resident Reagan signed 35 bills today, including an appropriations act for almost $200 billion in Pentagon spending, a foreign aid bill and a measure restoring the $122 monthly minimum Social Security benefit.
Reagan sat at a small table in his top-floor suite at the Century Plaza Hotel here with the bills in their green binders stacked in front of him. He signed four in front of reporters and photographers and the rest in private.
Reagan's action cleared his desk of the bills sent him by the last session of Congress.
He vetoed one bill that would have given a benefit of more than $1.5 million to the creditors of one bankrupt company, saying he could not support "special relief in the guise of general legislation" and would leave the matter to the courts.
Reagan hailed the Pentagon appropriation as a step toward bolstering U.S. military strength. "This is just a beginning, and in the years ahead we will need to sustain the effort . . . ," he added.
The president also praised Congress for sending him a foreign aid bill that gives the United States greater flexibility in directing both military and development assistance.
Aid is "vital to important United States foreign policy and national security interests," he said. Military assistance, he added, directly enhances U.S. security.
Reagan welcomed the removal of the absolute prohibitions on military assistance to Chile and Argentina, and praised Congress for permitting him to begin a military assistance program for Pakistan.
At the same time, in a lengthy written comment, the president took objection to limits imposed on his freedom of action in sending foreign assistance and expressed "deep concern" over a 52 percent reduction from his request for grant sales of military equipment to 14 countries.
Reagan described the measure restoring the minimum Social Security benefit as being in line with changes he recommended Sept. 24, but he did not mention his suggestion last May that the benefit be eliminated. The Senate promptly heeded that suggestion. Reagan said today he strongly supports restoring the benefit, as the Senate did in an about-face.
Among the other bills Reagan signed were a revision of black lung benefits and the latest congressional effort to redevelop Union Station Details on Page C2 .
The Black Lung Disability Trust Fund has a deficit of about $1.5 billion, and, in the first significant tax increase of the Reagan administration, the new bill temporarily doubles the tax on coal producers to help eliminate the deficit.
Ironically, the black lung bill also contained amendments, placed there in the waning hours of the session, that increase the tax breaks that members of Congress can take for their Washington homes and living expenses.
Reagan also signed a four-year, $9.6 billion extension of the clean water program, a cutback plan that will place new limits on federal grants for wastewater treatment after October, 1983. He also signed a law authorizing the Environmental Protection Agency to continue monitoring thousands of high-risk chemicals through September, 1983. Money for that program comes under separate legislation.
The bill the president vetoed would have reduced the bankruptcy cost of a real estate investment trust named Fidelity Mortgage Investors from $1.7 million to $100,000. It would have done this by allowing Fidelity to come under a bankruptcy fee cap that took effect in 1978 even though the company went bankrupt before the cap existed.