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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release December 22, 1995


Today I have signed into law House Joint Resolution 136, which ensures that the Government makes veterans' benefit payments to 3.3 million veterans and their survivors without further delay.

The resolution also provides funding for several vitally important programs for children and families. It continues funding for Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), ensuring that nearly 9 million children receive benefits vital to their well-being. It funds child care for about 600,000 children whose parents are trying to work their way off welfare. And it continues funding for State child support enforcement agencies to ensure that "deadbeat dads" do not get a reprieve from supporting their children.

In addition, H.J. Res. 136 provides authority for the District of Columbia to continue full operations. The resolution contains an objectionable provision that would single out poor women by prohibiting the use of District funds for providing abortion services. I have opposed including this provision in the regular fiscal year 1996 District of Columbia appropriations bill. Nevertheless, H.J. Res. 136 allows the District government to continue to operate without disruption.

Although I welcome H.J. Res. 136, it is a poor substitute for what the Congress should do immediately -- that is, send me an acceptable continuing resolution to reopen the departments and agencies that are at least partially shut down because they lack fiscal year 1996 appropriations. Along with the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services, they include the Departments of Education, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Justice, State, and the Interior; the Environmental Protection Agency; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Small Business Administration.

To be sure, H.J. Res. 136 prevents the serious impact that the partial shutdown could have had on 3.3 million veterans and their survivors as well as nearly 9 million low-income children. But the shutdown continues to hurt millions of innocent Americans -- from the 20,000 parents and students each day who cannot apply for student aid, to the 2,500 moderate-and low-income working families each day who cannot get their Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage loans processed.

The shutdown also has forced the affected departments and agencies to furlough a total of about 280,000 Federal employees, throwing their lives into disruption and raising their fears just as the holidays approach. Federal workers, who are already being asked to do their jobs more efficiently as we downsize the Government, deserve better.

The congressional majority apparently wants to use a partial Government shutdown to force me into accepting their extreme budget plan. It did not work last month, when the majority prompted an earlier shutdown by not sending me an acceptable continuing resolution. And it will not work now.

The Congress should send me an acceptable continuing resolution to reopen the Government, return to work the 280,000 Federal employees who were furloughed through no fault of their own, provide back pay for these workers, and give the American people the services they expect from their Government.



December 22, 1995.

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