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Statement About Signing a Supplemental Appropriations Bill

April 28, 1973

I HAVE SIGNED into law House Joint Resolution 496, a bill providing supplemental appropriations of some $1.3 billion for a number of critical needs.

This legislation was urgently necessary in order to meet this Nation's obligations to our veterans. Last fall we substantially increased the allowances for educational and training assistance for our veterans. That increase, along with a concerted effort by the Veterans Administration to inform veterans of their rights, has encouraged over 5 million veterans to participate in the program during this fiscal year--almost 125,000 more than we anticipated.

As a result, money for educational assistance and training assistance would have become insufficient by April 30. House Joint Resolution 496, by providing $468 million in supplemental funds for this program--as this Administration requested earlier---enables us to continue this assistance at the higher rates.

House Joint Resolution 496 also provides funds to meet one other important request which this Administration has submitted to the Congress: funding of some $26 million for the Civil Aeronautics Board so that necessary payments may be made to local service air carriers.

Unfortunately, the Congress has used this bill as a vehicle for other provisions which could impede the accomplishment of significant reforms in the student assistance programs of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. My budget proposed $622 million to fund a new program for basic educational opportunity grants. Such grants which would be made directly to needy students according to need, in contrast to the current method--an outmoded, inequitable one, I think--of channeling student assistance funds to schools through State formula grants. In enacting House Joint Resolution 496, the Congress has appropriated the same total amount which I requested but has diverted $500 million to continue financing the present forms of assistance.

The Congress, however, has begun to clear the way for significant educational reform, since the bill does provide $122 million to begin the new grants program. This amount is too small to set up a broad assistance effort but it could provide a useful pilot program and a reformed approach to student assistance--provided that participation is limited to first-year, full-time students. Legislation which would permit such a pilot program is now before the Congress in the form of House Joint Resolution 393. The Senate has already passed this resolution; I urge the House to take similar action immediately upon its return.

In order to expand the basic grant program so that improved assistance can be provided to all post-secondary students, a crippling provision in present law must be repealed. That provision required that the outmoded programs be financed at levels which prohibit significant funding of the new program. I urge this reform through the enactment of H.R. 6735.

The bill I have signed also provides funds for federally impacted school districts. While the levels of funding exceed my recommendations by $85 million, the way in which the money is provided recognizes the principle I set forth originally: Impact aid should be targeted to those school districts which bear the heaviest burdens as a result of Federal activities. I am anxious to eliminate payments to districts for children whose parents work for the Federal Government but live in the local community and pay full property, sales, and other taxes. This bill does not eliminate those payments to the extent that I would like, but it does represent a reasonable compromise, and it does take us a long step toward the sweeping reforms that I support.

Note: As enacted, H.J. Res. 496, approved April 26, 1973, is Public Law 93-25 (87 Stat. 25).

Richard Nixon, Statement About Signing a Supplemental Appropriations Bill Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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