Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Upon Signing Bills Relating to Health and Education

November 03, 1966

Mr. Vice President, Secretary Gardner, distinguished Members of the Congress, ladies and gentlemen:

Thomas Jefferson once said: "The disease of liberty is catching. Our function is to maintain its vitality here . . . so that we will be the nucleus of a great army of people the globe around who desire to follow the same road we follow."

Well, I have just returned from a 31,500-mile trip throughout the Pacific. I visited seven nations. I saw more than 5 million people. And I can tell you that the words Thomas Jefferson spoke more than 100 years ago are truer today than they were when he spoke them.

I cannot think of a better homecoming for an American President than to be standing here in the East Room this morning-less than 24 hours after my return--to sign four landmark health and education bills. These four bills will help us maintain our vitality here at home. They will act as a beacon of hope to our friends around the world.

Today, thanks to our great 89th Congress, American boys and girls can look forward to the future with renewed hope. We have made the greatest national commitment to education in our history through our Federal Government.

That commitment says that every American child will have all the education that he can take, that he can absorb. He will have it from the best teachers that any enlightened nation can train. He will have it with the best facilities that a rich nation can afford.

That commitment begins with the kindergarten. It extends through the university, and even beyond. There is not a classroom or a library or a laboratory or teacher or researcher or a student or a scholar that will not benefit from these measures that we are signing this morning.

These benefits have already begun. But with the two education bills that I am signing today, we are enlarging and greatly extending those benefits.

These measures are a great national investment in the education of the people of America.

The other two measures that we are here to sign are equally important investments in the health of the people of America. For the Congress in its wisdom has also acted m match the achievements of modern medicine with the needs of our people.

Thanks to the great 89th Congress, every older American can now live out his life without the fear that serious illness will leave him destitute.

Thanks to the great 89th Congress, we have already launched an all-out attack on the three largest killers of the people of America: heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

Thanks to the great 89th Congress, 20 million children have already been vaccinated against diseases that would cripple their bodies.

The point I want to make, and I want to constantly make it, and reiterate it: We are not just--during these days--talking about doing these things. We are not just talking about our hopes. We are doing them.

And every Member of the Congress from both parties who has participated and who has supported these programs ought to be recognized. The people of this country ought to know that we are getting action.

The two measures that I am signing are great beginnings.

First we have the Comprehensive Health Planning Act. Modern medicine has produced miracle drugs which attack dozens of diseases all at once. But our health services and our health programs are still trying to deal piecemeal with one affliction after another. So this act will broaden the whole base of our State and local health programs. It will bring them into line with the achievements of the 20th century medicine.

The second act will help our hardworking doctors and our overburdened hospitals. It will train thousands of our health workers and other technicians that are desperately needed in every hospital, in every clinic, and in every doctor's office in this country.

The ideal of a sound mind and a sound body is as old as civilization itself.

The four measures that the President will shortly sign will bring us closer to that goal than men have ever come before.

I see in this room a great many of the progressive legislators who have labored for this cause through the years. I commend them on finally reaching the day when we enacted this legislation.

I am very happy to observe that the man who will execute and translate these words into actions has been planning in this field for many years. President Eisenhower had a commission created in 1960 to explore and to make recommendations. The head of that commission was Mr. John W. Gardner. Mr. Gardner today as a member of my Cabinet will have a chance to carry into execution some of the plans that he advocated.

I am happy to observe Mr. George Meany here on the front row this morning. Because for all these years that he has been working in behalf of the laboring men of this country, he has realized that there is not anything more important to human beings in this country than the education of their children and the health of their bodies.

So this is a great day for me. It is good to be back. It is good to have all of you here, particularly those of you who chair the committees, who belong to the committees, who have made it possible for us to sign this legislation.

Even though it is dose to the election, I want to observe that a great deal of this legislation which has been produced in the 89th Congress has been bipartisan legislation-supported by members of both parties.

I have always felt that if we did what was best for America, we would do what is best for ourselves.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 12:03 p.m. in the East Room at the White House.

As enacted, the Comprehensive Health Planning and Public Health Services Amendments of 1966 is Public Law 89-749 (80 Stat. 1180), the Allied Health Professions Personnel Training Act of 1966 is Public Law 89-751 (80 Stat. 1222), the Elementary and Secondary Education Amendments of 1966 is Public Law 89-750 (80 Stat. 1191), and the Higher Education Amendments of 1966 is Public Law 89-752 (80 Stat. 1240).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Upon Signing Bills Relating to Health and Education Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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