Statement by the President: Department of Defense Appropriations Act (8/9/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release                             August 9, 2000

                        STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

     Today I have signed into law H.R. 4576, the "Department of Defense
Appropriations Act, FY 2001."  The bill approves funds to cover the
Department?s most critical needs, consistent with my request that reflected
my strong commitment to our Nation?s security.  Our high military readiness
must remain our top national security priority.

     H.R. 4576 provides funding for all critical Defense activities -- pay
and other quality of life programs, readiness, and weapons modernization.
The bill fully funds key compensation initiatives, including my request for
a 3.7 percent pay increase for military personnel.  I am pleased that the
conferees agreed to provide full funding for a new pharmacy benefit for
military retirees over the age of 65.  This funding will ensure that those
who dedicated their lives to military service benefit from comprehensive
prescription drug coverage.  I urge the Congress to provide a similar
benefit to all retirees through the Medicare program.  Additionally, the
bill funds my requests for training, spare parts, equipment maintenance,
and base operations -- all items essential to military readiness.

     I am also pleased that H.R. 4576 fully funds key moderni-zation
programs such as the F-22 fighter aircraft, the CVN-77 Nuclear Aircraft
Carrier, and National Missile Defense.  Finally, Public Law 106-246, the
Emergency Supplemental Act, FY 2000, repealed provisions that were
contained in the 1997 bipartisan budget agreement that would have shifted
certain VA and SSI payments from FY 2000 to FY 2001.  I am pleased that the
bill does not reverse the repeal of these provisions and thus ensures that
recipients will receive their payments on time.

     Unfortunately, H.R. 4576 goes beyond what is necessary, providing
funding for a host of unrequested programs at the expense of other core
Government activities.  It provides $287.5 billion in discretionary budget
authority for programs funded by this bill.  This funding level is $3.2
billion above
my request, and $17.5 billion above the FY 2000 enacted level.  My budget
correctly addressed our most important FY 2001 military needs.
Additionally, while the bill, in its entirety, provides sufficient funds to
meet known contingency operations costs for FY 2001, it resorts to an
emergency funding technique to meet the Appropriations Subcommittee
allocation; it includes about $1.8 billion of standard operation and
maintenance funding, which was requested in the FY 2001 Budget on a
nonemergency basis, as  FY 2000 emergency supplemental funding, of which
$1.1 billion will be used to forward fund FY 2001 contingency operations in
Kosovo, Bosnia, and Southwest Asia.  Moreover, half of the funding for the
pharmacy benefits for military retirees over the age of 65 is designated as
an emergency.

     Regrettably, the bill also denies or reduces the necessary funds for
key programs included in my request.  The resulting cuts are troubling.  I
am disappointed that the bill does not fund the chemical weapons
destruction facility at Shchuch?ye, Russia, which is vital to our security
and international nonproliferation efforts.  The significant cuts in the
bill to both our Cooperative Threat Reduction Defense and Military Contacts
program and the Partnership for Peace program will noticeably undermine
these initiatives.  I am also concerned that the bill makes reductions to
my request for the Joint Strike Fighter and LPD-17 amphibious ship program.

     Lastly, the bill does not fund the $324 million a year required for
wage credits to Social Security for certain military, nontaxable income.  I
urge the Congress to adopt legislation I proposed, which would eliminate
the requirement for the payments.

     While I am disappointed that the Congress has funded FY 2001
activities through FY 2000 emergency funds -- an approach that should not
be repeated -- I will designate as emergency require-ments the FY 2000
funds in the Act that the Congress has so designated.

     I have signed this bill because, on balance, it demonstrates our
commitment to the military, meets our obligations to the troops, maintains
readiness, and funds modernization efforts that will ensure our
technological edge in the 21st Century.

                                   WILLIAM J. CLINTON

    August 9, 2000.

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