THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release September 26, 1996
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
Today I have signed into law H.R. 3666, the "Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act, FY 1997."
The Act provides funding for the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, and several other agencies. This Act will fund vital environmental, veterans, housing, community development, science, and space programs.
I am pleased that the Congress has responded to my call to include three bipartisan provisions aimed at eliminating a range of health care crises that thousands of Americans face every year. These include: a mental health parity provision that prohibits health plans from establishing separate lifetime and annual limits for mental health; the Newborns' and Mothers' Health Protection Act of 1996 that requires health insurers to let all new mothers and their babies stay in the hospital for at least 48 hours following normal deliveries; and my proposal to assist the children of Vietnam veterans who are born with the birth defect, spina bifida.
The Act provides funding for a number of my high-priority investment proposals, including the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) fund. The National Service initiative gives young people an opportunity to obtain funding for a college education while serving the country in areas of great need, such as education, environment, public safety, and human services. If Congress had provided my request, an additional 6,000 young Americans would have had the opportunity to help their community through AmeriCorps. Funding for CDFI will increase the flow of capital to distressed neighborhoods and their currently underserved, low-income residents, and provide financing for neighborhood redevelopment and revitalization efforts.
The Act provides $6.7 billion for the EPA, or 4.5 percent less than my request and will enable the EPA to adequately enforce our environmental laws and provide for the continued cleanup of hazardous waste sites.
I am, however, concerned about the levels provided for EPA's important implementation of the recently enacted safe drinking water and food quality legislation, continued progress on the U.S. global climate change Action Plan, Montreal Protocol efforts to prevent ozone layer depletion, and Boston Harbor clean-up. I will continue to press the Congress to provide more adequate funding levels for these and other important priorities as my Administration negotiates with the Congress over an omnibus appropriations bill to resolve remaining fiscal 1997 funding issues.
The Act extends several expiring provisions of last year's bill that are critical to HUD's ability to continue its activities, including demolishing and replacing the worst public housing, supporting movement from dependency to work, and streamlining low-income housing assistance and FHA mortgage insurance programs. The bill also provides the tools necessary to reduce the costs of section 8 renewals for FHA-insured properties, and fully funds my request for the Housing Opportunities for Persons With Aids program.
I am pleased that the bill continues to support States and cities through HUD's key economic development programs - Community Development Block Grants, and the Home Investment Partnerships program. Funding provided for the Youthbuild program will help at-risk youth learn valuable skills, that will enable them to gain employment and break the cycle of poverty. The bill also provides needed capital and operating funds to support the sound operation of over one million public housing apartments.
The Act fully funds my request for the medical care of this Nation's veterans and includes incremental funding for a VA hospital at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California. I am, however, disappointed that the bill does not provide necessary funding for an additional hospital in Brevard County, Florida.
The bill fully funds the Space Station program, and includes needed buyout authority for NASA as it moves to restructure itself for the future.
I am concerned, however, that the bill does not provide funding for NASA's or EPA's contribution to the innovative GLOBE program. This unwarranted change of direction will adversely impact thousands of teachers and students in 2,000 U.S. schools and in 35 other countries who have invested their resources, time, and energy in this valuable program. I plan to press the Congress to include funding for GLOBE in the omnibus 1997 funding bill that my Administration is negotiating with the Congress.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
THE WHITE HOUSE,
September 26, 1996.
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