THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Hartford, Connecticut)
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
I have signed into law H.R. 2561, the "Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2000." The bill approves funds to cover the Department's most critical needs, consistent with my request that reflected my strong commitment to our Nation's security.
The bill provides funding for all critical Defense activities -- pay and other quality of life programs, readiness, and weapons modernization. In particular, the bill fully funds the key elements of the compensation initiatives I proposed and that were enacted in the FY 2000 Defense Authorization Act, including military retirement reform, pay table reform, and a significant pay increase. It also fully funds my request for training, spare parts, equipment maintenance, and base operations -- all items essential to military readiness. I am pleased that the bill restores partial funding for the F-22 fighter aircraft, which is essential to guaranteeing early air dominance in any future conflict.
Regrettably, the bill goes beyond what is necessary, providing funding for a host of unrequested programs at the expense of other core government activities. It provides $267.4 billion in discretionary budget authority, a funding level that is $4.5 billion above my request. As testified to by our military chiefs, my budget request correctly addressed our most important FY 2000 military needs. Unfortunately, H.R. 2561 resorts to a number of funding techniques and gimmicks to meet the Appropriations Subcommittee allocation. These include: designating $7.2 billion of standard operation and maintenance funding as a contingent emergency; deferring payments to contractors until FY 2001; and incrementally funding a Navy ship (LHD-8).
Furthermore, the bill contains several objectionable language provisions. I am concerned about section 8074, which contains certain reporting requirements that could materially interfere with or impede this country's ability to provide necessary support to another nation or international organization in connection with peacekeeping or humanitarian assistance activities otherwise authorized by law. I will interpret this provision consistent with my constitutional authority to conduct the foreign relations of the United States and my responsibilities as Commander in Chief.
While I am troubled by a provision requiring the Department of Defense to seek specific authorization for the payment of fines or penalties for environmental violations, I will direct the Department to seek such authorization on any fine or penalty it receives, ensuring full accountability for all such violations.
Furthermore, while the provision in section 8174 of the bill prohibits the Department from contributing funds to the American Heritage Rivers initiative, I will direct the Department, within existing laws and authorities, to continue to support and undertake community-oriented service or environmental projects on rivers I have recognized as part of the initiative.
Finally, the bill provides only about one-quarter of the funding level requested for construction of Forward Operating Locations that would reestablish regional drug interdiction capabilities in Latin America. This amount will not adequately support our vital drug interdiction efforts in the Western Hemisphere.
I have signed this bill because, on balance, it demonstrates our commitment to the military, meets our obligations to the troops, maintains readiness, and funds modernization efforts that will ensure our technological edge into the 21st century.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
THE WHITE HOUSE, November 4, 1999.
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