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Remarks at the Bill Signing Ceremony for the Comprehensive Older Americans Act Amendments of 1978

October 18, 1978

THE PRESIDENT. This morning it's a great pleasure for me to sign House bill 12255, which is the amendments to the Comprehensive Older Americans Act, a foundation for the security and better life of Americans who reach their retirement age.

This legislation, which is quite comprehensive in nature, will strengthen the Federal Council on Aging, on which I rely for constant advice, sometimes prodding, sometimes counsel, sometimes criticism, but which has been a very effective voice within the White House for the senior citizens of our country.

One of the things that's interesting to me and, I think, will be exciting to older Americans and those who care about them is that this bill provides for a White House Conference on the Aging in 1981. And we will—in fact, we have already begun to plan for that conference to assess where we stand in our country on meeting the needs of older Americans, and also to improve the delivery of those kinds of services and opportunities.

Another very interesting feature of this legislation is that it moves even further to terminate, or to minimize, at least, the discrimination :against Americans because of their age, because of their race, or because of their ethnic background.

One of the results of a very rapid improvement in Federal programs for the aging has been confusion in administration. And this bill recognizes and corrects that defect by consolidating Titles III, V, and VII of the Older Americans Act. This would provide now for a better administration in a coordinated way of social programs, housing programs, programs to deliver food, the establishment of centers for elderly Americans.

One of the things that I hope this act will provide and ensure is a more narrow' focusing of attention and services on those who have the greatest economic and social need. We want to broaden opportunities to additional older Americans, but when there is a limited supply of funds or facilities, of course, those should be given on a top-priority basis to those who have the greatest need of all.

The bill also extends for 3 years the employment opportunities for older Americans under the ACTION programs, and this, I believe, will be a reassuring note to older Americans who want to have at least partial or part-time employment in resolving some of the other problems in American society.

I particularly want to thank Senator Tom Eagleton, whose wife is here with us this morning, and also John Brademas, who's with us with his mother. And I'd like to ask Congressman John Brademas if he has a comment to make before I sign the bill.

REPRESENTATIVE BRADEMAS. Well, you're very kind, Mr. President.

I suppose one of the reasons that I was so committed to seeing the passage of this legislation is that I have a very articulate champion of it in my own family in the person of my mother, who is a 77-year-old retired schoolteacher, who is a great supporter of Jimmy Carter and John Brademas. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. John, I'm afflicted by the same situation in my own family. [Laughter] I've got a one-woman lobby in my home. [Laughter] That's a great opportunity for us both to have. Rosalynn, would you like to comment?

MRS. CARTER. I'm just very pleased to be here and very pleased for Jimmy to have the opportunity to sign this bill.


MRS. CARTER. I, as you know, meet with Nelson every other week and stay in touch with what's going on in the legislature with the legislation as it goes through both Houses, and it's just a great thrill for me to be here this morning to see Jimmy sign this bill.


Nelson, would you like to make a comment?

MR. CRUIKSHANK. Well, thank you, Mr. President.

The course of this bill through the House and the Senate has been a little like the perils of Pauline at several points. But due to the efforts of John Brademas and Senator Eagleton, they steered through all the narrow passages, and it came out a good bill that's going to do a lot for the older people in this country. And it's going to make the administration of the program better and more effective. And now the task, after you sign this, Mr. President, will be for all of us to pitch in and make it work. And we'll have to work as hard as the congressional people have worked on this as we get to working on carrying out its provisions.

THE. PRESIDENT. Very fine. Well, I'll sign it now so we can all go to work and implement the opportunities that Congress has given us.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 10:03 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. Nelson Cruikshank is Counsellor to the President on Aging.

As enacted, H.R. 12255 is Public Law 95478, approved October 18.

Jimmy Carter, Remarks at the Bill Signing Ceremony for the Comprehensive Older Americans Act Amendments of 1978 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244126

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