[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[March 14, 1998]
[Pages 376-377]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

The President's Radio Address
March 14, 1998

    Good morning. This is a time of great promise for America, and it 
should be a time of great achievement as we work to strengthen our 
Nation for the 21st century.
    There are only 68 work days remaining in the congressional session. 
Yet, we still have a lot of work to do: maintaining fiscal discipline by 
setting aside any budget surplus until we save Social Security first, 
protecting our children with comprehensive tobacco legislation, 
strengthening families with the Patients' Bill of Rights and child care 
legislation, honoring our parents by letting more people buy into 
Medicare, improving education with higher standards and smaller classes 
and more funds to build and repair schools, preserving our environment 
with a new clean water initiative and incentives to have new 
technologies meet the challenge of global warming.
    This is a full agenda for the future of our Nation. But we must act 
now--not over the next 68 days but right now, in the next several days--
to advance our security around the world and rebuild communities hit by 
natural disasters here at home.
    I have asked Congress for an emergency bill to fund these pressing 
security and natural disaster needs. Here's what's at stake. The measure 
will pay for the deployment of America's Armed Forces in and around the 
Persian Gulf. Our Armed Forces must stand watch to make sure Saddam Hussein allows inspectors to detect and destroy 
his capacity for nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. As long as 
Saddam Hussein continues to pose a threat, we must remain vigilant.
    The measure would also pay our longstanding debt to the United 
Nations at a time when that organization continues to play a critical 
role in forcing Iraq to yield and in supporting peace and progress 
throughout the world. I don't think any American believes that America 
shouldn't pay its dues to the U.N.
    The emergency measure will also support the brave men and women of 
our Armed Forces as they continue to help democracy and peace take root 
in Bosnia. It will promote our national economic security as well, 
supporting the International Monetary Fund as it reduces the harm to 
America's economy from the financial turmoil in Asia.
    Perhaps most important of all, we need emergency action to help 
millions of families whose lives have been turned upside down by the 
natural disasters in the winter of 1998. Communities in California, New 
England, Florida, and Guam have seen flooding, ice, mudslides, and the 
savage force of El Nino. I visited with many of these families; I've 
seen how hard they're struggling. Our national community must help them. 
This emergency measure will rebuild roads, repair military bases, 
prevent future flooding, help family farmers, and help families in 

[[Page 377]]

    Now, these emergency measures are vital to the national interest. 
They have broad bipartisan support. But unfortunately, some in Congress 
are preparing to slip unrelated, controversial provisions into the bill, 
proposals guaranteed to produce gridlock and delay. One provision is a 
controversial issue related to family planning. Another would even block 
the Federal Communications Commission from offering candidates free TV 
air time which would cut the cost of campaigns and reduce special 
interest influence. Now, it's bad enough that Congress won't pass 
campaign financial reform; now some in Congress want to stamp it out 
anywhere it sees it.
    These unrelated issues, whatever side you have on them, absolutely 
have no place on emergency legislation. Congress shouldn't hold 
emergency aid for families hostage to controversial provisions. Congress 
shouldn't demand ransom to maintain America's world leadership and meet 
America's responsibility to our own national security.
    Last year, when Congress tried to attach partisan measures to 
similar disaster legislation, I said, no. Congress would be unwise to 
head down that same road again. Instead, let's work together to enact a 
straightforward emergency measure. No unacceptable provisions, no 
political gimmicks. Let's work together to meet the long-term needs of 
our families, our economy, our Nation. If we will once again put aside 
partisanship, reject narrow agendas, and focus on the national interest, 
the remaining 68 days of this congressional session can be a time of 
real achievement for our people and our future.
    Thanks for listening.

Note: The address was recorded at 3:38 p.m. on March 13 in the Roosevelt 
Room at the White House for broadcast at 10:06 a.m. on March 14.