To the House of Representatives:
I am returning herewith without my approval H.J. 115, the Second Continuing Resolution for fiscal year 1996.
This legislation would raise Medicare premiums on senior citizens, and deeply cut education and environmental protection, as the cost for keeping the government running. Those are conditions that are not necessary to meet my goal of balancing the budget.
If I signed my name to this bill now, millions of elderly couples all across this country would be forced to sign away $264 more in Medicare premiums next year, premium hikes that are not necessary to balance the budget. If America must close down access to quality education, a clean environment and affordable health care for our seniors, in order to keep the government open, then that price is too high.
We don't need these cuts to balance the budget. And we do not need big cuts in education and the environment to balance the budget. I have proposed a balanced budget without these cuts.
I will continue to fight for my principles: a balanced budget that does not undermine Medicare, education or the environment, and that does not raise taxes on working families. I will not take steps that I believe will weaken our nation, harm our people and limit our future as the cost of temporarily keeping the government open.
I continue to be hopeful that we can find common ground on balancing the budget. With this veto, it is now up to the Congress to take the reasonable and responsible course. They can still avoid a government shutdown.
Congress still has the opportunity to pass clean continuing resolution and debt ceiling bills. These straightforward measures would allow the United States government to keep functioning and meet its obligations, without attempting to force the acceptance of Republican budget priorities.
Indeed, when Congress did not pass the 13 appropriations bills to fund the government for fiscal year 1996 by September 30, we agreed on a fair continuing resolution that kept the Government operating and established a level playing field while Congress completed its work.
Now, more than six weeks later, Congress still has sent me only three bills that I have been able to sign. Indeed, I am pleased to be signing the Energy and Water bill today. This bill is the result of a cooperative effort between my Administration and the Congress. It shows that when we work together, we can produce good legislation.
We can have a fair and open debate about the best way to balance the budget. America can balance the budget without extreme cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, education or the environment—and that is what we must do.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
The White House, November 13, 1995.