Omnibus Appropriations Bill
February 20, 2003
Today I Signed Into Law H.j. Res. 2, An Omnibus Appropriations Bill funding
the remaining 11 appropriations bills for FY 2003. The funds provided in this
resolution will provide important and long overdue resources for our Nations
priorities, including fighting the war on terrorism and educating our most vulnerable
This bill provides over $397 billion in discretionary budget authority, including
$10 billion in reserve funding for the Department of Defense, and is largely
consistent with the agreed upon overall funding level. My original budget request,
made a year ago, asked for the War on Terror reserve. I had separately agreed
to endorse new funds for election reform, a bill that was passed months after
my budget was submitted.
Unfortunately, the Congress chose to circumvent the spending limit for FY 2003
by borrowing $2.2 billion in funding from FY 2004. This action must be corrected
by adjusting both the 2004 budget allocations and appropriations, and holding
advance appropriations constant with the level enacted last year. I will ask
the Leadership to ensure this happens.
This bill allocates over $53 billion in total Education funding. The Congress
provided increases for many of my high-priority programs, including programs
for reading, disadvantaged students, special education, and Pell Grants.
The bill also includes $3.3 billion in unrequested drought and other assistance,
which is only minimally offset by real reductions in existing farm spending.
Ninety-five percent of purported savings are scheduled to come several years
from now, after the expiration of todays farm bill, and may prove illusory.
Most troublesome, H.J. Res. 2 falls nearly $1 billion short of my request for
State and local law enforcement and emergency personnel, and in particular underfunds
terrorism preparedness for first responders. I requested $3.5 billion for the
First Responders Initiative. The bill, however, provides only $1.3 billion for
this purpose. Meanwhile the bill provides $2.2 billion for existing State and
local grant programs, which are not directly related to higher-priority terrorism
preparedness and prevention efforts. This is unsatisfactory, and my Administration
will use every appropriate tool available to ensure that these funds are directed
to the highest priority homeland security needs.
This belated agreement to last years appropriations process is not perfect,
but it underscores the need to move quickly on this years priorities outlined
in my 2004 budget request. I look forward to working with the Congress to continue
funding the war on terror, strengthening our economy, and protecting the homeland.