President Reagan has signed a major spending bill that includes $1.2 billion to combat AIDS, while calling on Congress to speed up action on its remaining money bills.
"I want those seven bills on my desk and in shape to sign by Oct. 1," Reagan said Tuesday in an appearance before the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce in the Old Executive Office Building.Reagan has urged Congress repeatedly to complete action on its 13 appropriations bills before the 1989 budget year begins Oct. 1.
"Now, they're working on what I asked for - 13 separate spending bills," the president said. "The new fiscal year begins in 11 days, and seven of these (bills) are still under negotiation."
Reagan also urged Congress to amend a defense appropriations bill that contains features similar to a $299.5 billion defense authorization bill that he vetoed earlier this year.
"I want defense legislation to continue the policies of the last eight years - the policies that led the Soviets to the bargaining table and out of Afghanistan," he said. "I want defense legislation that will advance national security, not sacrifice it on the altar of congressional pork barrel."
Reagan has signed three appropriations bills, and spending plans for covering the Treasury Department and Postal Service, Interior Department and military construction are awaiting his approval. Congress is still working on seven.
Earlier Tuesday, Reagan had signed a $39.4 billion appropriations bill for the departments of Labor and Health and Human Services during a private Oval Office ceremony attended by some of the principal sponsors of the bill.
White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said the president used the occasion to thank those lawmakers who had removed a provision from the bill that would have authorized expansion of federal Medicaid payments for abortions.
This would have allowed use of federal funds for abortions in cases of incest and rape. Current law permits such payments only when the mother's life is endangered.
Among the provisions of the Labor-HHS bill is one which allocates $1.2 billion for the fight against AIDS - about $100 million less than Reagan sought.