STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT: Signing of the "Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act"
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release                           December 20, 2000

                        STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

     I am today signing into law H.R. 3514, the "Chimpanzee Health
Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act."  This Act is a valuable
affirmation of the Federal Government's respon-sibility and moral
obligation to provide an orderly system to ensure a secure retirement for
surplus Federal research chimpanzees and to meet their lifetime needs for
shelter and care.  However, I sign this measure with reservations
concerning flaws in the bill that the next Administration and the Congress
should correct to ensure the viability and effectiveness of the proposed
sanctuary system.

     The Act requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to
establish a sanctuary system of lifetime care for chimpanzees that have
been used by Federal Government entities for research and that are
determined to be no longer needed for research.  The sanctuary system is to
be operated by a nonprofit private entity with appropriate expertise under
contract with the Secretary, under standards established by the Secretary
and meeting the criteria established in the Act.  Chimpanzees accepted into
the sanctuary system may be used for further research only if stringent
conditions are met, including a determination by the sanctuary operator's
board that the research design minimizes harm to the chimpanzee.  At the
Secretary's discretion, and upon payment of such fees as the Secretary may
establish, chimpanzees that are not "surplus chimpanzees" from Federal
research programs may be accepted into the system.

     Certain aspects of this Act will require amendment to eliminate
defects relating to biomedical research and to the viability of the
proposed sanctuary system.

     The Act puts severe constraints on use of a chimpanzee for further
research, once it has been declared "surplus" and accepted into the
sanctuary system.  Before it could thereafter be used, other than for
noninvasive behavioral research, the Secretary must determine that
extremely stringent criteria are met concerning the indispensability of
that particular chimpanzee and the key nature of the research.  In
addition, the board of directors of the nonprofit entity operating the
sanctuary must determine that the research design minimizes physical and
mental harm to the chimpanzee -- a determination that can be set aside only
if the Secretary finds it arbitrary or capricious.  Finally, the
Secretary's and board's determinations must be published for a public
comment period of not less than 60 days.  The National Institutes of Health
(NIH) and other HHS components using chimpanzees in research already employ
a rigorous screening procedure required by law to assess the necessity and
quality of any research using chimpanzees.  The added criteria mandated by
H.R. 3514 are complex and give insufficient weight to important public
health issues, which could prevent or delay valuable biomedical research.
In addition, of the total number of chimpanzees that have participated in
biomedical research, over 250 are currently being maintained by NIH at a
military installation.  These chimpanzees may or may not be declared
surplus, and I am signing this legislation with the under-standing that
implementation will neither conflict with the installation's military
mission, nor further burden the installation's national security

     Other concerns about H.R. 3514 relate to the administrative structure
and funding of the proposed sanctuary system.  Prescrip-tive details
concerning organization and management, notably with respect to the
qualification, terms, and role of the nonprofit operator's board of
directors, eliminate flexibility to respond appropriately to unforeseen and
varied circumstances.  The requirement to contract with a single nonprofit
entity to operate the sanctuary system presents the risk that, if that
entity withdraws or ceases to qualify for the contract, there will be no
alternatives for placement of
the chimpanzees in the system.  In addition, the bill virtually eliminates
any Federal role in the operation or oversight of the system, although the
Federal Government will remain responsible for the welfare of the
chimpanzees accepted into the system.

     Despite the concerns detailed above, I am approving H.R. 3514.  My
Administration agrees with the bill's sponsors about the Federal
Government's obligation to provide compre-hensive, compassionate lifetime
care to chimpanzees that are no longer needed in federally supported
research.  The Act provides a statutory framework for a sanctuary system in
fulfillment of this obligation.  I am confident that the executive branch
and the Congress can work together to satisfactorily resolve the problems
inherent in the legislation in its current form.

                              WILLIAM J. CLINTON

    December 20, 2000.

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