1. Archive

Clinton pushes bill that targets crime

Standing in an inner-city police station, President Clinton put pressure on Congress to pass tough anti-crime legislation to help "replace fear with confidence."

Clinton, delivering his weekly radio address Saturday from the police district where slain officer Jason White was based, said, "We need a new crime bill that is both tough and smart."

The political jockeying over the potent crime issue was evident as GOP Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho, in the Republican response to Clinton's address, accused the president of putting too much emphasis on gun-control measures and said many of Clinton's fellow Democrats were "coddling the criminal."

For weeks Clinton has been urging Congress to complete action on a crime bill that would ban assault weapons, increase death penalty provisions, finance 100,000 more community police officers and require life imprisonment without parole for certain three-time violent felons.

To demonstrate the need for tough crime controls, Clinton pointed to White and rookie Los Angeles policewoman Cristy Lynne Hamilton, two of the more than 150 police officers killed in the line of duty in the last year.

The president said it was a good first step for Congress to pass the Brady law, which takes effect Monday and requires a five-day waiting period on handgun purchases to allow time for background checks.

In 1991, Florida became the first state in the nation with a constitutionally mandated waiting period for handgun purchases. The state has a three-day waiting period, approved by voters in 1990.

Water bill advances

Legislation that for the first time would require that lakes and rivers be protected from agricultural pollution has cleared a key committee and advanced to the full Senate.

The bill, overhauling the 1972 Clean Water Act, also calls for tougher penalties for contaminating waterways and requires the EPA to single out some of the most toxic water pollutants for priority regulation.

The measure was approved 14-3 Friday by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

For the first time, the legislation would require states to assure that agricultural runoffs, including pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals, are controlled to protect the nation's lakes and rivers.

The bill also would establish new requirements for urban water runoff.