THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT THE SIGNING OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY AND MANAGEMENT ASSISTANCE ACT
The Roosevelt Room
12:35 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you, Alice Rivlin, for your hard work on this issue and for being such a devoted resident of the District of Columbia. I told somebody in the Oval Office before we came out there that, unlike a lot of us who are transients, Alice Rivlin's not going anywhere. (Laughter.) And she desperately wanted this to be done well.
Congressman Davis, Congressman Clinger, Congresswoman Morella, Congresswoman Norton, Mayor Barry, President Clarke, members of the City Council and other friends of the District of Columbia, this is a very important day and a very important piece of legislation for all of us who care about our country's capital and for all of us who love Washington as a city. I have lived here not only as President, but also as a college student. I know this to be a city not only of our national monuments and political centers, but also a city of neighborhoods, of Shaw and Anacostia and Cleveland Park and Adams Morgan and so many others.
So this is a very important day for a city -- a city and thousands and thousands of people who live in it, who love it, who care about it, who have lives, many of them who have nothing to do with the politics of the Nation's Capital, but who deserve to live in a city that works, that functions and that also can symbolize the very best in America.
The health of the city and the security of its citizens have been threatened by the financial crisis. And I applaud all those who have come together to work together to begin the road back.
The purpose of the bill I am signing today is just that -- it is a road back. The Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Act will speed the District's recovery and return to fiscal health and will help over the long run to improve the delivery of services to its citizens.
For the past two years, I've worked hard to turn the economy of our country around. And we've seen dramatic improvements in the deficit, in the ability of this country to create jobs, and having a government that is both smaller and more efficient.
But none of that means very much to people whose own lives are troubled with insecurity. And the citizens of the District of Columbia need to know that security, stability, growth and opportunity will be the hallmarks of their living in our Nation's Capital.
This effort, as Alice Rivlin has said, is proof of what we can accomplish when we work together, when we put the interests of real people first, when we ignore partisan politics, and when we get on with the job at hand.
I want to thank Alice Rivlin, as I said, for all the work that she has been doing. I want to thank the members of the Congress here present. Congressman Davis, I think when he came to the Congress never could have imagined that this would be his first big assignment. (Laughter.) He is now, I guess, an honorary citizen of Washington, D.C. Eleanor Holmes Norton, when she ran for Congress, probably never imagined that this would be one of the most important pieces of legislation that she would have to undertake. But they have worked together in good spirit, in good faith. And I thank them, along with the other members who are present, and Congressman Walsh, and others, and also the members of the Senate who worked so expeditiously on this legislation.
The legislation calls for the creation of the Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority to monitor and certify District budgets and borrowing, to get the city back on solid financial footing.
I expect to appoint the five members of this Authority very soon. All of them will have a commitment to this city, and all of them with either live or work here.
Our goals are clear. There are tough choices in the short-term, but I am confident that this legislation will lead to better services, a more responsive government, to safer streets, and to a stronger city for the citizens of this District. All of them deserve that, and America needs that.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
(The President signs the Financial and Management Assistance Act.)
END12:40 P.M. EDT