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Remarks on the Omnibus Budget Agreement and an Exchange With Reporters in Boston, Massachusetts

September 28, 1996

The President. Good evening. Early this morning we reached an important agreement with Congress to continue balancing the budget while we invest in education, protect the environment, and keep our streets safe. This budget agreement was a victory for our values and a victory for the American people. It was also, in particular, a victory for the people of Massachusetts.

I want to talk briefly about three things in particular that are important to this State. First, the budget agreement includes $50 million that can be used for shipyard reactivation. Today I have instructed Secretary Pena to complete negotiations for a binding letter of commitment to revitalize the Quincy Shipyard, which we just flew over, and to do it within 30 days after I sign the budget.

I especially want to thank Senator Kerry, Senator Kennedy, and Congressman Studds for their hard work to include this provision in the budget agreement. Their work will help to create a world-class shipbuilding operation to bring new jobs, new technology, and new opportunity to the people of Quincy.

Second, the budget includes important funds to continue the cleanup of Boston Harbor. Last year Senator Kerry and Senator Kennedy joined us to stop congressional efforts to walk away from that commitment. And because of their work this year we are going to keep moving forward to make the Boston Harbor safe, clean, and healthy.

Finally, I want to say a word about our ongoing effort to streamline our Government. We're working hard to overhaul Defense Department management while maintaining an unwavering commitment to the best equipped, trained Armed Forces in the world. We've closed 228 of the Defense Department's more than 300 finance and accounting facilities, while working hard to improve training for Defense Department financial managers. Today I'm pleased to announce that the budget agreement also includes funds to establish a financial management education center at Southbridge, Massachusetts. The Pentagon will release $5 million for the center's development next week, and classes will begin on March 1, 1997, 18 months ahead of schedule. The Southbridge center would not be happening today without the leadership of Senator Kerry, Senator Kennedy, and Congressman Neal.

This budget agreement shows what we can do when we work hard on things that really matter to the American people. It creates opportunity by working to revitalize the shipbuilding industry, takes responsibility by working to reform our Government in a responsible way while providing the best training to our Armed Forces. It strengthens our community by continuing our efforts to clean up our environment here at the Boston Harbor. We are on the right track to the 21st century, and I am very pleased about it.

Now I'd like to ask the Senators each to say a word.

[At this point, Senator John F. Kerry and Senator Edward M. Kennedy made brief remarks.]

Q. Mr. President, aren't these programs—[inaudible]—election-year pork?

The President. Well, for one reason, I've been working on these things for far more than one year. The Southbridge project is a big project, goes back several years. The Boston Harbor project was going on before I got here. The Quincy project developed when they had a person interested in going there.

So we've been working very hard on it, and I think if they didn't have independent merit, it would have been difficult for us to get them in these times, which have been particularly contentious. So I think, you know, every one of these things will stand on its own merit. But the people in Boston have paid an enormous amount out of their own pockets to clean up the Boston Harbor, and it would have been unconscionable for us to walk away from our continuing commitment to that. These other two projects we've been working on, waiting for, for a very long time. It's not something that just came up overnight tied to the election cycle. This is a multiyear effort, and I want to congratulate all the community leaders who are here. They're the ones that ultimately deserve the credit for bringing this day to bear.

Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 6:40 p.m. at Logan Airport.

William J. Clinton, Remarks on the Omnibus Budget Agreement and an Exchange With Reporters in Boston, Massachusetts Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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