THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
|For Immediate Release
||October 6, 2000|
Urging Congress to Put Progress Over Partisanship in Addressing America's Priorities
Today, President Clinton will sign a second Continuing Resolution to keep the government open and urge Congress to get down to work by passing a budget that addresses America's priorities. Last February, the President proposed a fiscally responsible budget that maintains America's prosperity by paying down the debt, providing targeted middle-class tax cuts and making key investments in improving education, promoting national security, protecting the environment, and fighting crime. Nearly one week into the new fiscal year, the Republican Congress has completed only three of 13 spending bills, but has managed to strip away critical legislation to outlaw hate crimes and gut the prescription drug import legislation. Meanwhile, Congress's deadline has been extended twice and Congress is loading spending bills with election-year projects for special interests. President Clinton will call on Congress to maintain our prosperity by passing a fiscally responsible budget that invests in key initiatives. He will also urge Congress to enact other important legislation to prevent hate crimes and address other priorities.
CONGRESS SHOULD PUT PROGRESS OVER PARTISANSHIP IN ADDRESSING AMERICA'S PRIORITIES. President Clinton will do his part to avoid a government shutdown by signing a second Continuing Resolution to fund government operations while Congress finishes the budget. He will call on Congress to complete its work and pass a budget that funds important national initiatives, including:
- INVESTING IN EDUCATION. The President's budget includes important investments in education, such as modernizing 6,000 schools and repairing 5,000 more each year for five years, keeping our commitment to hire 100,000 quality teachers to reduce class size, funding teacher training to help put qualified teachers in every classroom, strengthening accountability by identifying and turning around failing schools, increasing after-school opportunities, and preparing at-risk youth for college success. Congress does not guarantee funding to continue hiring 100,000 qualified teachers to reduce class size and provides only $600 million of the President's $1 billion request to create more after-school learning opportunities. It shortchanges teacher quality and recruitment programs and does not help ensure a qualified teacher in every classroom. Congress denies 600,000 disadvantaged students the opportunity to prepare for college through GEAR UP by freezing funding at $200 million, $125 million below the President's request. Finally, Congress fails to institute real accountability to turn around failing schools.
- PUTTING MORE POLICE ON OUR STREETS AND FIGHTING GUN VIOLENCE. The President's budget includes $1.3 billion for a 21st Century Policing Initiative that will put up to 50,000 more officers on our nation's streets by 2005 and provide for law enforcement technology; new community prosecutors; and community-wide crime prevention. To date, the Congress has underfunded the President's request by more than one-third. The President's budget also provides $280 million for a National Gun Enforcement Initiative—the largest of its kind in U.S. history—to fund 500 new ATF firearms agents and inspectors; over 1,000 federal, state, and local gun prosecutors; expanded crime gun tracing; the first ever national ballistics testing network; local anti-gun violence media campaigns; and smart-gun research. So far, Congress has failed to fund over half of this initiative, including the 1,000 more state and local gun prosecutors and smart-gun research.
- PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT. The President's budget supports important initiatives to protect the public health and the environment by promoting healthy air, safe food and clean water and addressing climate change. Included among these initiatives are major regional efforts to restore rivers, lakes and other water resources such as the salmon runs of the Pacific Northwest and the Florida Everglades. The President has also called upon Congress to send him legislation and spending bills free of anti-environmental riders that weaken public health and environmental protections, undercut efforts to combat global climate change, and surrender public lands to private interests.
- PROVIDING ENERGY SECURITY. Congress has not completed enacting any of the four key components of President Clinton's comprehensive energy strategy to ensure secure and reliable energy supplies while reducing pollution and emissions that contribute to climate change. The President's plan includes $1.7 billion for the Department of Energy to support cleaner and more efficient sources of domestic energy and for EPA research and promote voluntary energy efficiency efforts. It also includes legislation to create tax credits for energy security, improving the reliability and affordability of the power grid through restructuring, and reauthorizing the Energy Policy Conservation Act, including the Regional Home Heating Reserve.
- ENSURING THAT ALL AMERICANS SHARE IN OUR PROSPERITY. House and Senate Republicans have made deep cuts to President Clinton's proposals to bridge the digital divide, including (1) eliminating funding for a $50 million proposal that would provide home Internet access for low-income families; (2) cutting in half the Administration's $100 million initiative to create Community Technology Centers in low-income neighborhoods; (3) slashing by two-thirds the Administration's $45 million proposal to support innovative applications of information technology for underserved communities; and (4) refusing to help support welfare recipients and low-income families save in an Individual Development Account for a car that will help them get or keep a job. President Clinton is also working to assure authorization and funding for the programs in the New Markets/Community Renewal Agreement with Speaker Hastert, including $200 million for Round 2 Empowerment Zones; $37 million for America's Private Investment Companies; and $58.3 million for SBA's New Market Venture Capital and BusinessLINC programs.
- PUTTING PUBLIC HEALTH BEFORE SPECIAL INTERESTS. President Clinton supports the Department of Justice's litigation to hold the tobacco companies accountable for deceiving the American public, particularly youth, about the dangers of tobacco. In light of the clear ruling last week by a U.S. District Court allowing the case to go to trial, Congress should reject special protections shielding tobacco companies from the financial responsibility for the harm they've caused and instead provide the funds necessary to let the American people have their day in court.
- ADDRESSING THE NATION'S HEALTH CARE PRIORITIES. The President has proposed new options to cover millions of uninsured parents and their children in CHIP, workers in between jobs, 55- to 65-year-olds, young adults between 19 and 20, and legal immigrants. Studies show that the President's proposals do more to increase coverage than tax approaches advocated by the Republican leadership. The House and Senate have both refused to fund the President's $76 billion effort to help insure working families. In addition, Congress has failed to enact the President's historic long-term care initiative, which invests $28.6 billion over 10 years in a long-term care tax credit. Congress should also reauthorize the Older Americans Act and strengthen it by investing $1.25 billion over 10 years in a new Family Caregivers program.
- PROTECTING CIVIL RIGHTS AND WORKING FOR EQUAL PAY. This year, President Clinton requested a 13 percent increase to improve civil rights enforcement, bringing the federal commitment to more than $1 billion per year. This initiative provides resources for stepped-up civil rights enforcement, education and outreach at the Departments of Justice, Education, Health and Human Services, Labor, and Housing and Urban Development. The House has cut $136 million from the President's request, while the Senate cut $108 million. Congress has also failed to fund $10 million for the President's Equal Pay Initiative at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to fight wage discrimination and provide training to employers on equal pay requirements.
- EXPANDING FAMILY PLANNING. The President's budget would allow family planning clinics to provide reproductive health services and clinical care to over 5 million low-income women. It would also prevent over a million unintended pregnancies per year through comprehensive reproductive health services, including sexually-transmitted disease and cancer screening, HIV prevention and counseling, programs to discourage adolescent sexual activity, and contraceptive counseling and services. The President's budget requested $274 million for this initiative, but the preliminary conference report provides only $239 million.
- PROTECTING OUR NATIONAL SECURITY AND ADVANCING U.S. LEADERSHIP IN THE WORLD. The President requested $836 million to fully fund our contribution to the International Development Association, (IDA) the concessional lending arm of the World Bank, to clear our arrears and help poor developing countries invest in HIV/AIDS prevention and other health, education, and social infrastructure programs needed for lasting poverty reduction. Second, the President requested $830 million to reduce the threat of weapons of mass destruction, encourage citizen exchange programs, and help local governments and non-governmental organizations in the former Soviet Union promote democratic and economic reform. Third, the President requested $275 million to continue progress towards the congressional target of 10,000 Peace Corps volunteers and provide needed technology upgrades. Fourth, Congress should fully fund the $846 million request for UN peacekeeping missions critical to successful diplomatic efforts to prevent violence and work to end the conflicts in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere. Finally, the President has requested $11 billion to combat terrorism and other threats, including $1.1 billion to raise the level of security at embassies. Congress has failed to fund nearly $5 billion of the request and has eliminated resources to prepare local terrorism law enforcement and protect the nations critical infrastructure systems.
- PROVIDING DEBT RELIEF TO FUND AMERICA'S INTERNATIONAL OBLIGATION TO HELP FIGHT GLOBAL POVERTY. To help fight global poverty that leaves over one billion people surviving on less than $1 a day, President Clinton requested $435 million to live up to the expanded international debt relief efforts announced at the Cologne G-8 Summit. Already, Congress' inaction has stalled relief for Bolivia and Honduras. This summer the House took a good step by approving an amendment offered by Rep. Waters to provide $225 million; the Senate has included only $75 million in their bill. However, the President's full request is needed to keep the program from stalling out next year.
GETTING RESULTS BY PUTTING PROGRESS OVER PARTISANSHIP. This year, Congress and the President have succeeded whenever they have sat down to work together and emphasize policy, not politics. By working together, we are:
- CONSERVING AMERICA'S LANDS. Congress passed a bipartisan agreement doubling our conservation investment next year, and guaranteeing even greater funding in the years ahead, to ensure that communities have the resources they need to protect their most precious lands - from neighborhood parks to threatened farmland to pristine coastlands. Increased support for conservation, preservation, and infrastructure improvement includes a total of $1.2 billion in the Interior Appropriations bill, an increase of almost 90 percent over this year. The bill also creates a new "conservation spending" category - protected from being spent on any other programs" for state and local needs and for maintaining existing parks and other conservation and recreation areas.
- ENHANCING MILITARY READINESS. Nine months ago, the Administration set enhancing the current high level of readiness as its top defense priority. The FY 2001 budget fully funds key compensation initiatives, including the Administration's requests for a 3.7 percent pay increase for military personnel, training, spare parts, equipment maintenance, and base operations. The bill also fully funds key modernization programs such as the F-22 fighter aircraft and the CVN-77 Nuclear Aircraft Carrier.
- SAVING LIVES BY PREVENTING DRUNK DRIVING. Congress has also reached agreement on a critical measure to help set a nationwide impaired driving standard of .08 blood alcohol content. This common-sense nationwide limit will save an estimated 500 lives a year and prevent thousands of injuries.
- PROMOTING THE ARTS IN AMERICA. This year President Clinton proposed to expand resources for the National Endowment for the Arts to provide support for the important cultural, educational and artistic programs for communities across America. Working together, the President and the Congress were able to increase funding for the NEA to $105 million, a $7 million boost over last year's funding level and the first significant increase in the six years since the Republicans took control of the Congress.
- MEETING THE NUTRITIONAL NEEDS OF HARD-PRESSED WORKING FAMILIES. Congress has agreed to enact the President's proposal to change the food stamps law to make it easier for 245,000 people to own a reliable car and still be eligible for food stamps. A second change in the law will help over 2 million people by ensuring that the food stamp program recognizes the high housing costs faced by many low-income working families.
PRESIDENT CLINTON WILL ALSO CALL ON CONGRESS TO COMPLETE OTHER UNFINISHED BUSINESS. Congress should not adjourn without passing legislation on key American priorities. In addition to passing the remaining spending bills, President Clinton will call on Congress to:
- Pass meaningful hate crimes legislation;
- Increase the minimum wage by $1 over two years;
- Provide an affordable, accessible, and voluntary prescription drug benefit option for all Medicare beneficiaries;
- Enact a real Patients' Bill of Rights;
- Approve common-sense gun safety legislation;
- Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act;
- Reauthorize the Corporation for National Service Act;
- Pass the Breast Cancer and Cervical Treatment Act; and
- Reform immigration law to treat immigrants more fairly.