Statement by the President: VA/HUD Bill (10/19/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
October 19, 2000

                        STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

   I am pleased that Congress today passed a VA/HUD bill that will open the
doors of opportunity in America for those who need it most, improve
veterans? medical care, build on our agenda for national energy security
and strengthen our commitment to the environment.

   This legislation builds on my opportunity agenda with increased funding
for economic development through Empowerment Zones and Enterprise
Communities and Community Development Financial Institutions -- all part of
my New Markets Initiative -- and with 79,000 new housing vouchers for
low-income families. This agreement also increases support for the Federal
Emergency Management Agency?s emergency food and shelter programs, which
work with states and communities to help the homeless and hungry. We are
also strengthening our commitment to national service with additional
support for the Corporation for National and Community Service, the first
increase since the inception of this critical volunteer agency in 1993.

   With this legislation, we also support the significant expansion of
cutting-edge basic scientific research at the National Science Foundation.
This includes research in nano-technology -- the manipulation of matter at
the molecular and atomic level -- which holds the promise of scientific
breakthroughs in a wide range of fields. It also advances scientific
research through support for space exploration at NASA.  Especially at this
time of elevated fuel prices, I am also pleased that this bill provides
resources for technologies to increase fuel efficiency, an essential part
of our long- term strategy to reduce dependence on oil.

   This bill also contains increased funding for enforcement of the
nation?s environmental laws and for the cleanup of polluted waterways.  In
addition it drops or fixes several objectionable riders that threatened to
harm our environment.  Yet, while we were able to ameliorate the impact of
the remaining riders, we were not able to rid this bill entirely of
objectionable provisions, in particular the rider relating to ozone.

   This legislation also provides the additional $1.5 billion I requested
for the Department of Veterans Affairs, the largest increase ever requested
by any Administration. This funding will support efforts to improve
veterans? medical care and the delivery of key services, including
disability benefits.

   I also am pleased that, in response to my veto, Congress has dropped a
rider on the Energy/Water bill that would have undermined key environmental
protections by preventing a return to more natural flows on the Missouri
River.  These forward steps are clear proof of the progress we can achieve
when we work together to address the nation?s priorities.


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