THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT OF THE PRESIDENT
I have signed into law tonight H.R. 3610, a fiscal 1997 omnibus appropriations and immigration reform bill.
This bill is good for America, and I am pleased that my Administration could fashion it with Congress on a bipartisan basis. It moves us further toward our goal of a balanced budget while protecting our values and priorities -- educating our children, providing a clean environment, fighting crime, protecting our families from drugs, and combating terrorism.
The bill restores substantial sums for education and training, fully paid for in my balanced budget plan and furthering my agenda of life-long education to help Americans acquire the skills they need to get good jobs in the new global economy.
It provides the funds through which Head Start can serve an additional 50,000 disadvantaged young children; fulfills my request for the Goals 2000 education reform program to help states raise their academic standards; increases funding for the Safe and Drug-Free Schools program, helping states educate children to reduce violence and drug abuse; and fulfills my request for the largest Pell Grant college scholarship awards in history, expanding the number of middle- and low-income students who receive aid by 126,000 -- to 3.8 million.
For the environment, the bill provides funds to support the Environmental Protection Agency's early implementation of two major new environmental laws that I signed this summer -- the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Pesticide and Food Safety Law. At the same time, the bill does not contain any of the riders that would have been harmful to the environment.
For law enforcement, the bill ensures that my program to put 100,000 more police on the streets of America's communities by the year 2000 proceeds on schedule; with this bill, we will have provided funding for 64,000 of the 100,000 that I called for at the start of my Administration. The bill also increases funds for Justice Department law enforcement programs, for the FBI's crime-fighting efforts, and for new Federal prisons.
As I had urged, the bill also extends the Brady Bill to ensure that those who commit domestic violence cannot purchase guns, rejecting efforts to weaken that proposal.
I am pleased that the bill provides $1.4 billion in funding to address my requests for anti-drug programs. It doubles funding for Drug Courts; increases funds for drug interdiction efforts by the Defense, Transportation, and Treasury departments; and provides the resources to expand the Drug Enforcement Administration's domestic efforts along the Southwest border and elsewhere.
For counter-terrorism, the bill funds my request for over $1.1 billion to fight terrorism and to improve aviation security and safety. It enables the Justice and Treasury Departments to better investigate and prosecute terrorist acts, and it provides funds to implement the recommendations of Vice President Gore's Commission on Aviation Safety and Security and the Federal Aviation Administration's recent 90-day safety review. These funds will enable us to hire 300 more aviation security personnel, deploy new explosive detection teams, and buy high-technology bomb detection equipment to screen luggage.
This bill also includes landmark immigration reform legislation that reinforces the efforts we have made over the last three years to combat illegal immigration. It strengthens the rule of law by cracking down on illegal immigration at the border, in the workplace, and in the criminal justice system -- without punishing those living in the United States legally, or allowing children to be kept out of schools and sent into the streets.
The bill also provides needed resources to respond to fires in the western part of the nation and to the devastation brought by Hurricanes Fran and Hortense.
I am disappointed that one of my priorities -- a ban on physician "gag rules" -- was not included in the bill. Several States have passed similar legislation to ensure that doctors have the freedom to inform their patients of the full range of medical treatment options, and Congress should have reached agreement on this measure.
Nevertheless, this bill is good for America, and I am pleased to sign it.