THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release October 27, 1995
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
I have signed into law H.R. 1976, the "Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1996."
I urge the Congress to complete action on the remaining regular FY 1996 appropriations bills and to send them to me in acceptable form. Last year, the Congress sent to me -- and I signed -- all 13 appropriations bills by September 30. Regrettably, this is only the second bill that I have been able to sign for this fiscal year.
This Act provides $13.4 billion in discretionary budget authority for programs of the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, including the Special Supplemental Feeding Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); food safety programs; and various programs to protect and support rural communities.
The Act also provides a total of $41.2 billion for the Food Stamp program, the Child Nutrition program, the Commodity Credit Corporation, and other mandatory programs.
In signing this bill, I have made it possible for USDA to promptly send full-year payments of nearly $1.8 billion for the Conservation Reserve Program. This program compensates farmers for protecting environmentally sensitive cropland.
I am pleased that H.R. 1976 provides the resources necessary to keep the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children on the Administration's path to full funding. An estimated 7.5 million women and children will be served, 400,000 more than in FY 1995. This program provides important nutrition benefits and health-related services.
I am also pleased that the Congress continued funding at my requested level for the Child Nutrition program and other important nutrition programs for needy Americans, including the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, Soup Kitchens, and the Nutrition Program for the Elderly.
Funds included in the bill for the Agricultural Conservation Program will provide Federal cost-share financing to farmers for needed soil and water conservation practices and structures, including water quality improvements.
The bill also includes funds I requested for farm operating and farm ownership loans, which help new farmers get started in agriculture, as well as those farmers who do not qualify for private-sector financing.
In addition, H.R. 1976 omits many of the troublesome provisions contained in earlier versions of the bill that would have compromised the ability of Federal nutrition programs to assist low-income Americans. However, I am concerned about the provisions to reduce food stamp spending in an appropriations bill. This action may lead to proposals for additional food stamp cuts in the reconciliation process. This program, which assists almost 27 million low-income children, elderly, and working family members, continues to be the cornerstone of the Federal nutrition safety net.
The Act permits full funding for the Export Enhancement Program, as I requested. This program assists exports of American agricultural products, which reached an all-time high in FY 1995 of $53 billion -- a trend we would like to continue.
While funding provided by H.R. 1976 is an improvement over funding levels in earlier versions of the bill, I am still disappointed by its reductions from my request for rural development. By contrast the Act includes $58 million in unrequested funds for earmarked university research facilities. I believe rural Americans would have been better served had these funds instead been channeled into rural development programs. Doing so could have, for example, helped 7,000 rural families realize the American Dream of owning their own home through USDA's single-family loan program.
Section 726 raises constitutional concerns and I have therefore asked the Department of Justice to advise me as to the validity and enforceability of that section.
Despite these concerns the overall bill is acceptable because of the very positive provisions I have already mentioned and because of the benefits its programs provide to farm families and rural communities.
Again, I urge the Congress to meet its responsibilities by sending me the remaining regular FY 1996 appropriations bills in acceptable form.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
THE WHITE HOUSE,
October 27, 1995.
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