| REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP BLOCKS BIPARTISAN ACTION |
| ON AMERICA?S PRIORITIES |
| October 31, 2000 |
Today, President Clinton will call on Congress to put progress above
partisanship and address America?s priorities. Although a bipartisan
consensus exists on education and other important issues, Republican
leaders have stood in the way. One month of the new fiscal year has
passed, and Congress has not completed its work on the 2001 budget. When
Republicans have worked with the Administration and congressional
Democrats, we have made progress. Together we have passed bills for
veterans, housing, agriculture, transportation, and foreign operations;
permanent normal trade relations with China; the Older Americans Act; the
Ryan White CARE Act, and other important legislation.
THIS YEAR, REPUBLICAN LEADERS HAVE BLOCKED BIPARTISAN EFFORTS TO:
? INVEST MORE IN AND DEMAND MORE FROM AMERICA?S SCHOOLS. In February,
President Clinton and Vice President Gore sent Congress a balanced
and fiscally responsible budget that makes investments in key education
priorities and strengthens accountability for results. However,
Republican leaders have stood in the way of progress for America?s
? A Record $7.5 Billion Investment in Education. The Clinton-Gore
Administration had reached consensus with Republican members
of the appropriations and education committees on a landmark education
budget. The agreement provided important increases in federal
education spending, including the first-ever national emergency school
repair initiative, smaller classes with qualified teachers,
tougher accountability for failing schools, and a $1.6 billion increase in
support for special education through IDEA State Grants. It also
included funding to help put a qualified teacher in every classroom
and enhance teacher quality through professional development,
recruitment, and retention; after-school funding to serve 1.5
million children; and a $500 increase in the maximum Pell grant for
low-income students, bringing the maximum grant to $3,800 a
year. However, the Republican leadership abandoned that agreement when
special interests objected to an unrelated provision regarding
workplace repetitive stress injuries.
? School Construction. President Clinton has urged Congress to
pass the Nancy Johnson-Charles Rangel school
modernization bond legislation that has 231 sponsors, a bipartisan majority
of the House of Representatives. House leaders have
consistently prevented a vote on Representatives Johnson and Rangel?s
effort to add school modernization bonds to the Education Savings
and School Excellence Act (H.R. 7). President Clinton has also urged
Congress to pass legislation for tribal bonds to fund
construction of schools serving Native Americans.
? RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE. In his 1998 State of the Union Address, the
President called for raising the minimum wage by $1 over two years to
help more than 10 million workers make ends meet. At a time when we are
experiencing the longest economic expansion in history, the proposed
$1 increase would return the real value of the minimum wage to the level it
was in 1982. Full-time workers would receive an annual raise of
about $2,000 a year, enough to pay for nearly seven months of groceries or
five months of rent. So far, Republican delay on this
legislation has cost minimum wage workers over $1,000.
? Over the opposition of Republican leaders, the House passed a $1
increase in the minimum wage by a 282-143 vote on March 9, 2000,
with 78 Republicans supporting the measure.
? In the Senate, a clean measure to increase the minimum wage over
two years had the support of four Republicans, but failed in a
close vote on November 9, 1999. So far, Senate Republican leaders have
refused reasonable compromises that would allow the minimum wage to
? PASS A MEANINGFUL PATIENTS? BILL OF RIGHTS. A bipartisan majority in
both houses of Congress supports a strong, enforceable Patients' Bill of
Rights, similar to the bipartisan Norwood-Dingell plan that passed the
House overwhelmingly by a vote of 275-151 over a year ago. However, the
Senate Republican leadership continues to support an alternative that
leaves over 135 million people without protections and doesn?t assure
that health plans are held accountable when they make decisions that harm
? On October 7, 1999, a bipartisan coalition led by Reps. Charlie
Norwood (R-GA) and John Dingell (D-MI) and including 68
Republicans won passage of the Patients? Bill of Rights Act in the House.
? On July 15, 1999, the Senate passed weaker legislation that
covered only one-third as many Americans in HMOs. It rejected a
stronger version on June 8, 2000, despite the support of four Republican
senators. With the addition of Democratic Senator Zell
Miller from Georgia, a majority of both the House and Senate now supports
the Dingell-Norwood plan.
? More than a year after the House passed its bill, the conference
committee has still not delivered strong bipartisan legislation.
Speaker Hastert originally appointed conferees who opposed the bill and
delayed conference committee action until this year.
? PASS HATE CRIMES LEGISLATION. There is no justification for failing
to pass hate crimes legislation this year, which would enhance the
Federal government's ability to prosecute violent crimes motivated by race,
color, religion, or national origin and would authorize Federal
prosecution of crimes motivated by sexual orientation, gender, or
disability. There have been strong bipartisan votes in both the
House and Senate on expanded hate crime legislation:
? On June 20, 2000, the Senate added hate crimes legislation to the
Department of Defense authorization bill by a 57-42 vote, with
the support of 13 Republicans.
? On September 13, 2000, the House voted to retain hate crimes in
that bill, 232-192 with 41 Republicans.
? However, Republican leaders stripped hate crimes before sending
the Defense bill to the President.
? PASS COMPREHENSIVE CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM. This year, the Congress
failed once again to adopt comprehensive, meaningful reform
of our campaign finance system. In July, the President signed modest but
important reporting requirements to stop interest groups from
using special ?527? tax-exempt status to hide their political spending, and
he called on Congress to continue working in a bipartisan fashion to
pass comprehensive campaign finance reform. Unfortunately, Congressional
leaders failed to take the next step. The American people want
meaningful campaign finance reform, and the Congress should not
stand in their way.
? On September 10, 1999, the House passed the bipartisan
Shays-Meehan reform plan with the support of 54 Republicans.
? The Senate version of that bill has six Republican sponsors,
including Senator John McCain. A majority of the Senate supports
it, but the leadership has prevented a clean vote. The Senate has not
debated the bill in over a year.
? EXPAND HEALTH COVERAGE TO VULNERABLE POPULATIONS. Despite broad
bipartisan support, the Republican leadership continues to reject new
health insurance coverage options for populations such as children with
disabilities, Americans moving from welfare to work, and pregnant
women and children who are legal immigrants. The Family Opportunity Act,
which already has 77 co-sponsors in the Senate, would provide a new
Medicaid buy-in option for children with disabilities who would otherwise
lose their Medicaid coverage because their parents lose
eligibility when they go back to work. The welfare-to-work, legal
immigrant, and children?s enrollment provisions have unanimously
passed the House Commerce Committee.
? COMPLETE ITS WORK ON NATIONAL SERVICE. In July, the Senate health,
education, labor and pensions committee passed a bipartisan
national service reauthorization bill, the Jeffords-Kennedy National and
Community Service Amendments Act of 2000. Forty-nine of the 50
governors wrote the Republican leadership to urge them to pass the
reauthorization of AmeriCorps and other critical national service
programs this year. General Colin Powell has continually advocated for
Congress to reauthorize this critical bill that provides
opportunities for young people to serve their communities. However, the
Republican leadership has not brought the bill to a vote thus
refusing to reaffirm and strengthen our nation?s commitment to national
service and build on the far-reaching benefits of the national
? INSIST ON FAIRNESS FOR IMMIGRANTS. The President is committed to
fairness for immigrants who have been in this country for years,
working hard and paying taxes, by enacting legislation addressing
injustices under our immigration laws and restoring critical
nutrition assistance and health benefits for legal immigrants. Despite
bipartisan support for these proposals, the Republican leadership
proposal simply does not go far enough to address these injustices and does
nothing to restore critical benefits for legal immigrants.