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Public Papers - 1991

Statement on Signing the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1992

1991-10-28

Today I have signed into law H.R. 2608, the ``Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1992.''

While providing less than I had requested, this Act includes funding for important programs at the Department of Justice that make major contributions to the fight against crime and illegal drug use in our society. In addition, funding provided for weather satellites should avoid any possible future gap in coverage and protect our public safety. Finally, the Act provides needed funds for programs to conduct the Nation's foreign affairs and public diplomacy programs. Especially important is the funding for our contributions to the United Nations, other international organizations, and peacekeeping activities.

Section 503 of the Act prohibits the use of funds to issue Israel-only passports and more than one official or diplomatic passport to Government employees in certain circumstances. This prohibition applies to issuing passports for the purpose of complying with the policy of some Arab League nations of denying entry to persons whose passports reflect that they have previously visited Israel. I am sympathetic to the goals of this provision and have made this issue part of the Administration's discussions with the countries that engage in such practices.

The Constitution, however, vests exclusive authority in the President to control the timing and substance of negotiations with foreign governments and to choose the officials who will negotiate on behalf of the United States. A purported blanket prohibition on the use of funds to issue more than one official or diplomatic passport to U.S. Government officials could interfere with the President's ability to conduct diplomacy by denying U.S. diplomats the documentation necessary for them to travel to all countries in the Middle East and could upset delicate and complex negotiations. I therefore am directing the Secretary of State to ensure that this provision does not interfere with my constitutional prerogatives and responsibilities.

As with the Acts of the last 2 years, I interpret the provisions related to the Legal Services Corporation as not restricting the authority of future recess appointees to exercise all powers conferred upon members of the Board of Directors of the Corporation.

George Bush

The White House,

October 28, 1991.

Note: H.R. 2608, approved October 28, was assigned Public Law No 102 - 140.

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