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October 22, 1998

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We have to remember that on the things that really count, whether it's cancer research, or saving Social Security, or educating our children, this country needs to be united. This country needs to be reconciled to one another -- all of us -- across all the lines that divide us.

-- President Bill Clinton

An Agenda That Supports And Honors America's Families. Yesterday, President Clinton signed a budget bill that reflects the priorities of our nation and helps ensure that we continue to prosper. The President fought for and won key agreements on education, the environment, aid to farmers, and full funding for the IMF. In addition, as we close the books on the first budget surplus in a generation, the budget agreement honors the President's commitment to save the budget surplus until Social Security is reformed for the 21st Century, allowing the President and Congress to start making important decisions on how to ensure the solvency of Social Security for years to come.

An Education Agenda For The 21st Century. The President fought for legislation that will ensure that our children receive a first-class education in safe classrooms with well-prepared teachers:

  • Encouraging States To Open More Charter Schools. Today, the President signed legislation keeping us on track to 3,000 charter schools by the turn of the century. These schools allow for innovation while demanding accountability and can serve as a model of how we can best strengthen our public schools;
  • More High-Quality Teachers With Smaller Classes. The President fought for and won funding to begin hiring 100,000 new, well-prepared teachers to help reduce class size in grades 1-3 to a national average of 18;
  • Expanding Educational Technology. This year's budget includes a 20 percent increase for educational technology to ensure that every child has access to computers, the Internet, high-quality educational software, and teachers that can use technology effectively in the classroom.

Protecting Our Environment And Public Health. President Clinton won significant new investments to protect our environment and defeated anti-environmental "riders" that would have rolled back protections already in place:

  • Clean, Safe Water For America. A 16 percent increase in funding for the President's Clean Water Action Plan to help clean-up the 40 percent of surveyed waterways that are still too polluted for swimming and fishing;
  • Preserving Precious Lands. Additional funding to acquire dozens of natural and historic sites around the country;
  • Leading The Fight Against Global Warming. Increased funding to support research investments that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, oil consumption, and energy costs for consumers and businesses by promoting increased energy efficiency and clean energy technology;
  • Defending Our Environment Against Stealth Attacks. The President forced Congress to drop special-interest riders that would have: forced overcutting of timber in national forests, blocked common-sense actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, hindered salmon restoration in the Pacific Northwest, denied municipalities the funds they need to undertake clean-up efforts at brownfield sites, and carved the first road ever through designated wilderness.

Responding To The Farm Crisis At Home, Meeting Our Responsibilities Abroad. The President fought for additional funding to help America's farmers and the final budget includes a significant increase in total emergency assistance to farmers and ranchers, including additional funds for crop and economic loss compensation. Although America's fiscal house is in order, some nations around the world are experiencing economic upheaval, hurting our exports, farmers, and ranchers. The President fought for and won full funding for the International Monetary Fund, a critical part of his strategy to help address the global financial crisis and keep our economy strong.

The Next Congress Must Put Progress Ahead Of Partisanship. On too many issues, Congress' failure to act has affected our families. President Clinton is calling on the next Congress to work with him to pass: (1) targeted, fully paid for, tax cuts to build or modernize 5,000 schools; (2) a Patients' Bill of Rights, to extend important medical protections; (3) legislation to crack down on teen smoking; (4) an increase in the minimum wage; (5) campaign finance reform; and (6) legislation to make child care more affordable for working families.

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