[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)] [May 1, 1998] [Pages 662-663] [From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]
Statement on Signing the 1998 Supplemental Appropriations and Rescissions Act May 1, 1998 Today I have signed into law H.R. 3579, the FY ``1998 Supplemental Appropriations and Rescissions Act.'' This emergency supplemental legislation makes urgently needed funds available for victims of natural disasters and for our troops in Bosnia and the Persian Gulf. While it is disappointing that the Congress has failed to meet the Nation's financial responsibilities by not approving funds for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the United Nations (U.N.), the Congress has provided funds that I requested for victims of natural disasters at home and for our military troops overseas. I am pleased that this legislation will enable us to meet our commitment to our troops in Bosnia and the Gulf, to support readiness worldwide, and to aid victims of natural disasters at home. This Act provides more than $2 billion for these purposes. The Act also includes $2.4 billion for disaster relief programs for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, for emergency highway repair, for repairing levees and other flood control systems, for repairing national wildlife refuges and national park property, and for State and private forestry, farm loans, dairy, and other agricultural assistance. I am also pleased that the Congress has decided to omit a number of extraneous and objectionable items in this legislation, such as provisions to increase the number of assault weapons on the street, to subsidize banks excessively for making student loans without fully offsetting the costs, and to undermine our ability to provide food stamps to certain legal immigrants. It is very troubling, however, that the Congress placed politics above sound science by insisting on two measures that would diminish our public lands. One of these provisions permits the building of a six-lane commuter highway near Albuquerque, New Mexico, through the Petroglyph National Monument. This is a dangerous departure from the practice of managing National Parks based on sound science and resource protection. Another objectionable section is intended to interfere with the Forest Service's ability to manage the National Forests. This rider is directed at a proposed regulation that would temporarily suspend road construction in roadless areas of our National Forests. It imposes difficult and burdensome paperwork and potentially costly compensation requirements on the Forest Service. In addition, I am very concerned about the limitations placed on the Government's ability to ensure a fair return for oil and gas resources extracted from Federal lands. My Administration will oppose any efforts to make these limitations permanent. I am deeply disappointed that this Act extends the comment period and delays the effective date of the ``Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network'' final rule, allowing an unfair organ allocation system to continue. This inequitable system violates the intent of the National Organ Transplant Act, which requires a national, equitable system, free of geographic bias, as well as the American Medical Association's Code of Medical Ethics, which prohibits the distribution of organs on the basis of geographic conditions. The final rule would ensure that organs are allocated to the sickest candidates first. [[Page 663]] It is also regrettable that in order to pay for the emergency funding for victims of natural disasters, this legislation demands unnecessary and unwarranted cuts in existing housing programs for low- income Americans. In response to my Administration's strong objections, the Congress pledged to restore this funding fully in the next fiscal year. I call upon the Congress to honor that promise, and to do so without draining resources from any of the housing programs contained in my budget for FY 1999. Instead of cutting housing assistance to low- income Americans, the Congress should provide funding for the 100,000 new housing vouchers proposed in my FY 1999 Budget. It is imperative that the Congress act quickly so that we may meet our commitment to the IMF and the U.N. Delay or failure to meet the full IMF requests could undermine our capacity to deal with threats to world economic stability and could leave us unable to protect American workers, farmers, and businesses in the event of an escalation or spread of the Asian financial crisis or a new crisis. In addition, failure to provide the full request for U.N. arrears could jeopardize our chance to affect negotiations on lowering U.S. dues and would undermine U.S. leadership in the international community. I call on the Congress to pass new legislation quickly, with workable terms, so that the United States is able to maintain its position as a world leader and to meet its obligations to the IMF and the U.N. William J. Clinton The White House, May 1, 1998. Note: H.R. 3579, approved May 1, was assigned Public Law No. 105-174.