BURNLEY URGES MORE COAST GUARD FUNDS

BURNLEY URGES MORE COAST GUARD FUNDS

Transportation Secretary James Burnley is warning Congress that failure to approve some $60 million this year for the Coast Guard would mean more noxious facility closings and cutbacks by the service.

He told a House Transportation Appropriations subcommittee this week that the $60 million, to be requested from Congress shortly, is reprogramed funds and involves no new money.He said the Department of Transportation is scraping every barrel throughout its budget to come up with the funds.

Without the money, Mr. Burnley continued, the Coast Guard will close a whole new round of facilities to get us through the fiscal year.

Of even further importance, he added, is that the administration's $2.98 billion program level request for the Coast Guard in fiscal 1989 assumes that the additional money for fiscal 1988 will be approved.

Subcommittee members peppered Mr. Burnley about the DOT's budget for nearly three hours.

At one point, subcommittee Chairman William Lehman, D-Fla., said the department is playing the same old games with the budget figures again this year. He questioned whether the DOT has really complied with last year's economic summit agreement for a 2 percent increase in domestic discretionary programs.

It makes our job more difficult, said Rep. Lehman.

Mr. Burnley explained the budget understanding includes both budget authority (or program levels) and actual outlays. Both have to be taken into account, he said.

But he asserted the DOT's budget is completely consistent with the agreement. I am extremely pleased with this budget; it is entirely defensible.

Mr. Burnley reminded the panel that the president is not going to sign a catchall spending bill this year, as he has in previous years.

There is an emerging consensus that we are going to try to pass individual appropriations bills, he said. I hope this means we can be taken more seriously.

The secretary remarked that Congress will find the economic summit agreement will have areal impact on your deliberations, as it did on the department's budget decisions.

We'll have to wait and see who blinks first, said Rep. Lehman.