THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release October 30, 2000
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON THE BUDGET
Outside the Oval Office
4:52 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. This morning I had planned on
coming here this afternoon to share good news about bipartisan progress on
the budget. Our team worked all weekend and late, late into the night last
night, indeed, into the early morning hours, to fashion a good-faith
agreement with compromises on both sides that provided for the largest
increased investment ever in the education of our children. We thought we
had that agreement.
But instead of honoring it, the Republican leadership came back
this afternoon and ripped it apart. Why? Because some special interest
lobbyists insisted on it. They've insisted on a provision that would
undermine the health and safety of millions of workers.
Six hundred thousand people lose time from work each year because
of repetitive stress injuries on the job. Injuries that cost American
businesses about $50 billion a year. Our proposal would save these
businesses $9 billion a year and save 300,000 workers the pain and
suffering associated with the injuries. That's the cashier at the
neighborhood grocery store; the office worker who works on a keyboard eight
hours a day; the nursing home worker who cares for our seniors.
Once again the Republican leadership has let the whispers of the
special interests drown out the voices of the American people. Families
should not have to choose between worker safety and their children's
We were on the verge of passing a landmark education bill, to
hire highly-qualified teachers to reduce class size in the early grades, to
repair and modernize crumbling schools, to expand after-school programs,
invest in teacher quality and strengthen accountability to turn around
failing schools. With the largest student enrollment in history, this
budget would have honored our obligation to our children by investing more
in our schools and demanding more from them.
If we could get this agreement, it would be a great bipartisan
achievement. It was negotiated until the early morning hours by those
authorized by the leaders in both parties to negotiate the agreement. But
the Republican leadership is on the verge of abandoning it, to put special
interests ahead of the children's education. That is a mistake.
But make no mistake, this is not about a lack of bipartisanship.
By working long and hard, we have reached a bipartisan consensus on the
education bill. We also have bipartisan agreement on campaign finance
reform, hate crimes legislation, raising the minimum wage, the patients'
bill of rights -- all being blocked by the Republican leadership. Congress
is now 30 days into the new fiscal year without a budget. As I have often
said, there is a right and a wrong way to conduct budget negotiations.
When we have worked together, we have unfailingly made progress. When
there is a genuine spirit of cooperation and compromise, we can accomplish
great things for our people.
Last week, we came together with a forward-looking bill to fund
our veterans and housing programs. Saturday, I signed legislation to fund
our agriculture programs and provide vital assistance to farmers, ranchers
and rural communities. These bills didn't have everything I wanted. They
had some things I opposed. But we can't make the perfect the enemy of good
progress. On balance, the bills were good for the American people; they
were negotiated in good faith and I signed them.
There is still more work to be done on education and on other
priorities. We need to make headway on strengthening Medicare, providing
needed resources to teaching hospitals, rural hospitals, home health
agencies and other providers, not just to HMOs.
I also believe we can have a tax bill that meets the test of
fairness to children, seniors, millions of Americans without health
coverage and small business. Instead of meeting that test, or even meeting
with us, the Republican leadership has crafted their own partisan tax
package and passed it on a largely party line vote.
Again, we have accomplished so much in this session of Congress
in a bipartisan fashion. It has been one of the most productive sessions.
But the most important legislation is still out there -- the education of
our children. Plus the opportunity to raise the minimum wage, pass the New
Markets legislation, and provide needed tax relief, as well as to provide
fairness to our immigrants and invest in the health care of our people.
I hope we can do this. It's not too late, and we can still work
together to make an agreement. But it has to be one for the people and not
the special interests. Thank you.
Q So what's the next step, sir? The election is a week and a
day away -- what do you do next?
THE PRESIDENT: I don't know. They were up until 2:30 a.m. in
the morning and I came in this morning, they said we had an agreement;
Senator Harkin called me absolutely ecstatic about the agreement. We had a
good-faith compromise on this rule on labor stress injuries which would
have allowed us to proceed, but would have delayed enforcement until the
next election, so if they win and they want to reassess the worker safety
thing, they'd have the opportunity to do it. But otherwise it would go
into effect. It was an honorable compromise. The Republicans and the
Democrats agreed on it, and then the Republican leadership blew it up.
That's all I can tell you.
And when you look at what's been done in this bill for education,
the idea that the bill would be wrecked over this is unbelievable to me.
Q Mr. President, anything new on the Latino immigration
fairness act? Is there any progress, or is that completely stopped?
THE PRESIDENT: No -- well, we've made some progress, but it's
not nearly what we think ought to be done, and we're continuing to work on
it. I think, frankly, what happens to it depends on whether we can get
agreement on the larger bill. There are lots of provisions in there; we're
working on it.
Q -- spending bill?
THE PRESIDENT: I haven't decided yet. The bill itself is all
right, but there's something that strikes me as a little wrong in taking
care of the Congress and the White House when we haven't taken care of the
American people. I just haven't decided what to do about it yet.
Q Mr. President, why do you think Congress, congressional
Republicans should apologize to the country about impeachment?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I have nothing to say about
that except I was promised faithfully that that interview would be done,
released after the election, and I believed it. And the only thing I can
say is I doubt if you've read the whole interview, or you wouldn't have
asked the question in that way, and I would just urge the American people,
if they're hearing all this talk, to read exactly what was said. But I
don't think it's appropriate for me to discuss any of this until I'm doing
the wrap-up on my administration. Right now I think the American people
should be focused on this election.
Q Mr. President, you've had some discussions today about the
Oregon assisted suicide law. Would you sign a tax or spending bill that
would block that Oregon law?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know, I don't support assisted suicide,
but the people of Oregon did. My concern, frankly, right now is whether
the bill, as written, would have a chilling effect on doctors writing
medication for pain relief on terminally-ill patients. And I'm concerned,
therefore, about the way it's worded.
You don't want to -- whatever your opinions about assisted
suicide and whether the people ought to have a right to vote on it in a
given state, we certainly don't want to do anything that would in any way
undermine the willingness of physicians to write pain relief medication for
fear they'll later be prosecuted if the patient dies.
So I'm a little -- I'm concerned about that, and I know Senator
Wyden is filibustering the bill and maybe we'll work that out, too, before
this is over. I hope we can.
Q Do you now believe that Yemen will give American
investigators all the access they need to witnesses and suspects in the USS
Cole investigation, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: I hope so. They were just great, the Yemenis
were, in the beginning of this, the first phase of this work. And I think
-- there have been difficulties now, I think not because they don't want to
find out who did it, but perhaps because they are worried about having
America deploy more resources in Yemen to do the investigation that they
are. I think they feel comfortable that they can do it.
But what I argued to President Salih was that we ought to have a
genuine joint investigation -- that we have FBI people working with folks
all over the world, in all different kinds of countries. When the
embassies were blown up in Africa, and both the nations involved, Kenya and
Tanzania, we worked very closely with the local law enforcement officials
and we conducted a genuine joint operation.
We had quite a long discussion about it, the President and I did,
on Saturday, I believe. And I hope that we can work it out, because I do
believe that they want to know who did it and I know that we have to find
out who did it. There are some promising leads out there, we just need to
get on it as quickly as possible because the problem in these things is
that the trail can get cold. So all I can tell you is we're working very
hard and I'm quite hopeful.
Q -- going to California, which other states do you intend to
visit during the last days of the campaign?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I'm not sure yet. We're working on a
number of different options, and I want to do whatever will be most
helpful. I know I'll go back to New York once. But I don't know what else
we're going to do. We're working it out, and I think, really, since I'm
not involved in the day-to-day operations, don't have access to the latest
polls and all that, I -- except indirectly -- I think that that's a call
others have to make. But we'll make a decision and do the best we can.
Q Mr. President, --
Q -- going to do?
THE PRESIDENT: Finish the business here. That's the most
important thing. We've got to finish our business here. You know, I'm
just sure that we have bipartisan agreement not only on the Education-Labor
bill, but in these other areas we can get it if the pressure from the
interest groups on the leadership of the majority party in Congress don't
thwart it. So we've just got to keep working at it, and that's what I
intend to do.
END 5:03 P.M. EST