Statement by the President: Signing of the "Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2001" (10/23/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release                           October 23, 2000

                        STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

     I am pleased to sign into law today H.R. 4475, the "Department of
Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2001."  The Act
provides over $58 billion in funding for the Nation's vital transportation
safety and infrastructure investment needs.  The transportation safety
improvements contained in this legislation will save lives on our highways
and other transportation systems, and the record level of infrastructure
investment will help improve the conditions and performance of the Nation?s
transportation system in support of a strong economy.

     The legislation provides critical transportation safety funding and
also contains related legislative provisions.  Of particular importance is
a provision that will help set a national impaired driving standard at 0.08
Blood Alcohol Content  and thus reduce drunk driving on our Nation's roads.
As I have previously said, this is a reasonable, commonsense standard that
could save 500 lives a year, while still permitting adults to drink
responsibly and moderately.  I wish to commend Senators Lautenberg and
Shelby, Congressman Wolf, and Congresswoman Lowey for their bipartisan
efforts in seeking inclusion of this provision.  The legislation also
includes a compromise measure that will enable the Department of
Transportation to proceed with all stages of rulemaking, short of a final
rule, on "hours of service" concerning the amount of time drivers of large
interstate trucks and buses can spend behind the wheel.  It also permits
the Department to move forward with its proposal for rollover ratings on
cars and light trucks while the National Academy of Sciences studies this
issue.  In addition, the legis-lation contains funding increases requested
by my Administration for motor carrier safety, pipeline safety, and the
automotive defect investigation program.

     I am pleased that H.R. 4475 provides the funding levels required by
the Federal Aviation Administration and the Coast Guard.  I am particularly
pleased with increased funding for modernization of our aviation system
envisioned in the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for
the 21st Century.

     I am disturbed by the provision of H.R. 4475 that blocks the
Department of Transportation from evaluating the Corporate Average Fuel
Economy (CAFE) standards.  Recent data indicate that motor vehicle fuel
economy efficiency has declined.  I believe that the Department should be
allowed to analyze this issue, and I expect the Department to work with the
National Academy of Sciences to carry out the CAFE study authorized by the
bill to develop workable approaches to energy conservation.  The Act
provides important funding for Job Access grants that will help
hard-pressed working families, including former welfare recipients, get to
work.  I am disappointed, however, that the bill provides $50 million less
than our request for these grants, earmarks 75 percent of the program, and
does not include my Administration?s proposal to allow Native American
tribes to apply directly for this funding.

     I am pleased that H.R. 4475 contains $600 million for the Woodrow
Wilson Bridge.  When added to the $900 million already appropriated, this
will complete the Federal Government?s contribution to this bridge.
Likewise, I am pleased that the bill includes an additional $25 million for
Indian Reservation Roads.

     Our transportation investment must continue to be intermodal and
applied to critical needs.  Excessive earmarking can undermine this goal,
which is why I am disappointed with the widespread earmarking of vital
highway, airport, and transit construction and research programs contained
in the Act.  This earmarking is without regard to criteria established to
ensure that these are sound investments.  Many earmarks are aimed at
projects that have not advanced in the local planning process, and the
funding will often lie unused for a long period of time.  This deprives
ready-to-go projects of needed Federal assistance.  I ask the House and
Senate Appropriations Committees to work with
the Department of Transportation to see that essential projects that can
quickly utilize Federal funding are able to move forward.

     I am pleased that H.R. 4475 includes additional requested resources
for the Internal Revenue Service to implement the bipartisan IRS reform
legislation enacted in 1998.  The Act also responds to my request for
additional resources for counterterrorism programs in the Department of the
Treasury, thereby enhancing the Federal Government?s efforts to deter and
detect terrorist activity and to continue the high level of effort
undertaken during Millennium celebration events.

     I am pleased that H.R. 4475 includes funding the Unanticipated Needs
account, which can be used by the President to meet needs in furtherance of
the national interest, security, or defense.  I am especially pleased this
account includes the funding I sought to assist the people of Puerto Rico
in deciding their islands' future status, an issue that the Puerto Ricans
have long asked us to clarify.  Other Presidents and I have sought
legislative action, and there has been some, but this is the first piece of
legislation passed by both Houses of Congress that supports Puerto Rico
choosing its future status.  The account also provides funds to educate
Puerto Ricans on the available options, relying on the Office of the
President to ensure the options presented to the voters are realistic in
light of the Constitution and the basic laws and policies of the United
States.  Once the options have been presented, the account also funds a
vote by the Puerto Rican people to choose what their status should be.  I
am already working to clarify the options, and I am also working to ensure
that the next President will continue the effort to resolve this issue.

     I also note that language purporting to require congressional
committee approval for a plan to spend certain funds is unconstitutional
under the Supreme Court's holding in INS v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919 (1983).
In addition, section 347 purports to restrict the contents and form of the
President?s budgetary proposal.  This provision would interfere with the
President?s constitutional power to recommend legislation and will
accordingly be construed as advisory.

     Overall, H.R. 4475 makes a positive contribution to meeting the
transportation and other needs of this country.  I am pleased to sign it
into law.

                              WILLIAM J. CLINTON

    October 23, 2000.

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