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Statement About Six Bills Affecting the District of Columbia

October 21, 1972

IN THE first days after I became a resident of Washington again in January 1969, I stated my conviction that for the Federal Government "responsibility begins at home." Accordingly, I pledged an effort in partnership with the Congress and the local community to make the Capital a city once again "cherished by every American as part of his heritage and cherished by those who live here as a place of beauty, neighborliness, and decency."

With this commitment in mind, it is most gratifying to me to be able to sign into law six pieces of legislation which will contribute, each in its way, to making the National Capital region a better place to live and work and visit.

I am especially pleased to approve the National Capital Area Transit Act of 1972. Nothing is more essential in making a city livable than a regional transportation system which enables people to move easily among their homes, their places of employment, their leisure time pursuits and tourist attractions. During the last 4 years, Washington has taken long strides toward the development of such a system. Construction of METRO rapid rail transit system is progressing well, as is the improvement of the regional highway system. The transit act signed today is a necessary complement to these steps. It opens the way for acquisition of the area's four major bus companies by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and thus for the efficient coordination of bus and subway services when METRO begins operation in 1974.

I also join with the local community in welcoming the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Bicentennial Civic Center Act. This new center and the activities it will host can serve as a catalyst for the revitalization of the downtown heart of the National Capital region. Thanks to the prompt action of the Congress on this bill, it should be possible to have the center open and operating by the 1976 Bicentennial year--a fitting memorial to the late President Eisenhower.

Another important measure which I have long supported and will happily sign is the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation Act of 1972. This legislation will be of great assistance in the planning and development of the avenue, blending governmental and private uses to create an impressive and active main street for the Federal City.

While the civic center and Pennsylvania Avenue bills contain provisions which raise constitutional issues, I believe that those issues can be worked out satisfactorily with the Congress as we proceed to implement this legislation.

The three other measures which I have signed today are also important to the citizens of Washington. Under the District of Columbia Implied Consent Act, the city obtains a long-needed mechanism, already held by every other jurisdiction in the Nation, for dealing more effectively with the serious public safety hazards caused by drinking drivers. The District of Columbia Teachers' Salary Act Amendments of 1972 recognizes the need of adequately compensating public servants for the demanding and important work they do. The equal rights for blind and physically disabled act raises the standard of justice and opportunity for handicapped persons in the District of Columbia.

Sometimes it is difficult to know at close range whether the city's tribulations with excavated streets, barricaded construction sites, community disputes, and the like indicate progress or merely confusion. But a major legislative achievement like that represented by these six bills offers heartening proof that the system does work and that a better day is coming for all the people of the National Capital region. I commend the bipartisan effort in the Congress, and the constructive cooperation of Federal and local officials and concerned citizens, which made this possible and which points to more progress in the future.

Note: Five of the six bills were approved by the President on October 21, 1972:
S. 4062, National Capital Area Transit Act of 1972--Public Law 92-517 (86 Stat.999)
S. 3943, Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Bicentennial Civic Center Act--Public Law 92-520 (86 Stat. 1019)
S. 4059, District of Columbia Implied Consent Act--Public Law 92-519 (86 Stat. 1016)
H.R. 15965, concerning salaries and retirement benefits for teachers in the District of Columbia--Public Law 92-518 (86 Stat. 1005 )
H.R. 11032, concerning equal rights for the blind and physically disabled in the District of Columbia--Public Law 92-515 (86 Stat. 970).

The sixth bill was approved by the President on October 27, 1972:
H.R. 10751, Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation Act of 1972--Public Law 92-578 (86 Stat. 1266).

On October 21, the White House released a fact sheet on the provisions of the six bills.

Richard Nixon, Statement About Six Bills Affecting the District of Columbia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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