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Statement on Signing the Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1996

November 16, 1995

Last night I signed into law H.R. 2002, the "Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1996."

I urge the Congress to complete action on the remaining regular FY 1996 appropriations bills and to send them to me in acceptable form. Last year, the Congress had sent me—and I had signed—all 13 appropriations bills by September 30. Regrettably, this is only the fourth bill that I have been able to sign for this fiscal year. The Congress has failed to send to me the bills that fund over 88 percent of the discretionary programs of our Government.

The Act provides $36.9 billion in new budgetary resources for programs of the Department of Transportation and several smaller agencies. The bill is consistent with my request in most key areas.

I am particularly pleased that the Congress heeded my calls to increase funding for the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA's) safety programs over what the Congress had originally proposed. The FAA manages the world's largest and safest aviation system. Nevertheless, Secretary Pena and FAA Administrator Hinson are working to make it safer, both for today and the future. The bill's FAA personnel and procurement reforms, which the Vice President's National Performance Review first proposed, will contribute greatly to that effort. I encourage the Congress to move quickly on the rest of my comprehensive FAA reform package.

The FAA personnel and procurement reforms contained in the Act will contribute greatly to our safety effort. They permit the FAA to improve its hiring, training, compensation, and relocation practices to better meet its unique personnel needs. They also allow for streamlined contracting practices that will speed up the deployment of new technologies into the field. Both new systems will be developed with the participation of the aviation community, including FAA employees and their representatives. They will build upon, not diminish or redefine, FAA's current beneficial management-labor relationship. While we embrace the FAA personnel and procurement reforms in the Act, we will work with the Congress to ensure that personnel reforms enacted pursuant to any FAA reform legislation must be designed and implemented in consultation with FAA unions, consistent with their continuing role as the representatives of these key members of the Federal workforce.

I am also pleased that the Act provides the fast-track reorganization authority for the Department of Transportation, as I requested, because it will improve service while cutting costs to taxpayers. Secretary Pena and I look forward to working with the Congress as we reform and streamline the Department.

The Act provides funding for most of the Department's high-priority programs. I commend the Congress for not including new earmarked highway demonstration projects; States can better use these funds in determining their transportation infrastructure priorities.

I am disappointed that the Congress did not authorize the restructuring of transportation infrastructure programs, as I proposed, but I look forward to maintaining a dialogue with the Congress about how to best meet States' and localities' needs for flexibility to address their future, high-priority transportation needs.

Again, I urge the Congress to meet its responsibilities by sending me the remaining regular FY 1996 appropriations bills in acceptable form.


The White House, November 16, 1995.

NOTE: H.R. 2002, approved November 15, was assigned Public Law No. 104-50.

William J. Clinton, Statement on Signing the Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1996 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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