THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
LETTER FROM WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF LEON PANETTA TO REPUBLICAN LEADERS ON THE CRIME BILL
August 12, 1994
The Hon. Bob Dole
The Hon. Newt Gingrich
The Hon. Strom Thurmond
The Hon. Alan Simpson
The Hon. Orrin Hatch
The Hon. Bill McCollum
Congress of the United States
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Senators and Congressmen:
I am responding on behalf of the President who received your letter on the crime bill moments before he spoke to the National Association of Police Organizations in Minneapolis this afternoon. NAPO is one of several police and law enforcement organizations supporting the President's crime bill.
President Clinton said in Minneapolis that fighting crime is neither a Republican nor Democratic issue, it is a matter of government fulfilling its first responsibility to provide for the security of all of its citizens. He shares your belief that Congress should immediately pass a strong, bipartisan measure aimed at fighting the menace of crime in our country.
Such a bipartisan plan is before you -- it is crime legislation that was adopted by the Senate last November with the support of 42 Republicans and 53 Democrats. Similar legislation was adopted in the House of Representatives in April 1994 with the support of 65 Republicans and 219 Democrats. Ten Republican Senators and 38 Republican House Members also supported the ban on assault weapons contained in this bipartisan plan.
What disappointed me, and what disappointed the President, is that the very spirit of bipartisanship you wrote about today was torn asunder in the House when fifty-five of your Members who voted for a similar bill in April voted to deprive the American people of a vote on this significant anti-crime legislation.
The bill rejected last night gave the American people what they had been promised for six long years -- more police, more prisons, more opportunity for young people to resist the lure of the streets, and fewer guns. Now is the time for the Congress to deliver on that promise, without delays, without partisanship, and without interference from the NRA or other organized special interests. Now is the time for deeds to speak as loudly as words.
At this time, the President urges you to work directly with the Leadership of the House and Senate to determine how you can enact the crime bill as soon as possible. The President has directed me to cooperate with all Members of the Congress who are willing to expedite this important legislation. The citizens of our country, and the police who protect them, deserve and demand its passage. For them, we can do no less.
Leon Panetta Chief of Staff