THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
I am pleased that we have reached an agreement with Republicans and Democrats in the Congress on the rescissions bill.
I vetoed the original rescissions bill because it reduced the deficit the wrong way. The new bill achieves the same amount of deficit reduction as the previous bill, but it does so the right way, by protecting investments in children, education, national service, job training, and the environment that Congress wanted to cut. These are the kind of balanced priorities that make sense for our country as we enter the difficult budget debates ahead.
Specifically, the new legislation restores $733 million in these critical areas, including $220 million for the Safe and Drug-Free Schools program, $60 million for training teachers and other reforms under Goals 2000, $105 million for Americorps, and $225 million for the Safe Drinking Water program.
Like the original bill, the new legislation contains over $16 billion in spending cuts, and it provides supplemental funds I requested for disaster relief activities of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal response to the bombing in Oklahoma City, increased anti-terrorism efforts, and debt relief to Jordan to facilitate progress toward a Middle East peace settlement.
We have now achieved a bill that I am prepared to sign. This is essential legislation, and I hope the Congress will act on it quickly. While on balance, I believe we made such significant changes that I am able to sign the legislation, the bill does contain provisions I do not support.
I still do not believe this bill should contain any of the provisions relating to timber. I opposed the timber salvage rider because I believe that it threatens once again to lead to legal gridlock and to impair, rather than promote, sustainable economic activity. I continue to have that concern. But the conferees did accept important changes in the language that preserve our ability to implement the current forest plans and their standards, and to protect other resources such as clean water and fisheries.
Furthermore, Chairman Hatfield insists that the timber salvage provisions provide complete discretion for the Administration to implement these provisions according to our best judgment.
I take Senator Hatfield at his word. Therefore, after signing the rescissions bill into law, I will direct the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of the Interior, and all other federal agencies to carry out timber salvage activities consistent with the spirit and intent of our forest plans and all existing environmental laws.
We will abide by the balanced goals of our forest plans, and we will not violate our environmental standards. Both are too important to protecting our quality of life and our economy.