[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book I)]
[January 23, 1995]
[Pages 73-74]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks on Signing the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995
January 23, 1995

    Good morning, everyone. I'm delighted to be joined this morning by 
Senator Nickles, Senator Ford, Senator Lieberman, Senator Grassley, and 
Senator Glenn and by Congressman Armey, Congressman Fazio, Congressman 
Shays, Congressman Gutknecht, and also by former Congressman Dick Swett 
and former Speaker Foley, who were instrumental in supporting this 
legislation in the previous session of the Congress where it passed the 
House but not the Senate.
    Let me say that I am extremely pleased, and I think the American 
people are extremely pleased, that we are beginning the new year with a 
reform that requires Congress to live under the laws it imposes on the 
American people. I'm encouraged that we've begun this year with the 
White House and Congress, with Republicans and Democrats working 
together on a reform that has long been needed.
    Most Americans are actually surprised when they learn that some of 
our most basic laws don't apply to Congress and their staffs. This 
legislation ensures that we'll change that. It guarantees that the 
cafeteria workers and the police who work in Congress and who help 
millions of tourists every year will have the same rights as all 
Americans do to a safe environment, to collective bargaining, to civil 
rights protection.
    It does something else that's very important. Over the years, 
Washington has too often isolated itself from the everyday experience of 
ordinary Americans. It's become remote from the consequences of the 
actions Congress takes. I want to end this. Congress clearly wants to 
end this. Now when Congress passes a law, it will immediately know the 
consequences of the law if it affects private employers as well.
    This will help us reconnect Government to the lives of ordinary 
Americans. That's why I supported this change when I ran for President 
and why I have supported it as President. It will help us to do what we 
must do to continue to fight to bring a reality check to Washington. 
That's why I worked to cut the White House staff, to eliminate the 
executive dining rooms, to cut back the widespread use of Government 
limousines, to reduce the deficit, to shrink the Federal bureaucracy to 
its smallest size in 30 years.
    I'll admit that last year when this reform didn't pass I was 
disappointed. But I am very happy today. I want to thank all the 
Senators who are here, Senators Lieberman, Glenn, and Grassley, Senator 
Nickles, for what they all did. I thank Congressman Shays and 
Congressman Hoyer, who is not here, and the other Members of the House 
for all the work that they did. And again I say, I thank those who 
worked on this last year when it passed the House.
    Already this year, Congress has enacted other important reforms, 
like reducing the staff and the number of committees. I want to 
congratulate the Members of Congress on these steps and, in particular, 
Majority Leader Dole and

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Speaker Gingrich, the Senate Democratic leader, Tom Daschle, and the 
House Democratic leader, Dick Gephardt.
    These changes I hope are the beginning of something that will 
continue for the next several years. We must use this impetus to make 
much deeper changes in the culture of Washington that has too often 
disconnected it from ordinary Americans. The American people, for 
example, know that lobbyists frequently get access to Congress they can 
never hope to get. They know the voices of special interests still 
sometimes ring too loud. They know too much of what goes on here goes on 
behind closed doors. Congress should ban the practice of gifts and meals 
and travels and entertainment from lobbyists. It should pass the 
strongest possible version of the line-item veto, lobby disclosure 
reform, and real comprehensive campaign finance reform.
    I want to discuss these matters in detail tomorrow evening, but this 
is a job we must finish. This bill demonstrates the common resolve of 
people here that those in power should not lose touch with those who 
sent them here. Now we've got to go on. We must make this system more 
open, more fair, and less elitist. That's the goal we all share. I look 
forward to working with all of the Members here and all the Members of 
the Congress in both parties to achieve that goal.
    Now I want to get on with signing the bill.

Note: The President spoke at 10 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White 
House. S. 2, approved January 23, was assigned Public Law No. 104-1.