Statement on Signing the
Bill Affecting the Laws Governing United States Insular Areas and
have signed H.R. 2478, legislation that will make a variety of changes to
current law affecting the
H.R. 2478 contains a number of desirable provisions, as well as some the
administration has advised against, it contains one critical provision that
requires comment. Section 19(b) of H.R. 2478 would make the
Gramm-Rudman-Hollings sequestration procedure inapplicable to payments to
the apparent intent of the Congress, however, the language of section 19(b)
could be read to exempt from Gramm-Rudman-Hollings an open-ended variety of
mostly discretionary payments authorized over past years. For example, it could
exempt from sequestration all payments made to
Our efforts to reduce the Federal deficit have entered into a critical period. If we are unable to achieve as many reductions as are necessary to meet the deficit reduction targets under the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act, which I believe can be accomplished through regular legislative and appropriations action, then it is essential that the sequestration process proceed unimpeded. Under such circumstances, I must oppose any effort to protect specific programs from Gramm-Rudman-Hollings sequestration except in the most unusual circumstances. The ambiguous language in section 19(b), if interpreted broadly as described above, would create an unjustified exemption from Gramm-Rudman-Hollings and set a serious and damaging precedent. If such an exemption were allowed in this case, it could start in motion a growing snowball of sequestration protections for other programs and threaten to render inoperable the entire Gramm-Rudman-Hollings approach to the deficit problem.
We must not risk such results. For this reason, I am signing H.R. 2478 only after receiving from the congressional jurisdictional committee leadership their assurances that section 19(b) was not intended to create broad exemptions from Gramm-Rudman-Hollings, and they will endeavor to enact clarifying legislation at the earliest possible time. Without these assurances, I could not sign H.R. 2478.
Note: H.R. 2478, approved August 27, was assigned Public Law No. 99 - 396.