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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                          (New York, New York)
For Immediate Release                                     March 30, 2000


I am pleased that the House of Representatives today took action that would meet many of the essential, immediate needs in my supplemental budget request, including helping victims of Hurricane Floyd, providing energy assistance for families struggling with rising oil prices, helping keep illegal drugs out of our country by supporting the Colombian government's fight against drug traffickers, and providing for our troops in Kosovo.

It is vital that Congress avoid delay in meeting these needs; the costs of delay are great. A delay in Kosovo funding would soon jeopardize our current level of military readiness around the world and our ability to help the people of Kosovo build peace and a better future. A delay in support for Colombia's anti-drug efforts would signal that Colombia lacks the international support to prevail against drug traffickers. At home, delaying funding for the victims of Hurricane Floyd would leave thousands in temporary housing possibly through their second winter and without funding to replenish the program for home energy assistance. A delay in LIHEAP funds, would leave many Americans, especially the elderly and infirm, vulnerable in the event of an extreme heat wave this summer.

The bill produced by the House today, while meeting essential needs, is also flawed. The House bill is too large -- providing unnecessary funding for certain areas while failing to fund areas of the highest importance, including embassy security for our diplomatic personnel in Kosovo and elsewhere in the region, building peace and stability in Kosovo to support the efforts of our troops, and contributing our nation's share to the U.N. peacekeeping force there. In addition, the House bill fails to provide debt relief for the world's poorest nations.

Because the needs in my budget request are essential and immediate, I urge the Senate to turn swiftly to its work on the budget request and to produce a better, right-sized bill, that includes the necessary level of funding for Kosovo and debt relief, and that should pass without delay.