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pd15ap96 Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With Labour Party Leader...

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    The President. Good morning. I want to welcome Senator Nickles and 
Congressmen Cardin, Spratt, Goss, and Solomon here; Governor Romer; Ed 
Lupberger, the chairman of the United States Chamber of Commerce; Marne 
Obernauer, the vice chairman of the American Business Conference; David 
Keating, the CEO of the National Taxpayers Union; Al From, from the 
Democratic Leadership Council; and Fred Greenstein, a distinguished 
Presidential historian from Princeton who has also supported the bill I 
am signing today.
    It gives me great pleasure today to sign into law the line item 
veto. This is a bipartisan achievement that has been long sought by 
Presidents, long supported by Members of Congress and by Governors. It 
will help us to cut waste and to balance the budget.
    For years, Presidents of both parties have pounded this very desk in 
frustration at having to sign necessary legislation that contained 
special interest boondoggles, tax loopholes, and pure pork. The line 
item veto will give us a chance to change that, to permit Presidents to 
better represent the public interest by cutting waste, protecting 
taxpayers, and balancing the budget.
    We all know that this is needed because too often, as vital bills 
move through Congress, they can become clogged with items that would 
never pass on their own. Presidents often have no choice but to sign 
these bills because of their main purpose. This new law will give the 
President the power to cancel specific spending items and specific tax 
loopholes that benefit special interests. These proposals can then be 
debated and subject to an open vote on the floor of Congress. A fresh 
air of public accountability will blow through the Federal budget.
    This law gives the President tools to cut wasteful spending, and 
even more important, it empowers our citizens, for the exercise of this 
veto or even the possibility of its exercise will throw a spotlight of 
public scrutiny onto the darkest corners of the Federal budget.
    I have advocated the line item veto for a long time. When I was 
Governor, I used it, and it helped us to balance 12 budgets in a row. 
Forty-three of our 50 Governors have the line item veto. Governor Romer 
is with us because so many of the Nation's Governors have supported this 
measure for so long. The line item veto will help us to bring common 
sense to our Nation's Capital, just as it has to State capitals all 
across America.
    Let me say, I am particularly pleased that this measure received 
support from both parties, working together for the public good. That's 
the way we should meet all of our challenges in America, and it's the 
only way we can balance the budget in the right way.
    I am very proud that we have cut the deficit in half since I took 
office. The line item veto will help the President cut the budget 
deficit even further. But we have to pass a 7-year balanced budget and 
to do it in a way that reflects our fundamental values. The Congress and 
the executive branch have now identified over $700 billion of savings 
common to both plans. That is more than enough to balance the budget and 
have a modest tax cut.
    So I hope that we can do what we did with the line item veto: work 
together and pass a good balanced budget plan. That will bring these 
interest rates down; it will reas- 

[[Page 636]]

sure the financial markets; and it will keep economic growth going in 
the United States.
    Let me say in closing before I sign the bill that it is customary 
for a President to give the pens he uses to sign a bill into law to 
those who did the most for its passage. So I am honored today to send 
the very first four pens that are used here to the former Presidents who 
also made the line item veto their cause, President Reagan and President 
Ford, President Carter, President Bush. I thank them, and our country 
thanks them. Their successors will be able to use this power that they 
long sought to eliminate waste from the Federal budget, to advance our 
values, and protect our priorities as we move into the 21st century.
    Thank you.

[At this point, the President signed the bill.]

Separation of Powers Doctrine

    Q.  Doesn't this transcend the Founding Fathers' separation of 
powers and give the President too much power?
    The President. I don't think so. We've worked hard to--we anticipate 
that it will be challenged. We've worked hard to provide for a means for 
it to be resolved quickly. But this leaves ultimate hands in the 
authority of the Congress. They can take all these separate issues back 
and vote on them separately. And I think all of us believe that as long 
as that is done, that we don't violate the constitutional separation of 
powers doctrine.
    And the constitutions of our various States are modeled pretty 
closely on the Federal Constitution. They all have separation of powers 
doctrines, and the Governors have had this authority in almost all the 
States and have used it well and without any upsetting of the 
constitutional framework.
    As long as the practical impact of this is to force these matters to 
be considered separately, I don't think there's any question that it's 
not a violation of the separation of powers. Now of course, others in 
authority and the judicial branch will have their opportunity to say 
differently, but I believe it will be upheld.


    Q. Mr. President, what's the latest word you have on the situation 
in Liberia? And will you be forced to order Americans evacuated from 
    The President. Well, let me say, first of all, since the--for the 
last several days we've been keeping very close watch on it. We have a 
number of Americans there in Monrovia, and we have put in place the 
pieces necessary to do everything possible to assure their safety. And 
we're watching it very closely. We have not made a decision from here. 
I'm not sure we should make a decision from here on their evacuation. 
We're working with the Embassy, and we're being guided in significant 
measure by what they know to be the facts on the ground there. But we 
have tried to put in place backup measures which would permit us to 
protect the Americans as quickly as possible, should that become 
    Q. Have you received any assurances on their safety?
    The President. Well, we've done the best we could. You know, it's 
hard for anybody to assure their safety in the sense that conflict is 
going on in the Capital. But we believe that we've made the right 
decision so far with regard to their situation, and we're watching it 
very closely.

Line Item Veto

    Q. Mr. President your critics of the line item veto have said that 
it will allow a President to wheel and deal with a Senator or a 
Congressman or a group of Senators or Congressmen, and to threaten them 
with this power. What could you say--not to question your integrity or 
whatever--what would you say to the American people that you would not, 
and your successors would not, abuse this power?
    The President. Well, first of all, every power given to the Congress 
or to the President or to the courts is, I suppose, susceptible to some 
abuse, and we have a system of checks and balances there. My argument 
is, number one, there's obviously some negotiations that go on over 
legislation all the time now and almost always, by the way, fully 
reported by you and the press, whether we like it or not. [Laughter]
    Number two, keep in mind, the protection the Members have is that if 
the President goes overboard and says, if you don't vote for me on some 
other bill, or this bill, I'm

[[Page 637]]

not going to allow your project in here--if the President started doing 
that, and it was unrelated to the real merits of the underlying spending 
provision, then I believe the Congress would respond by passing these 
bills separately.
    Keep in mind the ultimate protection the Congress has: If the 
President abuses his authority, the ultimate protection the Congress has 
is the clear ability to have these bills voted on separately and 
publicly. And then the President's veto gets singled out. The President 
could veto it, that spending bill again, too. Then the President would 
be ultimately held accountable by the people, through the reporting of 
the process in the press.
    And let me also say that I found--you know, I was a Governor for 
quite a long time before I came here, and what I found was--and I'm sure 
Governor Romer could corroborate this--is that once this mechanism is in 
place and people understand that the Executive is prepared to use it, it 
becomes necessary to use it less, that its main benefit after a few 
years is that it exists in reserve, because it changes the whole shape 
of the budget negotiations and makes these bills less subject to this 
sort of catch-all spending.
    Now, it will take some years, perhaps, for that to happen here, but 
we are doing this for the long run. None of us who have supported this--
and I'm sure the representatives from the business groups, the taxpayers 
unions, and others would say the same thing--none of us have ever 
pretended that this was some sort of miraculous cure-all. But we believe 
it will put discipline into this budget, and it will really help over 
the long run to give the American people a kind of budgeting process 
they need, as well as reducing waste and helping to move the budget into 
    Thank you.
    Q. Are you sure you will be using it next year?
    The President. Well, that's up to the bosses out there. But I'll 
tell you this, I was more than happy--the majority in the Congress 
wanted to wait until January to put it in, for their own reasons, and 
when I was asked about it, without a moment's hesitation, I said yes. 
That was a reasonable compromise for me.
    I think this is so important that we shouldn't--if they want to take 
it out of the context of this year's elections and the fall's budget 
negotiations, I think it is so important to get into the law for the 
long run it was fine with me. I was very happy to do that. I don't have 
any problem with it. We did it. It's the right thing to do, and it's 
been done, and we did it together, and that's the way we ought to do 
more things.
    Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 11:15 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White 
House. In his remarks, he referred to Gov. Roy Romer of Colorado. S. 4, 
approved April 9, was assigned Public Law No. 104-130.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 637-638]
Monday, April 15, 1996
Volume 32--Number 15
Pages 623-656
Week Ending Friday, April 12, 1996
Statement on Signing the Line Item Veto Act

April 9, 1996

    Today I am very pleased to sign into law S. 4, the Line Item Veto 
    This new law shows what we can achieve when we put our partisan 
differences aside and work together for the Nation. Members of both 
parties have fought for this legislation because they believed that no 
matter which party has control of the White House or the Congress, the 
line item veto would be good for the country.
    I have consistently supported a Presidential line item veto as a 
Governor, as a candidate for President in 1992, and as President the 
last 3 years.
    Starting with Ulysses S. Grant, Presidents of both parties have 
sought the line item veto so they could eliminate waste in the Federal 
budget. Most recently, Presidents Reagan and Bush called for its 
passage, as did many Members of Congress.
    With this authority, Presidents will have a valuable new tool to 
ensure that the Federal Government is spending public resources as 
wisely as possible. It will permit the President to cancel discretionary 
spending, new entitlement authority, and tax provisions that benefit 
special interests at the expense of the public interest.

[[Page 638]]

    This carefully defined authority is also a practical and principled 
means of serving the constitutional balance of powers. The modern 
congressional practice of presenting the President with omnibus 
legislation reduces the President's ability to play the role in enacting 
laws that the Constitution intended. This new authority brings us closer 
to the Founders' view of an effective executive role in the legislative 
process. The President will be able to prevent the Congress from 
enacting special interest provisions under the cloak of a 500- or 1,000-
page bill. Special interest provisions that do not serve the national 
interest will no longer escape proper scrutiny.
    No one, of course, believes the line item veto is a cure-all for the 
budget deficit. Indeed, even without the line item veto, we are already 
cutting the deficit in half--as I had promised to do when I ran for 
President. But the line item veto will provide added discipline by 
ensuring that as tight budgets increasingly squeeze our resources, we 
will put our public funds to the best possible uses.
    I call on the leaders of the Congress, in the spirit of 
bipartisanship reflected in today's bill signing, to join me in 
continuing to make progress. We should move ahead by reaching an 
agreement to balance the budget by 2002.
    Over the last several months, I have worked closely with 
congressional leaders to reach such an agreement. In fact, we have about 
$700 billion in common savings. We should finish our work this year.
                                            William J. Clinton
The White House,
April 9, 1996.

Note: S. 4, approved April 9, was assigned Public Law No. 104-130.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 638-640]
Monday, April 15, 1996
Volume 32--Number 15
Pages 623-656
Week Ending Friday, April 12, 1996
Remarks Prior to Discussions With Prime Minister Konstandinos Simitis of 
Greece and an Exchange With Reporters

April 9, 1996

Greece-U.S. Relations

    President Clinton. Let me say it's a great honor for me to welcome 
Prime Minister Simitis here, along with his party. Greece has been a 
long and strong ally of the United States, and I'm looking forward to 
discussing a number of issues, including how we can be helpful in 
resolving some of the difficulties in the Aegean.
    Let me say, first of all, that I think all these issues should be 
resolved without the use of force or the threat of force, with both 
parties agreeing to abide by international agreements and with a mutual 
respect for territorial integrity. With regard to the Imia question, the 
United States has already said we believe it should be submitted to the 
International Court of Justice or some other international arbitration 
    I also want to thank Greece for its leadership in trying to resolve 
the problems in the future of the Balkans in a positive way. Greece is 
participating in IFOR and is working with the challenges presented in 
Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, in a number of other 
    And finally, I hope we have a chance to talk about Cyprus a little 
bit. This has been an area of intense interest for me since I became 
President, and I hope that we can do more in that area to help that 
situation to be resolved.

Iranian Arms Shipments to Bosnia

    Q. Mr. President, are you concerned about the investigation of 

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