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Clinton touts Hispanic education, threatens education bill veto
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bill Clinton renewed his threat Thursday to veto the health and education spending bill passed this week by the House of Representatives, saying it did not adequately fund programs he supports.
The $342 billion fiscal 2001 appropriations bill covering the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and other departments narrowly passed the House on Wednesday. It sets aside money for schools, job programs, health care and welfare. The bill is $3 billion above current levels, but $8 billion less than what Clinton had sought.
Speaking at a White House conference on Hispanic education on Thursday, Clinton said the current bill "demands too little accountability, and I know it puts in too few resources" for education programs.
"But I hope we can work with Congress on a bipartisan education bill," he added.
Clinton touted his administration's education record at the conference, but said disparities in educational achievement still must be addressed. He said the goal was to equalize the gap between whites and Hispanics within a decade.
"There are still a lot of gaps that we all want to close. Mostly they are narrowing, but we still have a lot of work to do," he said.
Thursday's conference at the White House comes 10 months after a similar session on Hispanic youth hosted by first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.
"Today we're following up on that conference by setting forth specific goals and an agenda for closing the student achievement gap within 10 years," the president said.
Among native-born students, differences among ethnic groups have narrowed, according to a recent Council of Economic Advisers report on education and the "new economy." But despite recent gains, Hispanic student achievement has lagged behind other ethnic groups -- in part, because immigrants are less-educated.
"Underachievement in education hurts the future prosperity of the students themselves, and also reduces the number of workers in the labor force prepared to contribute in new economy jobs," the report concluded.
Clinton announced the establishment of a new partnership to monitor that progress. Dubbed the "2010 Alliance," it includes a variety of Hispanic groups, corporate foundations and several nonprofits.
Vice President Al Gore addressed the conference earlier in the day, announcing more than $25 million in new grants and outreach programs aimed at increasing educational achievement among Hispanics. The money will go to schools, colleges and non-profit groups nationwide who work with Hispanic students.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Thursday, June 15, 2000
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