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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                       (Sacramento, California)
For Immediate Release                                  November 15, 1997
                       REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                             UPON ARRIVAL
                       McClellan Air Force Base
                        Sacramento, California     

10:20 A.M. PST

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Two years ago, I approved a BRAC recommendation to close McClellan Air Force Base, but only after I was convinced it was feasible for McClellan to privatize and that the prospects of success were strong. Since then, I've had to fight at every turn with the members of Congress who have resisted our efforts to give the Department of Defense the tools it needs to privatize more of its operations more easily.

This year, the so-called Depot Caucus tried to block the ongoing competition for the Kelly and McClellan work load altogether. I said if they did that, I would veto the entire defense bill. Eventually, Congress reached a compromise to allow the competitions for this important work to go forward. The Secretary of Defense has assured me that although the language in the bill is not ideal -- I quote -- "the Department of Defense has flexibility to proceed with the remaining public-private competitions at Kelly and McClellan Bases in a way that is fair to both sides." For this reason, I have decided to sign the defense bill.

We will continue to do everything we can to help McClellan make the transition. The Vice President and I have met with business and community officials. We have listened to your concerns. Today, I am pleased to announce seven steps we are taking.

First, by December 31st, the Air Force will transfer McClellan to Sacramento County at a significantly discounted price to encourage rapid economic development and job creation.

Second, the Coast Guard will remain at McClellan through at least 2004, contributing $2 million a year to support private airfield operations.

Third, the Defense Department will retain liability for the eventual shutdown of McClellan's nuclear reactor, making it possible to support scientific and commercial research here for the next 30 years.

Fourth, the Department recently announced that it will provide an additional $7.2 million to retrain 1,700 civilian workers who face layoffs over the next two years.

Fifth, our EPA Administrator, Carol Browner, will visit McClellan early next month to discuss with community leaders a schedule for environmental cleanup to promote redevelopment and job creation.

Sixth, the Defense Department will provide an additional $11.3 million to complete funding of the Casting Emission Reduction Program at McClellan to develop environmentally friendly technology for manufacturing.

Finally, we will give high priority to capital improvements at McClellan to promote economic development and job creation.

Today we're also announcing a series of actions we're taking to help San Antonio redevelop the Kelly Air Force Base.

This is the third base conversion challenge this community has taken on. You've done a tremendous job. Your efforts are a model for the nation. And I will continue to work with McClellan to make this third story a very successful one for this remarkable community.

Thank you very much. And I'm sorry for the weather inconvenience. (Applause.)

END 10:25 A.M. PST