[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1997, Book II)]
[October 27, 1997]
[Pages 1437-1438]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Statement on Signing the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and 
Urban Development, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act, 1998
October 27, 1997

    I have signed into law today H.R. 2158, the ``Departments of 
Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, and Independent 
Agencies Appropriations Act, 1998.''
    This Act will fund vital environmental, veterans, housing, community 
development, space, and science programs. Specifically, it provides 
funding for the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban 
Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National 
Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, 
and several other agencies.
    The Act funds a number of my Administration's high priorities, 
including the Corporation for National and Community Service and the 
Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) fund. National 
Service gives young people the opportunity to obtain funded for a 
college education while serving the country in areas of great need, such 
as the environment, public safety, and human services. While the 
Congress did not fully meet my request for America Reads within National 
Service, there are funds to give additional tutors the opportunity to 
help young students in their community. Funding for CDFI will increase 
the flow of capital to distressed neighborhoods and their currently 
underserved low-income residents, and provide financing for neighborhood 
redevelopment and revitalization efforts.
    The Act provides $7.4 billion for the EPA, which will enable the 
agency to adequately enforce our environmental laws. I am pleased that 
H.R. 2158 fully funds my request for the Drinking Water State Revolving 
Fund, adequately funds the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, and 
provides an advance appropriation for Superfund, the EPA's major program 
that ensures the continued cleanup of hazardous waste sites. I am, 
however, concerned about reductions to the 1998 requested levels for 
Superfund, the U.S. Climate Change Action Plan, the Montreal Protocol 
efforts to prevent ozone layer depletion, and EPA's right-to-know 
programs. These reductions impede our ability to clean up 900 Superfund 
sites by the year 2000, hamper our ability to meet our international 
commitments on climate change and ozone depletion,

[[Page 1438]]

and deprive our citizens of needed environmental information.
    The Act provides $24 billion in funding for the Department of 
Housing and Urban Development (HUD), including full funding for my 
request to renew expiring Section 8 contracts, thus assuring 
continuation of HUD rental subsidies for low-income tenants in privately 
owned housing. Funding is also provided for programs such as the HOME 
Investment Partnership program, Community Development Block Grants, and 
HOPE VI for severely distressed public housing. I am pleased that the 
bill continues to support States and cities through these vital economic 
development programs. The Act also funds my request for Brownfields 
redevelopment, an initiative to redevelop abandoned sites and return 
them to productive uses and thereby help communities revitalize these 
areas. The Act also fully funds my requests for Homeless Assistance 
Grants and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS, and provides 
funding, although not my full request, for antidiscrimination efforts, 
including the Fair Housing Initiatives program.
    The Act contains a major initiative to reduce the costs of Section 8 
contract renewals for FHA-insured properties. The Act recognizes the 
gravity of the situation and provides HUD with many new tools. At the 
same time, I am concerned that provisions within the Act could limit 
FHA's ability to design efficient partnerships, increasing costs to the 
FHA insurance fund, and could restrict opportunities for assisted 
tenants to use portable vouchers to seek out the housing that best meets 
their particular needs. I am also concerned that there is no direct and 
explicit solution for the tax consequences that threaten the 
restructuring process.
    The Act fully funds my request of $17.6 billion for the medical care 
of this Nation's veterans and contains my requested user fee proposal, 
funded at $0.6 billion. This new revenue source gives the Department of 
Veterans Affairs the incentive to improve its collections while ensuring 
more control over its future viability as a health-care provider.
    Unfortunately, the Act also eliminates funding for the U.S. Office 
of Consumer Affairs, which has served Presidents of both parties over 
three decades. I will work to ensure that a consumer voice is maintained 
from existing agency resources.

                                                      William J. Clinton

The White House,

October 27, 1997.

Note: H.R. 2158, approved October 27, was assigned Public Law No. 105-