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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 23, 1999


The House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations subcommittee today passed a partisan bill that would seriously undermine our efforts to strengthen public education, protect workers, and move people from welfare to work.

This bill is proof that America's highest priority - improving our schools - remains the Republican Congress's lowest priority. The bill eliminates our effort to hire quality teachers to reduce class size in the early grades. It denies hundreds of thousands of young people access to after-school programs, fails to improve and expand Head Start, cuts the successful America Reads program, cuts educational technology, and eliminates the GEAR UP program, which helps young people prepare early for success in college. It fails to give public schools the resources to succeed, and does nothing to demand accountability for results.

The bill also terminates the successful School-To-Work program and Youth Opportunity Grants, and makes deep cuts in programs that help dislocated workers, provide worker protections, and ensure worker safety. It undermines America's efforts to move people from welfare to work by reneging on our bipartisan commitment to the states on welfare reform. It contains a range of unacceptable provisions, which would prevent the government from effectively protecting the health and safety of the American people.

The subcommittee bill would also underfund public health priorities, including preventive health, mental health and substance abuse, health care access for the poor, and our efforts to reduce racial health disparities and the spread of AIDS worldwide. It would prevent us from continuing to provide important patient protections for American workers, and improving our nation's organ distribution system. It also would threaten our ability to manage key entitlement programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid.

I warned earlier today that the tax bill sent to me as part of the Republican budget plan would lead to major reductions in key national investments in education and other programs. The subcommittee's bill today is another step in the same misguided direction.

This bill is unacceptable. Our nation's children deserve much better. I sent the Congress a budget for the programs covered by this bill that provided for essential investments in America's needs, and was fully paid for. If this bill were to come to me in its current form, I would veto it. Instead, I urge the House not to pass the subcommittee's bill, and to work on a bipartisan basis with my Administration on acceptable legislation.