[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1997, Book II)]
[November 26, 1997]
[Pages 1666-1669]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]



Statement on Signing the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, 
the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1998
November 26, 1997

    Today I have signed into law H.R. 2267, the ``Departments of 
Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies 
Appropriations Act, 1998.''
    This Act provides over $31 billion in discretionary budget authority 
for vital law enforcement, international affairs, economic development, 
and environmental programs, I am pleased that the Act supports many of 
my priorities, particularly in the areas of law enforcement and crime 
prevention.
    For instance, H.R. 2267 provides for my request of $1.4 billion for 
the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, helping us to 
achieve the goal of hiring 100,000 additional police officers by the 
year 2000. The Act also increases funding for programs to combat 
violence against women, and, finally, in the

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important area of juvenile crime prevention, the Act provides $489 
million for juvenile justice, which includes a $250 million juvenile 
justice block grant. I am pleased that the block grant provides targeted 
funding for prosecutorial grants, which support prosecutors' efforts to 
reduce gang violence, as well as targeted funding for violent juvenile 
court assistance, which helps expedite the handling of juvenile 
offenders.
    I am deeply disappointed, however, that the Congress did not enact 
legislation to capitalize on all of our work this year to craft a 
broadly supported package of reforms for the United Nations system and 
to provide the related arrears funding. Recent events in Iraq have 
underscored the need for strong U.S. leadership in the United Nations 
and in other international organizations that would have been supported 
by this legislation.
    I regret that the Act does not contain the multi-year funding of the 
arrears package consistent with the Balanced Budget Agreement (BBA), and 
that the first $100 million is not available until Congress passes 
implementing legislation. Before the current adjournment, the Congress 
could have passed such legislation, but it was tied to extraneous 
conditions. With the United Nations making critical decisions this 
December on reform and funding issues, this implementing legislation 
would have put the United States in a good position to achieve 
international agreement on the kind of financial and other reforms we 
are seeking and to clear our arrears. Our negotiators in New York are 
now handicapped and must struggle to build majority support for these 
changes among the more than 185 members of the United Nations without 
being able to clearly signal the Congress' intention.
    I hope that the Congress will work with me to pass swiftly upon its 
return such implementing legislation that firmly signals to the rest of 
the world community U.S. commitment to the U.N. system, our intent to 
honor our international obligations, and our desire to make these 
organizations more effective and efficient as they work for us on 
critical issues. Such legislation should be free of extraneous issues.
    The Act does provide strong support for the operational accounts of 
the Department of State, including provisions to put in place the new 
International Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS) 
program and to utilize revenues from Machine Readable visa fees. This 
support will allow the Department to modernize its technology, improve 
operations that support all U.S. agencies operating overseas, and 
continue to carry out its role in our Nation's important Border Security 
Program.
    This Act contains provisions that raise serious constitutional 
concerns. For example, section 609 unconstitutionally constrains the 
President's authority with respect to the conduct of diplomacy and 
section 610 unconstitutionally constrains the President's diplomatic 
authority and Commander in Chief authority. I will apply these 
provisions consistent with my constitutional responsibilities.
    The Act also includes provisions relating to the census. These 
provisions arose out of a disagreement whether the widely accepted 
statistical method known as sampling may be used in connection with the 
decennial census, consistent with the Constitution and the Census Act.
    It is my strong conviction, and it is the opinion of the Department 
of Justice, that sampling complies with both the Constitution and the 
Census Act. Although H.R. 2267 includes a congressional finding that 
sampling ``poses the risk of an inaccurate, invalid and unconstitutional 
census,'' I understand this language to mean only that the Congress 
believes the use of sampling raises an issue of constitutional 
interpretation appropriate for judicial review. Any census method, of 
course, poses a risk of inaccuracy, particularly if the method is not 
used correctly. But it is precisely to avoid inaccuracies in the census 
that sampling is justified. Given the history of undercounting children, 
minorities, and others in the census, inaccuracy and unfairness would 
result if the Congress prohibited sampling and instead mandated other 
methods.
    I support the Act because it provides the funding necessary for the 
Department of Commerce to prepare for the 2000 Census and, in 
particular, to conduct the critically important dress rehearsal 
scheduled for 1998. This is a dramatic improvement over an earlier 
version of the bill, which would have effectively banned sampling by 
delaying planning operations during litigation.
    Nonetheless, I have two concerns. First, under the Act the 2000 
Census remains, as it must, a one number census for the purposes of 
apportionment and redistricting. All official documents relating to the 
census will produce one final, accurate count of the population. In 
addition, the raw data collected by the Bureau

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of the Census will be available to interested parties. These raw data 
are not usable for apportionment and redistricting.
    Second, in providing for a right of action to challenge the use of 
sampling before completion of the 2000 Census, the Act does not, nor 
could it, modify the ``immutable requirements'' of Article III of the 
Constitution regarding ripeness and standing to sue. Representatives of 
my Administration informed the Congress while it was considering the 
census provisions of their doubts whether the right to sue in the Act 
satisfies Article III requirements. Opponents of sampling in the 2000 
Census will have the opportunity to attempt to persuade the courts that 
it does, but the Department of Justice is obligated to challenge any 
suits that fail to meet applicable justiciability requirements.
    I hope that the Congress will join me, the National Academy of 
Sciences, the General Accounting Office, the Department of Commerce 
Inspector General, and the vast majority of the professional statistical 
community, in supporting the use of sampling in the decennial census. It 
is our responsibility to count every American, and we must not allow 
politics to prevent us from living up to that responsibility.
    I am pleased with the $4.3 billion in funding for the Department of 
Commerce, and am grateful that funds for Global Learning and 
Observations to Benefit the Environment program (GLOBE) program were 
restored in conference. GLOBE was developed to increase our 
understanding of the Earth, and has forged partnerships with over 2,500 
U.S. schools and 35 other countries, involving thousands of students 
across the United States and worldwide. I am disappointed, however, that 
the National Institutes of Standards and Technology is funded $15 
million below the level agreed to in the BBA. This cut comes at the 
expense of the Advanced Technology Program, which supports the 
development of pre-competitive, basic technology, and helps the United 
States remain on the cutting edge of the global economy.
    Fortunately, H.R. 2267 does not split the Ninth Circuit Court into 
two separate circuits--as earlier versions of the bill would have--but 
instead establishes a commission to study the organization of the 
Federal Courts of Appeals more broadly. This is a far more reasoned 
approach than the split of the Circuit contained in an earlier version 
of the appropriations bill, and it will permit all affected parties to 
voice their views.
    I am pleased that H.R. 2267 will continue to permit eligible 
individuals to obtain lawful permanent resident status without leaving 
the country. While we sought a permanent extension of section 245(I) of 
the Immigration and Nationality Act, in its current form these 
provisions will help ensue that families remain together and businesses 
are not disrupted while persons already in the United States go through 
the immigration process.
    The Act also includes authority for the Federal Bureau of 
Investigation to develop a 3-year pilot program for compensation of non-
Special Agents in scientific, technical, and similar positions. In 
addition, the bill gives the Department of the Treasury authority to 
implement demonstration programs for such positions in the Bureau of 
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the United States Customs Service, and 
the United States Secret Service. While I strongly support efforts to 
ensure the highest quality work force for these critical law enforcement 
agencies, this new authority does not appear necessary. There is no 
evidence of recruitment and retention problems for these occupational 
categories that could not be solved through existing authorities. In 
addition, the budget impact of implementing these provisions is not 
known. I am, therefore, directing the two departments to work with the 
Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management 
to resolve these issues before developing any plan to implement this new 
authority.
    As a number of lower courts have recognized, the automatic stay 
provision of the Prison Litigation Reform Act raises a significant 
constitutional issue. Section 123 of H.R. 2267 amends this provision in 
a manner that may affect the constitutional issue and the position that 
my Administration will need to take in litigation. The Department of 
Justice will evaluate the amended provision further, and, if necessary, 
propose remedies to ameliorate any constitutional problems.
    I am pleased that the Congress rejected efforts to reduce funding 
for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), thus ensuring that 
disadvantaged Americans continue to have access to the judicial system. 
But, I remain concerned about the erosion of financial support for the 
LSC over time, and I am hopeful that the Congress

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will approve increases for this program in the future.
    Finally, the Act provides $6 million in contingent Department of 
Agriculture emergency funding for indemnity payments to farmers and 
ranchers who suffered livestock losses in the West due to the unusually 
early and heavy winter snowstorm in October. I will soon transmit a 
budget request to make these funds available.

                                                      William J. Clinton

The White House,

November 26, 1997.

Note: H.R. 2267, approved November 26, was assigned Public Law No. 105-
119.