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CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 1141, 1999 EMERGENCY SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT -- (House of Representatives - May 18, 1999)

But I do not understand why we have to go to that pot. Certainly there is

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other uncommitted appropriated funds. There are other appropriated uncommitted funds we can go to without sending a message that, not only do we take exception to offset funding for hurricane disasters in our own hemisphere and in Central America and offset it from the poorest of the poor account in our country, there should have been a better place for the offsets if we needed them in the first place.

   Then I support, of course, the substantial assistance to refugees. But, again, we are talking about spending so much more money that is not an emergency.

   The gentleman from Ohio (Mr. REGULA) did a great job on the riders, but not a complete job. I urge my colleagues to vote no on the supplemental.

   Mr. YOUNG of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 1 minute.

   Mr. Speaker, I take this additional minute to respond to the comments of the gentlewoman from California (Ms. PELOSI) about Hurricane Mitch. Immediately upon the incident of that hurricane, America responded to Central America. We sent our military forces there quickly. They saved lives. They pulled people out of the swollen rivers, out of mud slides. They brought potable water so people could have something to drink or cook with. They provided sanitary conditions. So the United States responded immediately.

   The supplemental request did not come from the administration until much later following that disaster. Actually, there was some delay in getting to conference on the Hurricane Mitch bill, but we combined the two bills, the Mitch bill and the Kosovo bill, into one supplemental so that we were not spending all of our time dealing with supplementals every week. That is the reason for some delay.

   I would like to say to the gentlewoman that the gentleman from Florida (Mr. DIAZ-BALART) has been all over my case ever since we filed that first supplemental to get it done. So I say to the gentlewoman, it is completed. It is here today. Vote for it, and the money will begin to flow.

   Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

   Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, may I inquire as to how much time is remaining on each side.

   The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. THORNBERRY). The gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. OBEY) has 17 minutes remaining. The gentleman from Florida (Mr. YOUNG) has 21 1/2 minutes remaining.

   Mr. YOUNG of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I am proud to yield 3 minutes to the very distinguished gentleman from California (Mr. LEWIS), chairman of the Subcommittee on Defense of the Committee on Appropriations.

   Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate the gentleman from Florida yielding to me.

   Mr. Speaker, I rise first to express my deep appreciation to both the gentleman from Florida (Chairman YOUNG) and the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. OBEY), the ranking member. They have shepherded this bill through a very difficult process and I must say they reflected the will of the House in an especially effective manner as we dealt with the other body.

   As has been described here, this bill has been merged with the earlier emergency bill that passed the House. There has been a good deal of concern about additions placed on that original bill. I must say first and foremost that the chairman and the ranking member worked very hard to play a role in eliminating the most egregious of those problems from the other body.

   In the meantime, they provided a very important leadership role in making sure that our efforts, especially relative to Kosovo, remain very, very clean. As these items dealing with funding for national defense left the House, they return to the House--a clean product.

   This bill is committed to funding our effort in Kosovo. While it does not provide all the funding that I might have called for and as was reflected in the work of the initial bill that passed the House, it remained a clean bill; and it demonstrates our commitment to making sure that our men and women who are in harm's way are adequately supported in that effort.

   We do have within the Kosovo part of this package a total of almost $11 billion worth of funding for defense purposes, an amount that is in excess of that which the President requested, but an amount that is very apparent is needed by our military for our national defense.

   As we move into the months ahead, none of us can predict what the cost might be. But this bill is a reflection of the fact that the House wants to make sure that adequate funding is present no matter how long the war itself may extend itself.

   Beyond the President's request, there are a number of critical items that are necessary and that have been provided for in this bill. To illustrate that to some extent, above and beyond the President's basic requests, we have added $4.74 billion to address critical shortfalls in a number of areas that include items like munitions, where there is $250 million to replace munitions that have been used and are in short supply; rapid response procurements in the amounts of $300 million; and operation and maintenance funds in the amount of $2.35 billion. The O&M funding includes needed funds for spare parts and depot maintenance, items that are critical to our forces being able to carry out their mission.

   I must say, Mr. Speaker, one of the messages we are sending here to our troops that is especially important involves the advanced funding of pay adjustments for the troops. That essentially tells them in clear terms that the House is not only supporting their effort in Kosovo, but intends to continue to support their service for the country as long as it might continue in the months and the years ahead. That portion of the bill, Mr. Speaker, came to us with great support and cooperation of the authorizing committee, and I want to thank those members of the Armed Services Committee who also provided us with their assistance throughout this process. In closing, I strongly urge all members, on both sides of the aisle, to support this bipartisan, essential bill.

   Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from California (Mr. GEORGE MILLER).

   (Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

   Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to the supplemental spending bill.

   Mr. Speaker, as we prepare to vote on the Conference Report to provide spending for military aid and hurricane disaster relief, Members should be aware of a thus far successful effort by the mining industry and its supporters in the Other Body to include in the conference report yet another anti-environmental rider.

   This time, the rider would stop the Secretary of the Interior from properly carrying out his duties under the 1872 Mining Law by allowing mining companies to claim an unlimited number of acres of public land for waste disposal.

   The issue arose from a March 25, 1999, joint decision by the U.S. Departments of Interior and Agriculture denying a large open-pit, cyanide-leach gold mine in eastern Washington State which had illegally claimed hundreds of acres of public land as ``millsites.''

   Millsite claims were originally intended for structures to process the mined ore from the mineral claims; now they are usually used to dump waste rock and tailings (what's left after the mineral has been extracted).

   To be valid, millsites cannot contain a valuable mineral. The mining law holds that millsite claims are limited to 5 acres in size and allows only one 5-acre millsite claim per mineral claim. Before the March 25th decision mining companies were often permitted, albeit illegally, as many millsite claims as they needed, no matter how many mineral claims they had. And the modern mining industry generally needs many more millsite claims than mineral claims. Since this decision to fully and consistently enforce the law, 5 acres of millsite claim waste disposal space is all that is available per mineral claim.

   The decision by the Department of the Interior is significant because of the precedent it sets--enforcing a provision of the 1872 Mining Law that limits the amount of public land, adjacent to mines, which can be used to dump waste from mining.

   With enforcement, the decision gives federal land managers the right to deny mine permits that propose to dump excessive amounts of mine wastes on valuable public lands and it may make economically marginal ore deposits unprofitable to develop.

   The space required to dump the massive waste rock piles produced at many of today's mines exceeds the legal limits under the 1872 Mining Law which Congress should have reformed years ago. Mine waste dumps pollute surface and groundwater resources with acid

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mine drainage and heavy metals such as arsenic.

   Permitting more such waste to be dumped on public lands is simply not an acceptable solution. That's what the industry wants and that's what this rider would do. It would legalize waste-dumping that is now illegal.

   The 1872 mining law has given away billions of dollars of the nation's mineral wealth while paying taxpayers, who own the minerals, not one cent in royalties. And the law has only minimal limited environmental safeguards.

   Polls show that a significant majority of Americans continue to support strong mining law reform. But instead of an open debate on the mining law, the industry wants an exemption from this part of the law that they've discovered is no longer to their liking.

   Instead of engaging in back-room politics, the mining industry should engage in an open public debate about reforming all of the mining law, not just the part it doesn't like. And Congress should not permit a last-second, stealth rider to be added to a non-germane bill with no public debate.

   Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Washington (Mr. McDERMOTT).

   (Mr. McDERMONT asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

   Mr. McDERMOTT. Mr. Speaker, today's vote on the supplemental budget for Kosovo has so little to do with Serbia and Kosovo that it no longer makes any sense. Members are being asked to approve a cornucopia of projects much beyond the amount that President Clinton asked.

   There are so many outrages in this bill that it is kind of hard to pick one out, but let me pick one out. It is the antienvironmental rider, sponsored by the senior Senator from Washington State, and the well-financed mining lobby, which will trade American foreign policy, the safety of millions of Kosovars, and the welfare of hurricane victims in Central America for the right to strip-mine a sensitive and scenic area in north central Washington.

   This rider will grant a Texas company the right to operate a strip-mine in Okanogan County. This mine will operate a cyanide leaching pit mine to spread its waste over hundreds of acres of public land, threaten the county's water supply, and threaten tribal lands.

   It orders the Interior Department not to enforce the 1872 mining law. There is no doubt that that mining law needs to be reformed. It is much too generous to the mining companies. However, the solution is comprehensive reform of the law. It is clearly wrong to suspend part of the law to allow more dumping of wastes, and the mechanism is hardly an emergency appropriations bill.


[Time: 19:15]

   The only opportunity that Members of this House will have to vote against this is to vote on the motion to recommit. And I urge all of them to vote ``yes'' on the motion to recommit and ``no'' on the bill.

   Mr. YOUNG of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 1/2 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Washington (Mr. HASTINGS), member of the Committee on Rules.

   Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me the time.

   I just want to point out something that I find so ironic with the debate from the previous speaker and the debate on the rule. Here we are debating the bill that deals with our national defense, deals with our agriculture industry, and deals with aid to Central America, which I think is needed, otherwise this body would not take it up. And yet we hear the rhetoric from the other side and specific Members that we are decimating our environmental laws.

   Nothing could be further from the truth. Let us put this into perspective, exactly what happened. Under existing law, a gold mine in Washington State opened up 11 years ago, invested $80 million under existing rules, jumped over every hoop, every barrier, went through every environmental hoop from the State, from the Federal Government, and they said proceed, until it got to Washington, D.C. and a solicitor took existing statute that had never been interpreted this way before, never been interpreted this way before, and said we are going to shut down this gold mine after an $80 million investment.

   This happened about 6 weeks ago. It had to be fixed in a timely manner because people have invested in this enterprise, pension funds; there is about 150 to 200 jobs at stake in north central Washington. So this fix had to be done in an emergency manner, and that is why this vehicle was fixed. It does not, I have to repeat, this does not decimate any environmental laws. It takes care of this one specific project and those projects that are in place right now.

   I urge support of this supplemental budget.

   Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. PRICE).

   Mr. YOUNG of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. PRICE).

   Mr. PRICE of North Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I am concerned that one of the offsets being used in this bill is $350 million from the Section 8 housing program. I understand that these are monies that are not expected to be spent this year. But the future use of these funds was considered when HUD calculated how much to request for fiscal 2000.

   It is my understanding that the gentleman from New York (Mr. WALSH), the chairman, plans to appropriate sufficient funds to renew all Section 8 contracts in the fiscal 2000 VA-HUD appropriations bill; and if I might, I would like to engage him in a colloquy at this point on that matter. My concern is that funding be sufficient to ensure that those currently using the Section 8 program will in fact have the necessary housing provided for them and their families.

   Is it the intention of the chairman to appropriate funds sufficient to renew all Section 8 contract renewals?

   Mr. WALSH. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?

   Mr. PRICE of North Carolina. I yield to the gentleman from New York.

   Mr. WALSH. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the concern of the gentleman. We also have concern with this important housing issue, and I agree that the Section 8 program is very important for ensuring that the poorest of the poor have adequate housing. Consequently, I fully intend to appropriate adequate funds for Section 8 renewal.

   And I would remind my good friend that no one has lost their housing vouchers, and I have no intention of letting that happen.

   Mr. YOUNG of Florida. If the gentleman would yield, I would like to say, Mr. Speaker, that I support the intention of the gentleman from New York (Mr. WALSH) to provide for all the Section 8 renewals even though, as we are all well aware, the budget resolution we are working under requires difficult choices in many of the appropriations bills, including the VA-HUD bill. I believe it will be up to the Members of the subcommittee to determine the best manner in which to allocate these funds.

   Mr. PRICE of North Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the chairmen of both the full committee and the subcommittee. I agree with both of them that it is going to be a very difficult, very challenging process to fund those programs under our responsibilities.

   I am concerned that this rescission could make that more difficult for the gentleman from New York (Mr. WALSH) and my colleagues to find the funds necessarily adequately to fund both Section 8 and all the important programs we oversee.

   In conclusion, it is going to be difficult to find the funds to fund Section 8 fully, and all of these important programs we are overseeing. It is vitally important to do this, though; and I pledge my cooperation to getting it done.

   Mr. YOUNG of Florida. Mr. Speaker. I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. REGULA), chairman of the Subcommittee on Interior of the Committee on Appropriations.

   (Mr. REGULA asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

   Mr. REGULA. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me the time.

   I think we are losing sight of the fact that the purpose of this bill is to support our troops overseas. They did not ask to be sent there. But now that they are there, therefore I think we should get the necessary funds to provide the adequate equipment that they need and all the supplies so that they can be protected in performing their duty. And we are getting diverted in this debate.

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   But let me also address one issue, and that is the Byrd provision which was in the Senate bill to establish a loan guarantee program. I think that amendment is important. It would deal with the question of steelworkers and their jobs.

   But I did not think we would want to lose this bill or have it delayed, since it is so vital to young American men and women in the military, by retaining this amendment. I believe that this should be addressed with a separate bill. That bill with the Byrd language has been introduced in the House by myself. The Speaker has agreed that there will be a vote on it. A similar action is being accomplished in the Senate, and there will be a vote there on the Byrd amendment.

   I would hope that the Senate will pass the quota bill, as it is the most effective solution to stopping dumping and job loss. It is a problem. Four steel companies have filed for bankruptcy protection since the steel import crisis began. We have 10,000 steelworkers out of their jobs, and that does not include people in the ancillary industries.

   We can deal with those problems with the quota bill, which would be far more effective in saving steelworker jobs. And I think it is important that we get on with passing this bill to make sure that our young men and women overseas and in the United States that have been called upon to protect their country, to serve their country, are adequately taken care of.

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