Statement on Signing Fiscal Year 2001 Appropriations Legislation
Today I have signed into law H.R. 4635, the "Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act, 2001" and the "Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, 2001."
This Act will fund vital housing, community development, environmental, disaster assistance, veterans, space, and science programs. Specifically, it provides funding for the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and several other agencies.
The Act funds a number of my Administration's priorities, including the Corporation for National and Community Service. National Service gives young people the opportunity to obtain funding for a college education while addressing community challenges that range from tutoring children and serving in community policing projects to building housing for the homeless. In addition, the Act will allow students in elementary schools, high schools, and colleges to participate in service-learning programs that provide substantial academic and social benefits, including the opportunity to learn responsible citizenship.
I am pleased that the Act provides full funding of HUD's highest priority: $13 billion for the renewal of all Section 8 contracts, thereby assuring continuation of HUD rental subsidies for low-income tenants in privately owned housing. I am also pleased that the Act provides $453 million for 79,000 incremental housing assistance vouchers for low-income households. In addition, the Act adequately funds programs to help distressed communities. These programs include Community Development Block Grants, assistance to the homeless, the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, and rural and urban empowerment zones. The CDFI Fund helps to create a network of community development banks across the country, thereby spurring the flow of capital to distressed neighborhoods and their currently underserved, low-income residents. Likewise, the rural and urban empowerment zones will help to revitalize communities so that they can take advantage of the strength of the economy and help those left behind in our economic boom. Additionally, $1.1 billion is provided for homeless assistance grants, enabling localities to continue to shape and implement comprehensive, flexible, coordinated "continuum of care" approaches to solving homelessness.
I am pleased that the Act adequately funds Fair Housing programs, which will enable HUD to expand significantly its activities aimed at reducing the level of housing discrimination nationwide.
The Act provides $7.8 billion for the EPA, which will enable the agency to carry out programs to protect our environment. I am pleased that the bill adequately funds the EPA's efforts to enforce environmental laws, enabling the agency to help protect the health and quality of life of Americans. I am pleased that the Act minimizes the inclusion of anti-environmental riders. Without my Administration's efforts, these riders would have given special deals to special interests, such as preventing action at numerous sites needing cleanup of sediments contaminated with PCBs and other chemicals, delaying an EPA rule to reduce harmful emissions from diesel-fueled trucks and buses, and hampering commonsense initiatives to help businesses and consumers conserve energy and save money.
I am disappointed, however, that the final bill includes anti-environmental riders that my Administration opposed. I continue to oppose the use of the budget process to adopt these kinds of proposals without the benefit of full and open public debate through the regular legislative process. I urge Congress to refrain from sending me any additional anti-environmental riders on remaining bills. Although I am signing this legislation into law with these riders attached, I am directing the agencies to consider ways to implement them that will have the least harmful effect on the environment.
I am pleased that the Act sustains U.S. leadership across the scientific frontiers. This Act maintains the Nation's investment in discovery through innovation, which has fueled unprecedented economic growth for the past decade. The Act contains a $529 million increase for the National Science Foundation (NSF)—the largest increase ever—for a total investment of $4.4 billion that will boost university-based research and ensure balanced support for all science and engineering disciplines. Increased investments will spur new discoveries in the fields of information technology, nanotechnology, biocomplexity, and other areas of fundamental science and engineering. The Act also adequately funds the new Scholarship for Service program at NSF, a component of the Federal Cyber Services, which will provide scholarships to students pursuing academic careers in Information Assurance. One of the five education and training initiatives in the National Plan for Information Systems Protection, this program supports the Administration's efforts to protect the Nation's critical infrastructures by increasing the number of skilled technologists working for the Federal Government. In exchange for up to 2 years of scholarship support, students will work for the Federal Government for an amount of time at least equal to the scholarship period.
This Act will also help to expand our investments in space exploration by including a $684 million increase, to $14.3 billion, for NASA. The Act fully funds the Space Launch Initiative that will improve the economics of space transportation dramatically. The additional resources will help the agency meet its human space flight needs more safely and at lower cost through the development of a new generation of space launch vehicles and enable NASA to establish a sustained presence at key research sites in our solar system.
I am pleased that this Act adequately funds FEMA to help cope with unforeseen disasters. The $1.3 billion in contingent emergency funds, along with the $297 million appropriated, ensures that the country is well-prepared to deal with unforeseen natural disasters.
I am also pleased that the Act provides my requested $22.4 billion for veterans' medical care, benefits, and the National Cemetery System. This $1.5 billion increase over last year represents the largest increase ever requested by an Administration. It will allow us to treat more veterans in the medical care system with high-quality and timely care, improve the delivery of veterans' disability and education benefits, and ensure that our Nation's veterans are honored in cemeteries that are maintained as National Shrines. The bill also takes the long-overdue steps of improving benefits for World War II Filipino veterans with service-connected disabilities who live in the United States, by providing the same disability, burial, health care, and long-term care benefits that other veterans receive.
I am also pleased today to be able to sign into law the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, 2001, now that the Congress has dropped an unacceptable rider that would have prevented the Army Corps of Engineers from revising its operating manual for the Missouri River, which is 40 years old and needs to be updated. This action will enable the Army Corps to move forward to achieve a reasonable balance among the competing interests of the many people who seek to use this great American river, while addressing the needs of the fish and wildlife species that depend upon it. To ensure a thorough discussion and review of the issues raised concerning revisions to the manual, the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of the Interior will consult fully with other Federal agencies, with State and local officials, and with interested stakeholders on the specific measures that the Army Corps may need to undertake during FY 2001. As part of this effort, the Army Corps will work with the parties to explore alternatives to, and modifications of, any proposed Federal actions on the lower Missouri River that may affect downstream landowners or barge traffic. Furthermore, the Army Corps will not make changes to its river operations under this legislation that will have significant adverse impacts on the downstream landowners or barge traffic.
I am disappointed that the final bill does not include my request for the CALFED Bay-Delta program or sufficient funds to restore endangered salmon in the Pacific Northwest, and includes no funds for new construction projects for the Florida Everglades and the Challenge 21 and recreation modernization programs, or for construction of the emergency flood control outlet at Devils Lake, North Dakota. These omissions are especially striking in light of the bill's inclusion of nearly 240 unrequested Corps of Engineers projects totaling over $300 million.
I want to acknowledge the efforts the Congress has made in appropriating $20 million for the establishment of the Delta Regional Authority, a Federal-State partnership focused on promoting economic growth in the Mississippi Delta region.
Finally, I am pleased that the final bill provides $17.8 billion for the Department of Energy (DOE). This funding supports environmental restoration projects at DOE sites throughout the country and cutting-edge scientific research such as the Spallation Neutron Source. It also includes essential funds for maintaining the safety and reliability of our nuclear weapons stockpile. Although the bill does not include my full request for the Climate Change Technology Initiative, it does provide almost $70 million more than the FY 2000 enacted level. Included in this Initiative is $375 million for solar and renewable energy, more than a 20 percent increase over the FY 2000 level for this program. The bill also provides $203 million in additional funding to address the damage caused by the Cerro Grande fire. I am concerned, however, that the bill contains limits on the term of office for the first person appointed to the position of Under Secretary for Nuclear Security at the Department of Energy and would restrict the President's ability to remove that official to cases of "inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance of office." Particularly in light of the Under Secretary's significant executive authority and responsibility in nuclear security, I understand the phrase "neglect of duty" to include, among other things, a failure to comply with the lawful directives or policies of the President.
I am proud that my Administration and the Congress were able to work together successfully on two bills to resolve our respective differences and produce an Act that effectively addresses critical needs of the American people.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
The White House,
October 27, 2000.
NOTE: H.R. 4635, approved October 27, was assigned Public Law No. 106-377. This statement was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on October 28. An original was not available for verification of the content of this statement.
William J. Clinton, Statement on Signing Fiscal Year 2001 Appropriations Legislation Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/228731