Memorandum Returning Without Approval a Bill To Amend the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act of 1981

January 12, 1983

I am withholding my approval of H.R. 7336, which would make certain amendments intended to improve the implementation of the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act of 1981.

I continue to support the objectives of both Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 of the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act. However, I cannot approve H.R. 7336 because the bill makes substantive changes to the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act that are unacceptable, as well as amendments to the legislative veto provision of the General Education Provisions Act that I believe to be an unwarranted intrusion on the Executive branch's constitutional authority.

Among the unacceptable provisions is section 17(a)(1), which would declare the Federal Government's assistance to disadvantaged Indian students under ECIA Chapter 1 to be a part of its trust responsibility toward Indian tribes. This provision is the same as one included in S. 2623, the Tribally Controlled Community College Assistance Act Amendments, from which I recently withheld my approval. The provision of Federal education assistance to Indian students is not characterized in law or treaty as a trust responsibility, and has not been held by the courts to be so. As I noted in my Memorandum of Disapproval on S. 2623, to declare the provision of education to Indian students a trust responsibility would potentially create legal obligations and entitlements that are not clearly intended or understood. This provision of H.R. 7336 is unnecessary to the administration of the Chapter 1 program.

Also unacceptable is section 16(b) of H.R. 7336, which would make certain amendments to a two-House legislative veto device presently contained in section 431 of the General Education Provisions Act. The Attorney General has advised me, and I agree, that two Houses of Congress cannot bind the Executive branch by passing a concurrent resolution that is not presented to me for approval or veto.

Another objectionable provision of H.R. 7336, section 1, would require continuation under Chapter 1 of the definition of a currently migratory child that was in use under the antecedent Title I program. This requirement would prevent the Administration from focusing the limited resources available for migrant services under Chapter 1 on those children whose education is actually interrupted as a result of their migrant status.

Other amendments in the bill relating to the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act could be construed to reinstate requirements and procedures contrary to the intent of the Act to provide greater authority and flexibility for State and local educational agencies.

My disapproval of H.R. 7336 in no way reflects upon the efforts of the author of this bill, Representative William Goodling, of Pennsylvania. Mr. Goodling worked closely with the Department of Education to clarify specific weaknesses in the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act and to reflect that effort in the House report language. Despite his efforts, there are substantive provisions in H.R. 7336 that do not eliminate the ambiguities in the language of the existing ECIA and seem to restore undesirable complexity to the administration of ECIA programs.

Although the bill would make several desirable changes to the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act, the objectionable provisions far outweigh any of its benefits.

For these reasons, I cannot approve the bill.

Ronald Reagan

The White House,

January 12, 1983.