THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
Immediate Release October 31, 2000
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
The South Lawn
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, or good afternoon. We are now a full
month past the end of the fiscal year, and just a week before election day.
Congress still hasn't finished its work.
There is still no education budget. There is still no increase in the
minimum wage. There is still no Patients Bill of Rights or Hate Crimes
Bill, or meaningful tax relief for middle class Americans; even though all
these measures have strong bipartisan support in the country and in the
Today, I want to talk about an appropriations bill that Congress did
pass. The Treasury-Postal Bill funds these two departments, as well as the
operations of Congress and the White House. Last night, I had no choice
but to veto that legislation. I cannot in good conscience sign a bill that
funds the operations of Congress and the White House before funding our
Simply put, we should take care of our children before we take care of
ourselves. That's a fundamental American value, one that all parents
strive to fulfill. I hope the congressional leadership will do the same.
We can, and we will, fund a budget for Congress, but first let us take care
of the children.
Investing more in our schools and demanding more from them,
modernizing old schools, building new ones, reducing class size, hiring
more and better trained teachers, expanding after school programs and
turning around failing schools. With the largest student enrollment in
history the education budget should be our first priority. Yet it seems to
be the last thing on the minds of the Republican leadership.
Just two days ago we were on the verge of making bipartisan progress
with a landmark budget for children's education. We thought we had a
good-faith agreement with honorable compromises on both sides. That was
before the special interest weighed in with the Republican leadership. And
when they did the Republican leadership killed the Education Bill; a
careful agreement that both Democratic and Republican congressional leaders
As I have said repeatedly, the path to progress is one we have to walk
together. We have shown we can do it. Let me say again, a bipartisan
coalition stands ready to pass an education budget, to raise the minimum
wage, to pass a patients' bill of rights, a hate crimes bill and a tax bill
that is good for children, families, seniors and small business, and
millions of Americans without health coverage.
So again, I ask the Republican leadership to set aside partisanship,
go back to negotiations, reach honorable compromise. The final week of the
election season is a perfect time to recall the basic bargain of our
democracy. It's the American people who sent us here; it's our obligation
to meet their priorities. So let's roll up our sleeves, get back to work
and get back to work and finish the work we were sent here to do.
Q Mr. President, congressional Republicans assert that there was an
arrangement, an understanding with the Treasury-Postal Bill and the
Transportation Bill that, when they agreed to place more money in the IRS
fund at the specific request of the White House, there was an understanding
that you would then sign the Treasury-Postal Bill and there would be no
questions asked about this underlying pay raise issue.
A spokesman for the Speaker's office said, and I'm quoting here, sir,
"He lied. Bill Clinton's word has less value than a dollar bill in the
Weimar Republic." Would you care to comment, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it's just not true. Nobody ever asked me and I
didn't do it. And I believe that was only reported one place today. It
just didn't happen.
I talked to our people about it and they said, quite to the contrary,
even though we negotiated over the Treasury-Postal Bill and I would gladly
sign it, as I said, if they would pass the Education Bill, we in fact asked
them not to send it down here because, among other things, it had a very
low priority tax cut in it for them -- not just for me, but for them.
Because we thought it would be wrong for them to take care of themselves
and for us to take care of ourselves here without taking care of the
children of the country.
So we, in fact, implored them not to send that bill down here. Mr.
Podesta and the rest of my staff just told me that today. And they have
assured me -- I got my senior staff together -- they have assured me no one
on the White House staff pledged to sign that bill.
So, you know, that's not so. But what is true is the headline that is
in The Washington Post this morning. The Republicans and the Democrats
negotiated in good faith, and both wanted this education bill. There was a
big majority for this in both houses of Congress. But the leadership of
the Republican Party killed it because of the lobbyists on K Street. Now,
that's what happened. And it's not right. And we ought to go back to the
agreement that was made.
You know, wherever we work together and we get majorities of both
houses and both parties we do fine. It is the leadership of the other
party in Congress and its excessive sensitivity to the special interests
that have kept so many of these things from passing. Why in the world
could you justify not passing a hate crimes bill, for example, when a
majority of both houses is for it? You've got plain bipartisan majority.
I think we all know the answer to that.
So, look, we've still got time to do this and we ought to do it. I'll
do my best to do it. There is no point in getting upset and name calling.
Facts are facts. One fact is indisputable, that we had a process set up,
there was an agreement reached, the hard working Republicans and Democrats
worked until 2:30 in the morning and they showed up with the agreement and
their leaders wrecked it. They said, "But our special interests won't like
this. I'm sorry." Now, those are the facts. And they are indisputable.
We just need to go back to work here and calm down and do what's
Q Mr. President, the Latino Immigration Fairness Act consists of
three major provisions, my question is: Are you going to fight for all
three of them? And your people -- and I think you may have said it
yourself, would veto the State Commerce and Justice Provision Bill if it
did not contain the Latino Immigration Fairness Act?
THE PRESIDENT: I feel very strongly about that. As I said, the
leadership of the Republican Party is against it because they say --
apparently they think they made a mistake with the Cuban and Nicaraguan
immigrants and they don't want to make the same mistake with the others.
I think they did the right thing with them and should do the right
thing by the other immigrants. That's what I think. So we're fighting for
it and we'll see.
But I just want -- I want to start these negotiations again and get
back to work. I think that's the important thing. And I didn't have any
choice to do what I did last night. I didn't want to do it but, you know,
we just cannot run the Congress in a way that says we can have an
agreement, we can put our kids first, we can put the Republicans and
Democrats together and then the leadership of the Republican Congress can
just say, I'm sorry, our interest groups don't like this, they won't accept
it, and so never mind what happens to the 52 million kids that are out
there in our schools.
We just can't do that. And that's the real story here. It's an
astonishing development here, after all we've been through these last six
years, to see this happening again. And it's very sad and I hope we can
get by it in the next eight days -- seven days.
Thank you very much.
12:53 P.M. EST