[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[October 5, 1998]
[Pages 1737-1738]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks on the Legislative Agenda
October 5, 1998

    Good afternoon. From the beginning of our efforts to create the 
economic renaissance America now enjoys, Congressman Gephardt and 
Senator Daschle have been tireless in working for that change. 
Especially in these last few weeks as the congressional session has 
entered its crucial final stage and the political season has 
intensified, these two leaders have stood above the crowd in their 
constant efforts to elevate progress over partisanship.
    I realize that the calendar says the election is just a month away. 
The calendar also says it is now 8 months since I sent the Congress a 
budget, 5 months since the legal deadline for Congress to pass a budget 
resolution. And as all of you know, the fiscal year ended last week. Yet 
so far, Congress has sent me only 2 of 13 appropriations bills necessary 
to keep our Government running. On Friday the temporary spending measure 
I signed will run out. I want to work with Congress to get this 
important work done. There is still time for real achievement, still 
time for progress over partisanship.
    That is why today I stand with Representative Gephardt and Senator 
Daschle to call on the congressional majority. Time is running short. 
Congress has important work left to do. Pass the necessary spending 
bills to keep the Government running; save Social Security for future 
generations; ensure a quality education for all our children; protect 
America from the global economic turmoil--these are the priorities of 
the American people, and they must be the

[[Page 1738]]

priorities of Congress in these last days before the election.
    First, we must save Social Security first. Last week I was 
privileged to announce the first budget surplus in a generation. 
Congress must not lose this spirit of fiscal discipline. I have proposed 
tax cuts, but they're fully paid for. If the Congress sends me a tax 
plan that drains billions from the surplus before saving Social 
Security, I will veto it. We've worked too hard for too long to abandon 
fiscal discipline and our economic strength and to weaken our commitment 
to Social Security just because it's election time.
    Second, we must act to protect our prosperity in this turbulent 
international economy by meeting our obligations to the International 
Monetary Fund. The world is waiting--literally, the world is waiting--
for Congress to step up to America's responsibility, provide funds to 
the IMF, and give us the tools we need to pull teetering economies back 
from the brink and to keep America's economic prosperity going. It would 
be unacceptable for Congress to leave Washington before acting.
    Third, we must continue to invest in education. As the leaders here 
with me and about 50 other Members of Congress asked last week, we seek 
just one day for Congress to consider the education measures I have 
proposed, to pass a plan to provide our schools with the tools they 
need, with 100,000 teachers so we can have smaller classes in the early 
grades, with after-school and summer school programs to help students 
raise higher--achieve higher academic standards, with thousands of 
modernized schools for the 21st century.
    And fourth, in these last few days, Congress must act to protect, 
not gut, the environment. Republicans in Congress have sought to slip 
unacceptable provisions into unrelated bills that would cripple wildlife 
protection, force overcutting of our national forests, deny taxpayers a 
fair return on oil leasing, thwart commonsense efforts to address global 
warming. If they insist on sending these antienvironmental riders to my 
desk, again I will veto them.
    Fifth, Congress must act to address a range of pressing emergencies 
that simply cannot wait for a new congressional session, emergencies 
including supporting our troops in Bosnia, maintaining our military 
readiness worldwide, providing assistance to our farmers who are in real 
crisis out there, protecting American citizens from terrorism, and 
providing resources to address the year 2000 computer problem.
    For two administrations the budget rules under which both parties 
have operated have accommodated such emergencies. Troops in the field 
and citizens in crisis should never be subject to partisan wrangling. 
This is what we ought to do: We ought to save Social Security first, 
pass the education program, protect our own economy, and do what we 
should do to lead the world away from world financial crisis, pass the 
Patients' Bill of Rights, avoid these environmentally destructive 
riders. There is still time for us to put the people of our country 
ahead of politics, and I hope we'll do it.
    Now I'd like to ask Senator Daschle and Congressman Gephardt to say 
a word.

Note: The President spoke at 3:17 p.m. on the South Lawn at the White 
House. The transcript released by the Office of the Press Secretary also 
included the remarks of Senator Thomas A. Daschle and Representative 
Richard A. Gephardt.