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THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release November 2, 2000
                        REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                             ON THE BUDGET

                            The Rose Garden

10:45 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Thank you. Let me begin with a word about developments in the Middle East. Last night, the parties announced that they had reached an understanding on how to end the violence based on the agreement we reached at Sharm el-Sheikh.

I hope the parties can move forward to put an end to this violence that has caused so much pain on both sides. We know it won't be easy. This morning we were reminded once again in Jerusalem that there are those who seek to destroy the peace through acts of terror. This cannot be permitted to prevail. It is now time for those who believe in peace to stand together to stop this violence and to work against the terrorists.

I wanted all of you to be here today because you've worked so hard on our priorities here at home. The Republican leadership of the 106th Congress has proven itself unable to finish its work before facing the voters. Congressional Republicans are leaving behind a legacy of unfinished business on health care, education, economic progress, and social justice. Regrettably, this is a Congress that may well be remembered for broken promises, lost opportunities and misplaced priorities.

In contrast, our administration, with congressional Democrats, put forward an achievable agenda for America and its families -- a real patients' bill of rights, expanding health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans, a raise in the minimum wage, tax cuts for education and retirement, improving our public schools, protecting our environment, strengthening Medicare with a voluntary prescription drug coverage for all seniors, and a balanced budget that pays off the debt by 2012.

We had a simple strategy to accomplish these goals -- heeding the wisdom of the American people, reaching out to win bipartisan majorities in Congress, and calling for a vote. That's putting progress over partisanship. Results should have been a strong record of legislative achievement. But time and again, rather than listening to the voices of the American people and responding to the bipartisan calls within the Congress, the Republican leadership has bowed to the demands of special interests.

On every single issue we have worked in good faith to craft compromises that were good for the American people. And when Democrats and Republicans have worked together we have actually made real progress. We won new investments for our inner cities, rural communities and Native American communities, and 79,000 new housing vouchers for families climbing their way out of poverty. We increased our investment in a clean environment and doubled our funds for land conservation. We enacted the largest one-year increase ever requested for Veterans Affairs and the largest increase in the history of the National Science Foundation. And we met our historic commitment to debt relief for developing countries.

Just last Sunday we reached bipartisan agreement on an education budget that would have been a tremendous achievement for our children. But under orders from their special interest, the Republican leadership cancelled the compromise we had reached with the Republican congressional negotiators. So unless we keep fighting, there will be no funds for school construction, no more progress toward cutting class size by hiring 100,000 new qualified teachers, no new investment in teacher quality, no new funding to strengthen accountability, turn around failing schools, double the number of children served in after-school programs. That is wrong. So we must keep working to make it right.

We built a bipartisan coalition to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid by expanding coverage for children with disabilities, Americans moving from welfare to work, and pregnant women and children who are legal immigrants. But the Republican leadership rejected these proposals in favor of a massive give-away to HMOs -- tens of billions of dollars without taking adequate care of these vulnerable populations, or adequately compensating the teaching in rural hospitals, home health agencies, and other providers who serve our people. Before this year is out, we must resolve this matter, finally and fairly.

The leadership says they didn't have time to complete the budget. But they wasted no time in blocking fair treatment for Latino immigrants, in blocking common-sense gun safety legislation, in trying to stop new worker safety rules, in filing the spending bills -- filling the spending bills they did pass with political election year pork.

One thing should be clear: the lack of progress in this Congress was not a failure of bipartisanship. On raising the minimum wage, a real patients' bill of rights, hate crimes legislation, campaign finance reform, school construction, new markets legislation for the areas still not touched by our prosperity -- on every single one of these issues we had bipartisan majorities, Republicans and Democrats, ready to pass them. But the Republican leadership and their special interest allies, unfortunately, still had the power to kill them.

It is unfortunate that their leadership failed to deliver on so much that was within our grasp. But the fight is not over. The American people expect us to finish the job they sent us here to do, and when the Republican leadership comes back after the election, I hope we are ready to work together -- and they are ready to work together -- to meet that challenge. I am ready. We've done a lot of good, but there's too much left undone; too much that a majority of both parties support.

So thanks for your efforts. Let's go out and let the American people have their say, and we'll come back and go to work after the election. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 10:52 A.M. EST