Statement on Signing a Bill Authorizing Fiscal Years 1982 and 1983 Appropriations for Certain Federal Agencies

August 24, 1982

I have approved today S. 1193, a bill which authorizes fiscal year 1982 and 1983 appropriations for the Department of State, United States Information Agency, formerly the International Communication Agency, the Board for International Broadcasting, and the Inter-American Foundation.

This bill strengthens the management and organization of the Board for International Broadcasting and the United States Information Agency. I am also pleased to see that the Congress has supported our request to send a strong signal to organizations such as UNESCO that our government will not accept efforts, whether by international organizations or otherwise, to restrict and weaken democracy in this world by restraining freedom of expression and free speech.

S. 1193 also enacts into law the Foreign Missions Act, which provides authority to regulate the activities of foreign missions in our country in order to promote reciprocity in our diplomatic relationships and to protect our national security.

I am particularly concerned, however, about the provision that would require obligations for exchanges of persons programs of the United States Information Agency to be doubled in terms of constant dollars between 1982 and 1986, regardless of the amount of total appropriations available to the Agency in those years. While I share the Congress' view that exchanges contribute importantly to our national security, I believe such earmarking of future funds, especially in a period of budgetary restraint, is inappropriate. This requirement could have the detrimental effect of significantly reducing other activities of the Agency such as the Voice of America, publications, and information centers, thereby weakening the Agency's other important activities that further our national security. I must note, therefore, that given the overall availability of resources, the administration will most likely have to seek adjustments to this unduly restrictive provision.

Finally, I must address those provisions of S. 1193 concerning the opening and reopening of United States consulates abroad. Following a lengthy review, the Department of State closed the seven consulates in question because the services they provided were disproportionately small in relation to the costs of maintaining them. The enrolled bill, however, would require the State Department to operate and maintain these consulates and preclude the opening of any new U.S. consulates until the seven are reopened.

Under the Constitution, the President has the power to appoint consuls as well as ambassadors and other public ministers. Implicit in this authority is the right to decide when and where an ambassador or consul should be appointed. Accordingly, I believe that Congress cannot mandate the establishment of consular relations at a time and place unacceptable to the President. In recognition of this constitutional prerogative of the President, I shall therefore regard section 103 as a recommendation and not a requirement.

Note: As enacted, S. 1193 is Public Law 97 - 241, approved August 24.