Clinton signs defense bill, vetoes Commerce, State and Justice bill

President Clinton on Monday signed into law the $268 billion fiscal 2000 defense appropriations bill, which provides $4.5 billion more than he requested, and vetoed the bill that would have funded the departments of Commerce, Justice and State.

In signing this year's defense appropriations bill, Clinton ensured funding for a number of programs the Pentagon considers critical to military readiness, including many high-tech systems used during the 78-day air war in Yugoslavia. However, Clinton signed the bill despite long-standing opposition to what he considered unnecessary funding for programs that, despite the Pentagon's insistence that they were not needed, Republicans in the House and Senate included in the bill [FCW, Oct. 19].

"This legislation provides funding for our most critical military needs, including weapons procurement and modernization, research and development, and importantly, a much needed pay raise for our men and women in uniform," Clinton said in a prepared statement. "I had proposed the first sustained increase in defense spending in a decade, and this bill will help to maintain that.

"Still, what Congress sent me is far from perfect," he said. "The legislation is loaded with things the Pentagon didn't ask for and doesn't need."

Clinton vetoed the $39 billion appropriations bill for the departments of Commerce, Justice and State, leaving a number of information technology programs hanging in the balance, such as Commerce's Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System and the FBI's information-sharing initiative.

Clinton said he vetoed the bill "because it fails to fund the additional 50,000 community police we need to keep crime going down in our communities."

The continuing resolution signed last week by Congress funds the government through Oct. 29.

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