The budget has been enacted, a sweeping reform of federal bankruptcy laws has been vetoed, and a host of bills the president wanted to sign never made it out of Congress.
But still, as of Friday there were 19 bills awaiting signature on issues ranging from the CIA to the Jamestown Colony, from national parks to time zones.
Some of the bills are fairly weighty, others less so.
The bulk of them passed Dec. 15, on Congress’ last day in session, and must be signed by Wednesday to become law.
Just Thursday night, Mr. Clinton decided the fate in the affirmative of legislation conserving the Atlantic striped bass, renaming a post office in York, Pa., after George Atlee Goodling, and making it illegal to “fin” a shark.
But more are hanging in the balance.
Mr. Clinton must decide whether to create a commission to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown Colony, whether to spend $6 million to create a California Trail Interpretive Center in Elko, Nev., and whether to spend $500,000 on a National Park Service study on the “historic significance” of the Lincoln Highway, a series of roads that runs from New York to San Francisco.
Also in question is whether Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands will have a designated “Chamorro time.”
“Not that there is no time there [now], obviously, but that there is no specific title for this time zone,” explained Delegate Robert Underwood, Guam Democrat, during the House’s fairly short debate of the measure.
And even though there is only a two-hour difference in the length of a summer day and a winter day in Guam the difference in Washington is six hours there will be a Chamorro Standard Time and Chamorro Daylight Time.
One of the more substantive bills pending presidential action reauthorizes the nation’s intelligence operations, but even it has had a bit of whimsy.
Sen. Bob Kerrey, Nebraska Democrat, had had a park along Pennsylvania Avenue named after retiring Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, New York Democrat. But in a puckish poke at Mr. Moynihan’s efforts to remove the veil of secrecy from much of government, Mr. Kerrey originally had placed the language in the classified section of the bill.
The bill was vetoed the first time around, though not because of Mr. Moynihan’s park, and the park’s designation was imported into the declassified section of the second version of the bill.
Finally, Mr. Clinton has before him the National Moment of Remembrance Act.
As the name implies, the bill would designate 3 p.m. on Memorial Day as the National Moment of Remembrance.
The bill would create a 22-member, public-sector commission to encourage people to participate in the National Moment of Remembrance and to create an alliance composed of representatives from 11 private-sector industries. The alliance’s first purpose is to plan and organize an annual White House Conference on the National Moment of Remembrance.
Over the years, Memorial Day has been the subject of numerous revisions. For example, in 1998 Congress required the president to designate a period of time on Memorial Day during which the “people may unite in prayer for a permanent peace.”
What the bill before Mr. Clinton does not say, specifically, is what people are supposed to be remembering at the National Moment of Remembrance and what distinguishes it from Memorial Day itself.
The bill does say that the commission should “encourage people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity.”