[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book I)]
[March 22, 1995]
[Pages 381-383]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks on Signing the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995
March 22, 1995

    I thank Governor Winter for his introduction and for the fine work 
he has done as head of the Advisory Council on Intergovernmental 
Relations. I want to welcome all of you here, especially the Members of 
the Congress. The Senate's been involved in business, and I think the 
House may still be voting. Representative Towns, I'm glad you made it. 
And I thank Senator Dole for coming. I want to say a special word of 
thanks to Senator Kempthorne, who picked a great first bill to pass in 
the United States Senate; to Senator John Glenn, who was the Democratic 
floor manager of this bill; Congressman Bill Clinger, the House sponsor; 
Congresswoman Cardiss Collins, the Democratic floor manager; Congressman 
Gary Condit and Jim Moran, who both pushed this bill. And I welcome 
Governor Voinovich from Ohio here, who drew State and local governments 
together on this matter. We have many mayors here. I see Mayor Abramson 
and Mayor Daley and Mayor Lashutka. And there are representatives of the 
counties and the State legislatures here, other Members of Congress. I 
thank all of you for your work on this important piece of legislation.
    I had the privilege in 1989--he may not remember this--of having 
dinner in Chicago with Mayor Daley just a couple of weeks after he took 
office. I learned that night, somewhere be-

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tween salad and the main course, just how much Mayor Daley hated 
unfunded mandates. [Laughter] For those of you who would have been nice 
enough to let me get all the way to dessert, I welcome you here, too. 
    I share these concerns, having served as a Governor for a dozen 
years and witnessed the growth of many of the unfair burdens that 
unfunded mandates impose. Shortly after I became President, I signed an 
Executive order to prohibit Federal agencies from imposing nonstatutory 
unfunded mandates on State and local governments without full 
consultations first.
    We have a few more Members coming. Come on in. Representatives 
Peterson and Tauzin, we're glad to see you.
    This bill today extends that discipline to Congress. And I applaud 
Congress for passing it. It for the first time limits the ability of 
Congress to pass laws which impose unfunded mandates on State, county, 
local governments and tribal governments. Having been there as a 
Governor, I know this bill will make a big difference in the lives of 
our people.
    We've made important progress this year in reforming Government 
already. The Congress passed a bill which I was proud to sign which 
requires Congress to live by the laws it imposes on the private sector.
    Now this unfunded mandates law will be another model for how we have 
to continue to change the way Washington does business. The best ideas 
and the most important work that affect the public interest are often 
done a long way away from Washington. This bill is another 
acknowledgement that Washington doesn't necessarily have all the 
answers, that we have to continue to push decisionmaking down to the 
local level, and we shouldn't make the work of governing at the local 
level any harder than the circumstances of the time already ensure that 
it will be.
    The other thing that this bill shows is that Republicans and 
Democrats can come together and break gridlock and do what the American 
people expect us to do. For all of you who are part of that cooperative 
effort and especially for the Members of the Congress, I thank you.
    This is spring, and the roses are about to bloom here in the Rose 
Garden. This is a new beginning and a time for a new spirit of 
cooperation. I hope the Congress will move on from this to first pass 
the line-item veto, so we can bring more real discipline to our spending 
process, and then to pass welfare reform that promotes work and 
responsible parenting and tough child support enforcement.
    We have got to build a true partnership with the American people, 
with a Government that gets rid of what's unnecessary for today and 
tomorrow and does what we have to do in a limited but effective way. 
We're trying to do that in reducing the deficit, the size of the Federal 
Government, reducing the burden of unnecessary regulation. This bill 
will make a real start.
    Listen to this: Before 1964, the number of explicit mandates from 
the Congress on State and local governments was zero. But according to 
the National Performance Review, on the day I took office there were at 
least 172 separate pieces of legislation that impose requirements on 
State and local government. The Congressional Budget Office estimates 
the cost to States and localities of all the regulations imposed just 
between 1983 and 1990 is between $8.9 billion and $12.7 billion. After 
today, this should stop.
    This bill requires Congress to show how much mandates over $50 
million per year will cost State and local governments, to require 
Congress to identify a specific funding source for these mandates, and 
if it does not meet these criteria, Congress must explicitly waive the 
requirement that there be no unfunded mandate, something which I think 
will become increasingly rare with the passage of this law.
    You know, our Founders gave us strong, guiding principles about how 
our governments ought to work, and they trusted us in every generation 
to reinvigorate the partnership they created with such wisdom so long 
ago. For 200 years, we've had to do that over and over and over, and 
about once a generation, we had to make some really big changes in the 
way we work together as a people, citizens in their private lives, local 
governments, State governments, and our Government here in Washington.
    Today we are making history. We are working to find the right 
balance for the 21st century. We are recognizing that the pendulum had 
swung too far and that we have to rely on the initiative, the 
creativity, the determination, and the decisionmaking of people at the 
State and local level to carry much of the load for America as we move 
into the 21st century.
    This bill will help to keep the American dream alive and help to 
keep our country strong. Every Member of Congress here who voted for

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it and every one who is not here deserves the thanks of the American 
people. And all of you from all over America who are here, from the 
cities, from the county operations, from the State legislatures and 
State Governments, we are all in your debt. I thank you, and I am 
honored to sign this bill.
    Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 12:45 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White 
House. In his remarks, he referred to William Winter, former Governor of 
Mississippi; Gov. George V. Voinovich of Ohio; Mayor Jerry Abramson of 
Louisville, KY; Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago, IL; and Mayor Greg 
Lashutka of Columbus, OH. S. 1, approved March 22, was assigned Public 
Law No. 104-4.