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Public Papers - 1992 - October

Statement on Signing the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1993

1992-10-23

Today I am signing into law H.R. 5006, the ``National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1993.'' H.R. 5006 authorizes appropriations that provide for a national defense adequate to meet foreseeable threats to the national security. It generally supports the Administration's major defense priorities, including key elements of the Strategic Defense Initiative and the B - 2 program. I am also pleased that the bill includes the Cuban Democracy Act, which will help establish a free and democratic Cuba.

I have signed this Act notwithstanding the reservations that I have regarding certain of its provisions. I am particularly concerned about provisions that purport to derogate the President's authority under the Constitution to conduct U.S. foreign policy, including negotiations with other countries. A number of provisions purport to establish foreign policy by providing that it shall be ``the policy of the United States'' or ``the goal of the United States'' to undertake specific diplomatic initiatives. Consistent with my responsibility under the Constitution for the conduct of diplomatic negotiations, and with established practice, I will construe these provisions to be precatory rather than mandatory. Other provisions purport to require reports to the Congress concerning diplomatic negotiations. I sign this bill with the understanding that these provisions do not detract from my constitutional authority to protect sensitive national security information.

In addition, H.R. 5006 would assign new domestic, civil functions of government to the Department of Defense and the Armed Forces. These roles include community medical care; local school funding; training of civilian children; establishing new government data bases on U.S. defense businesses; establishing plans for U.S. industries; assisting and funding Federal, State, local, and private nonprofit industrial support efforts; and providing broad adjustment grants to communities. For the most part, the objectives of these provisions are laudable. The functions prescribed are not, however, appropriate roles for the military. Accordingly, I direct the Secretary of Defense to implement these provisions in a manner that will do the least damage possible to the traditional role of the military. Where particular provisions of H.R. 5006 cannot be implemented consistent with the traditional role of the military, I direct the Secretary of Defense to draft and propose to the Congress remedial legislation.

I am also concerned that two provisions of H.R. 5006 might be construed to impinge on the President's authority as Commander in Chief and as head of the executive branch. Section 1303 purports to prohibit the use of appropriations to support a level of U.S. troops in Europe greater than 100,000 after October 1, 1995, and section 1302 purports to require a 40 percent cut in U.S. forces overseas after September 30, 1996, absent a war or national emergency. American forces abroad are a stabilizing influence in a volatile world and provide a ready means to protect American interests. Ill-considered cuts to America's forward presence diminish America's ability to help keep the peace in the future in various regions of the world. I shall construe these provisions consistent with my authority to deploy military personnel as necessary to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities.

I note with disappointment that included within this bill is a provision that will lessen the impact of the honoraria restriction on a very select group of individuals rather than the career work force as a whole. I have strongly supported a Governmentwide amendment, and I believe that passage of this limited exemption sends a message that Federal employees need not be accorded the respect and fair treatment they deserve. As a result, the credibility of all of the standards to which we ask employees to adhere is undermined.

I also note that section 330, under which the Secretary of Defense may ``settle or defend'' certain claims, should not be understood to detract from the Attorney General's plenary litigating authority. Accordingly, to the extent provided in current law, the Secretary of Defense will ``settle or defend'' claims in litigation through attorneys provided by the Department of Justice.

Section 4217 provides overbroad authority to the Government to collect data on technology and the industrial base from American businesses. Collecting such data through subpoena, administrative search warrants, and other investigative techniques authorized by this section will not contribute to America's economic strength and could intrude unacceptably into the lives of those who own and work in the Nation's businesses. Accordingly, I do not anticipate that the authority provided by section 4217 will be exercised.

As for title XVI, which prohibits exports of certain goods or technologies listed on the Department of Commerce Control List, I will interpret this provision as applying solely to items listed as requiring a validated license for export to Iran or Iraq. I find no indication of intent to override the congressionally endorsed regulatory provisions regarding exports from abroad of foreign-made products that incorporate certain minimal U.S.-origin content. As to the contract sanctity provision, I consider the reference date to be the date of enactment of this law. The Secretary of Commerce shall promptly issue such interpretive guidance and implementing regulations as may be required.

Finally, the bill contains a number of provisions for the disposition of Federal real property interests that would circumvent the provisions of, or regulations related to, the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949. Effective and efficient management of such real property matters generally is best accomplished in accordance with the Property Act.

George Bush

The White House,

October 23, 1992.

Note: H.R. 5006, approved October 23, was assigned Public Law No. 102 - 484.

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