THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
Today I am signing into law H.R. 4942, the Departments of Commerce, Justice, State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2001. I commend the Congress for approving a bill that provides critical funding for enforcing our Nation's laws, protecting our precious natural resources, promoting international peace, and supporting our diplomatic operations.
Many portions of the Act are considerably improved compared to the previous House and Senate versions. I appreciate and commend the Congress for the many changes that have been made, including providing additional funding to finance the Lands Legacy program; to improve the health of our Nation's ocean fisheries; to help close the digital divide between our more and less affluent citizens; to improve trade compliance; to prosecute local firearms violations; to toughen our Nation's stance against cybercrime and terrorism; to provide additional law enforcement assistance to Native Americans; to fund peace-keeping requirements; and to improve worldwide embassy security.
I applaud the Congress for providing over $430 million for the Department of Commerce's components of the Lands Legacy Initiative. This funding will help protect marine sanctuaries; support the new Northwestern Hawaiian Coral Reef Reserve and restore other coral reefs; expand estuarine research reserves; and promote recovery of Pacific coastal salmon runs through grants to western States and Tribes. The Act fully funds activities for the Pacific Salmon Agreement with Canada at $60 million and for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) work on Columbia River Basin salmon populations. Acceptable funding is also provided for a new climate observation initiative, a new education program with Minority Serving Institutions, and two smaller programs: Global Observations to Benefit the Environment and the Global Disaster Information Network.
The Act takes an important step toward closing the digital divide by providing the requested tripling of funding for the Technology Opportunities Program. This program will provide grants to promote innovative applications of information technology in under-served communities.
I am pleased that over $1.0 billion is provided for the COPS II/21st Century Policing initiative, the successor to the highly effective Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, which will enable local police departments to begin a five-year plan to hire up to 50,000 additional community police officers, hire new community prosecutors, and expand community-based prevention efforts. While the appropriated funding level is still below my original request, it is $444 million above the FY 2000 level, and will enable the COPS II program to fund almost 6,000 new officers in FY 2001.
The Act provides almost $100 million for the Department of Justice's counterterrorism and cybercrime initiatives. This funding level will allow for improved efforts to meet the growing challenges of terrorism and cybercrime, including State and local first-responder training, staff support for the Joint Terrorism Task Forces and enhanced technology and intelligence-gathering along the northern border. The Department of Justice's components of the Gun Enforcement Initiative are funded at $103 million. This appropriation will support over 600 Federal, State and local gun prosecutors, and increase research on smart gun technologies. The Indian Country Law Enforcement initiative is funded at $111 million. This funding, which is $19 million above the FY 2000 level, will allow the Department of Justice to assist tribes in hiring and equipping law enforcement personnel, constructing detention and court facilities, and developing alternative sentencing programs for alcohol and substance abusers.
I am pleased that the Act provides $4.7 billion for the regular operations of the Department of State, including diplomatic and consular programs; information technology investments; and, building leases, maintenance and repair. These funds will pay for support costs critical to maintaining the Department's network of overseas posts and the conduct of foreign affairs worldwide. The funded increases include expanded efforts to promote trade compliance and enhance labor and environmental monitoring. Funding for embassy security and construction also includes requested support for projects of the Agency for International Development. The Act also provides full funding for the Administration's pilot program to allow unclassified communication and sharing of information for all U.S. Government agencies operating at an overseas post, as recommended by the Overseas Presence Advisory Panel.
The Act also provides $846 million for Contributions to International Peacekeeping Activities. Funding at this level will allow the United States to continue to support vital UN peacekeeping operations, including ongoing missions in Kosovo, East Timor, Ethiopia/Eritrea and Sierra Leone.
I am also pleased that the Act provides $17 million for the Departments of Commerce and State and the United States Trade Representative to help ensure U.S. companies and workers receive the full benefits from the WTO and other bilateral agreements signed by the United States. This funding will help to put experts overseas to deal with compliance issues that continue to hinder fair access to markets, double staff focused on China and Japan, and strengthen antidumping/countervailing duty investigation capabilities.
I am pleased that H.R. 4577, the Consolidated Appropriations bill, modifies immigration provisions included in this Act, and that the modified legislation will ease immigration restric-tions on an estimated 700,000 immigrant families living in the United States. The provisions will extend section 245(i) until April 30, 2001, as opposed to January 14, 1998, under current law, to allow aliens (and their spouses and children) who apply for an adjustment of status or a labor certification to remain in the United States until such petition is approved. Additionally, the provisions will create a new, temporary non-immigrant visa for spouses and children of spouses of legal permanent residents and U.S. citizens seeking to enter the United States to await approval of legal permanent resident status for themselves (the "V" visa). The provisions will also allow certain individuals who were not granted amnesty under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 who are currently seeking such relief through the courts to apply for permanent residency. While I am disappointed that the legislation fails to eliminate the disparate treatment under our immigration laws sought for Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Hondurans, Haitians, and Liberians and does not provide any relief for deserving individuals affected by changes in the 1996 immigration law, it is the best compromise that could be reached after several rounds of intense negotiations.
I am also pleased that the Consolidated Appropriations bill, once signed, will eliminate an objectionable provision in the Commerce/Justice/State Act that purports to protect citizens from the unauthorized sale or display of social security numbers but would not, in fact, provide privacy safeguards that are adequate.
Although the funding levels in this Act are acceptable, I am troubled that several issues could not be resolved despite my Administration's best efforts during the final negotiations on the Act. Notably, the Act does not include new hate crimes protections, and fails to extend the Violent Crime Reduction Trust Fund. I strongly urge the next Congress to reconsider these actions in future legislation.
In addition, this bill greatly restricts low-power FM radio broadcast. Low power radio stations are an important tool in fostering diversity on the airwaves through community-based programming. I am deeply disappointed that Congress chose to restrict the voice of our nation's churches, schools, civic organizations and community groups. I commend the FCC for giving a voice to the voiceless and I urge the Commission to go forward in licensing as many stations as possible consistent with the limitations imposed by Congress.
I also oppose language in the Act related to the Kyoto Protocol. The language is inappropriate because the Administration has no intent of implementing the Protocol prior to congressional ratification. The Act includes an additional number of provisions regarding the conduct of foreign affairs that raise serious constitutional concerns. My Administration's objections to these and other language provisions have been made clear in previous statements of Administration policy. I direct the agencies to construe these provisions to be consistent with the President's constitutional prerogatives and responsibilities and where such a construction is not possible, to treat them as not interfering with those prerogatives and responsibilities.
Finally, section 629 of the Act amends the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 to include within the definition of the term "interstate off-track wager," pari-mutuel wagers on horseraces that are placed or transmitted from individuals in one State via the telephone or other electronic media and accepted by an off-track betting system in the same or another State. The Department of Justice, however, does not view this provision as codifying the legality of common pool wagering and interstate account wagering even where such wagering is legal in the various States involved for horseracing, nor does the Department view the provision as repealing or amending existing criminal statutes that may be applicable to such activity, in particular, sections 1084, 1952, and 1955 of Title 18, United States Code.
Several essential modifications to this bill are contained in H.R. 4577, the Consolidated Appropriations bill. I am signing H.R. 4942 into law today because I believe the Act, as modified by H.R. 4577, will meet the overall needs and priorities of the American people. I urge the next Congress and my successor to continue to promote the needs of the American citizenry by pursuing resolution to the troublesome issues I have highlighted above.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
THE WHITE HOUSE, December 21, 2000. # # #