THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT THE RESCISSIONS BILL SIGNING The Roosevelt Room
9:08 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good Morning. Before I sign this bill I'd like to thank the Congressional leadership from both parties for sticking with this project through thick and thin. Right before we came in one of the Senators said this is the only bill I've ever seen that was passed 16 different times. But I want to thank everyone who worked on this and say a special word of thanks to the Appropriations Committee members and especially to the Senate and House Appropriations Committee Chairs who are here today who burned the midnight oil to get this done.
The bill I am here to sign is proof that we can put party politics aside and do things that are good for our country. We're never going to agree on everything and we shouldn't. That's the way our system works. But there is so much we do agree upon that if we deal with our disagreements openly and honestly, we plainly can make progress.
On balance I am very pleased with this bill. The timber provisions are not exactly what I wanted but they are better than they were and I believe we can and should carry out the timber salvage plans and that we can do it consistent with our forest plan and with existing environmental laws.
The budget cutting in this bill is exactly the kind of thing we should be doing. Together we are making a down payment on a balanced budget, cutting $16 billion in spending from this year's budget, cutting unnecessary spending but maintaining our commitment to education, to health care, to the environment. At the same time, the Congress has voted for funds that will help the people of California finish the work that has to be done to recover from the earthquake; that will help the people in Oklahoma City to deal with the financial aspects, at least, of the terrible tragedy they endured; that will help us to step up the fight against terrorism; and, that will enable us to keep our commitment to the Middle East peace process.
This is how we should work together. We agree we should balance the budget. We disagree on how. But this shows that we can work through those disagreements. Everyone here just about was raised with the old saying that where there's a will there's a way. If we have the will to balance the budget, we know we can find the way because of what happened on the rescission bill.
Let me again say a word of thanks to the members who are here. To Chairman Hatfield and Chairman Livingston and to Senator Lott and to Senator Ford, I thank you very, very much. And it's an honor and a pleasure to be able to sign this legislation that you've provided to the American people.
Thank you. (Applause.)
(The bill is signed.)
Q Mr. President, are you going to veto the Bosnia arms bill?
THE PRESIDENT: Hasn't passed yet.
Q Mr. President, do you think it's time for the allies to make a similar agreement with the U.N. to defend Bihac?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know what we did at NATO. We agreed that since NATO and the United Nations had said that Bihac and Sarajevo should both be protected, we urged that our NATO planners begin working on the plans for that. And, of course, that's what I believe the United Nations should do.
Now that we understand what has to be done to compensate the UNPROFOR forces, the United Nations must never again be caught in a position where it makes a commitment as it did in Srebrenica and then does not attempt to keep that commitment.
So, I certainly believe that should be done. But I was very pleased, I must say, by Secretary General Boutros-Ghali's actions yesterday, and I hope that this indicates that the United Nations is going to keep its commitments. And the United States is certainly determined to see that it does so. And I think the vote in the Senate should be taken as a message, simply a message to do that. The United States Senate, both the 69 people who voted for the resolution and the 29 people who voted against it all believe that the United Nations must move aggressively to protect the people of Bosnia from what they have endured.
Q Mr. President, because of so many hollow allied threats in the past, why should the Bosnian Serbs be scared of this latest allied threat of massive airstrikes?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, they ought to be able to tell from what's going on here in the United States, that if the U.N. fails the next time that there will be a different course.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 9:15 A.M. EDT