President Clinton Calls on Congress to Get the Job Done
Today, in his weekly radio address, President Clinton will call on Congress to complete its work and send him a fiscally responsible budget that pays down the debt while investing in America's key priorities -- especially the education of our children. The President signed the fourth stop gap spending bill yesterday, three weeks into the new fiscal year and after Congress failed to meet another budget deadline. The President will challenge the Republican leadership to come back next week and produce a responsible budget that invests in key education initiatives, such as helping communities build new schools and repair old ones; improving after-school opportunities; reducing class size; strengthening accountability and turning around failing schools; and putting a qualified teacher in every classroom. He will also call on the Republican leadership to finish its work for the American people on other priorities, including passing tax cuts targeted toward working families, an affordable prescription drug benefit for all Medicare beneficiaries, a meaningful Patients' Bill of Rights, a minimum wage increase, hate crimes legislation, equal pay for women, and fairness for immigrants. If Congress fails to complete its work by next Wednesday -- the day the current stop-gap funding measure expires -- the President has stated that he will grant additional extensions one day at a time to ensure that Congress stays in town and completes its business for the American people.
MAKING CRITICAL INVESTMENTS IN EDUCATION. In February, President Clinton and Vice President Gore sent Congress a balanced and fiscally responsible budget that makes investments in key education initiatives. Three weeks into the fiscal year, the President has signed four continuing resolutions to extend the time Congress needs to complete the budget. In particular, Congress is still not committed to completing its work on education, and is now neglecting America's priorities and loading spending bills with election-year, earmarked projects for special interests. The Republican budget fails to:
- Guarantee funding for urgent school repairs. President Clinton's plan includes $1.3 billion to help school districts repair roofs, heating and cooling systems, and electrical wiring. The Republican plan would not dedicate funds to these purposes, and could deny much-needed renovations at up to 5,000 schools.
- Fund new School Modernization Bonds. The Republican plan would not dedicate funds to help communities build and modernize up to 6,000 schools, while the President's budget would support $25 billion in bonds for that effort.
- Improve After-School Opportunities. The Republican plan is $400 million less than the President's budget and denies funding for more than 3,000 centers that would provide after-school and summer programs to more than one million children.
- Secure funding for class-size reduction. The Republican plan fails to dedicate $1.75 billion to help school districts hire 20,000 new teachers and support the 29,000 teachers already hired under the Class Size Reduction initiative, potentially denying smaller classes to 2.9 million children.
- Provide sufficient resources to improve teacher quality. The Republican plan, which provides $527 million less than the President's teacher quality proposal, fails to fully support teacher professional development, recruitment, and rewards, and does not help ensure a qualified teacher in every classroom.
- Help turn around failing schools. The Republican plan denies funding for the Accountability Fund -- $250 million below the President's budget -- denying resources to states and school districts to turn around low-performing schools and hold them accountable for results.
CALLING ON CONGRESS TO FOCUS ON AMERICA'S PRIORITIES. The Republican leadership has proposed a budget that threatens our nation's well-being by failing to pass targeted tax cuts for working families, an affordable prescription drug benefit for all Medicare beneficiaries, a meaningful Patients' Bill of Rights, hate crimes legislation, equal pay for women, and fairness to immigrants. Congress also has made virtually no progress toward passing a minimum wage increase, despite a commitment from Speaker Hastert to do so. President Clinton will call on members of Congress to do their job by securing investments in America's priorities before returning to their districts to campaign for re-election.