principles of responsibility, 
accountability and flexibility. While the amendment would increase 
funding for disadvantaged students by $49 million, it specifically 
mandated that $70 million in funding must be used for state 
accountability programs. This represents a net loss of $21 million in 
funding which could have gone directly to the classrooms--funding which 
could have directly and positively impacted the quality of education 
provided for economically disadvantaged students. This amendment 
represents accountability, or at least requires the implementation of 
an accountability program, without the accompanying flexibility states 
need to effectively address education issues.

  Mr. President, there is another side to responsibility as well. 
Earlier this year, we made a promise to the American people that we 
would not raid the Social Security surplus. Even as the President's 
budget proposal threatened drain the Social Security surplus by $158 
billion over five years and the Democrats continued to filibuster my 
Social Security Lockbox legislation, we still held true to our 
commitment not to spend a single penny of the Social Security trust 
fund. Now, as we are nearing the end of the appropriations process, it 
is vital that we uphold our responsibility to the American people and 
keep this promise.
  Senator Nickles offered an amendment (No. 1889) which rightly 
expressed the sense of the Senate regarding the importance of 
protecting the Social Security surplus. Recognizing the possibility 
that the amount of funding appropriated through the 13 appropriations 
bills could exceed budgetary restraints, the Senate agreed that a 
solution could be an across-the-board reduction in discretionary 
funding in an amount equal to that needed to stay within budget 
constraints, thereby protecting Social Security. My vote reflects my 
unwavering belief that the social security surplus must be protected 
from wanton government spending. It also highlights my continuing 
opposition to rasing taxes on America's working families, especially 
when cutting wasteful Washington spending is certainly a viable 
alternative.
  Some of my colleagues, many of whom are the same individuals who have 
continued to vote against a Social Security Lockbox, denounced the 
across-the-board proposal. Although they could have offered a 
substantial and realistic alternative to across-the-board reductions in 
reductions, instead they choose to introduce an amendment (No. 2267) 
which merely denounces the proposal for a reduction in discretionary 
funding and offers vague support for paying for the budget shortfall by 
raising taxes and using other offsets.
  When my colleagues were pressed about details, they stated that there 
is currently $4 trillion in tax expenditures which could be examined 
and possibly eliminated to raise revenue for excess spending: that 
``there may very well be an opportunity to squeeze some resources out 
of tax expenditures * * *''. Another term for tax expenditure is tax 
relief. And when my colleagues talk about squeezing out resources, this 
includes ``squeezing'' relief measures such as the tax credit for post-
secondary education, the $500 per child tax credit, estate tax relief 
and the home interest deduction, among many other provisions which 
allow families to save and invest in their own and their children's 
futures. Without a clear explanation of exactly how enough revenue 
would be raised to fill the budget shortfall, thereby avoiding spending 
the Social Security surplus, I could not support the alternative 
amendment to the across-the-board reduction in discretionary spending 
levels and I will not support any proposal which would increase the 
already excessive tax burden on American families.
  In addition, some of my colleagues offered an amendment (No. 2268) 
which would reduce the level of fairness inherent in an across-the-
board reduction by insisting on an exemption for specific programs from 
the resulting decreases in discretionary funding, specifically 
education funding. While I believe that education is a top national 
priority, this amendment primarily highlights a general lack of 
understanding about the actual education funding levels in this 
appropriations bill.
  My votes on these Sense of the Senate amendments simply express my 
preference for spending reductions versus raising taxes or spending the 
Social Security surplus. In that there are many specific areas of 
federal spending that in my view can and should be cut back, I would 
prefer to see us balance the budget with reductions of that type. 
Unfortunately, gaining consensus on such reductions will be difficult, 
although I will continue to press for this type of approach. Failing 
that, some type of across-the-board reductions may be the last resort.
  As I mentioned earlier, the education funding in this bill exceeds 
the levels requested by the Administration on many fronts. While it is 
impossible at this point to know exactly what the final spending level 
will be at the end of the day, even after including all of the 
President's emergency spending and a possible Balanced Budget Act of 
1997 (BBA) pay-back bill, an across-the-board reduction, designed to 
protect Social Security, would result in approximately a 1.4 percent 
decrease.
  Mr. President, even with a 1.4 percent reduction in discretionary 
funding, I would further note that special education and education 
impact aid would have funding levels $521 million and $143 million 
above the President's request levels, respectively. In addition, the 
Department of Education would be funded $10.6 million over that which 
the President requested. Far from under-funding education, this bill 
continues to provide strong support for our schools and our students.
  We have almost completed our appropriations work this year, and I 
applaud the effort and dedication demonstrated by my colleagues on the 
Senate Appropriations Committee and in the Senate as whole. I hope, as 
we go into the final stages of this process, we will continue to abide 
by the ideals of responsibility, accountability and flexibility by 
upholding our promise to protect Social Security and by producing a 
final package which will serve Americans well.
  I yield the floor.

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