Mayors Lobby Day Priorities Stalled
No Homeland Security Funding to Cities, Despite CIA Warning that Al Queda "Planning to Strike the Homeland Again"
By Conference Staff
October 21, 2002
As U.S.MAYOR went to press, the House of Representatives and Senate had both adjourned until a lame duck session on November 12 providing no new funding for first responders and leaving the fate of other key city priorities up in the air. This came on the same day that CIA Director George Tenet told a joint House and Senate committee that, "They [Al Queda] are reconstituted. They are coming after us. They are planning in multi-theaters. They are planning to strike the homeland again."
On September 26, over 50 mayors and 40 police and fire chiefs came to Washington for Mayors Lobby Day to press for action on direct homeland security funding. The agenda also called for action on national housing legislation, Amtrak, job/skills training, aviation security and welfare reform. Following is a summary of where each of these issues stand as a result of the continuing stalemate.
Homeland Security/Crime Funding
Neither the House nor Senate have approved authorizing legislation to create the $3.5 billion first responders program called for by President Bush. The Senate is on the verge of passing, without a recorded vote, S. 2664 by Senators James Jeffords (VT) and Robert Smith (NH) which would authorize the funding and send it through the states as proposed by the Administration. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY) is still negotiating to offer her Homeland Security Block Grant (S. 2038) as an amendment, or change the Jeffords-Smith bill to provide direct funding. Action on the appropriation for the program is also stalled and serious debate continue as to whether the entire $3.5 billion will be provided through one program, will be divided among several fUnder the Continuing Resolution, existing law enforcement programs such as COPS and the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant will be funded at current levels for now, as opposed to the major cuts proposed by the Administration.
Under the Continuing Resolution, existing law enforcement programs such as COPS and the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant will be funded at current levels for now, as opposed to the major cuts proposed by the Administration.
Housing and Community Development
The House did not take up H.R. 3995, "The Housing Affordability for America Act of 2002". In an October 8 letter to Speaker Dennis Hastert (IL), Conference President Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino urged that the bill be brought to the House floor before it adjourns. Mayor Menino said, "We request that H.R. 3995 be brought to the floor under a modified rule that will allow consideration of amendments on the National Housing Trust Fund and the Public Housing Drug Elimination program..." Passage of the National Housing Trust Fund, a priority of the Mayors National Housing Agenda, was the principal housing objective on Lobby Day. Mayors also strongly supported restoration of the Public Housing Drug Elimination program which was eliminated by Congress laThe full appropriations committees in both the House and Senate have approved the FY03 VA, HUD and Independent Agencies funding levels. The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and the HOME Investment Partnerships programs were increased in both houses. CDBG funded last year at $4.341 billion is funded in FY03 at $4.61 billion in the Senate and $4.58 billion in the House. HOME funded last year at $1.759 billion is funded in FY03 at $1.909 billion in the Senate and $2.221 billion in the House. Neither house has taken the VA-HUD bill to the floor.
The full appropriations committees in both the House and Senate have approved the FY03 VA, HUD and Independent Agencies funding levels. The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and the HOME Investment Partnerships programs were increased in both houses. CDBG funded last year at $4.341 billion is funded in FY03 at $4.61 billion in the Senate and $4.58 billion in the House. HOME funded last year at $1.759 billion is funded in FY03 at $1.909 billion in the Senate and $2.221 billion in the House. Neither house has taken the VA-HUD bill to the floor.
Spotlighting transportation security and investment on Lobby Day, the mayors called on Congress to provide Amtrak with $1.2 billion in FY03 Transportation spending bill maintaining the current national passenger rail system and quickly approve a number of key transportation security bills urgently needed to protect the nation's transportation infrastructure.
In the likelihood of not passing the Transportation spending bill by October 1, the mayors successfully urged Congress to provide funding for Amtrak during the Continuing Resolution at levels of over $1 billion per year ensuring uninterrupted national passenger rail service.
Congress left without completion of a number of key pieces of transportation legislation, including the stalled aviation and port security bills as well as the FY03 Transportation Appropriation bill. Delaying action on these important transportation security bills and as well as the FY03 Transportation Appropriation bill, including Amtrak, leaves the nation's aviation, maritime and rail transportation unsecured as the nation prepares for war.
Job Training Funding
There has been no movement on the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor/HHS) Appropriations bill. The Senate Subcommittee passed their bill with funding levels at the FY02 level, above the President's proposed budget: Youth Opportunity Grants - $225 million; Youth Training Formula Grants - $1.128 billion; Adult Formula Grants - $950 million; Dislocated Worker Formula Grants - $1.54 billion.
The House has not passed any Labor/HHS appropriations at this time.
As a part of a joint continuing resolution (H.J. Res. 111) signed by President Bush, Congress has three more months to pass a welfare reauthorization bill. The continuing resolution continues funding welfare programs under FY02 levels until December 31.
The House passed its version of the welfare reauthorization bill (H.R. 4737) in May and the Senate Finance Committee passed its version out of committee in June. The Senate however failed to bring the bill to the floor for debate and passage. Advocates say that the likelihood of Congress finishing welfare reauthorization this year is very doubtful.
During the Conference's Lobby Day, mayors asked Congress to pass a responsible welfare overhaul bill which would include increases in child care funding, reasonable work week requirements, and educational and job training activities to be considered work activities.