[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book II)]
[August 5, 1995]
[Pages 1207-1208]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

The President's Radio Address
August 5, 1995

    Good morning. Today I'm at the Children's Inn at the National 
Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, with young patients and 
their families, some of whom are guests of the inn. For them, the 
Children's Inn is home while their children get well. The inn is built 
on a simple premise that even with the best doctors, medicine, and 
technology, no treatment is complete unless it includes the family.
    Children know that better than anyone, that it's their mothers and 
fathers who carry them through the tough times. And that's true for all 
of us. But we all know, too, that our families all across America are 
going through tough times today. Right now, our families are feeling 
real pressure. Too many are working harder for less. Too many are afraid 
of losing their jobs or their retirement or their health care. Too many 
live in fear that their children are exposed to violence and drugs.
    We have to do what we can to strengthen our families and to help 
them through these changing times. That's what we did with the very 
first law I signed as President, which took effect 2 years ago today. 
It's called the Family and Medical Leave Act. It could be called the 
working family protection act. Under this law, if you get sick, if your 
child gets sick, or your parent needs medical care, you can take time 
away from work without losing your job. Sometimes this time off can be 
the most important time in a family's life. It can also be the toughest 
time. But it would be a lot tougher if the family couldn't face it 
    If you know a family who's needed to use this leave, you know why 
it's so important. I know some of these families, and three of them are 
here today. Kenny Weaver, a Texas petroleum worker, took guaranteed 
leave to be with his daughter, Melissa. Diane Atwood of Little Rock, 
Arkansas, needed leave to fight her own battle with Hodgkin's disease. 
J.C. Shardo of Atlanta needed to take a leave when her brother Swartz 
needed her by his side when he became ill. Because of this law, families 
in crisis can be together, and the breadwinners need not fear they'll 
lose their jobs.
    The family and medical leave law is good for our families and it's 
good for our businesses because it allows our people to be both good 
parents or good children or good siblings and good workers. It supports 
family stability and family responsibility.
    I want to make sure that if you're eligible for guaranteed leave, 
you know about it. As many as 50 million Americans are eligible, and as 
many as 3 million people a year may need to use it. If you work in the 
public sector or in the private sector for an employer who employs 50 or 
more people, you qualify to apply for a leave of 12 weeks for family or 
medical reasons.
    The U.S. Labor Department has backed the claims of thousands of 
workers who were denied leave or fired when they tried to use this law. 
That's illegal. We'll protect your rights and the rights of your family. 
This law shows that we, as a nation, can value families through the 
choices we make together.
    We've got a lot of other family choices to make in the weeks and 
months ahead. This week the Senate finally will take up welfare reform, 
which is also all about helping people become good workers and good 
parents. We've reached agreement on requiring teen mothers to live at 
home and stay in school, requiring parents to pay the child support they 
owe or work off what they owe. Now we need a bipartisan agreement that 
requires people on welfare to work but makes sure they get the child 

[[Page 1208]]

they need to stay off welfare for good and to be good parents.
    Family values are a big part of our national budget. Two years ago, 
our national budget reduced the deficit; that's good family values. But 
we increased the number of children in Head Start, we provided for 
immunizing all our children under 2, we made college loans more 
affordable and easier to repay, we increased tax relief for working 
parents, and we increased job training. We need to build on that family 
agenda, not tear it down.
    The congressional majority seems to be determined to cut back on 
programs that advance our family values. How can you talk about family 
values in one breath and, in the next, take Head Start away from 50,000 
poor children or cut back college loans and grants for students who need 
and deserve them or cut back worker training for people who are 
unemployed? But all that happened in the House of Representatives this 
week. They call it change. I say it shortchanges America's families in 
the fight for the future. This vote is antifamily, and I won't let it 
    It's not too late to build a legacy--to build on the legacy of 
family leave. We ought to invest in education, invest in our families, 
raise the minimum wage, target tax relief to raising children and 
educating them, protect the Medicare of our seniors, and protect the 
right of people to keep their health insurance if they change jobs or if 
someone in the family gets sick. These are the kind of things that are 
worthy of the legacy of family leave. We have to work hard so that we 
know that our families will be better off, so that we can make tomorrow 
better than today for every family.
    Thanks for listening.

Note: The President spoke at 10:06 a.m. from the Children's Inn at the 
National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.