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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release August 7, 1998


I am deeply disappointed that the District of Columbia Appropriations bill passed by the House imposes unacceptable restrictions on our nation's capital city.

Early this morning, the House adopted a series of objectionable amendments. They include provisions to establish a school voucher program that would drain resources and attention from the hard work of reforming the District's public schools, to prohibit adoptions in the District by unmarried or unrelated couples, and to prohibit the use of Federal and local funds for needle exchange programs or to deny any funding in the bill to private agencies that operate such programs. These measures all undermine local control, are unacceptable and should be dropped before Congress completes action on the bill.

I am concerned that other shortcomings in this bill undermine the District of Columbia's autonomy by imposing severe restrictions on local operations. For example, this bill would also bar the use of local District funds for abortions and strip local funds from the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, which are a foundation of local government.

I am also disappointed that the House fails to fund the much-needed economic revitalization plan for the District of Columbia. I urge Congress to provide appropriate resources for the economic development plan in order to capitalize the locally-chartered National Capital Revitalization Corporation, which is key to the future economic growth of the nation's capital.

At a time when the District of Columbia has made enormous strides toward financial responsibility and the eventual return of self-government, it is wrong for Congress to turn the clock backward by imposing unwarranted restrictions on broad policy making and on day-to-day decision making at the local level.