401. Marine fish program authorization of appropriations
[no MSFCMA amendment]
Summary: Authorizes appropriations through FY 2000 under the
Fish and Wildlife Act for information collection and analysis,
for fisheries conservation and management, and for cooperative
programs. Appropriations are also authorized for the Chesapeake
Bay office. The Secretary is authorized to provide up to $2
million from previously appropriated funds to a named charity to
implement a health care plan for New England fishermen.
Section 401(f) provides specific granting authority to the
Secretary to make $2 million available from prior appropriated
funds to Caritas Christi, the health care network of the
Archdiocese of Boston, for the implementation of a health care
program for fishermen in New England, if Caritas Christi submits
a plan to the Secretary no later than January 1, 1997, and the
Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of Health and Human
Services, approves the plan.
Legislative history: This amendment originated with Senators
Kerry and Kennedy and Rep. Barney Frank. Originally to be part
of section 312 of the Magnuson Act, it became a free-standing
provision so as not to prejudge the Secretary's (expected)
decision to take the $2 million from the current Fishing Capacity
Reduction Initiative, which was targeted by Congressional
staffers as a funding source for the health care plan. Shortly
after the President signed S. 39, the Secretary indeed decided to
redirect $2 million of FCRI funds to the health care program in
the event Caritas Christi submits a timely and approvable plan.
Issues: One significant issue will be whether the funds should
be reprogrammed, with the ancillary reprogramming memo sent to
Congress, or distributed pursuant to the Interjurisdictional
Fisheries Act. DOC/OGC/Admin ruled informally that 401(f)
provides independent granting authority, but the funds must be
reprogrammed. Recent reprogramming experiences have convinced
certain NOAA officials that reprogramming should be avoided.
Thus NOAA must decide whether to choose the potentially difficult
reprogramming process, or fund the plan under the IFA and justify
the linkage between a natural resource disaster and a health care
program for New England commercial fishermen. One problem with
establishing the program under IFA constraints is the required
notice-and-comment period. Using 401(f) authority would allow
NOAA to sole-source the grant directly to Caritas Christi, with
HHS as the administrative intermediary and monitor.
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