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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                      (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
For Immediate Release                                      June 30, 2000


I am deeply disappointed that today the Senate passed a Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill that fails to make crucial investments in our nation's future. While the Senate bill provides more acceptable funding for some programs than the House version, it relies on unacceptable spending cuts and falls short on critical funding for education, health care, and worker training. The Senate bill invests too little in improving our schools and demands too little from them; fails to provide funds to reduce class size and repair aging schools; includes a fatally flawed so-called "patient protection provision" that excludes over 110 million Americans from protections and actually eliminates some of the limited accountability provisions now in state law; bankrupts the Social Services Block Grant, drastically reducing services to abused children, the elderly, and the disabled; and shifts funds from the State Children's Health Insurance Program, undermining the bipartisan agreement passed by Congress in 1997 to insure millions of low-income children.

This bill also shortchanges vital health care programs, including domestic and global HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, mental health and substance abuse services, family planning, health care access for the uninsured, training for health professionals in children's hospitals, nursing home quality, and oversight of Medicare contractors. The bill fails to guarantee funding for critical education priorities such as reducing class size and making urgent repairs to our schools, including Native American schools. It underfunds programs that would strengthen accountability and turn around failing schools, expand before-school and after-school opportunities, assist low-income students in preparing for college, help bridge the digital divide, improve teacher quality, and expand English language/civics education programs for adults. The bill also denies adequate resources for: training programs to help unemployed workers and low-income youth train for and find jobs; assistance to help more low-income fathers work and support their children; efforts to ensure workplace safety and enforce domestic labor laws; and initiatives to address illegal and abusive child labor practices abroad.

Finally, I am deeply disappointed that the Senate chose to follow the House's imprudent action to block the Department of Labor's standard to protect our nation's workers from ergonomic injuries. After more than a decade of experience and scientific study, and millions of unnecessary injuries, it is clearly time to finalize this standard.

For these reasons, as well as for others, this bill is unacceptable. I will veto this bill and any other bill that fails to provide necessary resources for education, health care, worker training and other vital initiatives. We need to work on a bipartisan basis to develop a bill that strengthens our schools, adequately funds public health priorities, addresses the needs of our nations' workers, and provides for other important national priorities while honoring our commitment to fiscal discipline.