THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
Today I am pleased to have signed into law H.R. 2607, the "District of Columbia Appropriations Act, 1998."
I am particularly pleased that the Act provides sufficient funding to implement the National Capital Revitalization and Self-Government Improvement Act of 1997 (Revitalization Act), which includes the main elements of the plan for the District of Columbia that I proposed in my 1998 budget in February. That plan, which was the most comprehensive plan that any Administration had ever proposed for the District, was designed to achieve two goals: to revitalize Washington, D.C., as the Nation's capital and to improve prospects for "home rule" to succeed. The Congress adopted the Revitalization Act as part of the historic balanced budget agreement that I signed into law last summer. Now, with this 1998 appropriations bill, the Congress has provided the funds to implement it.
The Act also drops several of the objectionable micro-management and other provisions in the original House-passed version of the bill such as Federal funding for private school vouchers, the requirement to reopen Pennsylvania Avenue, the limitation on public assistance payments, the prohibition on Treasury borrowing authority for the District, and restrictions on the District's authority to make improvements in its financial management system.
The Act continues to contain abortion language that would prohibit the use of Federal and District funds to pay for abortions except in cases in which the life of the mother is endangered or in situations involving rape or incest. The continued prohibition on the use of local funds is an unwarranted intrusion into the affairs of the District.
In addition, the Act makes important changes to last year's immigration bill by offering more generous treatment to Central Americans than was available under that bill. These changes make good on the pledge I made during my trip to Central America last spring. Nevertheless, I have several concerns. First, I am troubled by the differences in relief offered to similarly situated persons. I believe, however, that these differences can be minimized in the implementation process. I therefore am asking the Attorney General to consider the ameliorative purposes of this legislation and the unique history and circumstances of the people covered by it in giving effect to its provisions. Second, I believe that similar relief should be made available to Haitians and will seek a legislative solution for this group. Finally, I ask the Congress to revisit its decision to continue to apply some of the harsher rules under last year's immigration bill to other persons with pending immigration cases who are not covered by H.R. 2607. I commend to the public my statement of November 14 for a further discussion of these issues.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
THE WHITE HOUSE, November 19, 1997.
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