Statement on House of Representatives Approval of Social Security Legislation

March 10, 1983

I want to take this opportunity to express my admiration -- and the gratitude of the American people -- for the responsible, bipartisan spirit the House of Representatives has demonstrated in its prompt passage of the bipartisan plan to save the social security system. I am particularly glad to have had the chance this afternoon to personally thank six leaders who played special roles in making this possible: Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, Minority Leader Bob Michel, Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski, the senior minority member of the committee, Barber Conable, Chairman Jake Pickle of the Subcommittee on Social Security, and, of course, Representative Claude Pepper.

In the months leading up to this critical vote -- and again over the past 24 hours -- we've seen men and women of both parties and many shades of opinion set aside their differences and join together for the good of the country. The result has been a new lease on life for one of our most basic government programs, social security -- a program that, directly or indirectly, affects the present and future well-being of every man, woman, and child in America, and generations yet unborn.

Over long months of study, debate, and deliberation -- and in close cooperation with the executive branch -- a fair, workable plan to save the system was hammered out by the National Commission on Social Security Reform. All of us had to make some compromises and settle for less than what any one faction might consider ideal. But we did it, and, as Speaker O'Neill promised, the House of Representatives has acted promptly and responsibly to pass the resulting bipartisan plan.

That is an achievement we can all take heart from. And I hope and believe it reflects a bipartisan spirit of putting people before party that will guide us all in meeting other national challenges in the days ahead.

Meanwhile, I look forward to prompt action in the Senate on the social security plan -- and I look forward to a signing ceremony in the very near future.