Statement by the President: Signing of the "Floyd D. Spence National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2001" (10/30/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release                            October 30, 2000

                        STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

    Today I have signed into law H.R. 4205, the "Floyd D. Spence National
Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2001," which  authorizes FY 2001
appropriations for military activities of the Department of Defense (DOD),
military construction, and defense activities of the Department of Energy
(DOE).  While I have concerns with several provisions in this Act, I have
determined that H.R. 4205 generally reflects my strong commitment to the
Nation's security.  It provides for critical national defense needs and
priorities, maintains the readiness of our Armed Forces, supports my
continued commitment to improving the quality of life for our military
personnel and their families, and allows for the modernization of our
weapons systems.

    In particular, this Act authorizes key elements of my plan to improve
military compensation, including my request for a 3.7 percent
across-the-board increase in basic pay for our Armed Forces.  I am also
pleased that the Act authorizes my request for increases in housing
allowances, which will reduce servicemembers' out-of-pocket expenses.  In
providing service members with a supplemental subsistence allowance, H.R.
4205 begins to address the concern the Congress and I share with regard to
servicemembers.  In addition, the bill provides military retirees access to
prescription drugs with low out-of-pocket costs, a significant benefit.  I
strongly support enactment of the Administration's prescription drug
benefit for all Medicare retirees through the Medicare program.  As
prescription drugs play an increasingly important role in health care, it
is imperative that our seniors have prescription drug coverage.  Finally,
the Act provides comprehensive health care coverage to military retirees
over the age of 65.  Although I am concerned that the Congress fails to
deal fully with the high, long-term cost of this new benefit, I am pleased
overall with the way the Act supports individuals, who dedicated so much to
the service of our country.

    I am also pleased that the Act supports my request for key programs to
continue modernizing our military forces and reaffirms the $60 billion in
overall procurement funding I requested to meet the recommendation of the
1997 Quadrennial Defense Review.  I am encouraged that the Act includes
funding for the Navy's LPD-17 Amphibious Ship, DD-21 (the next-generation
destroyer), the F/A-18 E/F, the Air Force's F-22 tactical fighter aircraft,
the Joint Strike Fighter, and support for the Army's transformation effort.
These programs are critical to ensuring our Nation's military superiority
into the 21st century.  I am disappointed, however, that the Congress has
again failed to support my proposal to authorize two additional rounds of
base closure and realignment.  The Department of Defense's base
infrastructure is far too large for its military forces and must be reduced
if the Department is to obtain adequate appropriations for readiness and
modernization requirements during the next decade.

    I am pleased that the bill includes a program to compensate individuals
who have suffered disabling and potentially fatal illnesses as a result of
their work in the Department of Energy's nuclear weapons complex.  My
Administration has advocated
compensating these workers for their heroic sacrifices in a manner that is
fair, science-based, and workable, and I commend  those in the Congress and
in my Administration who have worked tirelessly toward this goal.  The
passage of this legislation is very encouraging and, while there are
constitutional concerns with this provision that I will interpret as
advisory, I recog-nize that much work will need to be done to ensure that
this program is successfully implemented so that these workers can be fully
and fairly compensated for their sacrifices.

    I am also pleased that the conferees included a provision transferring
a majority of Naval Oil Shale Reserve No. 2 to the Ute Indian Tribe in
Utah, and providing for cleanup of a former uranium mill tailings site near
Moab, Utah, on the Colorado River.  About 84,000 acres would be returned to
the Ute Indian Tribe.

    H.R. 4205 also enacts provisions of the Directives I issued regarding
the Navy range on Vieques, Puerto Rico.  The Directives reflect an
agreement with the Government of Puerto Rico that meets local concerns and
enables our military personnel to resume training at Vieques.  Like the
agreement, the Act, most importantly, provides that the residents will
determine through a referendum whether there will be any training at
Vieques beyond that which is critical to the readiness of the Navy and the
Marine Corps to conduct at Vieques.  This is training with nonexplosive
ordnance for no more than 90 days per year through May 1, 2003.  In
addition to $40 million for projects to address the residents? current
concerns related to the training, if they decide to allow the Navy to
extend it, the Act authorizes $50 million to provide benefits typically
enjoyed by residents in the vicinity of important military installations.

    The Act, additionally, requires the Navy to relinquish ownership of
land not used for training.  But, different from the agreement, it would
have some of this land transferred to the Interior Department rather than
local ownership and set a deadline for the transfer of May 1, 2001, rather
than December 31, 2000.  Further, if the Viequenses vote for all training
to end, it requires the Navy to relinquish the land used for training, but
would have most of that land transferred to Interior rather than the
General Services Administration for disposal.  These variations are
relatively minor, but they are neither justifiable nor prudent.  They are
not justifiable because Interior and Puerto Rico would together manage the
land not used for training that requires protection under either the Act or
the agreement.  Further, if the people of Vieques vote for all training to
end May 1, 2003, there is no known reason why the Federal Government would
want to continue to maintain most of the land used for training.  The
changes are not prudent because they resurrect a basic part of the issue
that had largely been put to rest by the agreement -- the military's
credibility on Vieques
community matters.  We are, therefore, submitting legislation to further
transfer the land at issue to Puerto Rican ownership or to GSA for disposal
as is appropriate.  And the Navy will transfer the land that the Act
already would transfer to local ownership by December 31.

    I am concerned with two provisions of H.R. 4205 relating to the
Department of Energy.  First, the Act would limit to 3 years the term of
office for the first person appointed to the position of Under Secretary
for Nuclear Security at the Department of Energy and would restrict the
President's ability to remove that official to cases of "inefficiency,
neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office."  Particularly in light of the
sensitive duties assigned to this officer in the area of national security,
I understand the phrase "neglect of duty" to include, among other things, a
failure to comply with the lawful directives or policies of the President.

    Second, I am deeply disappointed that the Congress has taken upon
itself to set greatly increased polygraph requirements that are unrealistic
in scope, impractical in execution, and that would be strongly
counterproductive in their impact on our national security.  The bill also
micromanages the Secretary of Energy's authority to grant temporary waivers
to the polygraph requirement in a potentially damaging way, by explicitly
directing him not to consider the scientific vitality of DOE laboratories.
This directs the Secretary not to do his job, since maintaining the
scientific vitality of DOE national laboratories is essential to our
national security and is one of the Secretary?s most important
responsibilities.  I am therefore signing the bill with the understanding
that it cannot supersede the Secretary's responsibility to fulfill his
national security obligations.

    I am disappointed that the Congress did not fund the chemical weapon
destruction facility in Shchuch'ye, Russia.  It is vital to U.S. security
and nonproliferation interests to work
with Russia to eliminate the 5,450 tons of modern, nerve agent munitions at
this site.  I urge the Congress to restore funding for this critical threat
reduction program next year.

    My Administration has worked hard to modernize our export controls and
protect our national security while strengthening the global
competitiveness of our high tech companies.  Through our efforts, U.S.
companies have been allowed to export computers that do not pose a threat
to our national security.  That is why I asked the Congress to reduce the
congressional review period required from 180 to 30 days before I can
adjust the notification threshold for high performance computer exports.
Although the bill makes an adjustment that is an improvement from the
status quo (60 days, but excluding time when the Congress has adjourned
sine die), this notification period is still too long.  Neither U.S.
national security nor the global competitiveness of U.S. companies will be
well served by such delays.

    The Act also would require the Department of Defense to contract only
with U.S. air carriers that participate in the Civil Reserve Air Fleet
program for the transportation abroad of passengers and property.  This
provision would limit the ability of the executive branch, including DOD,
to use the narrow authority in current law to waive Fly America
restrictions on international transport of U.S. Government passengers and
pro-perty in cases where the United States receives "rights or benefits of
similar magnitude."  It could also impair the executive branch's ability to
open foreign aviation markets, thus denying economic benefits to U.S.
airlines, communities and consumers.  My Administration strongly opposed
this provision and favors its repeal.

    I am disappointed that the conferees did not include hate crimes
legislation in this Act.  The hate crimes legislation would have enhanced
the Federal Government's ability to prosecute violent crimes motivated by
race, color, religion, or national origin, and would have authorized
Federal prosecution of crimes
motivated by a victim's sexual orientation, gender, or disability.  I will
continue to fight for this important legislation, and urge Congress to
enact it before it adjourns.

    The Act also raises other constitutional concerns.  The constitutional
separation of powers does not allow for a single Member of Congress to
direct executive branch officers to take specified action through means
other than duly enacted legislation.  Thus, I will instruct the Secretaries
concerned to treat congressional members' requests for the review and
determination of proposals for posthumous or honorary promotions
or appointments as precatory rather than mandatory.  Another provision
establishes a Board of Governors for the Civil Air Patrol.  Insofar as this
Board is an office of the Federal Government exercising significant
authority, the provision for the appointment of the Board's members would
raise concerns under the Appointments Clause.  Accordingly, I will instruct
the Secretary of the Air Force, in issuing the regulations authorized by
this provision, to retain a degree of control over the Board that
appropriately limits its authority.  Finally, because the Constitution
vests in the President the authority and responsibility to conduct the
foreign and diplomatic relations of the United States, the Congress cannot
purport to direct the executive branch to enter into an agreement with
another country, and thus I will treat such language as advisory only.

    With respect to Government Information Security Reform, the Act directs
the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to delegate certain
security policy and oversight authorities to the Secretary of Defense, the
Director of Central Intelligence, and another agency head.  The policies,
programs, and procedures established by the Secretary of Defense, the
Director of Central Intelligence, and other agency heads will remain
subject to the approval of and oversight by the President and by offices
within the Executive Office of the President in a manner consistent with
existing law and policy.

    Finally, I have serious concerns with several personnel provisions.
One provision of this Act requires the Secretary of Defense to authorize a
pilot program for the resolution of equal employment opportunity complaints
of civilian employees of the Department of Defense that waives procedural
requirements of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Eliminating these procedural safeguards could leave civilian employees
without important means to ensure the protection of their civil rights.
Therefore, I am directing the Secretary of Defense to personally approve
any pilot program, and that the Secretary approve no more than 3 pilot
programs, 1 in a military department and 2 in Defense agencies.  In order
to assure that participation by civilian employees is truly voluntary, I am
directing that the pilots provide that complaining parties may opt out of
participa-tion in the pilot at any time.  Finally, I am directing that the
Secretary submit an assessment of the pilots, together with the underlying
data, to the EEOC within 180 days of the completion of the 3-year pilot

    I am also troubled by a provision affecting personnel demonstration
projects that could undermine the merit system principles and might result
in adverse budgetary consequences.  I am, therefore, directing the
Department of Defense to work with the Office of Personnel Management to
resolve these issues before developing any plan to implement this new

    Notwithstanding these concerns, I have signed this Act because it
demonstrates this Nation's commitment to the readi-ness and well-being of
our Armed Forces and provides for a modernization effort that will ensure
the acquisition of weapon systems with the technologies necessary to meet
the challenges of this new century.

                             WILLIAM J. CLINTON

    October 30, 2000.

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