March 23, 1995 in Nation/World

Clinton Signs A Bit Of ‘Contract’ Gop-Backed Bill Says Feds Must Supply Funding To States For Federal Mandates


Spring magnolia petals instead of veto threats floated through the White House Rose Garden Wednesday as President Clinton signed the second plank of the Republican “Contract With America” to become law.

The bill restricts Congress’ ability to impose expensive requirements on state and local governments, primarily under environmental and public health laws, without paying their costs.

Passed by lopsided House and Senate margins last week, the measure forces Congress either to find money for new mandates costing more than $50 million a year nationally, or to cast potentially embarrassing votes to override the financing requirement.

Left intact were existing mandates costing states and localities up to $12.7 billion a year, including one requiring localities to test drinking water for pesticides and another ordering states to use costly rubberized asphalt for highways. A federal-state commission will recommend in a year which mandates should be repealed if unneeded.

Declaring that “the pendulum had swung too far,” Clinton praised the bill from the standpoint of an ex-governor who chafed in Arkansas under “unfair burdens” from Washington.

“This bill is another acknowledgment that Washington doesn’t necessarily have all the answers,” Clinton said. The signing also shows “that Republicans and Democrats can come together and break gridlock.”

On Jan. 23, Clinton signed the first House Republican contract provision enacted, forbidding Congress from exempting itself from laws it passes.

Clinton Wednesday reached out to Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., and 27 other members of Congress who were present, noting that the spring season offers “a new beginning and a time for a new spirit of cooperation.” He asked for quick congressional approval of two more contract items, a presidential line-item veto and a welfare reform bill.

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