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Heat Victims Get A Cool $100M

Citing the human toll of this summer's heat wave in much of the United States, President Clinton on Thursday ordered the release of $100 million in emergency federal funds to help people pay for air conditioners, fans and other means of relief.

"In times of human crisis we have an obligation to act," President Clinton said during an unscheduled appearance in the White House briefing room.

Mr. Clinton said the $100 million would go to people in 11 Southern and Western states where temperature extremes have been greatest this summer.

They are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. In each of these 11 states, temperatures from June 1 to July 18 were between 16 percent and 26 percent higher than normal.

"This is an especially difficult time," President Clinton said, noting that the summer of 1998 is on track to being the hottest on record.

"All Americans have been deeply concerned and troubled by the human toll of the record heat wave that has spread across many parts of the United States," the president added.

He noted that on his visit to his home state of Arkansas last weekend, he saw temperatures of 100 degrees.

President Clinton said he was looking for other ways to help those most severely affected by the heat.

He said he was ordering the Department of Health and Human Services to release $100 million from the government's low-income home energy assistance program to the 11 hottest states. The money can be used to buy fans and air conditioners and to pay electric bills.

"This emergency relief was paid for in the bipartisan balanced-budget agreement reached with Congress last year," Mr. Clinton said.

The president also took a shot at Republicans in Congress.

"It is all the more disturbing that Republican leaders in the House of Representatives are attempting to entirely eliminate" the low-income home energy assistance program, he said.

"If Congress proceeds to try to eliminate all funding for this vital emergency assistance it would be an act of political irresponsibility," he said. "It would put partisanship ahead of the progress for the people of this country."

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