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Clinton announces $186 million for after-school programs

May 19, 2000
Web posted at: 6:12 p.m. EDT (2212 GMT)

PHILADELPHIA (CNN) -- President Bill Clinton hopes to give a boost to after-school and summer school programs with an award of nearly $186 million in new grants to help 900 schools across the country.

Clinton made the announcement at a Philadelphia middle school Friday as he explained the highlights of the GEAR-UP program, which focuses on helping at-risk youths prepare for college.

The president used the speech to make another push for Congress to pass tougher gun laws, and to send a message to the National Rifle Association.

He praised the New Jersey state Senate for its "overwhelmingly bipartisan vote" Thursday for a new gun control bill. The measure would raise the legal age of a handgun purchase from 18 to 21, and require the development of so-called smart guns that can only be fired by the weapon's owner.

"I just wanted to say the people of New Jersey and their representatives in joining California, Massachusetts and Maryland and other states in taking this action deserve our thanks," said the president. "This will not keep any lawful gun owner from hunting, from sports shooting, from having weapons for self-defense, nothing that changes the law of lawful ownership but it will save some children's lives, like the kids that are in this room today."

The president also noted that the National Rifle Association was holding its convention in North Carolina Friday.

"I hope they have a good meeting but they need to think about this: nobody who differs with them on this issue is trying to take anybody's gun away from them but we just want more criminals and kids to be without the ability to get a gun...and we just want to keep more people alive," he said.

Clinton focused most of his remarks on education, emphasizing the importance of a college education to the roomful of students.

The president also called on the GOP-led Congress to fund his education agenda.

"So far, we haven't persuaded the Congress to adopt this," he said.

The White House, in a fact sheet, said the Congressional Republican budget would slash a number of the president's education initiatives, such as failing to help 5,000 schools make repairs, deny smaller classes to as many as 2.9 million children in the lower grades and prevent 650,000 low-income middle school students to participate in the GEAR-UP program to prepare for college.

The Philadelphia trip also gave the president a chance to raise money for his fellow Democrats. He attended a luncheon for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and then a fund-raiser for Rep. Joe Hoeffel, (D-Pennsylvania) which was expected to bring in $225,000.


Friday, May 19, 2000



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