Clinton Challenges Congress

President Clinton on Monday set out a wish list of legislation he hopes Congress will pass before the November election.

Making his first formal appearance since returning from China Saturday, Clinton called on Congress to act on a string of legislative items from reducing classroom sizes to shoring up the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) finances.

CBS.com reports on President Clinton's trip to China
"We've come back to America at a critical time, " Mr. Clinton said. "We're exactly halfway through the Major League Baseball season, but we're already in the ninth inning of this congressional session. We have to use wisely the remaining 38 working days to make a season of progress."

The Republican-held Congress has shown little interest in passing Mr. Clinton's legislative agenda, killing one of its key elements last month when it voted down a broad tobacco bill.

Mr. Clinton told reporters in the White House Rose Garden that he wanted to work with the Republicans on a variety of issues and he subtly hinted at a political strategy of painting a "do nothing" Congress if it fails to act on his priorities.

"Congress has a choice to make in writing this chapter of our history. It can choose partisanship, or it can choose progress," Mr. Clinton said. "I stand ready to work with lawmakers of good faith in both parties, as I have for 5 1/2 years, to move our nation forward."

Mr. Clinton specifically called for legislative action on his proposals for:

  • Reducing classroom size.
  • Boosting IMF resources by $18 billion.
  • Giving consumers a "Patient's Bill of Rights" to aid them in negotiating with health care providers.
  • Reviving tobacco legislation.
  • Cracking down on juvenile crime.