Statement by the President: VA/HUD, Energy/Water (10/27/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

______________                                                     For
Immediate Release                                         October 28, 2000

                        STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
                            (October 27, 2000)

     Today I have signed into law H.R. 4635, the "Departments of Veterans
Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies
Appropriations Act, 2001" and the "Energy and Water Development
Appropriations Act, 2001."

     This Act will fund vital housing, community development,
environmental, disaster assistance, veterans, space, and science programs.
Specifically, it provides funding for the Departments of Veterans Affairs
(VA) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Science Foundation
(NSF), and several other agencies.

     The Act funds a number of my Administration's priorities, including
the Corporation for National and Community Service.  National Service gives
young people the opportunity to obtain funding for a college education
while addressing community challenges that range from tutoring children and
serving in community policing projects to building housing for the
homeless.  In addition, the Act will allow students in elementary schools,
high schools, and colleges to participate in service-learning programs that
provide substantial academic and social benefits, including the opportunity
to learn responsible citizenship.

     I am pleased that the Act provides full funding of HUD's highest
priority:  $13 billion for the renewal of all Section 8 contracts, thereby
assuring continuation of HUD rental subsidies for low-income tenants in
privately owned housing.  I am also pleased that the Act provides $453
million for 79,000 incremental housing assistance vouchers for low-income
households.  In addition, the Act adequately funds programs to help
distressed communities.  These programs include Community Development Block
Grants, assistance to the homeless, the Community Development Financial
Institutions (CDFI) Fund, and rural and urban
empowerment zones.  The CDFI Fund helps to create a network of community
development banks across the country, thereby spurring the flow of capital
to distressed neighborhoods and their currently underserved, low-income
residents.  Likewise, the rural and urban empowerment zones will help to
revitalize communities so that they can take advantage of the strength
of the economy and help those left behind in our economic boom.
Additionally, $1.1 billion is provided for homeless assistance
grants, enabling localities to continue to shape and implement
comprehensive, flexible, coordinated "continuum of care" approaches to
solving homelessness.

     I am pleased that the Act adequately funds Fair Housing programs,
which will enable HUD to expand significantly its activities aimed at
reducing the level of housing discrimination nationwide.

     The Act provides $7.8 billion for the EPA, which will enable the
agency to carry out programs to protect our environ-ment.  I am pleased
that the bill adequately funds the EPA's efforts to enforce environmental
laws, enabling the agency to help protect
                                 the health and quality of life of
Americans.  I am pleased that the Act minimizes the inclusion of
anti-environmental riders.  Without my Administration?s efforts, these
riders would have given special deals to special interests, such as
preventing action at numerous sites needing cleanup of sediments
con-taminated with PCBs and other chemicals, delaying an EPA rule to reduce
harmful emissions from diesel-fueled trucks and buses, and hampering
commonsense initiatives to help businesses and consumers conserve energy
and save money.

     I am disappointed, however, that the final bill includes
anti-environmental riders that my Administration opposed.  I continue to
oppose the use of the budget process to adopt these kinds of proposals
without the benefit of full and open public debate through the regular
legislative process.  I urge
Congress to refrain from sending me any additional anti-environmental
riders on remaining bills.  Although I am signing this legislation into law
with these riders attached, I am directing the agencies to consider ways to
implement them that will have the least harmful effect on the environment.

     I am pleased that the Act sustains U.S. leadership across the
scientific frontiers.  This Act maintains the Nation's investment in
discovery through innovation, which has fueled unprecedented economic
growth for the past decade.  The Act contains a $529 million increase for
the National Science Foundation (NSF) -- the largest increase ever -- for a
total investment of $4.4 billion that will boost university-based research
and ensure balanced support for all science and engineering disciplines.
Increased investments will spur new discoveries in the fields of
information technology, nanotechnology, biocomplexity, and other areas of
fundamental science and engineering.  The Act also adequately funds the new
Scholarship for Service program at NSF, a component of the Federal Cyber
Services, which will provide scholarships to students pursuing academic
careers in Information Assurance.

One of the five education and training initiatives in the National Plan for
Information Systems Protection, this program supports the Administration's
efforts to protect the Nation's critical infrastructures by increasing the
number of skilled technologists working for the Federal Government.  In
exchange for up to 2 years of scholarship support, students will work for
the Federal Government for an amount of time at least equal to the
scholarship period.

     This Act will also help to expand our investments in space exploration
by including a $684 million increase, to $14.3 billion, for NASA.  The Act
fully funds the Space Launch Initiative that will improve the economics of
space transportation dramatically.  The additional resources will help the
agency meet its human space flight needs more safely
and at lower cost through the development of a new generation of space
launch vehicles and enable NASA to establish a sustained presence at key
research sites in our solar system.

     I am pleased that this Act adequately funds FEMA to help cope with
unforeseen disasters.  The $1.3 billion in contingent emergency funds,
along with the $297 million appropriated, ensures that the country is
well-prepared to deal with unforeseen natural disasters.

     I am also pleased that the Act provides my requested $22.4 billion for
veterans' medical care, benefits, and the National Cemetery System.  This
$1.5 billion increase over
last year represents the largest increase ever requested by an
Administration.  It will allow us to treat more veterans in the
medical care system with high-quality and timely care, improve
the delivery of veterans' disability and education benefits, and ensure
that our Nation's veterans are honored in cemeteries that are maintained as
National Shrines.  The bill also takes the long-overdue steps of improving
benefits for World War II Filipino veterans with service-connected
disabilities who live in the United States, by providing the same
disability, burial, health care, and long-term care benefits that other
veterans receive.

     I am also pleased today to be able to sign into law the Energy and
Water Development Appropriations Act, 2001, now that the Congress has
dropped an unacceptable rider that would have prevented the Army Corps of
Engineers from revising its operating manual for the Missouri River, which
is 40 years old and needs to be updated.  This action will enable the Army
Corps to move forward to achieve a reasonable balance among the competing
interests of the many people who seek to use this great American river,
while addressing the needs of the fish and wildlife species that depend
upon it.  To ensure a thorough discussion and review of the issues raised
concerning revisions to the manual, the Secretary of the Army and the
Secretary of
the Interior will consult fully with other Federal agencies, with State and
local officials, and with interested stakeholders on the specific measures
that the Army Corps may need to undertake during FY 2001.  As part of this
effort, the Army Corps will work with the parties to explore alternatives
to, and modifications of, any proposed Federal actions on the lower
Missouri River that may affect downstream landowners or barge traffic.
Furthermore, the Army Corps will not make changes to its river operations
under this legislation that will have significant adverse impacts on the
downstream landowners or barge traffic.

     I am disappointed that the final bill does not include my request for
the CALFED Bay-Delta program or sufficient funds to restore endangered
salmon in the Pacific Northwest, and includes
no funds for new construction projects for the Florida Everglades and the
Challenge 21 and recreation modernization programs, or for construction of
the emergency flood control outlet at Devils Lake, North Dakota.  These
omissions are especially striking in light of the bill's inclusion of
nearly 240 unrequested Corps of Engineers projects totaling over $300

     I want to acknowledge the efforts the Congress has made in
appropriating $20 million for the establishment of the Delta Regional
Authority, a Federal-State partnership focused on promoting economic growth
in the Mississippi Delta region.

     Finally, I am pleased that the final bill provides $17.8 billion for
the Department of Energy (DOE).  This funding supports environmental
restoration projects at DOE sites throughout the country and cutting-edge
scientific research such as the Spallation Neutron Source.  It also
includes essential funds for maintaining the safety and reliability of our
nuclear weapons stockpile.  Although the bill does not include my full
request for the Climate Change Technology Initiative, it does provide
almost $70 million more than the FY 2000 enacted level.  Included in this
Initiative is $375 million for solar and renewable energy, more than a
20 percent increase over the FY 2000 level for this program.  The bill also
provides $203 million in additional funding to address the damage caused by
the Cerro Grande fire.  I am concerned, however, that the bill contains
limits on the term of office for the first person appointed to the position
of Under Secretary for Nuclear Security at the Department of Energy and
would restrict the President's ability to remove that official to cases of
"inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance of office."  Particularly in
light of the Under Secretary's significant executive authority and
responsibility in nuclear security, I understand the phrase "neglect of
duty" to include, among other things, a failure to comply with the lawful
directives or policies of the President.

     I am proud that my Administration and the Congress were
able to work together successfully on two bills to resolve our
respective differences and produce an Act that effectively addresses
critical needs of the American people.

                              WILLIAM J. CLINTON

    October 27, 2000.

     # # #

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