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National Archives

Public Papers - 1991

Statement on Signing the District of Columbia Mental Health Program Assistance Act of 1991

1991-10-31

Today I have signed into law H.R. 1720, the ``District of Columbia Mental Health Program Assistance Act of 1991,'' which permits the Secretary of Health and Human Services to enter into an agreement with the Mayor of the District of Columbia with respect to capital improvements necessary for the delivery of mental health services in the District of Columbia.

The Act would, among other things, establish ``buy American'' provisions to govern procurements made under the Act. The Act purports to require the United States Trade Representative to rescind a waiver of the Buy American Act of 1933 in regard to any country that the Mayor of the District of Columbia, in consultation with the United States Trade Representative, determines has violated the agreement providing for such a waiver. The decision to rescind such a waiver is an exercise of significant authority that must be undertaken by an officer of the United States, appointed in accordance with the Appointments Clause, Article II, sec. 2, cl. 2, of the Constitution.

Because the Mayor of the District of Columbia is not an officer appointed in conformity with the Appointments Clause, the Mayor may not exercise the authority to rescind, or to direct a Federal official to rescind, the waiver. The Mayor of the District of Columbia has not asserted any such power. In order to enforce the Act consistently with the Constitution, however, I instruct the United States Trade Representative to construe any such determination by the Mayor, made pursuant to section 11(b)(1) of section 4 of the Act, as a nonbinding recommendation.

George Bush

The White House,

October 31, 1991.

Note: H.R. 1720, approved October 31, was assigned Public Law No. 102 - 150. This statement was not received in time for publication in the appropriate issue.

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