PRESIDENT CLINTON: CONGRESS PREPARING TO LEAVE TOWN WITHOUT PASSING AN
EDUCATION BUDGET & ADDRESSING UNFINISHED BUSINESS FOR AMERICA
November 2, 2000
Today, as Congress prepares to leave until after the election, President
Clinton will express his concern that Congress has chosen to leave town
without finishing its work for the American people. He will emphasize
his continuing commitment to work with Congress whenever it returns.
Since the beginning of September, President Clinton has signed 12
continuing resolutions to extend Congress's budget deadline.
Nonetheless, Congress has been unwilling or unable to finish its work.
Just this week, it retreated from an agreement on the education budget
and six of the 13 budget bills still are not yet law. When Republicans
have worked with the Administration and congressional Democrats, we have
made progress. Working together, we have passed bills for veterans,
housing, agriculture, transportation, and foreign operations; permanent
normal trade relations with China; the Older Americans Act; the Ryan
White CARE Act, and other important legislation.
CONGRESS WILL LEAVE UNFINISHED BUSINESS BEHIND. Despite bipartisan
agreement on many important issues, Congress has not finished a budget
or acted on other significant priorities for the American people.
Today, Congress is leaving without having acted on many of President
Clinton's key proposals.
CONGRESS HAS NOT PASSED AN EDUCATION BUDGET THAT INVESTS MORE IN
AND DEMANDS MORE FROM AMERICA'S SCHOOLS. Earlier this week, the
Clinton-Gore Administration had reached consensus with Republican
members of the appropriations and education committees that focus on our
children . However, this landmark achievement in education is now in
jeopardy. Congressional leaders backed away from the agreement after
special interests objected to an unrelated provision regarding
repetitive stress injuries in the workplace. If important education
initiatives continue to be funded by continuing resolutions, rather than
by the bipartisan agreement renounced by the Republican leadership,
Nearly 70,000 low-income children will be denied the opportunity to
participate in Head Start in preparation for a lifetime of learning;
Nearly 650,000 children will be denied smaller classes;
School districts will not receive $1 billion to make urgently needed
repairs to school facilities;
About 850,000 children will be denied safe, enriching after-school
Nearly 15,000 school districts will not receive $250 million to
improve teacher quality and help put a qualified teacher in every
Children in low-performing schools would be denied the benefits of
stronger accountability and an additional $116 million investment in
proven measures to increase achievement;
Over 6 million special education students would be denied an
additional $1.6 billion in federal help;
About 600,000 disadvantaged students would be unable to participate
in the GEAR UP college preparation initiative; and
Nearly 4 million needy college students would receive smaller Pell
grant scholarships because the maximum award will not increase from
$3,300 to $3,800.
CONGRESS HAS NOT WORKED FOR COMMON GROUND ON TAX CUTS FOR
MIDDLE-CLASS FAMILIES. President Clinton has repeatedly called for
bipartisan negotiations on tax legislation. Last week, the President
proposed a compromise package that reflected the priorities of both
parties. Nonetheless, Congress moved forward with a bill that ignores
key priorities for America and is now leaving town before finishing its
work. As a result, the following pieces of legislation are unresolved:
Bipartisan Proposals to Improve Long-Term Care and Health Care
Coverage. The Republican leadership turned its back on a bipartisan
proposal, which was endorsed by the President, to couple his $3,000 tax
credit for people with long-term care needs or their caregivers with the
Republican deduction for private long-term care insurance premiums with
appropriate consumer protections. This initiative, which was endorsed
by both AARP and the Health Insurance Association of America, was
rejected and replaced by a regressive tax exemption that provides
low-income families with half the benefit of the credit. Similarly, the
Republican tax bill maintains the deduction for individual health
insurance premiums and rejected the President's proposal to convert it
to a more equitable refundable tax credit with appropriate insurance
reforms. It also failed to incorporate the bipartisan FamilyCare plan
that would efficiently and effectively expand affordable health
insurance to over 4 million uninsured parents.
Build and Modernize 6,000 Schools. President Clinton has urged
Congress to pass the Nancy Johnson-Charles Rangel legislation to create
$25 billion in school modernization bonds. That important bill has 231
sponsors, a bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives. House
leaders have consistently prevented a vote on Representatives Johnson
and Rangel's effort to add school modernization bonds to the Education
Savings and School Excellence Act (H.R. 7). President Clinton has also
urged Congress to pass legislation for tribal bonds to fund construction
of schools serving Native Americans.
New Markets and Renewal Communities. The bipartisan agreement
between the President and Speaker Hastert would spur business investment
in our nation's economically distressed urban and rural communities.
During this time of unparalleled prosperity, we should make sure that no
community is left behind.
CONGRESS HAS NOT RAISED THE MINIMUM WAGE. In his 1998 State of the
Union Address, the President called for raising the minimum wage by $1
over two years to help more than 10 million workers make ends meet. At
a time when we are experiencing the longest economic expansion in
history, the proposed $1 increase would return the real value of the
minimum wage to the level it was in 1982. Full-time workers would
receive an annual raise of about $2,000 a year, enough to pay for nearly
seven months of groceries or five months of rent. So far, Republican
delay on this legislation has cost minimum wage workers over $1,000.
Over the opposition of Republican leaders, the House passed a $1
increase in the minimum wage by a 282-143 vote on March 9, 2000, with 78
Republicans supporting the measure.
In the Senate, a clean measure to increase the minimum wage over two
years had the support of four Republicans, but failed in a close vote on
November 9, 1999. So far, Senate Republican leaders have refused
reasonable compromises that would allow the minimum wage to pass.
CONGRESS HAS NOT PROVIDED LONG-OVERDUE PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFIT
FOR MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES. Three out of five Medicare beneficiaries
have inadequate or no prescription drug coverage. The President has
proposed a voluntary, affordable Medicare prescription drug benefit for
all beneficiaries. In addition, he proposed to make Medicare more
efficient and competitive, to protect the Medicare surplus from being
spent on tax cuts and other priorities, and to add resources to the
Trust Fund, extending its life through 2030. The Republican Congress
failed to act on any of these policies.
CONGRESS HAS NOT PASSED A MEANINGFUL PATIENTS' BILL OF RIGHTS. A
bipartisan majority in both houses of Congress supports a strong,
enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights, similar to the bipartisan
Norwood-Dingell plan that passed the House overwhelmingly by a vote of
275-151 over a year ago. However, the Senate Republican leadership
continues to support an alternative that leaves over 135 million people
without protections and doesn't assure that plans are held accountable
when they make decisions that harm patients.
On October 7, 1999, a bipartisan coalition led by Reps. Charlie
Norwood (R-GA) and John Dingell (D-MI) and including 68 Republicans won
passage of the Patients' Bill of Rights Act in the House.
On July 15, 1999, the Senate passed weaker legislation that covered
only one-third as many Americans in HMOs. It rejected a stronger
version on June 8, 2000, despite the support of four Republican
senators. With the addition of Democratic Senator Zell Miller from
Georgia, a majority of both the House and Senate now supports the
More than a year after the House passed its bill, the conference
committee has still not delivered strong bipartisan legislation.
Speaker Hastert originally appointed conferees who opposed the bill and
delayed conference committee action until this year.
CONGRESS HAS NOT PASSED BIPARTISAN MEDICARE / MEDICAID PLAN. The
Republican leadership dedicated 43 percent of its ten-year spending to
unjustifiably large HMO payment increases with no meaningful
accountability provisions. At the same time, it rejected affordable,
bipartisan policies to expand coverage to vulnerable populations like
uninsured children, children with disabilities, people moving from
welfare to work, legal immigrants, and low-income elderly. Despite the
bipartisan support from 78 senators, the Republican leadership plan
excludes a new Medicaid buy-in option for children with disabilities
that would ensure that families do not have to choose between work and
health care for their children. It rejected beneficiary proposals
passed unanimously by the House Commerce Committee that would extend
health insurance to legal immigrant children and pregnant women, improve
Medicaid enrollment of uninsured children and low-income seniors, and
waive the waiting period for Medicare for people with Lou Gehrig's
Disease. The Republican leadership bill also ignored vulnerable
provider provisions including more resources for rural providers,
teaching hospitals, home health providers, and others.
CONGRESS HAS NOT ENACTED COMMON-SENSE GUN SAFETY PROTECTIONS.
Despite a series of tragic shootings -- in our nation's schools, places
of worship, day care centers, and workplaces -- Congress has stalled
passage of common-sense gun safety legislation that passed in the Senate
for over one year. During this time period, more than 30,000 Americans,
including 10 children per day, lost their lives in gunfire. Congress
should save lives by passing sensible gun safety measures to: close the
gun show loophole; require child safety locks for handguns; ban the
importation of large capacity ammunition clips; and bar violent
juveniles from owning guns for life.
CONGRESS HAS NOT PASSED HATE CRIMES LEGISLATION. There is no
justification for failing to pass hate crimes legislation this year,
which would enhance the Federal government's ability to prosecute
violent crimes motivated by race, color, religion, or national origin
and would authorize Federal prosecution of crimes motivated by sexual
orientation, gender, or disability. There have been strong bipartisan
votes in both the House and Senate on expanded hate crime legislation:
On June 20, 2000, the Senate added hate crimes legislation to the
Department of Defense authorization bill by a 57-42 vote, with the
support of 13 Republicans.
On September 13, 2000, the House voted to retain hate crimes in that
bill, 232-192 with 41 Republicans.
However, Republican leaders stripped hate crimes before sending the
Defense bill to the President.
CONGRESS HAS NOT REFORMED THE CAMPAIGN FINANCE SYSTEM. This year,
the Congress failed once again to adopt comprehensive, meaningful reform
of our campaign finance system. In July, the President signed modest
but important reporting requirements to stop interest groups from using
special "527" tax-exempt status to hide their political spending, and he
called on Congress to continue working in a bipartisan fashion to pass
comprehensive campaign finance reform. Unfortunately, Congressional
leaders failed to take the next step. The American people want
meaningful campaign finance reform, and the Congress should not stand in
On September 10, 1999, the House passed the bipartisan Shays-Meehan
reform plan with the support of 54 Republicans.
The Senate version of that bill has six Republican sponsors,
including Senator John McCain. A majority of senators support it, but
they haven't been allowed a clean vote. The Senate has not debated the
bill in over a year.
CONGRESS HAS NOT COMPLETED ITS WORK ON NATIONAL SERVICE. In July,
the Senate health, education, labor and pensions committee passed a
bipartisan national service reauthorization bill, the Jeffords-Kennedy
National and Community Service Amendments Act of 2000. Forty-nine of
the 50 governors wrote the Republican leadership to urge them to pass
the reauthorization of AmeriCorps and other critical national service
programs this year. General Colin Powell has continually advocated for
Congress to reauthorize this critical bill that provides opportunities
for young people to serve their communities. However, the Republican
leadership did not bring the bill to a vote, thus refusing to reaffirm
and strengthen our nation's commitment to national service and build on
the far-reaching benefits of the national service program.
CONGRESS HAS NOT INSISTED ON FAIRNESS FOR IMMIGRANTS. The
President is committed to fairness for immigrants who have been in this
country for years, working hard and paying taxes, by enacting
legislation addressing injustices under our immigration laws and
restoring critical nutrition assistance and health benefits for legal
immigrants. Despite bipartisan support for these proposals, the
Republican leadership proposal simply does not go far enough to address
these injustices and does nothing to restore critical benefits for legal
CONGRESS HAS NOT PROTECTED CIVIL RIGHTS AND WORK FOR EQUAL PAY.
President Clinton requested a 13 percent increase to improve civil
rights enforcement, bringing the federal commitment to more than $1
billion per year. This initiative provides resources for stepped-up
civil rights enforcement, education and outreach at the Departments of
Justice, Education, Health and Human Services, Labor, and Housing and