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National Archives

Public Papers - 1989

Statement on Signing the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1990


Today I signed into law H.R. 2991, the ``Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1990.''

I am pleased that the Act includes funding for many programs important to fighting the war on drugs and violent crime. Together with H.R. 3015, this Act funds my drug and crime initiatives as they relate to the Department of Justice. The Act also funds programs to conduct the Nation's foreign affairs and engage in diplomacy, to promote international trade, to enhance advanced technologies, and to undertake the 1990 Decennial Census.

I regret that the Congress failed to fund fully this Nation's contributions to International Organizations and Peacekeeping. Fulfilling our financial obligations to these organizations is an important priority to which I remain committed. This Administration will hold the Act's managers to their offer to work to solve this problem at an early date.

A matter of some concern to me has been section 608 of the Act, which limits certain activities of the Legal Services Corporation until members of its Board have been nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. This section might have been read as an attempt to limit the powers exercised by future recess appointees who lack Senate confirmation. However, it does not appear that the Congress intended to limit these powers. I sign this bill with the understanding that this provision does not limit the President's authority to name future recess appointees who, under the Constitution, enjoy the same powers assigned to Senate-confirmed members of the Board.

Section 609 directs the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Commerce, to initiate a series of negotiations for the protection of sea turtles. Under our Constitution it is the President who articulates the Nation's foreign policy and who determines the timing and subject matter of our negotiations with foreign nations. Accordingly, keeping with past practice, I shall treat these provisions as advisory, not mandatory.

Further, I note that the Congress did not include any of the requested funding for the Christopher Columbus Quincentennial celebrations in Seville, Spain, and Genoa, Italy. We have assured the heads of these nations that we would participate, and it is my hope that funding for this important effort will be provided as soon as possible.

Notwithstanding these reservations, I have signed the bill because the war on drugs and violent crime is one of our Nation's most important priorities. However, I call on the Congress to address the concerns that I have raised.

George Bush

The White House,

November 21, 1989.

Note: H.R. 2991, approved November 21, was assigned Public Law No. 101 - 162.

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