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pd25oc99 Statement on Signing Legislation Establishing Black Canyon of the...
four Americans with severe disabilities who want to work, but aren't working. This is not just a missed opportunity for them; it's a missed opportunity for all the rest of us, too. If we want to keep our economy growing with continued low inflation and low unemployment, we must draw on the untapped potential of our people. That's why I launched our enterprise zone and enterprise community initiative 6\1/2\ years ago, under the leadership of Vice President Gore, to bring investment and jobs to rural and urban areas with high unemployment. That's why I'm working now to pass our new markets initiative in Congress, to give Americans the same incentive to invest in poor communities in America we now give them to invest in poor communities in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and central Europe. And that's why I established a Presidential task force on the employment of adults with disabilities last year, to help remove the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from going to work. In December Vice President Gore received the first set of recommendations by the task force, and I'm proud to say we've taken action on every one. The budget I proposed last January would invest more than $2 billion in health care, tax credits, and new technologies for people with disabilities. I also signed an Executive order to eliminate unfair barriers to Federal employment for people with psychiatric disabilities. Today I announce new steps we're taking to ensure that when it comes to the employment of people with disabilities, the Federal Government leads by example. And today I'm releasing the first-ever Government plan to ensure positive career paths for people with disabilities in our Federal work force. I'm directing every Federal agency and department to take concrete action to expand opportunities for people with disabilities in all levels of the work force, from entry to senior ranks. And I'm calling on all agencies to recruit and promote people with disabilities, to reach out to students with disabilities, to provide reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees with disabilities. I'm also calling on our Federal human resources agency, the Office of Personnel Management, to ensure that every agency gets the help it needs to fulfill these commitments. We are the Nation's largest employer. I want it to be a model for private industry, and this plan will help to do just that. But there's more to do. One of the biggest barriers facing people with disabilities is the fear of losing their health insurance when they get a job. Under current law, many people with disabilities cannot keep their Medicaid or Medicare coverage if they work. This creates a tremendous disincentive to work, because they have to have health care, and neither they nor their employer can afford, or often even find, health insurance. There's a commonsense, bipartisan bill to change that. It's called the ``Work Incentives Improvement Act;'' it was sponsored by Republican Senators Jeffords and Roth and Democratic Senators Kennedy and Moynihan. Simply put, it will make sure that people with disabilities don't lose their health care when they gain a job. This bill passed the Senate 99- 0. A bipartisan majority in the House has already cosponsored it. So I say to Congress, don't water the bill down, guarantee its financing, and go ahead and send it to me so we can sign it without delay. It will make money for America. It will make more taxpayers. And we'll be spending the Medicaid money regardless. Americans with disabilities who want to work shouldn't have to wait one more day. After years of delay, last week the House of Representatives finally heard the voice of the American people and passed a strong, enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights. By choosing progress over partisanship again, we can also pass the ``Work Incentives Improvement Act'' and keep American working and growing. I urge the leadership to seize this opportunity. Make this a season of progress, not [[Page 2067]] a winter of partisan politics. Let's finish the job the American people sent us here to do. Thanks for listening. Note: The address was recorded at 2:39 p.m. on October 15 in the Oval Office at the White House for broadcast at 10:06 a.m. on October 16. The transcript was made available by the Office of the Press Secretary on September 15 but was embargoed for release until the broadcast. <DOC> [Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents] [frwais.access.gpo.gov] [Page 2067] Monday, October 25, 1999 Volume 35--Number 42 Pages 2065-2124 Week Ending Friday, October 22, 1999 Memorandum on Hiring People With Disabilities in the Federal Government October 16, 1999 Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies Subject: Hiring People with Disabilities in the Federal Government Since I became President, we have created over 19 million new jobs and unemployment is as low as it has been in 29 years. Still, almost 75 percent of working-age Americans with severe disabilities remain unemployed. If this Nation is to live up to its promise of equal opportunity, and our economy is to continue to strengthen and expand, we must draw on the untapped energy and creativity of these millions of capable Americans. One of the most glaring barriers to work for people with disabilities is that they frequently become ineligible for Medicaid or Medicare if they go back to work, putting them in the untenable position of choosing between health care coverage and employment. That is why my budget fully funds the Work Incentives Improvement Act, investing $1.2 billion over 5 years in health care and employment services so that people with disabilities can work. This legislation was unanimously endorsed by the House Commerce Committee on May 19 and has been cosponsored by a majority of the House of Representatives; it passed the Senate 99-0 on June 16. It is time for the Congress to finish the job and pass the Work Incentives Improvement Act immediately. People with disabilities who want to work should not have to wait one more day. Vice President Gore and I have already taken a number of steps to increase the employment of people with disabilities. On March 13, 1998, I signed Executive Order 13078 establishing the National Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities to create a coordinated national policy to bring working-age individuals with disabilities into gainful employment. In December, the Task Force presented the Vice President with its first report, and I am proud to say we have taken action on all the Task Force's formal recommendations. As we fight to ensure that all people with disabilities have the health care and other assistance they need to go to work, we must also lead by example and make the Federal Government a model employer of people with disabilities. On June 4, 1999, I signed an Executive order eliminating the Federal Government's stricter hiring standards for people with psychiatric disabilities, an issue highlighted by Mrs. Gore earlier in the year. And last December, the Vice President asked the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to develop a plan to increase the representation of adults with disabilities in the Federal workforce. Today I am pleased to release that plan, Accessing Opportunity: The Plan for Employment of People with Disabilities in the Federal Government, and the companion employment guide prepared by OPM. These documents give agencies detailed and practical information on ways to recruit people with disabilities for positions at all levels of government; provide opportunities for students with disabilities; ensure career opportunities for people with disabilities; collect and maintain data to monitor their success; and provide reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees with disabilities. I therefore direct you to implement this plan immediately within your departments and agencies and to bring qualified people with disabilities into the Federal workforce. This plan is proof of the Federal Government's commitment to empowering people with disabilities; now is the time for us to fulfill that commitment. William J. Clinton [[Page 2068]] <DOC> [Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents] [frwais.access.gpo.gov] [Page 2068] Monday, October 25, 1999 Volume 35--Number 42 Pages 2065-2124 Week Ending Friday, October 22, 1999 Proclamation 7242--National Character Counts Week, 1999 October 16, 1999 By the President of the United States of America A Proclamation The character of our citizens has enriched every aspect of our national life and has set an example of civic responsibility for people around the world. The diligence and determination that are part of our Nation's work ethic have strengthened our economy, and the firm convictions of our spiritual leaders have helped guide our communities, fostering unity, compassion, and humility. In this dynamic time of unparalleled opportunity and possibility, our children will encounter a variety of new challenges that will test the strength of their character and convictions. As the dawn of the new millennium fast approaches, we must work together--parents, public officials, educators, entertainers, and business and religious leaders-- to impart to our youth the core values they need to be good citizens. We know that parents play a critical role in imparting moral values to their children. But in today's complex and fast-paced society, when parents must spend longer hours at work and more families are headed by a single parent, parents have less time to spend with their children--an average decrease of 22 hours a week over the past 30 years, according to a report released this spring by my Council of Economic Advisers. We must seek innovative ways to address this problem and to promote stronger families, including greater flexibility in paid work hours, more affordable child care, and increased support for low-income families. My Administration is committed to providing families with the tools they need to fulfill their responsibilities at home and at work. Our agenda includes tripling our investment in after-school programs through the 21st Century Community Learning Center program and a historic initiative to make child care better, safer, and more affordable for working families. We are also working to expand the Family and Medical Leave Act to cover more workers and to allow leave for more parental activities, such as parent-teacher conferences and routine doctor visits. While Americans are striving to seize the opportunities presented by this exciting new era, we must continue to preserve the fundamental ideals and ethics that have sustained our country for more than two centuries. By sustaining these shared values and passing them on to our children, we can realize our common hope for a more just and honorable society and a brighter future for the generations to come. Now, Therefore, I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 17 through October 23, 1999, as National Character Counts Week. I call upon the people of the United States, government officials, educators, religious, community, and business leaders, and the States to commemorate this week with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs. In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-fourth. William J. Clinton [Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 11:37 a.m., October 19, 1999] Note: This proclamation was published in the Federal Register on October 20. <DOC> [Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents] [frwais.access.gpo.gov] [Page 2068-2070] Monday, October 25, 1999 Volume 35--Number 42 Pages 2065-2124 Week Ending Friday, October 22, 1999 Remarks at a National Italian American Foundation Dinner October 16, 1999 Thank you ladies and gentlemen. First of all, let me thank you for your warm welcome to Hillary and me. Thank you, Frank Guarini, for being my friend for all these years. Thank you, President Joe Cerrell. To all the distinguished guests here and the honorees, the Members of Congress, Gerry Ferrarro, Ambassador Foglietta, Ambassador Rosapepe. To our distinguished Italian guests, Maria Bartiromo, Ambassador Salleo and, especially, Foreign Minister Dini. [[Page 2069]] I would like to say a special word of appreciation at this point to the Prime Minister and the Government of Italy for standing with us and working with us for the cause of our common humanity in Kosovo and, before that, in Bosnia, We could not have done it without Italy, and I am grateful. Justice Scalia and Cardinal Hickey and all the others here--you stole my line about 50 percent of my four Chiefs of Staff being Italian. The other two wish they were. [Laughter] I thank you for all the gifts from Campania, including the beautiful flowers for Hillary. We visited there when the 1994 conference of the G-7 nations was held in Naples. And we have been very blessed by our times there. I understand my friend Dick Grasso and the Barnes & Noble CEO, Leonard Riggio, are both from that region of Italy. I'm about to go back to Florence, and I'm only supposed to stay a day, so if I play hooky and stay an extra day I want 3,000 of you to write an excuse for me, just like I used to get when I missed a day of school. I guess I ought to say, since this is baseball season, that I'm sure of one person who would like to be here tonight who can't be is Joe Torre. Now, I'm not taking sides in the baseball series, but the Yankees do have two Italian-Americans on their team--Joe and the catcher, Joe Girardi. And no city in America has been better to me than Boston, but the Red Sox haven't had an Italian since their pitcher Frank Viola retired. So I think we ought to get the Red Sox an Italian baseball player to balance out our equal opportunity agenda through the country. You know, from the beginning of our country, Italian-Americans have made invaluable contributions. And I want to say a special word of thanks, not for all those which I could litanize, and you know them, but for the National Italian American Foundation's leadership for our efforts to build one America. I'm very grateful that this is a country in better shape than it was 7 years ago when I first came here. I am very grateful for the chance that I have had to serve. I'm grateful for the Italian-Americans who have helped to ensure the success of our administration. I'm glad that we have the lowest unemployment rate in 29 years and the lowest welfare rolls in 30 years and the lowest poverty rates in 20 years, the lowest crime rates in 26 years and the first back-to-back surpluses in 42
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