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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 20, 1999
     Making Bipartisan Progress On The Budget:  The President Signs
        VA/HUD/Independent Agencies Appropriations Bill Into Law

                            October 20, 1999

Demonstrating that progress can be made through bipartisan cooperation and agreement on spending priorities and acceptable offsets, President Clinton today will sign into law the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act for FY 2000. In order to reach a successful resolution, the Administration identified priorities and provided resources to pay for them -- consistent with the President's commitment to fiscal discipline. This legislation, which was negotiated on a bipartisan basis between the Administration and Congress, provides $69.4 billion for these agencies in fiscal year 2000, an increase of $2.8 billion from fiscal year 1999. It maintains America's commitment to veterans, housing and science and technology programs, supports critical investments that empower communities, improves environmental clean-up, and promotes key research in space and science programs.

Highlights of bipartisan progress in the bill include:

Empowering Communities and Providing Affordable Housing. President Clinton and Vice President Gore are committed to tapping the potential of America's urban and rural communities. This budget will help revitalize our nation's communities so that all American's share in the economic prosperity by:

IMPROVING HEALTH CARE FOR VETERANS. The bill provides $19.8 billion for the medical care of our nation's veterans. This funding will help improve the quality of veteran's medical care and cut down on waiting times consistent with the President and Vice-President's commitment to improving access and delivery of veteran's medical services. Funding provided in this bill will improve service and allow for the provision of a range of home and community-based care for those high priority veterans who do not have access to such services, and provides resources for the aggressive testing and treatment of Hepatitis C.

Investing in Space and Science. The bill increases the nation's investment in scientific discovery and education, which has helped fuel our remarkable economic growth for the past decade.

Keeping Community Service Strong. The bill includes $438.5 million for AmeriCorps, funding that will support nearly 50,000 AmeriCorps members in their community service projects across the country. This funding level is roughly at the last year's level; the President will continue to push for an expansion of AmeriCorps so that 100,000 members can serve every year and so that more of our young people can give back to their communities through service.

Boosting Funding For Natural Disasters Such As Hurricane Floyd. So that FEMA can continue its efforts to help victims of Hurricane Floyd, the bill includes $2.5 billion in contingent emergency funds, along with the $821 million appropriated, to ensure that the country is well-prepared to deal with unforeseen natural disasters.

Investing in Cleaner Environment. The bill also includes investments for improving water pollution and speeding up toxic cleanups. - The bill includes $630 million for the Clean Water Action Plan, a five-year initiative to help communities and farmers clean up almost 40 percent of America's surveyed waterways still too polluted for fishing and swimming. In addition, the budget provides $820 million for Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, $45 million above the House passed bill which would have frozen funds at last year's levels.