Statement on Signing the Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, Fiscal Year 1989

 

September 27, 1988

 

I have today signed H.R. 4867, the Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1989. The Act provides necessary funds to manage the natural resources under Federal stewardship, to assist Native Americans, to support cultural institutions, and to assist the Nation's territories and possessions. This is the fifth appropriations bill enacted for the Fiscal Year that begins on October 1.

 

Although on balance the Act merited my approval, the Congress has not demonstrated the fiscal responsibility with this Act that it exercised with the previous four appropriations Acts for the coming fiscal year. This Act appropriates $680 million more than I requested and brings the Nation $198 million closer to a Federal budget sequestration under the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings law. This congressional overspending cannot continue if the Nation is to avoid the uniform, across-the-board cuts that a sequestration inflicts equally on lower priority programs and on the high priority programs upon which many Americans depend.

 

I urge the Congress to act swiftly to send me the remainder of the Fiscal Year 1989 appropriations bills -- on time and on budget.

 

The Congress included in H.R. 4867 another extension of the moratorium on granting oil and gas leases for certain areas of the Outer Continental Shelf. The Congress increased the damaging effect of the moratorium by extending it to apply to grants of permits for drilling and exploration activities under leases already granted. For the Congress to prohibit the issuance of such permits to those who already had obtained leases is unfair.

 

Many provisions of H.R. 4867 reflect a growing and disturbing trend on the part of the Congress to include unconstitutional committee approval or veto requirements in appropriations bills. This Act includes, for example, provisions purporting to require the approval of congressional committees for (1) changes in Forest Service regional boundaries, or movement or closure of regional offices, (2) changes in the Forest Service appropriations structure, (3) reduction of personnel in the Indian Health Service, and (4) assessments against certain programs and activities.

 

In granting authority or making appropriations by law, the Congress may not reserve to its committees approval or veto power over the exercise of that authority or the expenditure of those appropriations. The reservation of such power to congressional committees clearly conflicts with the constitutional principles the Supreme Court enunciated in INS v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919 (1983). The Executive branch will continue to provide committees the notification and full consultation that interbranch comity requires in matters in which the Congress has indicated such a special interest.

 

Finally, two provisions of the Act purport to require the Executive branch to submit requests for supplemental appropriations to replenish certain expended Department of Interior funds. The Constitution grants exclusively to the President the power to recommend to the consideration of the Congress such measures as he judges necessary and expedient. Because the Congress may not by law command the President to exercise in particular circumstances the power that the Constitution commits to his judgment of necessity and expedience, such provisions have been consistently treated as advisory, not mandatory.

 

Ronald Reagan

 

The White House,

 

September 27, 1988.

 

Note: H.R. 4867, approved September 27, was assigned Public Law No. 100 - 446.