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Statement About Signing Three Bills Providing for Health Care, Economic Development in Rural Areas, and Airport Construction

June 19, 1973

LAST week in Pekin, III., I called for a new spirit of "responsible partnership" between the executive and legislative branches--a partnership of give and take, one in which "we can accommodate our positions without abandoning our principles."

Yesterday I signed into law three authorization bills which reflect that sense of partnership.

These bills touch upon a wide range of domestic concerns, including health care, economic development in rural areas, and airport construction. Each measure differs somewhat from my own request, but each one also represents an effort by the Congress to strike a reasonable compromise with the Administration.

While the authorization levels are higher than I believe desirable, they will not damage our overall fiscal position if the Congress now follows my budget recommendations in the appropriations process.

So long as the Congress follows a responsible course in the passage of future spending bills, I will cooperate in the spirit of partnership.

But as we go forward, let there be no mistake about one fundamental point: If bills come to my desk which are irresponsible and would break open the Federal budget, forcing more inflation upon the American people, I will veto them. That has been my stand in the past, and it will continue to be my position in the future.

There is no issue of greater concern to the Nation today than the rising cost of the family budget, and there is no better way for the Government to conquer this problem than to keep a lid on the Federal budget. There can be no compromising of that principle.


The first of these bills, S. 1136, is the "Health Programs Extension Act of 1973." It revises and extends a dozen health programs through June 1974.

The Administration and the Congress agree that several of these efforts should be continued, including formula and project grants for health services, comprehensive health planning, health services research and development, and health statistics activities.

We disagree, however, on other programs. Among these are hospital construction subsidies, new long-term mental health center grants, regional medical programs, and subsidies to allied health and public health training. I believe that these programs spend public monies less effectively than they should be spent, and in my 1974 budget I called for their elimination. While S. 1136 continues these programs, it does so for only 1 year instead of the usual 3-5 year extension period. It also calls for a comprehensive review of the health authorities in this bill during the coming year.

I continue to believe that it is essential to put all of our health expenditures to a vigorous test, eliminating programs which are ineffective or are no longer needed because they have achieved their goal. This was the approach I used in determining my budget requests, and I am hopeful that the Congress will employ this same approach in reviewing these programs during the next 12 months.


A second bill which I have signed is H.R. 2246, which provides for an additional year of funding for the Economic Development Administration (EDA).

The public controversy over the Economic Development Administration is now many months old. This program began as an experiment in 1965 to create permanent employment opportunities in economically depressed areas. I am convinced that this program has done little to help the poor, and it clearly overlaps other Federal programs.

As a result, last October I vetoed a measure authorizing more than $1.2 billion for this effort. This year, in my new budget, I proposed that EDA be phased out by June 30, 1973, and that we replace it with more focused and consolidated efforts to stimulate economic development.

The bill which I have now signed authorizes $430 million for the Economic Development Administration over the coming fiscal year, a considerable reduction compared to the legislation which I vetoed last year.

However, even as I sign this bill, I will continue to give vigorous support to a major overhaul of our economic development effort. Examples of other programs that can replace EDA activities which have been recently enacted or are awaiting Congressional action are the Rural Development Act of 1972, the Better Communities Act, the Indian Tribal Government Grant Program, and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972. In the near future, I shall also send to the Congress the new Responsive Governments Act which will increase State and local participation in the planning and management of the many Federal grant programs now in existence.

I also plan to submit to the Congress a budget amendment which would fund the Economic Development Administration at a level of approximately $200 million during this transition year. While this amount is less than the level authorized by H.R. 2246, it is worth noting that traditionally, EDA appropriations are approximately one-third of authorizations. This reduced appropriation request is also the maximum additional spending we can afford while keeping within the constraints of our budget and providing for an effective transition to our new programs.

This amendment would provide adequate funding for four purposes: assisting communities affected by the reduction of military bases to make an orderly transition to other economic activities; awarding of grants for public works, planning, and technical assistance under traditional EDA operations; assisting Indian economic development; and assisting in providing funds for economic development activities planned by regional commissions. I continue to believe the supporting role in regional commission activities must be shifted from the Federal Government to State government, but I am willing to continue a limited amount of Federal funding for their projects during this one year of transition.


The third bill which I signed into law yesterday is S. 38, the Airport Development Acceleration Act of 1973.

Both the Congress and the executive agree that the Federal Government should continue to assist in the construction of new airports and in the improvement of existing airports. The only question is how much we should spend.

In my most recent budget, I recommended an annual level of $280 million. The Senate then passed a measure setting the tab at $420 million. The compromise which has been worked out in S. 38 is an authorization level of $310 million.

A second feature of this bill, prohibiting the collection of "head taxes" at nearly all airports, has already raised a storm of protests among local governments which will lose a source of revenue. I previously favored a moratorium rather than a prohibition on the taxes, so that we could study them more closely. Because of the special interest which local governments have in this issue, I am directing the Secretary of Transportation to conduct an immediate study of the effect of the prohibition and to submit his recommendations to me no later than July 1, 1974.

Note: As enacted, S. 1136, H.R. 2246, and S. 38, approved June 18, 1973, are Public Law 93-45 (87 Stat. 91), Public Law 93-46 (87 Stat. 96), and Public Law 93-44 (87 Stat. 88), respectively.

Richard Nixon, Statement About Signing Three Bills Providing for Health Care, Economic Development in Rural Areas, and Airport Construction Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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