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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 28, 1999


Today the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations committee passed a spending bill that fails to invest in key initiatives to raise student achievement. While its funding levels are better than those of the House version, the Senate bill still falls short of what we need to strengthen America's schools. It does not guarantee a single dollar for our efforts to hire quality teachers and reduce class size in the early grades. It cuts funding for education technology, and underfunds such efforts as GEAR UP and after-school programs. And it does not provide funding to turn around failing schools.

To develop world-class schools, we need to invest more and demand more in return. We need accountability from our schools -- and from our Congress too.

In addition, the reduction in funding for the Social Services Block Grant could severely undermine state and local efforts to provide child care, child welfare programs, and services for the disabled. By failing to fund the Family Caregiver initiative, the bill also withholds critical aid to families caring for elderly or ill relatives. The legislation also shortchanges public health priorities in preventive and mental health, and underfunds programs that would give millions of Americans improved access to health care.

If this bill were to come to me in its current form I would have to veto it. I believe, however, that we can avoid this course. I sent the Congress a budget for the programs covered by this bill that provided for essential investments in America's needs, and that was fully paid for. I look forward to working with Congress on a bipartisan basis to ensure that this bill strengthens public education and other important national priorities.