Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) today advocated for a number of local programs and agencies in testimony before the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State, and Judiciary. This is an opportunity to prioritize those budget items which fall within this committee's jurisdiction and are of interest to the people of San Francisco.
The following was excerpted from Congresswoman Pelosi's Testimony:
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) at SFO:
This year, I am requesting that the Subcommittee work with my office to develop report language to address a serious concern about insufficient INS staffing at the San Francisco International Airport. The San Francisco Airport is experiencing a steadily increasing backlog with its immigration service. Like many airports, the number of immigration officials employed at our airport currently falls far short of the staffing ceiling. I am concerned that when the Airport completes its expansion in two years, the problem will be greatly exacerbated, as immigration receiving stations will more than double.
Delancey Street Criminal Justice Council Juvenile Justice Initiative
Again, Mr. Chairman, thank you for your help in support of San Francisco's Juvenile Justice Action Initiative in the FY98 Appropriations. This year, I hope the Subcommittee will provide $1.5 million in the Edward Byrne Discretionary Grants under the Department of Justice for the Delancey Street Foundation/Criminal Justice Council Juvenile Justice partnership. This initiative is a public-private comprehensive effort designed to interrupt the cycle of chronic crime by providing major life-altering interventions at continuous points, transforming a young person's negative cycle to a positive one. This is a program that can serve as a model for the rest of the nation in decreasing juvenile delinquency and providing opportunities for youth.
National Marine Sanctuary Program
Historically, funding for this program has been insufficient to meet the needs of managing the vast marine resources under its authority. This year, there is a proposed decrease of $800,000 over last-year's appropriation for the program.
In the Northern California region, the Gulf of the Farallones and the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries received less than a 2% increase in their budget, a much lower allocation than sanctuaries with smaller territories and fewer resources. These two sanctuaries have made extraordinary advances in the management of their resources and in the establishment of a strong non-profit association to augment federal funding.
The National Marine Sanctuary Program is authorized at $18 million for fiscal year 1999. This is the International Year of the Ocean -- a time when we can recognize the importance of our sanctuaries and bring funding in line with the authorization and with the environmental value of the marine resources they protect.
Many salmon runs in California and the Pacific Northwest are in serious trouble. In February, the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed the listing of at least a dozen salmon runs from California's Central Valley to the entire Puget Sound basin as endangered or threatened.
I hope the Subcommittee will recognize this serious problem and address the deficiency that exists in the protected species budget for NMFS.
The Winter Run Chinook Salmon Captive Broodstock Program, developed in response to the concern about possible extinction of the species, has been very successful over the past five years in rearing and releasing winter-run chinook salmon back into the wild. Given the very difficult problems facing salmon in our region, it would be helpful to the completion of this program if NMFS would obligate funding in support of this species restoration project.
There is also an important need to increase the budget for NMFS under "Resource Information" where additional research, in the amount of $2.25 million, is required for Pacific Groundfish stock assessments. More research data is required to devise an improved management plan for the species.
The Asia Foundation:
The Administration is requesting $10 million for the Asia Foundation for FY'99, plus an additional $5 million for an Asia Foundation Rule of Law program in China. I have discussed the proposed China program with Asia Foundation officials and am seeking more information about what opportunities might exist on the ground in China should such a program be funded. I certainly believe that the Subcommittee should provide the $10 million request for the Asia Foundation, while considering the $5 million proposal as a separate issue.
Radio Free Asia:
I understand that the Administration has requested $19.4 million for Radio Free Asia (RFA) for FY'99. I respectfully request that the Subcommittee provide at least that amount and urge you to seriously consider providing $25 million for RFA. As you know, the House passed legislation last year to authorize $32 million for RFA to allow it to increase its broadcasting. It is my understanding that RFA is currently transmitting 18 hours a day into China: 12 hours of Mandarin, 2 hours of Cantonese and 4 hours of Tibetan. To achieve the important goal of 24 hour a day broadcasting into China, RFA needs $5 million over the Administration's request.
The Natural Disaster Reduction Initiative ($55 million FY99 budget request) is another important program and is designed to reduce the costs of natural hazards and weather-related disasters. California's recent experience with El Nino makes this program even more important.
The full text of Congresswoman Pelosi's statement is available by clicking here.
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