White House to Rewrite Federalism Order|
Now With State-Local Input
By David S. Broder
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 29, 1998; Page A19
The Clinton administration promised yesterday to start with "a clean slate" and negotiate a mutually acceptable executive order on federalism to replace one denounced by state and local government organizations that were not consulted when President Clinton signed it.
"Everything is on the table. . . . We want to consult with them and get this done and go on to other things," said G. Edward DeSeve, acting deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. DeSeve made his pledge at a congressional hearing on the executive order, which was suspended temporarily 10 days ago after municipal and state groups demanded its withdrawal.
DeSeve was summoned as a witness by Rep. David M. McIntosh (R-Ind.), chairman of a subcommittee of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, after two hours of nonstop complaints about Clinton's action from elected officials of both parties. The elected officials said the new order reversed the thrust of those that had guided federal regulators for the past decade as they considered actions with potential impact on states and local communities.
Instead of demanding justification for federal preemption, for instance, the new order offered multiple, subjective justifications for federal intervention, they said. And the order, which requires federal agencies to consult with state and local governments, was -- without consultation -- signed by Clinton on May 14 while attending the summit of industrial nations in Britain.
Utah Gov. Michael O. Leavitt (R), testifying on behalf of the National Governors' Association, said issuing Executive Order 13083 without consultation was "wrongheaded and unacceptable" and that the new language "is inconsistent with the principles of balance on which this nation was founded."
Philadelphia Mayor Edward Rendell (D), appearing for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said the contents of the order are "a serious step backward" from the language of the two earlier executive orders on federal-state relations, one signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987 and the other by Clinton in 1993, which were superseded by the May 14 order.
Spokesmen for the National League of Cities, the National Association of County Officials and the National Conference of State Legislatures joined the chorus of complaints, and said their organizations are united in the demand that the new order be withdrawn.
The White House has refused to do that but offered earlier this month, when the protests erupted, to delay its effective date from mid-August until mid-November to let the states and local governments have their say.
Philadelphia Councilman Brian J. O'Neill, president of the League of Cities, warned, "There is not a lot of negotiating room here. This is a flawed document -- totally wrong." But most of the others said they are willing to work out the problems with the White House, as long as it does not insist that 13083 be the basis of the discussion.
Mickey Ibarra, assistant to the president for intergovernmental relations, confirmed in an interview that the state and local groups' condition would be met. "We hope to begin talks as early as next week," Ibarra said. "We will listen to our partners and begin wherever they want to."
McIntosh, who supervised regulatory issues in the Reagan and Bush administrations before being elected to Congress, was unable to solve the mystery of why the new Clinton order was issued without notice to the "Big 7" organizations representing state and local governments in Washington.
DeSeve said the order was written by officials at his agency and the White House counsel's office, mentioning by name Sally Katzen, who has since moved from OMB to the White House National Economic Council, and William Marshall of the counsel's office. DeSeve said he was not involved in the process and could not explain the lack of consultation.
North Carolina state Rep. Daniel T. Blue Jr., president of the National Conference of State Legislatures, said the lack of consultation was "atypical of the way NCSL and others have been dealt with by this administration."
Rep. Bernard Sanders, an independent and former mayor of Burlington, Vt., drew support from many of the witnesses when he said Congress was often as guilty as any White House of trampling on state and local governments. "States' rights do not get in the way when someone has something he wants to do," Sanders said. "Liberal Democrats or conservative Republicans -- they just go whoosh." Utah's Leavitt responded, "I agree. The administration has no corner on preemption." c
Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company
From: Bommer () *
07/29/98 01:17:12 EDT